GW Among Healthiest Employers in Washington

Washington Business Journal recognizes university for its commitment to improving employee health.

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Smoke-Free GW is one of the many ways the university has created a healthy environment for its employees.
August 18, 2014
 
The Washington Business Journal named the George Washington University on its 2014 list of greater Washington’s healthiest employers. GW was the only higher education institution recognized for creating some of the best wellness work programs in the city. 
 
“The university's increased focus on health and wellness could not have been possible without the collective input of our faculty, staff and key university leaders, including President Steven Knapp,” said Vice President for Human Resources Sabrina Ellis.
 
GW has committed to the total well-being of its faculty and staff through its comprehensive health model, which focuses on helping employees’ with their physical health, personal and family life, financial wellness, connection to the community and workplace fulfillment.
 


Staff and faculty can enjoy free yoga and zumba classes at GW.


One of the most successful programs is Smoke-Free GW, which celebrated its one-year anniversary this month. As part of the American Cancer Society’s 37th annual Great American Smokeout, GW prohibited smoking in university-owned outdoor spaces, as well as public spaces adjacent to all residential, academic, athletic, recreational and administrative support buildings. The policy promotes a healthy environment for all members of the GW community and protects non-smokers from the dangers of secondhand smoke. The university also covers the cost of the American Cancer Society’s Quit for Life Program, aimed at helping smokers to quit by providing phone- and web-based coaching and replacement therapy like gum or patches. 

To benefit family well-being, the GW Parenting Initiative provides parenting support and education. The university also set up “motherhood rooms” to give new mothers private, secure spaces throughout campus for breastfeeding and pumping. This past January, full-time staff members with at least two consecutive years of benefits-eligible service became qualified to receive six weeks of paid leave following the birth or adoption of a child as part of GW’s focus on family-friendly programs.


The university offers free flu shots to the GW community.


 
The university promotes financial responsibility by giving employees access to the Wellbeing Hotline, free telephonic consultations that provide help with a number of topics, including budgeting, disputes with creditors, debt counseling and more. The Wellbeing Hotline also offers EstateGuidance, a cost-effective online service that eases routine legal documents preparation, including will and estate planning. Additionally, the financial services company TIAA-CREF provided a variety of financial wellness workshops at GW in the last year.
 
Efforts from the Urban Food Taskforce and the Office of Sustainability have been critical in giving employees access to well-balanced, nutritional meals. GW’s GroW Garden, annual Food Day celebrations and classes taught by University Chef Rob Donis encourage employees to adopt healthy eating habits. 
 

Employees get a cooking lesson from University Chef Rob Donis.


 
GW also promotes physical activity by offering free yoga and zumba classes through the Milken Institute School of Public Health, summer softball games through Campus Recreation and Human Resources, running/walking meet-up groups through Colonial Community, and GW Sneaker Days dedicated to physical activity. 
 
GW employees receive weekly health tips from the Colonial Community listserv, free flu shots—which will be available this October—and flexible work arrangements that enable telecommuting and schedule adjustments. The Office of Emergency Management gives employees free CPR/First Aid classes for health and safety training, and the GW Emergency Medical Response Group (EMeRG) is constantly on standby on campus.


CPR/First Aid classes are provided on campus.


 
The Washington Business Journal distinction showcases all of the university’s collective health efforts and programs, Director of Benefits and Wellness Erica Hayton explained. 
 
“At GW, we are committed to supporting the overall well-being of our faculty and staff. Well-being is more than eating right and exercising regularly. It is about how we balance the demands of our work and personal life, effectively manage our finances, develop in our careers and connect to our community,” Ms. Hayton said.
 

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