SSU awarded for employee wellness program

With its diverse landscapes, climate, agriculture and environment, Sonoma County is well known for the healthy lifestyle it boasts. Likewise, Sonoma State University is now also recognized for its remarkable health. The North Bay Business Journal has named Sonoma State University one of the healthiest companies in the North Bay. According to Renée Senander, manager of worker’s compensation, ADA and leave administration in the Human Resources Department and chair of the SSU employee wellness program, the recognition for SSU was  “based off our program's effort to provide opportunities that promote a campus culture of wellness.” 

Not only does Sonoma State University encourage every-day healthy practices and lifestyle changes, she said, the campus is dedicated to providing ample opportunities for faculty and staff to get active, eat well, sleep well, manage stress and track their overall health. “We believe wellness is multi-tiered, and it is important for our employees to be supported and cared for at every stage of their wellness journey,” Senander said. She believes Sonoma State University campus offers a breadth of services for its students to promote a healthy lifestyle. “Sonoma State University employees spend a third of their time at work, so offering a workplace employee wellness program is essential to supporting personal health goals and in establishing a work/life balance,” Senander said. 

Two years ago, the employee wellness program started by offering yoga classes during lunchtime hours and circuit training and cycling classes for Sonoma State University staff. he program now provides a place to work out between noon and 2 p.m., workout classes at noon, yearly flu shot clinic, health promotion classes in partnership with Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health and the American Heart Association and even annual biometric screenings. 

By partnering with companies like the American Heart Association, Sonoma State University also provides staff with the ability to better maintain and manage their long-term health conditions and goals. 

The Employee Wellness Program focuses on whole body wellness and has even offered financial wellness/budget classes by Redwood Credit Union and Sleep/Stress Management Classes. According to Senander, Sonoma State University staff benefit from partnerships with large companies to maintain long-term health and a range of stress, exercise, and cooking classes to encourage day-to-day health practices. “Our staff appreciates and enjoys the community spirit and sense of teamwork that has developed by participating with others in our wellness program,” Senander said.

The North Bay Business Journal holds a nomination process yearly for companies to apply for the recognition. Because the Employee Wellness Program has made such tremendous efforts to improve employee quality of life over the last two years, Senander believed it was a great opportunity to nominate SSU. Once they considered the school, the NBBJ followed up by sending Sonoma State an application to apply for the award. Once Sonoma State University completed and submitted the application, it took another two to three weeks until Senander found out that the NBBJ was recognizing the school. While Sonoma State will not receive a physical or monetary award, Senander said the school is greatly proud to accept the award as one of the healthiest companies in the North Bay. According to Senander, Sonoma State University has gladly accepted the award and will use this public recognition as incentive to continue creating progressive health opportunities for its employees to make strides in their health and well being. 

The North Bay Business Journal recognizes Sonoma County and now Sonoma State University for their healthy environments and the health momentum they establish. According to Senander, Sonoma State University hopes, “to continue to expand upon the wellness program,” by utilizing the “resources available amongst our colleagues, health care/insurance providers and local community support.” If any students have thoughts on how to improve or support the school’s wellness efforts — such as implementing fitness certifications — please contact