Five Ways to Improve Employee Health and Your Bottom Line

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Among the most popular New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight and get healthy. According to a recent article on Forbes.com, however, only 8 percent of Americans actually keep those resolutions. Today I thought I’d discuss why employers should take an interest in supporting the weight loss and health goals of their employees and ways to offer that support.

A few weeks ago, one of my employees went for a routine physical. It’s a personal goal of hers to get healthy this year, and the physical was a great way for her to establish a baseline as she works on achieving that goal. In the course of her physical, she discovered that she’s suffering from several significant complications, including diabetes and high blood pressure. The doctor mentioned that the nature of her work—sitting in front of a computer most of the day—contributed to her health issues.

This served as a wake-up call to me. If one member of my team is having these issues, I thought, aren’t all of us at risk? Sure, things like genetics and each person’s level of outside activity also contribute to health problems, but it couldn’t be helping matters that most of my team—myself included—aren’t very active throughout the day. Additionally, we’re often invited to social events serving unhealthy food and alcohol, and our schedules can be unpredictable, leading to skipped meals or eating the chocolate-covered granola bar we stashed in our purse for “emergencies.”

So what could I do to help?

After thinking about it and discussing it with my team, I ended up buying everyone who wanted one a Fitbit. These popular pedometers help keep track of steps taken throughout the day, and users can “friend” each other on the Fitbit website to see each other’s progress towards their individual fitness goals. A member of my team offered to send out motivational messages once a week, making it a real team effort. Over the past few weeks, our team has lost more than twenty collective pounds and made lots of headway toward those health goals.

So, why should you consider investing in the health of your employees? The biggest reason is that healthier employees are more productive and use less sick days, costing your business less money. It also keeps the cost of your health insurance down. Many insurance companies offer discounts for employers who encourage employees to get annual healthcare screenings. And then there’s the boost in morale when you celebrate your team’s success. No matter how small, it does make a difference!

Here are just a few ways you can contribute to your employees’ weight loss and health goals:

– Offer an incentive to employees who get an annual physical, such as a set contribution to a retirement plan or a gift certificate to a spa or other activity they’d enjoy.
– Stock healthy snack options, such as fresh fruit or nuts, in the office instead of junk food.
– Give small rewards to employees who use the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, such as allowing them to leave five minutes earlier for every time the stairs are used.
– Invest in a company treadmill and allow employees to use it in 15-minute intervals.
– Provide an extended lunch hour to encourage employees to walk before or after they’re done eating.

The bottom line is that you can’t afford not to take an interest in the health of your employees. Start now and you’ll have a healthier, happier team by the end of the year! If you have some ideas you’ve tried with your company, please let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

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