Most professional businesses are office-based, which means that the work environment itself is not conducive to promoting a healthy lifestyle. Even the most fit employees can slowly compromise their health by sitting all day in front of a screen, skipping meals to meet deadlines, and raiding the vending machine for an afternoon “pick me up.”
There is a real cost to an unhealthy workforce: According to recent studies, the cost of poor health, such as work absence and reduced productivity, can result in 2-3 times the amount of direct medical costs. And, with medical costs — as well as the average age of employees — on the rise, the savings from business-sponsored wellness programs is huge. Add to that the fact that wellness programs produce higher levels of job and employer satisfaction, and you have a compelling case for instituting wellness programs in your company.
But how to start? Whatever size your business, you can begin easily by starting some simple, effective programs that promote and encourage your employees to join together and pursue a healthy lifestyle. Here are a few ways successful companies have promoted a healthy workforce by encouraging employees to move more, and eat better:
Encouraging participation in a gym is a win/win for employers and employees. If you think you can’t afford paying for the full price, consider pitching in. According to Healthy Contributions, a consulting firm for health plans and fitness clubs, workers who exercise at the gym at least 12 times a month and are reimbursed a mere $20 a month on their fitness club membership fees tend to exercise three times as often as those who do not participate in the reimbursement programs.
While gym memberships appeal to individual goals, a walking program can be effective for employees who want to exercise but need the social support of others. The key is to have clear, set goals, and remove any financial hurdles for your employees who want to get involved. The goal is to get people moving with a clear, definable program.
Take the Stairs
Every day, people make choices that affect their health. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the simple choice to taking the stairs is a quick and easy way for all employees to add physical activity to their day.
Healthy Food Choices
The Journal of Nutrition reports that 40% of fruits and vegetables consumed by Americans come from only eight sources (iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, French fries, bananas, orange juice, onions, apples, and carrots, in that order). Some companies have worked to overcome this by promoting group-sponsored lunches, where each employee brings in a healthy dish to share. Other ways to encourage healthy food choices include healthy snacks for workers, and workplace farmer’s markets, where mobile markets deliver fresh produce at the office door.
Whatever program you choose to encourage healthier employees, the best bet to making the initiative stick is to lead by example and enlist a team of employees to help in implementation. Employee involvement from the planning stages is key to any program’s success.
What is your company doing to promote health and wellness among employees? Sharing your story can help other business owners, so we encourage you to leave a comment below.
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