By Leanne Ray, RDN
Are you an “RD2be” or a newly credentialed dietitian unsure of what your career has in store for you? Or are you a seasoned dietitian who is considering a job switch for something fresh and new? If so, consider workplace wellness for a fun and dynamic setting where you can utilize your multiple super-dietitian talents!
Making the case for workplace wellness
Take a second to think about how many hours you spend in the workplace each week. For most people, this number is probably somewhere around 40 hours. If you have a 30-minute commute (each way), take an hour-long lunch break and average eight hours of sleep, this equates to >60% of your waking hours! For many, a 40-hour work week is unheard of, so this might even be on the low end of the spectrum. Because of this, there is a huge need for wellness programs to promote healthy habits where people “hang out” for so much of the day. Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that “worksites have the opportunity to encourage healthy habits and help prevent health problems such as diabetes, depression, and heart disease.” The connection between a wellness culture and worker well-being, productivity and reduced number of sick days has been demonstrated over and again1. What kind of organization wouldn’t want all of these things? And why not hire a dietitian to fill this need?
What skills are necessary?
In addition to evidence-based nutrition programming, registered dietitians are well-versed in some of the necessary attributes of a successful workplace wellness professional including:
- Coaching and behavior change methods, which means we know what motivates people and can help them make lasting positive lifestyle changes. Consider pitching personal wellness coaching services to a business or developing a healthy lifestyle class for groups.
- Great communication skills, often in public speaking which can come in handy for wellness presentations or corporate lunch and learns.
- Competent in leading cooking demonstrations, a highly sought-after skill. People love learning new recipes!
- Program planning and evaluation. Coming up with an interesting wellness challenge or initiative is one of the most fun aspects of working in this field. Dietitians have a knowledge of population health strategies which can be especially applicable in a workplace setting.
How to get the job
There are a few ways to get hired in a wellness setting including as a full-time program coordinator, a contractor or as a one-time presenter. The first option is a bit less common since companies often designate a human resources professional or other staff member double as a wellness program coordinator. Some companies will contract professionals to develop a few challenges or seminars (which could be you!). The third option, which is probably most common for dietitians, involves a presentation or other service for a one-time event. Each of these could be really beneficial for a future career in workplace wellness. Interested? Don’t be afraid to pitch yourself! After all, we know far too well that if dietitians aren’t doing this, someone else probably is.
Leanne works for a local public health department as a worksite wellness specialist and also has her own food and lifestyle coaching business, Leanne Ray Nutrition LLC (visit her website: www.leanneray.com). Have questions on opportunities for dietitians in workplace wellness? Feel free to reach out to her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find her on Twitter where she shares both wellness and nutrition related tidbits daily.
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Worksite Wellness. https://www.cdc.gov/sustainability/worksitewellness/