Exercise and Nutrition: Who Needs It?

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

More than likely, your employees do. It’s February, one month after your employees may have pledged their New Year’s resolutions: the one about finally sticking to that diet or the one about training for that half-marathon. Maybe you share these resolutions and more. But why not make it a part of the workplace? More and more, employers are placing an emphasis in the area of wellness for their employees. It might be time for you to start thinking about creating a wellness program for your shop.

An employee wellness program promotes and supports the health, safety, and the well-being of its employees. When an employer commits to a program, the benefits are clear-cut: it can help support staff to make healthier lifestyle choices, and improve staff morale and productivity.

Some components of a workplace wellness program can include:

  • A wellness sign, email, pamphlet, or newsletter
  • Health risk assessments and screenings
  • Meetings or workshops on various topics of wellness
  • Walking or healthy-eating groups
  • Healthy potluck lunches
  • Nutritious snacks in vending machines for meetings and breaks
  • Classes on smoking cessation
  • Fitness classes during lunch hour or before or after work hours

You might be saying, “Wait a minute, we don’t have the time or money for that.” Well, here’s the good news: You decide how much time and money you spend on developing a program. Successful programs can begin and thrive with little to no investment. The focus should be to start the program and encourage and support—and less about how much money or time you spend developing the program. In the end, healthier and more productive employees will be the result.

Here are some steps to help you get a program started:

  1. Seek out employees who are willing to help you organize the program.
  2. Make it fun and interesting. Eating better and exercising is a major lifestyle change for some people, so they may need incentives to participate.
  3. Brainstorm and get feedback from employees about wellness and the types of things they might like to see in the program.
  4. Assess your facilities. Is there anywhere outside to hold a fitness class before or after work? Do you have a room or area that can house some basic fitness equipment?
  5. Check out your vending machines. Are they filled with chips and other junk food? Consider high-protein snacks such as yogurt, nuts, or trail mix.
  6. Consider stocking bottled water in the break room as an alternative to soda or other high-sugar drinks.
  7. Think about how you may partner with surrounding businesses. Is there a fitness facility nearby that may offer a discount to your employees? Is there a weight-loss group that would consider holding classes at lunchtime? Would the local hospital send some outreach speakers to talk about heart disease, asthma, and other health topics relevant to your employees?
  8. Look at your insurance programs. Are there any incentives in your plan for employees to join weight-loss programs, stop smoking, or track their steps with a pedometer?
  9. Post fliers or posters in restrooms and around break areas to remind people of better food choices.
  10. Make modifications as necessary to the program. Get feedback from staff members who participate, as well as those who choose not to participate. Find out what is working and what isn’t.

Health and safety is key. Keep your employees safe with S/P2 Training courses.

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