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Family, Inc. strives to create healthy workplace for employees, wins award

Family, Inc. strives to create healthy workplace for employees, wins award


From left to right, Kimberly Kolakowski, executive director, Rachel Zeller, wellness committee member and Sabrina Nelsen, wellness committee member hold a check for $1,000 they received from Iowa Healthiest State Initiative. They took first place in the Small Workplace category.

Family, Inc. of Council Bluffs was awarded $1,000 by the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative for their efforts in creating a healthy and happy workplace.

The organization created a wellness committee — formed of members from the organization — who create plans, activities and creative ideas to keep employees at FAMILY, Inc. healthy.

“We want to keep our employees physically, mentally and socially healthy, as well as having a good connection with others at work and participate in self care” Executive Director of Family, Inc. Kimberly Kolakowski said.

Since employees are currently working remotely, they have created a “Virtual Acknowledgment Jar.” Through this jar, employees can send little positive notes like, “Thanks for being positive today,” or “Great job on that project,” Kolakowski said.

When working remotely, people miss out on those informal social engagements, where you go visit someone’s desk or bump into someone in the hallway. Family, Inc. has found a way to fill that gap with its “Family Rooms.”

“We created ‘Family Rooms’ and it’s a time each week when there is an open zoom room that people can hop into and have those informal social engagements that we just don’t have anymore,” she said.

To focus on healthy eating, a cookbook was made with recipes submitted from employees. To incentivize submitted recipes, Family, Inc. partnered with a local organization — the 712 Initiative.

We partnered with 712 and did farmers market bucks,” Kolakowski said. “So our organization prepaid for some dollars that team members who submitted could get and earn by submitting recipes and then go to the farmers market and spend those dollars.”

This promoted healthy eating because this gave employees access to fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as supporting another organization in Council Bluffs.

Other things the company has done is having a water drinking challenge and given employees time off to go and vote.

Another local area that won was Cass County for the Healthy Hometown award.

Kolakowski said there isn’t a plan right now on what to use the money for, but it will be up to the wellness committee what it’s used for. She continued to say it will be used to continue keeping the workplace and healthy environment.

“We are really proud to have this award,” Kolakowski said. “We know our employees are our greatest asset, so it’s our top priority to keep them healthy and well so they can be at their best to serve others.”

Complete list of winners:

Healthy Hometown category:

  • Cass County
  • Waterloo
  • Waverly

Early Care category:

  • Small — Handy’s Home Daycare and Preschool in Norwalk
  • Large — Des Moines Area Community College Child Development Center in Ankeny

K-12 School:

  • Riceville Elementary in Riceville

Out-of-School Program:

  • Link Grinnell in Grinnell


  • Natalie Lancial in Malvern


  • Small — Family Inc. in Council Bluffs
  • Medium — Delta Dental of Iowa in Johnston
  • Large — Hy-Vee in West Des Moines

Health Care:

  • MercyOne Family Medicine Forest Park in Mason City
  • Primary Health Care at Mercy Family Practice Residency Program in Des Moines

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