Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

What if: There was more than one class of elite performers at work?

Throughout 2015, we’ll be blogging about our dreams for corporate wellness, fitness, and aging well.  Some of the content will represent a gentle “poking fun” at the industry, but it’s all written to stimulate thought about what really could be if we put our heads together and started mapping out what’s really possible in the realm of individual wellbeing.  We hope you’ll join the conversation by commenting on the blogs, giving us additional ideas about which to write, and/or by finding us out on Twitter at #wellnesswhatif.

ThinkstockPhotos-462481969Businesses need top performers in order to survive.  We need sales staff who are heavy hitters, research staff who are actually rocket scientists, and customer service professionals who can turn any frown upside down.  You know who those folks are in your organization, that top 5% of all performers.  In some cases, they might be unsung heroes, but at a lot of businesses, the best among us are often publically lauded.  They are the elite.

Not everyone can fit into that narrow industry-specific definition of elite.  But maybe, if business leaders opened their minds on what counts as elite, we could have more than one class of top-tier.

What if you didn’t have to exceed your sales quota to be considered among the elite at your worksite?  Don’t get me wrong.  You’d still have to work really hard.  After all, becoming top tier is definitely hard work.  Some would say rising to the top requires strength, agility, grace under stress.

According to a study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center found one way to get in the top 5% is to sweat.  In their analysis of the American Time Use survey, they concluded that only one in 20 Americans engage in vigorous exercise (the kind that makes you sweat) on any given day. 

That’s right, a paltry 5% of us are working hard enough when we workout to actually sweat.

What does this have to do with employee health? 

The way to sustained weight loss is through a healthy diet combined with prolonged cardiovascular exercise (45-60 minutes) at least five days per week.  Employers - if you want a workforce that is at a healthier body weight, you have to (among other things) create an environment that supports and provides opportunities for your employees to workout hard enough to sweat.  You need to build a corporate health culture that supports breaking a sweat in your worksite fitness center or through another avenue of the employee’s choice.

Certainly, there’s more to individual well-being than being physically fit.  But I wonder how many employees hold back on working out because of their environment (lack of access, lack of support).  What if businesses publicly rewarded the exercising (aka sweaty) elite along-side the elite sales force?

Download our whitepaper for tips to incorporate exercise at your worksite wellness program.

Download Now

 

 

Topics: corporate fitness worksite wellness what if

What If: There Were More than One Class of Elite Performers at Work?

Throughout 2015, we’ll be blogging about our dreams for corporate wellness, fitness, and aging well. Some of the content will represent a gentle “poking fun” at the industry, but it’s all written to stimulate thought about what really could be if we put our heads together and started mapping out what’s really possible in the realm of individual wellbeing. We hope you’ll join the conversation by commenting on the blogs, giving us additional ideas about which topics to explore, and by finding us on Twitter at #wellnesswhatif.

Businesses need top performers in order to survive. We need sales staff who are heavy hitters, research staff who are actually rocket scientists, and customer service professionals who can turn any frown upside down. You know who those folks are in your organization, that top 5% of all performers. In some cases, they might be unsung heroes, but at a lot of businesses, the best among us are often publicly lauded. They are the elite.

Changing the Definition of “Elite”

Not everyone can fit into that narrow industry-specific definition of elite. But maybe, if business leaders opened their minds about what counts as elite, we could have more than one class of top-tier performers.

What if you didn’t have to exceed your sales quota to be considered among the elite at your worksite? Don’t get me wrong. You’d still have to work really hard. After all, becoming top tier is definitely hard work. Some would say rising to the top requires strength, agility, and grace under stress.

Rollerblading_woman_ThinkstockPhotos-476542628According to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center found one way to get into the top 5% is to sweat. In their analysis of the American Time Use survey, they concluded that only 1 in 20 Americans engages in vigorous exercise (the kind that makes you sweat) on any given day. 

That’s right, a paltry 5% of us are working hard enough to actually sweat when we work out.

What Does This Have to Do with Employee Health? 

The way to sustained weight loss toward a healthy weight is through a healthy diet combined with prolonged cardiovascular exercise (45 to 60 minutes) at least five days per week. Employers: If you want a workforce that is at a healthier body weight, you have to (among other things) create an environment that supports and provides opportunities for your employees to work out hard enough to sweat. You need to build a corporate health culture that supports breaking a sweat in your worksite fitness center, or through another avenue of the employee’s choice.

