Building a Wellness Program Part 2
Although it would be great if every company could install a gym on-site or hire a full-time wellness coach, there are less expensive ways to make a difference in the health of our employees. Some simple steps that don't cost anything are implementing a no-smoking policy or a walking program, can make a big difference.
Some additional ideas are:
● Leveraging websites (some free) for employees to take health and
● Ignite friendly competition between employees by having them log
steps from their pedometers, a weight loss challenge, or a
healthy eating challenge You can also use a combination of ideas
and assign points to each activity participated as part of a 12-week
program. These activities can include things like drinking a certain
amount of water or going for a walk on their lunch breaks.
People can not only achieve their personal goals and improve
their biometrics over the 12 weeks, but tend to also maintain these
goals in the future.
The Partnership for Prevention has outlined three components of proven promotion practices for workplaces, and there are cost-effective, creative ways to implement all of them.
According to the CDC, Men who smoke incur about $16,000 more in lifetime in medical expenses and are absent from work four days more per year than men who do not smoke. Women smokers incur about $18,000 more in expenses and are absent two more days than their non-smoking counterparts. If there is one wellness benefit that will save you the most money, helping employees become non-smokers is it. "The most cost saving service that is out there is really offering comprehensive tobacco benefit," Lindsay says. "That should really be one of the first things an employer should do."
The CDC recommends that insurance providers offer smoking cessation benefits that cover at least four counseling sessions as well as prescription and over-the- counter nicotine replacement medication with no co-pay. Ask your broker to keep these guidelines in mind when you are purchasing insurance.
Most states also offer free tobacco quit lines that you can advertise to your employees. Local chapters of organizations like the American Cancer Society or the American Lung Association also may offer free support in the form of quit smoking classes. You can also give your employees a cash bonus or prize if they can maintain being “tobacco free” for a set period of time (say 6-8 weeks).
Health Screenings Simply reminding employees to get cancer screenings and supplying them with information can be an effective way to improve their health. Post flyers in bathrooms, send e-mails, distribute fact sheets, or make posters. Allow for paid time off for screening appointments, and help employees remember to make those appointments in the first place by referring them to a free reminder service such as this one. If you're willing to go a step further, you can offer on-site screening services by cooperating with your local American Cancer Society or local hospital.
Fitness and Nutrition
Most people spend a majority of their waking hours at work, which means they make many of their choices about their fitness and nutrition at work. Here are some simple things that an employer can do to make healthful choices easier to make:
● Subsidize healthy options in vending machines with junk food
options. For instance, charge $1 for a cupcake but only 25 cents
for an apple.
● Set up a walking club before or after work.
● Start a pedometer challenge with a goal of 10,000 steps a day.
● Provide a safe place to store bikes in the office.
● Encourage employees to take the stairs.
● Buy healthy food for meetings instead of junk food.
● Host Weight Watchers meetings at work.
Programming decisions won't mean anything without creating an environment that can back up behavioral changes. "The pitfall would be to make it a flash-in-the- pan kind of program, where you do one activity and it's limited to one luncheon where you bring someone to talk about [the program] and then you don't do anything else," Lindsay says. "It's really got to be a continued effort. You have got to make an investment; it's not going to be just handing out pamphlets. It's going to be something that is integrated in our business. It's a way we do business."
In the end, it is all about coming up with a program that brings benefit to your employees and the organization as a whole. A healthy approach can not only just be great for the body, but for the mind and overall daily culture.
Please check in next week for insights into getting employee buy-in!