What’s the Deal with Employee Wellness Programs?
Author: Shannon Miller Lifestyle
Preventative medicine is the key to success, and there is no better preventative medicine than through a healthy lifestyle.
May is Employee Health and Fitness Month AND Exercise IS Medicine Month, and now, more than ever, emphasis is placed on the health and wellness of our work force. During May, communities throughout the U.S. will hold activities that recognize that physical activity and exercise – shown to help prevent and treat more than 40 chronic diseases – should be part of everyone’s health care plan. Events for Employee Health and Fitness Month (EHFM) are sponsored and promoted by The National Association for Health and Fitness, the American College of Sports Medicine, and ACTIVE Life.
Bosses and companies are starting to see this, and have created some wellness programs for their employees. Have you checked in to see if there is a health and wellness program at your work place?
Why would a boss have a wellness program for me?
The bottom line is that unhealthy employees are expensive employees. Companies have to pay premiums on health insurance, which skyrockets when the insurance company sees a large number of employees with a high BMI (body mass index). Then, they see how many sick days they are paying for. In general, a healthy employee is a happy employee and tends to be more productive. Many companies now would like to see their place of work be filled with content people that enjoy their work and have the energy to get the job done.
Exercise is preventative medicine for health problems.
There is no other prescription that can deliver what exercise can. People who exercise have higher energy, sleep better, and have fewer illnesses on average. They also have fewer of the long term illnesses that plague America’s work force, like hypertension, high cholesterol, and type II Diabetes. This is not to say that everyone who exercises will not get these illnesses, or that there are not people who exercise and still have to take medicine for these illnesses, but the problems associated with these illnesses are drastically reduced with exercise.
What kinds of employee health and wellness plans can be offered?
Many employers subsidize their employees’ gym memberships (pay for half!), training sessions, group exercise classes, and nutritionist appointments. You can ask about these benefits. If they are not offered yet, just bringing them up may get your employer thinking about it. Your answer will always be a big “NO” if you don’t ever ask!
Other employers bring in a company that specializes in workplace solutions to wellness. Such companies can bring in specialists to the work place, offer onsite wellness visits, and train employees during breaks and after the work day is over. Many employers will pay for this benefit, and some will pay a partial amount, allowing employees to pay for the rest of the sessions out of pocket or bank draft.
What else can I do at my workplace to foster wellness?
Even employees can inspire others at the work place to become more healthy. You can form an exercise group, such as a walking or running group, that meets before or after work. Many work places sponsor local races like our SML Women’s 5k, train together, and then run the race together. Other employees may want to join a group, such as Weight Watchers, together, and help each other with their choices through the day. Other employers sponsor Biggest Loser types of contests, paying for their employees to train for it, and then awarding prizes along the way. You may want to get together to do workout videos, or train together on the principles of SML! One tremendous program for all people; families, associates, and schools, is the Shannon Miller’s Free Walk Fit Program. For many people, walking in a social environment is the key to turning their health around.
SML TIP: Whatever your company or employer chooses, or whatever the office pool offers, getting well together to build teamwork within an office is good for morale, work ethic, and productivity.
By brainstorming with employers and employees, there are many solutions to a workplace’s health and wellness needs.