Nesnah Ventures Seeks Wellness, Finds More

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Company garden

Wellness at Work challenges and a company garden are social springboards

A year ago, Nesnah Ventures dived into wellness head first. The Holmen-based, family-operated company has an office with 35 employees and manages a broad portfolio of businesses including senior living, fuel marketing, agricultural feed and casual dining.

The interest in corporate wellness began at a seminar presented by their insurance agency. Not long after that, benefits manager Jan Hemming approached CEO Tim Brennan about instituting a wellness program. He was all for it.

Looking for programming

Aware of the Wellness at Work challenges, Hemming gave Health Tradition wellness coordinator Joyce Mlsna a call. Hemming recalls, “Then, she started sending these wonderful boxes full of goodies.”

“It’s great to have these challenges we can take and run with,” says Hemming. She and her five-member wellness committee start with the basic challenge, then add to it. They have weekly prizes and amenities such as infused water for employees. “Everyone looks forward to what are we going to do this week.”

People-powered

Nesnah’s high participation and enthusiasm is fueled by people motivating those around them. Hemming notes, “We have a really great committee. We’ve been able to share ideas and brainstorm” on a regular basis. Everyone contributes. But the secret sauce is ongoing, highly visible recruitment by the company’s receptionist, who teases upcoming challenges and reminds everyone to sign up.

The social side of wellness came as a surprise. “We didn’t initially think about it as a social event. But our office building has two levels, so we’re busy doing our own thing. We don’t see our neighbors.” Getting together for challenge activities such as sampling infused water flavors brings people out and encourages a lot more interaction.

Sharing the bounty bonds the team

Sharing fresh produce is a social activity, too. Planted at that first wellness seminar a year ago, the idea of produce sharing led to Nesnah’s own farmers markets with produce from employee gardens, plus unscheduled contributions between farmers market events. Their receptionist puts the word out, of course.

Along the way, Hemming and the wellness committee reached out to Teri Wildt, Mayo Clinic Health System director of community engagement, for a lunchtime presentation on creating a company garden plot. Wildt is active with the Get Growing partnership, a community effort to increase local production of fresh, healthy foods. The Nesnah community plot will be introduced next season.

Hemming envisions a garden that encourages wellness and brings people together at the same time. “We strive to do things differently, like taking a break to go out and weed… or pick some tomatoes.” A satisfying win-win.