Healthy Employees, One Step at a Time


It’s no secret that one of the causes of poor health is poor eating habits. Therefore, it’s not a stretch to say that employee wellness can suffer when staff eat too often from unhealthy vending machines and share sugary or fattening food in the break room.

It’s no secret that one of the causes of poor health is poor eating habits. Therefore, it’s not a stretch to say that employee wellness can suffer when staff eat too often from unhealthy vending machines and share sugary or fattening food in the break room.And when employee wellness suffers, it’s also not a stretch to say that the result is higher health care costs, more sick days and decreased productivity.

The good news is that companies can do something about it, and many are. “Reeling from health care sticker shock, 60 percent of big employers now offer wellness benefits, hoping to make workers healthier and cheaper to insure,” notes an article in Fast Company magazine.

According to studies done by the Kaiser Family Foundation, many U.S. companies have turned to wellness options to help counteract rising health care costs. Some companies have even begun implementing wellness programs that, while not required, do come with heavy incentives such as the company picking up a greater share of insurance costs if the employee participates in the program.

Some wellness programs are serious enough to include health assessment questionnaires and testing prior to and after a program’s start. But there are countless other ways to improve the health, and hopefully the productivity, of your employees.

Here are some simple steps that companies can take:

  • Replace unhealthy vending machine items with healthful, whole foods. Vending machine companies that offer healthy fare are sprouting up around the country, but two to start with can be found on the websites HealthyYouVending.com and FreshVending.com.
  • Poster the break room or cafeteria walls with healthy eating ideas and wellness information in general.
  • Create a “Healthy Foods Committee” that, perhaps once a week, brings in fruit and other healthy snacks for the break room. The website Healthy24.com also recommends that such a committee could “draw up an office petition to make sure that the foods at staff parties aren’t all fattening – ask for crudités with a fat-free cottage cheese dip, fruit and low-fat cheeses, and grilled lean meat and omega-3-rich fish.”

This committee may not be popular, at least not at first, but if it helps change one person’s eating habits, it may be worth it.

  • Start a garden outside the office, or even place potted vegetables around the building if there is no space for a garden. Employees picking tomatoes straight from the vine can only be a good thing.

Keep in mind that even small steps like these can be controversial – employees can feel angry and frustrated if they believe their personal choices are being restricted – so business owners should keep in mind not to make anything mandatory.

Educating employees and offering healthy alternatives may be all you can do, but even that could help your bottom line. Please stop by if we can help you with any funding you may need for your healthy ventures.

 

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