Certainly, there’s more to individual well-being than being physically fit. But I wonder how many employees hold back on working out because of their environment (lack of access, lack of support). What if businesses publicly rewarded the exercising (aka sweaty) elite alongside the elite sales force and recognized the importance of employee health and fitness?

Download our whitepaper for tips on adding exercise to your worksite wellness program. 

Download Now

 

Topics: corporate fitness weight management corporate fitness centers cardio employee health and fitness health culture what if

What If: Health Care Collaborated with Exercise Specialists?

Throughout 2015, we’ll be blogging about our dreams for corporate wellness, fitness, and aging well. Some of the content will represent a gentle “poking fun” at the industry, but it’s all written to stimulate thought about what really could be if we put our heads together and started mapping out what’s really possible in the realm of individual wellbeing. We hope you’ll join the conversation by commenting on the blogs, giving us additional ideas about which to write, and/or by finding us on Twitter at #wellnesswhatif.

fit_scanYou’ve heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” right? The idea is that a child needs a whole village worth of support, influence, education, and diversity to be raised as a healthy and vibrant member of society. If we look at individual wellbeing through a similar lens, I would say that it takes a team to help an individual be well. 

When I think about the generally poor health (admittedly, I tend to focus on physical health) of adults in the U.S., specifically preventable issues, I wonder how much is connected to adults simply not knowing how to choose better health and how much goes back to adults making unhealthy choices even though they know better.

Let’s face it, there are a lot of external players who influence an individual’s health. I can’t get into all of those factors here, but I do want to focus on the potential for a better relationship between health care providers and exercise specialists. What follows are some of the historical challenges, as well as some what if ideas for working better together to take a team approach to individual wellbeing.

When I was working in corporate fitness several years ago, it wasn’t uncommon for me start talking with a new member about her goals for exercise and learn that she came to see me because her physician recommended she start exercising. In further conversation, I would learn that either the doctor provided no guidance on how often, how much, what intensity of exercise would be best; or (sometimes worse) the physician provided recommendations that were not practical for the individual.

It was always so helpful, when working with individuals who had a complicated health history, to get a physician recommendation that took into account that complex health picture. With more information from the doctor, I was able to write a more effective exercise prescription. But more often than not, the physician is hurried, and filling out one more form isn’t top on their list, so I’d get an almost blank form returned with little more than their signature. 

What if physicians had more time for discussion with patients about preventive health?

I think at least some of the barrier, though I’ve never heard anyone actually articulate this, is the image of the personal trainer. The certifications available for personal trainers are many and varied in terms of their rigor, and it leaves a lot of question about credentials. Licensure has been debated for years in the industry, and although the discussion varies by state (currently Louisiana is the only state with licensure requirements for clinical exercise physiologists), I think the reason licensure is even on the table is because requirements for certification are so widely varied, it’s tough for even a well-educated individual to get to the bottom of what “certified personal trainer” really means.

What if all certifications had to meet a specific standard that raised the bar for education and experience?

The American College of Sports Medicine released an Exercise Is Medicine campaign years ago with the goal of having physicians make regular exercise a part of their recommendations for practitioners to their patients. The program includes guidelines for health care providers as well as for exercise specialists to interact in the best interest of the public. While some progress has been made on the partnership between the medical community and exercise professionals, there is much work to be done to bridge that professional relationship for the improved outcomes of the patients.

What if health insurance supported visits with a certified exercise specialist as part of a prescription for better health? (This would not be unlike counseling from a registered dietitian that accompanies a diagnosis of diabetes.)

What if general practitioner offices hired exercise physiologists to counsel patients right in their offices?

What if medical training provided some insight into exercise prescription, and curriculum for exercise physiologists provided insight into what the doctor has to accomplish with a patient in an office visit?

We have a long way to go to build a strong village that contributes positively to individuals’ health, and this health care + exercise practitioner discussion is only one portion of that village. What other areas are you passionate about? Where do we need to build a better village to help individuals make healthier choices?

Read our case study, how partnering with NIFS and putting a qualified fitness professional in their new facility helped jump start this fitness program.

 NextGear case study

 

Topics: health and wellness exercise and wellness what if

What If: Health care providers worked together with exercise specialists to prescribe exercise?

