Worksite wellness programs have been found to reduce health care costs, increase productivity and worker loyalty, and lower absenteeism. See this study by the Center for Disease Control on how a wellness program at a Texas business reduced their healthcare costs.
According to a recent white paper, published by the American Heart Association and Harris Interactive, fewer than one in five employees reported that their workplace actively encouraged participation in a wellness program. Wellness program elements that employees reported as valuable included nutritious food choices, on-site gyms or free/reduced price gym memberships, walking and weight loss programs, on-site nurse or health clinics, flu shots, routine blood pressure screenings, and smoking cessation programs.
Nearly 40 percent of study participants ranked easy access to nutritious food choices as the number one priority in terms of the most direct impact on their health in the workplace. Respondents indicated specifically that healthy food choices such as fresh fruit should be available in meetings, in on-site cafeterias, or in vending machines. Among those who did not take advantage of wellness opportunities provided by employers, nearly all said they did not feel they had time to participate.
Employees and employers alike can profit greatly from a worksite wellness program, but wellness needs to become part of corporate culture and instigating change takes leadership. Here’s an easy way you can become a Wellness Leader: encourage your colleagues to hold meetings outdoors if possible, or suggest taking a walk while conducting a brainstorming session. The more colleagues involved, the better. Interestingly, more than 40 percent of respondents said they felt senior management would be least likely to participate in on-site programs. Senior managers were expected to be responsible for setting up a wellness program, but respondents assumed wellness action would be taken on by themselves and their peers. Even if you are in a non-managerial position you can be a Wellness Leader. And, if you are in senior management, now is the perfect time to surprise your employees by leading by example!
If you don’t have a wellness program in place at your office, The FruitGuys can help by giving you the tools to start an office walking club, access to nutrition and wellness information with the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter, and wonderful fruit for healthy office snacking. For more information, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-877-FRUIT-ME.
- Jeff Koelemay