Sonoma State University wins a Healthiest Companies Award

Taking walks on the numerous campus paths at SSU is a favorite pastime break for students and staff. (photo courtesy of SSU)


Sonoma State University promotes all aspects of wellness for its employees, ranging from healthy eating, physical activity and seminars on topics such as understanding sleep to financial wellness.

“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,” said Renée Senander, manager of worker’s compensation, ADA and leave administration in the Human Resources Department, and chair of the SSU employee wellness program.

“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. In addition, our staff appreciates and enjoys the community spirit and sense of teamwork that has developed by participating with others in our wellness program.”

SSU’s program began in 2015 with lunchtime Yoga, circuit training and cycling classes. Since then, the list of activities included has increased by working with the American Heart Association, Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health to offer a variety of health promotion classes (nutrition, healthy sleep and stress management), physical activity challenges and biannual biometric screenings providing employees with checkpoints to monitor their health.

As a result, many employees have provided feedback indicating that they have been able to focus more on their health, overcome unhealthy habits, and increase their level of physical activity.

Staff and faculty can purchase Recreation Center memberships, primarily for students, which several do to utilize workout equipment and/or join classes.

The SSU wellness program offers staff and faculty the free use of the Athletic Weight Room from 12 to 2 p.m. Monday-Friday.

“Although our wellness program is relatively young, it has brought a wealth of resources and physical activities to the 30%-35% of our 2,500 staff members who participate – a percentage that continues to grow. Future endeavors include working with our campus dining service to offer healthy cooking classes, compiling lists of community discounts available at grocery stores and local gyms, and collaborating with all campus departments to schedule stretching classes and related activities that can improve overall health and wellbeing.”

In 2016, Sonoma State University received the Fit Friendly Worksite Gold Achievement Award by the American Heart Association. The Fit-Friendly Companies program recognizes employers who champion the health of their employees and work to create a culture of physical activity and health in the workplace.

SSU fulfilled certain criteria, such as offering employees physical activity support, increasing healthy eating options at work, promoting a wellness culture, and adhering to a strict tobacco policy; as well as implement at least six physical, two nutritional and one of the cultural activities listed among the many options shown in the application form.

“We are proud of the strides our wellness program has made in just its first two years, as well as the positive impact it continues to make among our employees.”