Poor health costs employers $153 billion each year
New Year’s resolutions are a noble promise, but in reality, the burden of seasonal weight gain paired with inactivity can be overwhelming. The holiday season is stacked against us. It starts in September when Halloween candy sneaks onto grocery shelves, then quickly devolves to heaps of mashed potatoes, gravy-topped stuffing, and nutmeg-sprinkled eggnog. Then, as quick as the snap of our elastic waistbands, we’ve spun through another holiday season and find the only leftovers left to pick at are ourselves.
Spring is here! But, New Year’s resolutions may be waning and employers are directly impacted by employee health. Poor health among American workers is costing employers as much as $153 billion each year in employee absenteeism, lost productivity, and turnover. Get your employees moving and improving their health with effective, low-cost programs:
Workplace health promotion
Workplace health promotion programs benefit your employees by providing them with the tools and coaching to pursue healthier lifestyles in an environment that is motivating, supportive, and fun. A healthier workforce means reduced healthcare claims costs and increased employee engagement and productivity. When supported by onsite healthcare, health promotion programs benefit from the education, guidance, and support of a team of health coaches keeping your employees on track.
“I joined the Biggest Loser program at my employer’s onsite health center. The health center team supported us with nutritional guides and encouraged exercise. We created weekly events, classes, and a supportive Facebook group. We shed blood, sweat, and tears together.” – Melody, Marathon Health member, Healthy Like Me winner, and Sheetz employee
Healthy competition in the workplace
Creating team-based challenges can help employees support and gently push each other to reach their individual personal goals, while simultaneously building relationships in the workplace.
“Marathon Health started the Maintain Don’t Gain challenge focused on healthy eating over the holiday. When that finished I joined the next health challenge. I have lost 38 pounds, quit smoking, stayed on track, and ran my first 5K race!” – Mary, Marathon Health member, Healthy Like Me winner, and CEBT employee.
Employee wellness incentives
Change is hard, and taking the first step toward better health can be even harder. Incentives can grease the wheels and maximize participation in any workplace fitness challenge. From simple recognition of winners/participants (certificates; name listed in company wellness newsletter or intranet story) to financial incentives (premium deductible reductions; gift cards) one rule rings true: the better the incentives, the more likely participation rates will rise.
Bendix, a North American manufacturer and developer of commercial braking solutions, employs a strong incentive program to encourage employees to improve their health. To learn how this approach saved Bendix $2.7 million on healthcare costs, download the case study.
Workplace fitness ideas
Remember to personalize each program to the needs of your workforce, and make each individual’s personal goals the cornerstone of success for each program. Most of all, make sure to have fun!
- Walking Challenge: Weekly challenge where participants/teams log steps over the course of several weeks. Goal of 10,000 steps per person per day.
- “Winning At Losing” Program: 12-week weight loss competition, based on percentage of weight loss, not total pounds lost. Each participant who weighs in each week will receive an email with program updates, health tips, and motivation. Optional: group meetings to share successes/challenges during the challenge.
- Train for a 5K Program: run/walk training program, for all ability levels. Weekly training tips about proper nutrition and training schedule are provided.
- Stair Climbing Challenge: Challenge employees to take the stairs throughout the workweek. Decorate the company stairs with motivational and colorful posters to encourage taking the stairs. Participants that use the elevator the least amount of times receives a different prize during this monthly challenge.
Better health happens when you set a clear, realistic, and actionable plan – preferably with a partner – that can guide and motivate you to achieve your goals. Businesses can help kick-start and support employee health improvement.