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Oklahoma employee wellness program helps state employees Thrive

By Carmin Eulitt
Monday, August 07, 2023

Work habits have changed drastically since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in early 2020. Employees accustomed to working an office or field setting abruptly began working from home, and for many state agencies in Oklahoma, the abrupt transition has evolved to become a permanent alteration of the typical workday. Employees and employers alike continue to praise telework for its flexibility and convenience. However, staying home has increased isolation and sedentary habits that can negatively affect workers’ physical and mental health.

Dr. Susan Robinson has overseen Thrive, the State of Oklahoma’s employee wellness program, for 17 years. And although she has helped steer the program through several evolutionary changes, her goal remains the same: to have the healthiest workforce in the nation.

Thrive has been in existence since 2005, and its mission is to empower State of Oklahoma employees to improve or enhance their overall well-being. The program revolves around eight components of wellness – physical, emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, social, and spiritual – by providing programs that include a variety of education, activities and challenges for state employees and their families. The program’s journey and promise is to help the state workforce cultivate excellence and in short, Thrive.

In the post-pandemic landscape, Robinson has sought to specifically tackle obstacles of disconnected and inactive employee lifestyles. Thrive now offers programs and resources that directly address the complications faced by modern-day employees. All Oklahoma state employees are encouraged to utilize resources and participate in activities hosted by Thrive to improve their individual health and wellness.


Thrive’s program offerings actively combat the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle and promote employee engagement and overall health.

  • Am I Hungry? ­– this program is an eight-week course that teaches you how to eat the food you love without overindulging or feeling guilty. Learn to take charge of your diet instead of feeling out of control.
  • Break Time – research shows that working for extended times without breaks can lead to stress and exhaustion, which is why it is important to have “movement breaks” which refresh the mind, reboot the brain, and help you become more creative. “Break Time” occurs every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. These 15-minute virtual sessions include desk stretches and relaxation breathing techniques.
  • State Employee Recreational Leagues – state employee recreation leagues are organized primarily to promote exercise, relaxation and de-stressing from work. The leagues also provide a way to meet new people from other agencies, team build outside of the office and network. It began with bowling and has grown into several sports that are played year-round. If you want to improve your social well-being through fun and being part of a team, please consider participating.


The resources promoted by Thrive direct state employees to find helpful information pertaining to improving and maintaining individual health.

  • Employee Assistance Program – EAP is a cooperative effort between employees and administration to help employees gain access to professional services in resolving personal problems.
  • Fitness Centers – Thrive believes that physical activity is an important part of a person’s overall well-being. Thrive has partnered with many fitness centers that offer a discount to state employees. For your convenience, the centers are listed by city.
  • Healthy Pantry Toolkit – having an environment that supports a healthy lifestyle is made easier with available healthy food choices. Thrive has created a toolkit with step-by-step instructions for agencies that want to start a Healthy Pantry.
  • Publications – monthly toolkits and special event publications are made available for viewing and downloading from the Thrive webpage.
  • Support Groups – Thrive has compiled a list of accessible support groups that are tailored to the needs and interests of specific populations.
  • 50 Plus – now that you have started this next chapter in your life, we want your health and well-being to continue to Thrive. Even if you are retired, you can still participate in wellness activities such as recreation leagues, golf tournaments, and Dine and Discover presentations. Continue to utilize Thrive’s webpage to keep up with information, events, and toolkits. Additionally, the webpage will be continually updated with information on volunteer opportunities and community centers that provide numerous activities. 

Other educational opportunities

Thrive also recently launched “For the Health of It: Because You Can,” a brand-new podcast where Robinson speaks with a wide-range of health and wellness experts to explore the latest research, science, advice and resources for state employees and the Oklahomans they serve.

In addition to serving state employees, Thrive welcomes state retirees and family members of state employees to take advantage of the opportunities provided. Each month brings a host of new and exciting events to partake in. From quick “Break Time” sessions to seasonal recreational leagues, there is a wellness opportunity for everyone.

For more information, visit Thrive’s new webpage. Thrive has made it easier than ever to conveniently access all upcoming events, resources and contacts in one place. View the events calendar, sign up for program offerings or peruse publications to find the option best tailored to meet your individual wellness needs.

Last Modified on Aug 07, 2023