Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Four Reasons Employee Health Is Hard to Change

Before I launch into my list, I want to note that this is not an all-inclusive list, nor is it ranked in order of importance. It’s just four pieces of the 1,000-piece puzzle that so many health practitioners, employers, employees, and others are trying to solve.

1. People don't realize how much of a problem their weight is.

Perception is reality, and adults’ perceptions about their weight are way out of whack. According to an August 2010 Harris Interactive/Health Day poll that included feedback from almost 2,500 adults ages 18 and older:

  • 30 percent of overweight people think they’re actually normal size.
  • 70 percent of obese people feel they are merely overweight.
  • 39 percent of morbidly obese people think they are overweight but not obese.

2. Many workplaces have a bad health culture.Donuts

Healthy corporate environment and policies are often overshadowed by an unhealthy workplace culture that supports donuts at meetings and candy bars for fund-raisers.

3. Office wellness initiatives lack educated leadership.

Knowledge is power. Unfortunately, most corporate health promotion initiatives are overseen by individuals lacking the appropriate educational background to safely and effectively sustain those efforts.

4. Politics and uncertainty hamper corporate wellness programs.

Legal landmines tied to worksite health promotion scare away serious wellness efforts that might have a healthy impact on the workforce. Add to that the great unknown that is Health Reform and employers start to feel like their health promotion hands are tied.

Topics: corporate wellness employee health overweight employees health culture

Three Reasons to Get Social with Your Wellness Program

employee wellness and social mediaMost employers have blocked social networking sites like Facebook on their company computers while simultaneously establishing robust social media policies. It’s not surprising; the reasons to block social media content from company computers are many.

Social Media and Workplace Wellness

The truth is, your workforce is still out there playing FarmVille, tweeting on Twitter, and sharing YouTube content. Maybe it’s time to get social with your employee wellness program, by not only allowing social media use but also by creating a social media presence for your wellness program.

Top Three Reasons to Revisit Social Media Policies

  1. Your employees are already out there. According to Cisco’s 2010 Midyear Security Report, an alarming 50 percent of surveyed employees admitted to surfing the web socially even though they knew it was against company policy. In addition, 27 percent of respondents took matters into their own hands by reconfiguring the settings on company computers to allow access to previously blocked content.
  2. Research tells us social networks matter. The Framingham Heart Study is one of the most well-known, comprehensive health studies in the industry. It followed, among other things, the impact of social networks on tobacco use and obesity trends from 1971 to 2003. It turns out that social networks have a very powerful influence on whether and how individuals will change health behavior.
  3. Quiet leaders might surface through social media. We’re always talking about the importance of employee champions for your wellness program. It’s common for those individuals to take the superhero form of the already-in-shape and always-eats-right marathon runner who wants to encourage her coworkers to be like her. Social media allows the quiet champions—the unassuming former smoker, or the less obvious heart-attack-waiting-to-happen who made small changes over time to improve his health—a platform to speak out, encourage, and quietly motivate their colleagues to take baby steps toward improving health.

Consider How The Good Side of Social Media Can Work for Your Corporate Wellness Initiatives

Using social media to promote your employee wellness program is hard for most executives to buy into because of the productivity concerns. However, this free communication and sharing opportunity might provide more benefit than you expect. Your employees are already out there socializing. Why not meet them where they are with the messages you want them to hear?

Topics: corporate wellness employee health healthy workforce health culture social media

Yoga: Employee Exercise at Work Without Breaking a Sweat

YogaWorkCorporate fitness folks hear it all the time: "I really want to work out on my lunch hour, but I don’t want to sweat at work." It's a legitimate excuse. Some of us sweat in ways that it takes hours to recover from. And who wants to smell sweaty for the rest of the day?

Yoga – A Perfect Fitness Fit for Employee Health

That being said, avoiding exercise altogether will only result in overweight employees. Instead, think of yoga as the answer. We don’t mean that in an all-the-world's-mysteries-can-be-solved-while-you-meditate kind of way. But the truth is that yoga can challenge your muscles enough that employees will walk away from class feeling both relaxed and rejuvenated while barely breaking a sweat.

Employees Can Benefit from Yoga as Exercise

There is still debate on exactly how effective yoga can be for true, sustained weight loss. But yoga can positively impact flexibility and muscle tone as well as body image. Each of those pieces has a role in an individual's ability to maintain or lose weight.

How to Bring Yoga to Your Workplace

A great way to control healthcare costs is to start a yoga class at work. If you can’t afford to hire an instructor for a formal yoga class at your worksite fitness center or a vacant meeting room, try renting some DVDs from the library and borrowing a TV/DVD player combo from your AV room. Employees can also incorporate yoga into their day by using some yoga relaxation moves at their desks.

Topics: corporate wellness exercise at work employee health overweight employees control healthcare costs health culture

One Creative Way to Create a Health Culture: Gardening at Work

EmployeeGardening2"Build a health culture at work and your wellness programs will succeed," worksite health promotion professionals have said a thousand times. Seriously though, what does that mean? What does a health culture at work look like? How do you know when you’ve arrived?

Employees Gain Physical Health Benefits While Gardening

Maybe we reach our destination when we learn to infuse a little healthy fun and flexibility into the workday. Consider this: A team of employees at the McPherson CertainTeed Molded Products plant in Kansas created and implemented their own employee health initiative. Working with McPherson County agents, the employees found a piece of land on which to plant a vegetable garden. They tilled the soil and planted the seeds. Today, the garden is maintained by an enthusiastic crew of employees. Those who work the garden also reap additional health benefits from the physical activity required to plant and maintain the garden.

Employees Gain Additional Health Benefits While Gardening

Employees also reap the benefits of healthy, pesticide-free veggies for daytime snacks and at-home cooking. 

Exercising, eating right, having fun, reducing stress…sounds like a health culture to me!

How Can You Build A Health Culture at Work?

Share what your company is doing to build a healthier culture by commenting below. Even better, let others know how are you empowering your associates to take the lead in constructing a shared and mutually beneficial healthy workplace culture.

Topics: corporate wellness employee health health culture