Challenge accepted: Snow planking

How Denver Water’s employee wellness program builds comradery and a healthier workforce.

January 24, 2019 | By: Kristi Delynko

The Denver Water crew at Winter Park takes employee wellness challenges seriously. They’re even willing to get a face full of snow by starting the day planking outside in the winter!

Now that’s some commitment.

Five men on their elbows in the snow, doing planks and smiling for the camera.
Denver Water’s Winter Park crew, from left, Tim Holinka, Travis Fuqua, Jay Joslyn (in the back), Conor Peters and Rob Krueger as they practice some extreme planking in the snow in preparation for the organization’s 2019 wellness challenges for employees. Photo credit: Denver Water.


But it’s not just extreme planking they are focused on. The employees at Winter Park work hard to complete all of Denver Water’s wellness challenges each year in order to earn the grand prize — a coveted day off of work.

Denver Water’s employee wellness program includes voluntary challenges throughout the year, each one typically lasting three weeks. The challenges have goals such as ditching fast food, eating more fruits and vegetables and getting more exercise. The challenges are selected by Denver Water’s wellness committee, which includes employee volunteers.

“The wellness challenges are just one way we promote healthy lifestyles and motivate employees to move toward their desired state of health, with the ultimate goal to create and maintain a healthy workforce,” said Sandra Miller, Denver Water’s health services manager.

About 120 employees typically participate in the monthly challenges and track their activities, said Miller.

In 2018, four employees at Winter Park earned enough points through their participation in the wellness program to receive a day off of work.

“The day off is a huge reward — it’s definitely something I think about as I go through all of the challenges,” said Conor Peters, a Denver Water operations technician in Winter Park.

And not only that, he believes the challenges help him keep his health in mind. “It’s really a win-win,” he said.

“We have physical jobs and work in extreme temperatures. When we need to access Jones Pass in the spring, we have to go out on skis or snowshoes and hike in,” said Tim Holinka, Denver Water’s source of supply manager. “It’s important that we stay in shape and the wellness challenges are one way we can keep up with our health.”

In addition to the health benefits, the challenges help bring the team together. Holinka’s favorite 2018 challenge was the plank challenge.

“We’d all plank as a team and get through it together. It was nice to have a goal and work through it and encourage each other,” he said.

While the guys enjoyed the physical challenges, like planking, pushups and squats, some of the other challenges were met with a less enthusiasm — like the ones that set healthy eating as a goal.

“I try to eat healthy, but I also love bad food. I can inhale a whole bag of chips in one sitting,” said Rob Krueger, a senior utility technician in Winter Park.

For him, the “Dump the Junk” challenge was the hardest.

“It was hard, but it also made me really think about what I was eating during the challenge,” he said.

Peters also struggled with healthy eating challenges, noting it was really difficult for him to complete the “5 Fruits and Veggies” per day challenge.

Although some months were a struggle, the crew admits they were glad they got through each challenge, encouraging each other during the process.

In addition to the monthly challenges, the wellness program requires employees to complete a health self-assessment and bloodwork, which they can do for free at Denver Water’s employee clinic.

“Before I started working at Denver Water, I don’t think I’d been to the doctor in 20 years,” said Jay Joslyn. “The wellness challenge program reminds me to go to the clinic and provides information about my health that I don’t think I would seek otherwise.”

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