Employers are faced with many tough bottom-line decisions every day. Because of healthcare reform, the health of employees and cost of that health has moved to the forefront. We all know that the growing trend over the past 20 years has showed Americans becoming less active, overly stressed and obese. How does that translate into dollars? Obese employees cost their employers $1,850-$5,500 more per year in healthcare costs than their healthy-weight peers. A new Gallup poll o nearly 110,000 full-time employees estimates that unhealthy workers cost businesses $153 billion a year in lost productivity. Only about one in seven employees — 13.9 percent of the workforce — is of normal weight with no chronic condition.
In response, many employers try to implement wellness programs that promise big return on invested dollars, but often fail. Why? In one word; Culture! The only true way to create behavior change, which leads to lifestyle change, is through creating a culture within the office walls. Behavior change takes time which is why having a supportive culture plays such a large role in the process. Accountability and adherence is vital in this process. For example, some companies choose to do an online wellness program, which of course is normally the least expensive option to choose. Employees log on and register in the beginning, but rarely utilize the program over a two to six month period, or these employees “click through” a program in order to say they have completed it without gaining any type of benefit! Why? Because there is no follow up and commitment aspect. Some US companies are finally realizing that these types of “wellness programs” are merely a band aid on an amputated arm! It just doesn’t work. At a human level people need interaction and attention to build the culture, then the behavior changes can start to take place. It’s a process that needs to be nurtured.
Many companies look at “wellness programs” as something to check off the list when talking about insurance, benefits or human resource topics. This is a grave mistake. A healthy workforce not only yields more productivity and less insurance claims that drive down aggregates, but it creates loyalty from the employees. A wellness program isn’t simply a blood panel test taken once a year followed by a couple webinars and a pedometer. A true, and effective, wellness program takes into account the entire person on a physical, nutritional and emotional level. It deals directly with stress, quality of life, time management, productivity, planning and self esteem! The cherry on top is the reduced health care costs and increased work output!
Don’t just “check off” wellness. Become involved, become the example and become the leader who creates a positive and productive culture for employees.
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Danielle Girdano is a Certified Master Personal Trainer, who specializes in Childhood Obesity, Exercise for Persons with Diabetes, Postural Assessment & Corrective Exercises for Postural Abnormalities, Weight Loss, Strength and Endurance, Senior Fitness, Pregnancy & Postnatal Exercise, and Exercise Motivation & Psychology. She is President of D’fine Sculpting & Nutrition LLC with offices in multiple US states. In addition to being one of only 12 worldwide professionals that sit on the prestigious Personal Training Advisory Board for The Cooper Institute based in Dallas TX, she was recently named to the “Top 40 Executives Under 40” by the Dallas Business Journal and nominated for the “2013 Chicago Innovation Awards” because of her mathematical based fitness programs. She serves as Fitness Advisor for Synergy Worldwide based in Utah.