healthy-lifestyle-choicesBy now, it’s become clear to most employers and executives that the health of their employees has a significant impact on productivity, and ultimately, an organization’s bottom line.

Poor health among employees is costing U.S. employers more and more every year. A recent Gallup poll found that unhealthy, absent American workers are costing businesses as much as $153 billion per year in lost productivity alone.

“The high percentages of full-time U.S. workers who have less than ideal health are a significant drain on productivity for U.S. businesses,” the report states. “However, employees and employers have the opportunity to potentially increase productivity if they address the health issues that are currently plaguing the workplace.”

Employers are aware of the importance of employee health as it relates to profitability, but are employees themselves? As a CEO, do you know if your employees make healthy lifestyle choices?

Assessing Current Lifestyle Choices

One way to get at the root of an employee’s health and the choices they are making is through a Health Risk Assessment. There are numerous HRAs available both online and in hard copy. We recommend an online version that matches employee information with an extensive medical database to provide guidance tailored to them. Information collected in an HHRA includes an employee’s current symptoms and conditions, mental health and emotional wellbeing, personal self-care, immunizations, allergies, medications, surgeries and tests, and health history. It’s important to identify and measure these risks so employees know where they stand on key health measures such as blood pressure, lipids, body-mass index, blood sugar, tobacco and alcohol use, and stress.

Once employees have this information available to them, and understand how their risks compare to organization-wide benchmarks, they can take the steps to improve their health by eating more greens and superfoods, exercising more after work, and moderating alcohol consumption, for example.

3 Ways To Promote Healthy Lifecycle Choices 

Below are a few tactics employers can use to help employees understand their health and make healthy lifestyle choices. 

1. Proper Incentives.

Learn what will appeal to your people. If you serve a large diabetic population, can you design a program that offsets the cost of medications and test strips when they complete regular doctors’ visits, A1c checkups, or nutrition education? For those battling their weight, can you bring a program like Weight Watchers on site? Would hiring a registered dietitian to run weight loss programs, lifestyle improvement sessions, and cooking classes be effective? If your population is sedentary, can you supplement gym membership fees?

2. Recognition.

Don’t underestimate the simple power of recognition. When your employees make improvements in their health, post their pictures, send out brief write- ups about their progress, and have a scrolling recognition board on your intranet.

3. Over educate.

Don’t assume your employees know basic wellness tips. Post nutrition and fitness tips everywhere: doors, bathrooms, locker rooms, breakrooms, stairwells, and send out both electronic and hard-copy newsletters. Provide lunch and learns regularly.  This may be the cheapest, most effective place to start.

Following these tips and understanding your employee population’s health risks will go a long way toward improving not only employee health and productivity, but your organization’s as well.

Download: Population Health Management 2.0

Topics: Improving Employee Health, Employee Performance, Healthy Workforce, Health Lifestyle