Healthy Executive Spotlight | Dr. Bruce Dart

Name: Dr. Bruce Dart
Job Title: Director
Company: Tulsa Health Department

How do you measure success in creating a healthy workforce?

Employee health status has an effect on The Tulsa Health Department’s performance as a public health organization. Employee wellness is a critical indicator in our organization’s ability to meet our mission goals of improving community health status. Our staff spends a great deal of their lives “at work” so we have an opportunity to come together and create a climate where the healthy choice is the easy choice. We want to promote healthy behaviors to keep employee morale as high as possible; we do care about the people who work at THD. If our work environment is developed around those philosophies we have a better chance of creating a culture where we retain and attract great employees who are as committed to improving their health as they are to improving community health status.

Personally, why is health so important to you and what are some of your achievements?

I strongly believe in the adage, “if you’re healthy you’re wealthy!" Our organization’s purpose for existence is to help all Tulsa County residents live long and healthy lives where disease onset is delayed and health and quality of life are interchanged. We cannot promote health and prevent onset of disease if we do not mirror that culture within our own organization. We must be healthy before we can talk about health in the community. If our organization cannot maximize the value of health, how can we achieve value around healthy choices and lifestyles in the community?
I personally enjoy working out, I’ve never considered it work, it’s always been fun to me. I compete in bike road races, anywhere from 25 to 120 miles. I also swim in competitive swim meets and compete in Aquabike races (events within triathlons where you do the swim and bike portion of the race only). I compete from Olympic distance Aquabike races (1500 yard swim and 26 mile bike ride) to full Aquabike races (2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike ride). I stopped running after my second back surgery several years ago but that proves that you can adapt your lifestyle when physical limitations prevent you from doing everything you used to be capable of doing. I can no longer compete in triathlons but staying active allows me to keep my competence juices flowing through the events listed above. I plan to race and compete as long as I can, it’s my goal to someday be the oldest competitor in the race, and still beat some of those young guns!     
If you could impart your wisdom on other business leaders as to why they should make worksite wellness a priority, what would you say?

I think it is important to not give out conflicting messages to employees. You need to walk the walk when it comes to employee wellness yourself as well as securing senior leaders within the organization commitment and participation in it. Wellness is about doing something for your employees, not purely for productivity or financial motives. The return on investment for worksite wellness is not only clear in the literature but also as evidenced in organizations’ decreased health care costs, decreased employee turnover and absenteeism, and worker compensation costs. It is also clear that design of the wellness program is critical as each organization should develop their own model that fits them. Developing and embracing an organizational vision for health and wellness sends a positive message about your organization that conveys and is tied to your organization’s purpose. Presence of a worksite wellness program is not enough, effectiveness is dependent upon support throughout the organization, it’s your challenge to create that work environment