Throughout 2015, we’ll be blogging about our dreams for corporate wellness, fitness, and aging well.  Some of the content will represent a gentle “poking fun” at the industry, but it’s all written to stimulate thought about what really could be if we put our heads together and started mapping out what’s really possible in the realm of individual wellbeing.  We hope you’ll join the conversation by commenting on the blogs, giving us additional ideas about which to write, and/or by finding us out on Twitter at #wellnesswhatif.

seniors_on_res_ballsYou’ve heard the saying, “it takes a village to raise a child”, right?  The idea is that a child needs a whole village worth of support an influence, and education, and diversity to be raised into a healthy and vibrant member of society.  If we look at individual wellbeing through a similar lens, I would say that it takes a team to help an individual be well. 

When I think about the generally poor health (admittedly, I tend to focus on physical health) for adults in the US, specifically preventable issues, I wonder how much is connected to adults simply not knowing how to choose better health and how much goes back to adults making unhealthy choices even though they know better.

Let’s face it, there are a lot of external players who influence an individual’s health.  I can’t get into all of those factors here, but I do want to focus on the potential for a better relationship between health care providers and exercise specialists.  What follows are some of the historical challenges as well as some what if ideas for working better together to take a team approach on individual wellbeing.

When I was working in corporate fitness several years ago, it wasn’t uncommon for me start talking with a new member about her goals for exercise and learn that she came to see me because their physician recommended she start exercising.  In further conversation, I would learn that either the doctor provided no guidance on how often, how much, what intensity of exercise would be best, or (sometimes worse) the physician would have provided recommendations that were not practical for the individual.

It was always so helpful, when working with individuals who had a complicated health history, to get a physician recommendation that took into account that complex health picture.  With more information from the doctor, I was able to write a more effective exercise prescription.  But more often than not, the physician is hurried and filling out one more form isn’t top on their list, so I’d get an almost blank form returned with little more than their signature.

          What if physicians had more time for discussion with patients about preventive health?

I think at least some of the barrier, though I’ve never heard anyone actually articulate this, is the image of the personal trainer.  The certifications available for personal trainers are many and varied in terms of their rigor and it leaves a lot of question about credentials.  Licensure has been debated for years in the industry and although the discussion varies by state (currently Louisiana is the only state with licensure requirements for clinical exercise physiologists), I think the reason licensure is even on the table is because the disparity among requirements for certification is so widely varied, it’s tough for even a well-educated individual to get to the bottom of what “certified personal trainer” really means.

What if all certifications had to meet a specific standard that raised the bar for education and experience?

The American College of Sports Medicine released an Exercise Is Medicine campaign years ago with the goal to have physicians make regular exercise a part of their recommendations for practitioners to their patients.  The program includes guidelines for health care providers as well as for exercise specialists to interact in the best interest of the public.  While some progress has been made on the partnership between the medical community and exercise professionals, there is much work to be done to bridge that professional relationship for the improved outcomes of the patients.

 What if health insurance supported visits with a certified exercise specialists as part of a prescription for better health? (Not unlike counseling from a registered dietitian accompanies a diagnosis of diabetes.)

 
What if general practitioner offices hired exercise physiologists to counsel patients right in their offices?
 
What if medical training provided some insight into exercise prescription and curriculum for exercise physiologists provided insight into what the doctor has to accomplish with a patient in an office visit?

We have a long way to go to build a strong village that contributes positively to individual’s health and this health care + exercise practitioner discussion is only one portion of that village.  What other areas are you passionate about?  Where do we need to build a better village to help individuals make healthier choices?

 

 

Topics: wellness exercise and health what if

What if: Occupancy and budget were not obstacles & you could focus on improving resident lifestyles?

Throughout 2015, we’ll be blogging about our dreams for corporate wellness, fitness, and aging well.  Some of the content will represent a gentle “poking fun” at the industry, but it’s all written to stimulate thought about what really could be if we put our heads together and started mapping out what’s really possible in the realm of individual wellbeing.  We hope you’ll join the conversation by commenting on the blogs, giving us additional ideas about which to write, and/or by finding us out on Twitter at #wellnesswhatif.

seniorlivingwomentalkingWe do a lot of wellness consulting in senior living, and by “wellness”, I mean non-clinical, lifestyle-focused consulting.  For many of our clients, that consulting relationship involves a thorough review of their “activities” department; in other cases, it’s focused more on what’s happening with their exercise program.  Regardless of the original area of focus, we always arrive at the same point – building a strategy that allows the community to shift from filling a calendar toward supporting resident purpose and passion.

Often, when I talk with a client who thinks he’s interested in having us come onsite to consult, there’s a heavy discussion about cost.  And while I certainly understand a business’s sensitivity toward expenses, I often wonder:  If budget (and occupancy – the two are inextricably linked) was no obstacle, what would you be expecting from your activities department?

