In a country where obesity runs rampant, healthcare prices are high, and hardly anyone walks anywhere nowadays, it’s important that we strive to become healthier. Although it can be difficult to eat the right foods and find the time to work out, getting healthier not only helps our bodies, but it can also benefit our businesses as well. Did you know that starting in 2011 the government will dole out grants totaling $200 million over five years for small businesses that start wellness programs focused on nutrition, quitting smoking, physical fitness or stress management? Companies with fewer than 1000 employees will qualify for the grants, as long as they launched their wellness initiatives after March 23, 2010.
If you want to take part in these grants—or you just want your company to improve its well-being—now’s the time to get healthier. Read below to find out what you can do for your business.
In-House Health Initiatives
A company investment of $100-$150 per employee each year to participate in an employee wellness program can save companies $300 to $450 for each employee every year, according to Ron Goetzel, Director, Cornell University Institute for Health and Productivity Studies. The savings can take a few years to actualize, says Goetzel, and are seen in reduced health expenditures.
On option for implementing corporate wellness programs is to hire a personal trainer or create an office gym. There are many sites online that can give you quotes on how to implement these programs.
Here are some best practices to implement wellness programs:
- Determine if employees lead a healthy lifestyle before starting an employee wellness program. How many employees take smoke breaks? How often do you replace junk food snacks? Do employees take advantage of walking trails? The answers to these questions will give you a better idea of the employee wellness program that’s right for you.
- Survey employees to determine their healthy lifestyle habits. Are they exercising regularly? Eating three square meals a day? Having regular physicals? A corporate wellness program benefits most businesses because employees don’t have the time or energy to stay on top of health and wellness concerns at work or when they leave the office to go home.
- Investigate local offers. Investigate health solutions from local hospitals, such as flu shots, blood pressure checks, cholesterol screenings, body/fat ratio assessments, smoking cessation programs and free mammograms, and offer them to your employees. Give employees a chance to ramp up their healthy lifestyle on the company dime.
- Incentivize your employees to live a healthier lifestyle. Offer incentives for making healthier choices. Prizes or bonuses can be incredibly motivating! Offer discounts on health insurance premiums for those who participate in wellness programs. Or give out prizes to those who reach certain goals, such as quitting smoking or losing weight.
A successful workplace wellness program starts with its managers and bosses, so business owners should lead by example and take part in their company’s corporate fitness program.
Inexpensive Wellness Options
Just because your business is cutting costs doesn’t mean that you have to totally let healthy habits fall by the wayside. If you don’t have the funds to start an in-house wellness program, here are a few options for you to promote a healthier lifestyle for your business.
- Train for a race. The ChooseWhat.com team participated in a 5K this month. While not everyone ran, it was a great way for the company to get together for a healthy outing. Check out races in your city, and if your employees aren’t runners set up times for them to train together. There are even programs to help people train for 5Ks, like Couch to 5K, which has an iPhone app you can download.
- Push up as a group. Can you do 100 pushups? Me neither. But, you can get your company together to train for this goal with the One Hundred Pushups program. The six week program gives you a detailed schedule to reach 100 pushups in a row.
- Offer healthy snacks. If you’re already providing snacks and/or beverages for your team, replace them with healthier options, such as teas, fruit, veggies, pretzels, nuts, etc.
- Join a gym as a group. Contact a local gym to see if you can get a reduced rate as a group.
- Play ball! Plenty of companies have softball or kickball teams that compete against other businesses. Not only will your company get in shape with these activities, but they will also have fun and build camaraderie.
- Encourage biking to work by installing a bike rack outside your office.
- Pretend you’re on The Biggest Loser by having a weight-loss competition. But make sure employees are doing this the healthy way, not by starving themselves.