The facts are undeniable that obesity and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle have become a beacon for change, and companies throughout the United States are taking notice. Approximately one-third of U.S adults are obese. The Center for Disease Control also discovered that in 2010 no states that had an obesity level of less than 20 percent, with 36 states indicating levels above 25 percent.
Undoubtedly, these kinds of statistics warrant change and the corporate world has responded. According to an article from the American Institute of Preventative Medicine, 91 percent of organizations now offer some kind of health promotion program, versus 78 percent one decade ago.
In a world of economic bottom lines, the initial interpretation of company wellness plans may seem gratuitous, but marching in descant to the benefits in a wellness plan is one very apparent fact: a healthy employee can be more productive while also decreasing the cost of escalating insurance premiums. Statistics that correlate to the success of these plans have shown that they decrease absenteeism, reduce healthcare expenses and ultimately increase employee productivity.
It didn’t take very long for Coors Brewing Company to harness the statistics on a “well work environment” and turn them into dividends. Since implementing healthy changes to the work environment, Coors medical insurance savings show an average of $5.50 per $1.00 spent on fitness equipment. They have also experienced an 18 percent drop in absenteeism for employees who participate in these programs.
Fitness organizations have also become involved in helping companies facilitate these programs. At Victor Fitness, we have implemented successful corporate wellness programs, through a range of services that facilitate the needs of companies and their employee’s including dedicated times where staff is in abundance to help employees with their training programs at our location, sending trainers to work sites to lead lunch-time exercise sessions, organizing weight loss and body composition challenges or merely writing a program that can be run and administered by an organizations human resources department.
The breadth of offerings for employee wellness can vary as well. A successful program does not always have to be expensive to the company. Sometimes, it’s the subtle changes that can mean the most. These can include changing vending machine snack offerings from chips and candy to vegetables, to on-site flu shots, to 10-minute neck massages. In some of the more comprehensive programs, employee offerings rank in popularity beginning with nutrition/weight control, anti-smoking, fitness, help with alcohol/drug abuse, stress management and drug education.
While employers may offer various incentives to employees to participate in wellness programs, avoidance of discriminatory behaviors on the part of employers are carefully guided by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Affordable Care Act. These two pieces of legislation limit incentives and require the availability alternatives for individuals whose general levels of health make it unreasonable to achieve certain standards.
As our economic recovery begins to gain traction, and employers who have learned through the adage “once bitten, twice shy” about ways to utilize best practices in running their organizations, the increasing numbers of wellness-based programs for future employees will be gaining continued momentum.
Bill Victor, M.S., ISSA Elite Trainer, is the president of Victor Fitness and Sports Performance Training (www.victor-fitness.com), a multifaceted fitness training and community-centered business. Victor Fitness can be reached by calling 360.750.0815 or by sending an email to email@example.com.