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Your Monthly Check-Up: Winning at Workplace Wellness

In the last month alone, several great articles have come to our attention focused on just how important wellness in the workplace is. Clearly this is not just a passing fad, but an issue of growing concern that is calling for immediate attention and action. Employees and companies as a whole are responding very positively to wellness incentives and fitness programs. Hopefully some of these stories will inspire you to instill a wellness initiative at your company – or at least change a few habits to benefit your own life.

To begin, an article in EXPERIENCE LIFE magazine (a publication of LIFE TIME FITNESS) titled “Healthy Profit” makes the case for employee wellness as a means for increasing productivity and reaping fiscal benefits. The article centers on three US companies – SAS, Patagonia and Hypertherm – that are putting the well-being of their employees first and rewarded handsomely in the form of low employee turnover and decreased medical plan costs.

The article points to a study published in the February 2012 issue of Health Affairs that found that “for every dollar invested in a comprehensive workplace wellness program, companies saved $3.27 in medical costs and $2.73 in costs related to absenteeism.” According to “Healthy Profits,”

…the days of simply tacking up a smoking-cessation poster and calling it a wellness program are quickly coming to an end. In a world of ballooning healthcare costs and exhausted employees, more businesses are adopting comprehensive workplace wellness programs that pay closer attention not just to the physical health of their workforces, but also to their employees’ overall sense of well-being.

A few examples of the initiatives these companies have adopted include onsite daycare, onsite health centers, subsidized healthy lunch programs, paid leave for parents of sick children, free yoga, paid time off to volunteer, wellness fairs and fitness club membership reimbursement. We’ll note that these companies are exceptional examples and not every organization is able to adopt all of these initiatives; however, making small changes now will go a long way with regard to your employees’ well-being.

The September/October issue of Premium Incentive Products also features a case study focused on employee wellness, titled “Working Toward Wellness at Hilton Head Health.” According to the article, Hilton Head Health, or H3, is a premiere health and wellness center in Hilton Head, SC.

When H3 implemented a physical fitness support system, “The benefits were immediate,” says president and CEO Robert Moore. “The first year was a 3 percent reduction in premiums, and the second year a 7 percent reduction at a time when premiums were increasing 12 to 15 percent.

In order to be effective, of course, a program such as this has to be widely accepted by the staff, and H3 is a great example of a program not only being widely accepted but successfully implemented and expanding, as well. “While H3 employees might know more about fitness and be healthier than the average worker, it also proved to be a challenge to increase the level of H3’s employees’ fitness. Enter the idea of incentives, challenges, classes and a little friendly competition to get the ball rolling.”

At H3, each activity is based on a point system.  A highly visible leader board is updated with top performers’ names and points awarded and employees are encouraged to compete not only with each other, but with themselves. Completing fitness classes, competing in races and taking healthy cooking classes are all eligible for points. Other types of activities include book club, volunteering, webinars, biking, swimming and walking. This shows that not only is H3 concerned with wellness, but the overall well-being of its employees.

As quoted in the article, CEO Moore says, “I’m a believer in incentives. You have to get people to try living healthier lives, then they develop the habit and they won’t want to give it up. There is no better way to do that with incentives.”

As a recognition company with our own wellness initiative, we couldn’t have said it better ourselves. And especially with the holiday season quickly approaching, what better way to fend off cold and flu season than by adopting some of these wellness principles now!


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