How much time do you spend sitting at your desk? It’s reported that the typical American adult works 47 stressful hours per week in a technologically driven, sedentary work environment. And while workers are sitting, health care costs are rising. In 2006, health care costs in the United States reached $2.1 trillion, about 16% of GDP.
Most of the health care costs are generated from treating chronic diseases among an increasingly sedentary population making unhealthful lifestyle choices. Worksite wellness programs comprise educational, behavioral and environmental initiatives directed at improving the health and well-being of workers while also improving a company’s bottom line.
This field has taken off over the past thirty years, as there is potential to achieve large-scale health and economic impact. Several literature reviews have concluded that for every dollar invested in a wellness program over a three-year period, the ROI ranges from about $1.40 to $4.70. This implies a major potential for long-term cost savings.
Basic components to consider:
Initial Health Risk Assessment (HRA) to identify the health needs of employees and produce targeted initiatives
Targeted Behavioral Interventions to resolve lifestyle problems
Please note that the wellness programs should be integrated into the structure and mission of organization. The work environment should support and encourage healthy behaviors. A popular way to do that is by offering incentives to program participants.
Tips to help you get started
Even if your organization cannot allocate funding for a comprehensive, large scale wellness program, there are many things that can be done easily and with little or no cost. For example, grab a free health assessment tool from Welcoa (www.welcoa.org), the premier site for all things worksite wellness-related, to identify what are your employee’s health needs.
Consider your company’s current resources, such as Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) or wellness tools available through your insurance carrier. Form a wellness committee with motivated staff and draft a wellness policy. Eliminate sugared sodas and unhealthy snacks from vending machines. Send out wellness bulletins electronically and identify group exercise opportunities. Organizational policy changes can be especially beneficial: they cost nothing to implement but can generate real change. For example, consider a policy whereby sugared sodas and cookies are not allowed to be served at meetings, only fruits and water. Most importantly, make sure to get upper-management support of any wellness initiative. This is the key to success.
Check out: Local Resources
South Florida has a local committee working to promote the concept of worksite wellness. They host an annual awards ceremony to highlight local companies already taking important strides to promote health at the workplace, as well as produce educational forums on a variety of wellness related topics. For more information, please visit http://www.healthymiamidade.org