Leadership in senior living communities have a lot to focus on, and it makes sense that activities might not rank near the top.  In fact, it’s common for that department to be well-liked by residents and to be well rated on satisfaction surveys.  So no pain point exists because there doesn’t appear to be an issue.  The challenge with continuing to look the other way is two-fold:

  1. Your current residents may not realize what’s possible, so putting your faith in them to be your barometer for when something needs to change is ill-placed.  That is particularly true with activities because that area of your community traditionally bears out the 80/20 rule where 20% of your residents engage in 80% of the activities.  You are likely supporting the interests of a vocal minority in your community.  And the question becomes: What is your activities department developing to meet the needs and interests of the less-engaged majority? 
  2. The adult child knows better.  They are not content with bingo, cards, and trips to the theatre, and they won’t be fooled by a full calendar that lacks opportunities for them to live out passions, dreams, and purpose. 

If you think your programming is top notch and you perhaps just have an engagement challenge, take a look at our slideshare on how to get your residents to engage.

Get our Slideshare: Improve Resident Engagment

Maybe you know wellness is an important differentiator for your community, but you really feel compelled to nail down a more favorable and consistent occupancy rate before you begin fine tuning programming and other lighter elements at your community.  I can see why you’d adopt that philosophy, but before you stake your claim there, consider reading this blog on how and why wellness is an important differentiator for any community.

Think also about the long term investment of putting in some money up front on wellness consulting that breathes new life into your campus and creates a new outlook on how activities are developed and delivered.  It’s a chicken and egg debate but if a $5,000 investment could be an important step toward solidifying occupancy and thus improving your budget outlook, would that $5,000 be worth it?

Here’s our picture of what it means to do wellness better in senior living:

  • When you do wellness better, you have data your marketing and sales staff can work with to back up their stories with prospects about how fantastic it is to live well at your community. 
  • When you do wellness better, you have more diverse, robust, and life-enriching programming on your calendar that appeals to a wide audience. 
  • When you do wellness better in your community, you create natural bridges across departments for collaborative programming so that one over-worked activities director doesn’t have to do it all. 
  • When you do wellness better you understand individual resident passions and interests and incorporate those at the personal and program level to ensure opportunities where you residents can live with vitality in the ways that are true for them. 
  • When you do wellness better, you do so much more than fill a calendar.  You map out a program and service strategy, informed by data, resident interests, and past successes.

If you think your community may be falling short in one or more of those areas, check out what we have to offer in the way consulting to help you do wellness better.

Are you ready to do wellness better? Learn more about wellness consulting.

Topics: senior wellness senior living senior living community wellness consulting what if resident wellbeing

What If: Your Corporate Fitness Center Was Free of Intimidation?

Throughout 2015, we’ll be blogging about our dreams for corporate wellness, fitness, and aging well. Some of the content will represent a gentle “poking fun” at the industry, but it’s all written to stimulate thought about what really could be if we put our heads together and started mapping out what’s really possible in the realm of individual wellbeing. We hope you’ll join the conversation by commenting on the blogs, giving us additional ideas about which to write, or by finding us out on Twitter at #wellnesswhatif.

To build this “What If” series of blogs, I polled our staff about their desires and dreams for their members and clients, and I have to admit, I was a little surprised that so many of our staff gave me feedback about building a corporate fitness center that their members could visit without guilt and intimidation. Apparently corporate shaming is still alive and well, and we as health and fitness professionals have a long way to go toward building member confidence in the fitness center.

So for this blog I’m going to run through the things that lead to perceptions of guilt as well as what we can do to build corporate environments that support the individual who takes care of his health. I’ll also be breaking down that intimidation factor to look at ways we can provide better support to our less confident members.

stern_bossManagement Doesn’t Support Staff Taking Their Break Time to Work Out

Somehow, we still have managers who think that butts in the seats all day long is the best way to get employees to be productive. Science would tell us otherwise, and I offered three different studies on this very topic in an earlier blog (3 Reasons to Add a Corporate Fitness Center to Your Wellness Program).

I understand there are quotas to be met, and I’m not saying companies should throw those to the wind. Absolutely, the business runs on meeting those goals, and no, the goals can’t be met when employees are working out and not working. But there’s a break point, for all of us (yes, even for you), where we start to lose focus and where we no longer do our best work. The managers who are still looking down their noses at employees who need an activity break should ask themselves which employee is a more effective partner in reaching the quota:

  • An employee who stays put and decreases in effectiveness throughout the course of the day, or
  • The employee who takes the company-allowed break to clear his head while lifting weights or walking on the treadmill and returns to his seat refreshed and ready to continue working?

