Companies who provide medical insurance benefits and wellness programs are busy this time of year deciding how to best approach the recommendation they always receive from their brokers and third-party administrators to help contain costs:
Lower the prevalence of overweight and obesity and improve the physical activity and eating habits of plan members!
According to research published in Health Affairs titled, “Ten Modifiable Health Risk Factors are Linked to More than One-Fifth of Employer-Employee Health Care Spending,” obesity and physical inactivity contribute an extra $1100 and $606, respectively, in annual medical expenditures per high-risk person. Presenteeism, short-term disability, long-term disability, and worker’s compensation costs that arise from such risk factors are on top of this and estimated to be 2 to 3 times that of direct healthcare costs.
Given the fact that 70% of people are overweight or obese and considering people spend the bulk of their week at work, companies are wise to strategically plan and invest in a culture of health.
Here are 10 worthwhile ways companies can do just that:
Water First Initiative: Install water bottle filling stations, remove soda machines, educate employees about hidden sugars in beverages, and make it a policy that beverages offered at meetings always include water.
Fitness Initiative: Make it convenient for employees to stay fit by providing paid time to exercise, investing in onsite fitness equipment, and/or subsidizing gym memberships.
Off Your Seat, On Your Feet Initiative: Educate managers and employees about the benefits of exercise and being active at work. Encourage employees to take active breaks, use the stairs, and go on walking meetings. Consider giving employees “recess,” which is an additional 15-30 minutes of paid time that can be used for exercise.
“Next Level” Wellness Initiative: Hire a corporate wellness consultant to help your company or wellness committee design, begin, or take your wellness program to the next level.
Healthy Meetings Made Easy Initiative: Create a healthy meeting policy outlining the company’s commitment to provide nutritious foods and beverages at meetings and events. Compliment the policy with training, resources, and taste testers.
Break Room Improvement Initiative: Remove unhealthy vending and soda machines and provide adequate refrigerator and microwave space so employees can bring their own meals and snacks.
Fresh Fruit Revival: Provide fresh fruit to departments on a weekly or monthly basis and remove or de-convenience the candy jars and food boxes.
Company Bicycles: Purchase company bicycles that employees can use during work hours to run short errands, commute to meetings, and ride on their breaks.
Standing Workstations: Combat the danger of sitting by providing each employee with a standing workstation. If not in the budget, provide at least one that employees can share and reserve throughout the day.
Meaningful Well-Being Programs: Resist the urge to promote weight loss competitions; such programs lead to weight cycling, which is associated with poorer cardiovascular outcomes and increased mortality. Offer meaningful, holistic programs such as Mind.Set.Goal! instead… those that focus on overall well-being rather than weight and promote weight as a side effect of health, not the source of it.
Liz De Jongh is the President of Well Simplified LLC, a company that helps people and organizations end their struggles with weight and be happier, healthier, and more productive. Find out more at www.wellsimplified.com and www.mindsetgoal.com
If you’d like to subscribe to our blog, click here.