BY CHRISTINA DAVISWhile health insurance has been a hot topic lately, wellness programs are also gaining traction. Taking an active interest in your employees’ well-being improves talent attraction and retention, job satisfaction, and engagement. And according to the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, “companies with a proven culture of health outperform in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.”
Creating a wellness program for your company does not have to be expensive; as a matter of fact, the money you spend will be outweighed by the increase in health, happiness, and productivity your employees will experience.
It's been reported that 34.6 percent of adults are obese. Why not build on the success (but not the extremity) of the TV show The Biggest Loser and hold your own company competition? Make participation voluntary, of course, and have weekly check-ins. Set it up so the employee who loses the most percentage of weight could win a gift card to a local smoothie shop, Whole Foods, etc., or something even more enticing, such as an additional PTO day(s).
Tobacco use is another lifestyle health issue. Nineteen percent of adults currently smoke, according to America’s Health Ranking. Think about offering a bonus to those employees who successfully complete a smoking cessation program. The money will be recouped almost immediately: It’s been shown that employees who smoke are two times less productive each week than non-smokers, and the fewer smokers you have on your health insurance policy, the less you will pay in premiums.
On November 22, a temporary injunction was placed on the proposed FLSA overtime ruling that was scheduled for December 1, a topic previously addressed in HR Coach. This regulation required employers to pay overtime to anyone earning less than $913/week; for now, employers do not have to comply with this rule come December 1. It could be days or weeks before the court takes further action. The LMC Group will keep a close eye on this development. If you have questions, please email Christina Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org."
A whopping 80 percent of Americans have jobs that require little or no physical activity. In fact, many recent research studies have revealed that being sedentary and sitting too much will shorten one’s lifespan, diminish quality of life, and contribute to the development of chronic disease. Being active can lower blood pressure, better control body fat, improve mental functioning, and most importantly, improve quality of sleep. Get your employees moving with a contest based on their daily step totals (tracked by a pedometer) or number of minutes per day they are active, whether it be walking, biking, lifting weights, or playing golf. Encourage employees to stand up, move around, and stretch every hour. My company held a similar contest and the reward was related to the person’s exercise interest—in my case, a tennis towel.
Our fast-paced, 24/7, always-on world means that stress is unavoidable—but we can change in the environment in which we operate. A 2010 study by the New University of Technology in Australia showed that employee physical and mental health improves when offices contain live plants. If you haven’t been plant shopping lately, indoor plants and trees are very inexpensive, especially when you compare it to the reduction of these negative emotions:
Tension/anxiety: 37 percent reduction
Depression/dejection: 58 percent reduction
Anger/hostility: 44 percent reduction
Fatigue: 38 percent reduction
Here are some additional ideas to add to your wellness program that would improve employee health.
Gym membership reimbursement: Offering as little as $10/month reimbursement for an active gym membership (reimbursed on a quarterly basis with supporting documentation) may be all it takes to encourage an active lifestyle for your employees.
Walking meetings: Encourage managers to walk instead of sit when meeting with a small number of employees.
Shoe fitting: Invite consultants from a retail running shoe store or shoe manufacturer to be onsite for shoe fittings for a couple of hours.
Nutrition: Offer healthy snacks and drinks in vending machines and during meetings.
Are you energized yet? Have I challenged you to get up and start moving? Instituting a wellness program/initiative begins with you! Why not put time, effort, and a little money into it? I think the English statesman Edward Smith-Stanley said it best: “Those who do not find time for exercise will have to find time for illness.” [CD1216]
Christina Davis is the HR Director for The LMC Group. She can be reached at email@example.com.