Businesses have very little policy in place on how an employee uses a designated lunch or other break time, so why would management offer disdain for the employee who chooses to take a group fitness class at lunch?

And here’s the other consequence of unsupportive management: Not only do employees feel guilty for using their time (yes, it’s their time) that way, but they realize that maintaining good health is not important to their boss. Thus it becomes increasingly difficult for the employee to keep that as a personal and professional priority.

So how do we turn this cultural challenge around? I wish I had all the right answers. But I think the fixes for this situation are as unique as the client environment, and your ability to nudge this kind of change requires creativity and tremendous amounts of persistence. Cultural change is indeed slow, and very hard. But when an organization figures out its priorities for the business, and they include supporting wellbeing for the employees, you have a lot of opportunity to creatively help individuals move more.

We worked hard in one client setting with a high percentage of call-center employees to turn around middle management’s image that the employees absolutely and without exception HAD to be on the phones. Through a program that, ironically, was not based in their corporate fitness center, we were able to help employees get up and moving on a more regular basis. In fact, in the first four months of this program, 33 percent more participants reported walking at work at least five times per week. We had such fantastic results with this program, we wrote an eBook about it called The Cure for Sitting Disease.

Employees Who Most Need to Use the Corporate Fitness Center Are Often the Most Intimidated by It

This intimidation issue is at the heart of what NIFS does. We’re a fitness center management organization that specializes in placing amazing staff in our clients’ corporate fitness centers to run the operation. The first step to breaking down a barrier of intimidation is having the right people on board to assist any of your employees. Your fitness staff needs to possess a unique blend of compassion and desire to work with everyone, along with technical expertise for prescribing and teaching exercise.

Why You Might Be Wrong About Outsourcing Fitness Center Management

 

And then, with the right motivated fitness specialists in your fitness center, you can start to build programs that work. Personal Fitness Quest is a positive example of such a program opportunity geared toward individual members who need the most support. We call it our alternative to personal training, and it continues to be one of the most popular offerings we have across our client sites. Skeletone is another successful program, though unlike Personal Fitness Quest, it’s geared more toward the whole membership audience as we set up stepwise inspiration for them to be more active in the fitness center. For the duration of this program, we increased monthly visits by 23 percent over the previous month and saw a whopping 40 percent increase in active members who attended the fitness center at least eight times or more compared with the preceding month.

Another strategy for overcoming the intimidation issue is to understand it better, and surveys can be a helpful information-gathering tool for this purpose. Sometimes, members will simply offer their feedback, but you probably have a whole crew of employees who haven’t come through the doors in a while (some of whom stay away because they feel intimidated) and who aren’t likely to walk right in offering why they’ve stayed clear of the fitness center. Surveys—when used carefully—can be a great tool for continuous feedback about areas for improvement.

Guilt and intimidation aren’t easy issues to tackle, but they clearly get in the way of employees’ success with exercising regularly at work. What have you tried with success at your office to break down these typical barriers? I’d love to hear about your experiences with these concepts (personally and professionally) because we can all learn and do better with dialog that is truthful and solution-based.

Topics: corporate wellness corporate fitness centers productivity what if

What If: We Did Corporate Wellness FOR Our Employees, Not TO Them?

Throughout 2015, we’ll be blogging about our dreams for corporate wellness, fitness, and aging well. Some of the content will represent a gentle “poking fun” at the industry, but it’s all written to stimulate thought about what really could be if we put our heads together and started mapping out what’s possible in the realm of individual wellbeing. We hope you’ll join the conversation by commenting on the blogs, giving us additional ideas about what to write about, or by finding us on Twitter at #wellnesswhatif.

There is a growing swell of chatter online these days about where corporate wellness is headed. Outcomes-based programs seem to be the flavor of the day regardless of the profound lack of data about their effectiveness. Similarly, the battle of numbers continues between those who promote data about the effectiveness of wellness that is, at best, questionable, and those who strongly object to that potentially flawed data.

Underneath all of the banter is a concept, originally put forward by Al Lewis in his book, Cracking Health Care Costs, that wellness should be something done FOR employees, not TO them. I’m not going to be coy about this—we sit squarely on the side of doing wellness FOR employees. What follows are (1) my observations about common corporate wellness program elements done TO employees, along with (2) what if ideas that speak to our continued quest toward wellness that is FOR employees.

