Today’s workers spend most of their time sitting behind desks. In the early 1960’s, almost half the jobs in private industry in the U.S. required at least moderate physical activity. Now less than 20% of those occupations require this level of activity, causing Americans’ level of daily energy expenditure to drop significantly. One survey suggests that inactivity is as dangerous as smoking!
Current research continues to show that companies with fit and healthy employees have a distinct advantage over companies that don’t. Let’s look at some statistics. According to a 2013 report on a study conducted by the Health Enhancement Research Organization, employees who eat healthy are more engaged at work and 25% more likely to have higher job performance. The same survey also found that employees who exercise for 30 minutes, three times a week, are not only more engaged, but also 15% more likely to have higher job performance, lower levels of stress and increased mental resources. Further results of the study indicated that healthy employees take fewer sick days. Absenteeism is 27% lower for those workers who eat healthy and get regular exercise. Another report conducted by the Northeast Business Group on Health found that overweight employees cost their employers $73.1 billion a year and file twice the number of workers’ compensation claims.
As the previously mentioned research shows, having healthy employees is important for productivity, culture, and cost containment. So where does a company start? First of all, upper management must be supportive of the program. Researchers found that people who had a highly supportive environment at work not only exercised more, but also engaged in increased levels of leisure time activities while they were away from the office. Once the company’s leadership is on board, the focus should be on stress management, nutrition and exercise programs. Wellness programs don’t have to cost a fortune – there are many low-cost options that cover these three areas. Studies show that the key to success with wellness programs is consistency. Programs were more successful when offered to employees on an ongoing basis for a long duration. Web-based programs, when administered for three plus years, saved employees an average of $332 annually in personal costs. The study also found that wellness program participants are more likely to take responsibility for their own health and have regular physicals and preventative screenings.
When starting a wellness program, it’s important to remember that employees come in all shapes, sizes and fitness levels. The program must allow everyone to comfortably participate at their own level. Companies who make the effort and offer quality programs in a supportive environment will definitely see the many benefits that will ultimately boost the bottom line and make positive changes in their employees’ lives both at work and at home.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bob Carpenter is the Principal at Hockessin Athletic Club. HAC has been serving the Hockessin community since 2007 and will celebrate its tenth anniversary on June 10, 2017. For more information go to www.hachealthclub.com. Bob also sits on the Corporate Board of Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware.To learn more about Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware, visit bgclubs.org.