Workplace wellness is defined as an organized, employer sponsored program that is designed to support employees (and sometimes, their families) as they adopt and sustain behaviors that reduce health risks, improve quality of life, enhance personal effectiveness, and benefit the organization’s bottom line.
According to recent data compiled by Lee Memorial Health System, more than 65 percent of Lee County residents are overweight, and nearly 30 percent are obese. With more than 56 percent of employed residents in jobs that entail sitting or standing for the majority of the day, it is not surprising to learn that less than 30 percent of Lee County residents engage in moderate physical activity as part of their daily lifestyle.
Curious about Return on Investment (ROI)?
Businesses look for simple investments that pay big dividends. Investing in your employees’ health is one way to reap big rewards.
“As leaders of our companies and influencers within our community, we must “walk the walk” to encourage wellness in the workforce. It has to start at the top. At Edison National Bank, we engaged our employees and offered financial incentives to those who lost the highest percentage of weight, stopped smoking and improved blood pressure. For us, it was as simple as regular private weigh-ins, regular blood pressure checks by a visiting nurse, healthy snacks and daily walks for 30 minutes or more. In addition to achieving significant weight loss, 82 percent of our employees lowered their blood pressure and today all of our employees remain smoke-free. Most importantly, our employees have improved their lifestyle, for the better!”
Simple steps = big changes
There are many ways to implement a wellness program in the workplace. Options are as varied as your workforce. The key is to choose to start now. Here are some steps to help you get started:
- Empower a group within your company to be your wellness committee. Ask them to identify some ways that your company can support the employee’s wellness.
- Decide how much money you can invest in the program (don’t let funding stop you; there are many cost-free ways to implement a wellness program)
- Consider offering rewards for participating employees such as recognition, gift cards, lower insurance premiums, etc.
- Incorporate health and wellness into your company culture. Change the snacks in the break room. Make celebrating progress an agenda item for every meeting. Put charts up tracking progress toward goals.
- Encourage your employees to get creative and have fun. Implementing a wellness program is a great opportunity for team building and social interaction for your staff.
- Lead by example. Remember that you are a leader, and you need to walk the talk. Your employees will look to your example and if you are taking care of your health, they will be more inclined to follow suit.
What’s at Stake?
Healthy employees are the cornerstone of a healthy business. Regardless of the business model or industry, the impact of poor health at work can lead to great losses. The numbers tell the story:
- Productivity losses related to personal and family health problems cost U.S. employers $1,685 per employee per year, or $225.8 billion annually. (Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine)
- The indirect costs (e.g., absenteeism, presenteeism) of poor health can be two to three times the direct medical costs.(Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine)
- Obesity and related chronic diseases cost employers up to $93 billion per year in health insurance claims (North Carolina Medical Journal)
- The cost of obesity, including medical expenditures and absenteeism, for a company with 1,000 employees is estimated to be $277,000 per year (North Carolina Medical Journal)