Health Risk Assessments

I have never been a fan of the much-praised Health Risk Assessment (HRA) for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that the survey tool is one of many done TO the employee. There is very little personal and intrinsic value for the employee when he fills out an intrusive online survey. Sure, employers tack on financial incentives for the employee who follows their rules—and sometimes the incentive is substantial. But there isn’t really any answer for the employee’s question, “How will this help me change my health?” because an online survey (and the results) don’t move any health needle for any sustained amount of time.

What’s worse is that in some cases, flawed HRA recommendations are pointing employees toward unnecessary follow-up medical care that is in direct conflict with U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations. And let’s not discount the harmful effects of employers hacking off their employees by doing what feels like invasive questioning about personal issues, only to leave employees with yet another reminder about their likely substandard health.

Does an employer really need aggregate HRA data to learn that their employees are representative of the adult U.S. population with high rates of overweight and obesity, risk for diabetes, and heart disease, and lack of physical activity? How much did it cost the employer to administer an HRA that provided an employee health profile that was already understood?

Biometric Screenings

And then there’s the bloodletting (oops, I mean screenings). I won’t belabor the issue here because the challenges with finger stick/venipuncture screenings are much the same as what I outlined with the HRA above. When was the last time employees walked away from their screening session feeling enhanced loyalty to the employer—as if the employer was genuinely interested in their health and had their back on taking whatever steps were necessary to improve their health? (If you have that warm-and-fuzzy story, I’d love to hear it.)

carrotstickThe Carrot (or the Stick, Depending on Your Perspective)

Incentives come in carrot and stick varieties, and really, it’s just two sides of the same coin. Whether the employer is offering an incentive or a disincentive is a matter of which side of the message you’re standing on. Frankly, there is little evidence to indicate that financially prodding employees leads to any sustained behavior change. But you don’t have to take my word on this; check out this joint position paper published as a partnership among the American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Association, and the American Heart Association. And yet, employers put piles of cash into these financial offerings.

All of these tools—if truly helpful to the employer such that they must stay in the corporate wellness toolkit—could be repackaged so as to be an actual benefit to the employee. The employer would need to send a message that clearly indicated a desire to help the individual employee improve his health, and then they would need to back that up by putting their money, policies, environment, and productivity expectations where their mouth is.

The Alternatives

In my opinion, the current wellness program pillars outlined above are flawed—very flawed. So how do we get back to this idea that wellness should be done FOR employees, not TO them? Our staff, largely practitioners through managing corporate fitness centers, took a moment to dream about the possibilities for shifting the current wellness paradigm to one that might actually support and inspire individual health. Here are some of our what ifs:

  • What if the five-minute walk break throughout the day was supported, encouraged, team-driven, even required? We’ve been beaten about the head with the research that shows the harmful effects of sitting. But now, new research from Indiana University has demonstrated that walking as little as five minutes on three different occasions during a three-hour sitting period can reverse some of the harmful effects of prolonged sitting.
  • What if there were no unhealthy options available in your vending machine or cafeteria? Is this the pendulum swinging too far in the other direction? Most of the clients we work with have shifted to healthful subsidized options with unhealthy choices at full cost. I can’t think of a client who has made a 100% change in their worksite food/snack option, though.
  • What if management at ALL levels in the organization supported employees working out during the day? There are a lot of corporate policies that keep employees in their seats, and even for those with more flexible schedules, there is a pervasive management message that work comes first and there is not time for a workout, a walk, a mental health break, etc.
  • What if paid-time-off policies provided bonus time off based on the number of minutes an employee spends exercising in the company fitness center? In a similar vein, what if employees who choose to spend their 30-minute lunch break exercising could be given another 30 minutes to still eat lunch, away from their desk? (Gasp…compensated workout time!)

None of these ideas is a complete pie-in-the-sky kind of concept. And just like outcomes-based wellness programs, none of these ideas has been tested for long-term effectiveness (or harm), validated, or assigned an ROI that means anything. They do, however, require a shift in workplace policy, and they require fresh thinking about how organizational wellness money is allocated. These what ifs fit squarely into the “doing FOR employees” camp, and I’m sure there are many more ideas like this out there. Comment below on your own “FOR employees” what ifs or share your successes with these and other ideas. 

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Topics: corporate wellness employee health corporate fitness employee wellness exercise in the workplace corporate wellness success what if