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Waukesha County dispatchers garden to reduce stress

Posted at 7:38 PM, Aug 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-09 20:38:21-04

In almost every office you can find a vending machine full of unhealthy sugary snacks. The Waukesha County Communications Center now offers healthier options for its employees through a garden.

The employees planted their vegetable garden around the fourth of July and now have green beans, radishes and eight other healthy veggie options.

This garden isn't just for them to eat healthy. Telecommunicator Bonnie Douglas is on the Garden Board and says the space encourages new ideas.  

"We'll throw, salad days. Where we can come out and pick, you know, the lettuce and the variety vegetables. Take it and actually have that for lunch," says Douglas.

Everyone from management down takes time on their break, to help with the garden. After the garden is weeded and watered, food is harvested and brought inside to share. 

The dispatchers' office has little natural light. For hours at a time, they're typically starting at numerous computer and television screens, sitting in chairs and taking stressful calls. All this together can weigh on them says Communications Supervisor Christine Bannister. 

"We're seeing a lot of studies coming out now with the effects of stress and the potential for PTSD," said Bannister,"we're inside so often and sometimes for long periods of time. We want to make sure, one, our dispatchers are getting breaks."

Data from numerous studies show employees who take their breaks or briefly step outside tend to show improved short-term memory, reduced stress, depression and anxiety levels. This supports the dispatcher's consensus that the garden will be a summer constant for the office.