Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) estimates that 70.2 percent of adults in the United States are overweight or obese. This staggering statistic shows just how serious the obesity epidemic is becoming.
But obesity doesn’t just affect people’s personal lives. The damage spills over into many areas of life—it even affects the workplace. People suffering from obesity are more likely to miss work due to health problems and are more likely to experience reduced productivity while on the job. Since many companies help employees cover their healthcare costs, the impact on businesses can be significant, and many employers like yourself have decided to do something about it.
If you are planning to implement a health and fitness program in your workplace, here are some ways to make your employee health program a success.
Decide Whether to Offer On-Site Activities or Support Off-Site Programs
The first step is to decide on a program that is not only good for the employees but is also realistic for the employer. Creating a gym at the office would be ideal and would make exercise an easy option for your workers. You could also offer healthy food choices in the vending machines instead of junk food.
However, you might not have any available space to convert into a fitness center, or your company might simply not have the funding to make such a drastic change.
If that is the case, you can try partnering with local businesses to offer free gym memberships or steeply discounted nutrition programs or health supplements such as those distributed by Xyngular. You can also check with your health insurance provider to see if they offer education materials that can help employees learn how to design their own weight loss program at home.
Encourage Feedback and Leadership from Employees
Your best intentions might have no effect if you implement a program that nobody is interested in. Get input from employees about what kinds of activities or support interest them. Also, see if any employees would be interested in volunteering to take a leadership role in implementing the program, sharing the benefits with others in the workplace and organizing group activities.
The most effective employee fitness plans those in which the employees feel a sense of ownership. So try to get them fired up about the program to make it a success.
Consider Offering Incentives to Encourage Participation
Despite your best efforts, many employees will simply hesitate to participate. They just won’t be interested, at least not in the beginning. Some employees will enjoy the program once they get into it, but they’ll need a little push at the start. This is where incentives can motivate some reluctant employees to give it a chance. Here are a few ideas for incentivizing your health program:
- Hold a 6-week weight loss contest with prizes
- Offer regular participants a day at the spa or personal training sessions
- Allow participants to clock out early to use the gym
- Commit to long-term support of the program
To make a corporate health program succeed, the most important thing you can do is to commit to making a healthy environment a permanent part of your company culture. That doesn’t mean that you all have to become health nuts. But it does mean that you need to finish what you start.
In the beginning, excitement levels will be high. But as time goes by, employees must see that you are committed to helping them in the long term and that this wasn’t just a phase or a gimmick.
Commit to supporting your employees in reaching their health goals. This is good for them, and it is good for your business too. It will take real effort and resources, but the return is well worth the investment.