A corporate solution.
Yesterday’s blog post has been weighing heavily on my mind (pun intended). With obesity on the rise and much of our workforce in a seated position for 12+ hours a day (commute, work, TV watching), it has become imperative that companies, both large and small, take note and make critical changes to improve lives of their workers.
According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, people who are obese spend almost $1,500 more each year on health care — about 41 percent more than an average-weight person. In addition, more than 75 percent of health care spending is related to chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, obesity and respiratory conditions, many of which are preventable.
A few years ago, ABC New’s 20/20 division followed obesity expert Dr. Levine, of Mayo Clinic, during one of his studies. Dr. Levine installed treadmills in a Minneapolis-based financial firm for 6 months and workers were instructed to walk through the workday instead of sit at their desks–even at 1mph, the results were astonishing: workers lost a total of 200 pounds! According to his research, Levine says low-level activity is crucial to fighting chronic obesity.
Clearly it’s expensive and a bit far-fetched to install treadmills for every worker in every office setting. However, after losing big money each year due to preventable workplace health deterioration, more and more companies are offering their employees discounts on gym memberships, installing fitness centers in the workplace and encouraging healthier lifestyles.
A lawfirm in Columbus, Ohio, was recognized by UnitedHealth Group for it’s outstanding benefits to employees. Bricker & Eckler LLP offers a wide variety of wellness services to address health risks, including an onsite exercise facility with personal training support, health fairs, biometric screenings and immunizations. The company also offers positive-parenting classes, yoga and self-defense courses, and a smoking-cessation program.
They are not alone in offering incentive-based benefits to employees. More businesses are adopting wellness programs as a way to improve employee health and productivity, reduce absenteeism, build teamwork within the organization, and better manage health care costs. Wellness Councils of America estimates that a $1 investment in a comprehensive wellness program saves an average of $3 in health care costs.
A client of mine told me that her department has implemented “email-free Fridays.” Should you have a question for a co-worker, instead of shooting off several emails, you are required to walk down the hall to get your answer in-person. There is less back-and-forth, more social interaction and a new-found efficiency. Plus, it cuts out the need for treadmills, doesn’t it?