Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is important to an individual’s overall health. Being overweight can lead to serious health problems, affecting both the employee’s well-being and your company’s health care costs.
Activities and Programs for Encouraging Healthy Weight
Weight loss is typically achieved through the proper balance of exercise and proper nutrition, as well as appropriate peer support for an individual’s weight-loss efforts. Outlined below are ideas for activities and programs to encourage employees as they work to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Some initiatives will require an initial start-up effort and/or cost while others are simple and inexpensive to implement.
As a company, you can take several measures to support healthy eating habits.
- Stock vending machines with healthy options. Replace sugary beverages and soda with water and low or no sugar options. Replace unhealthy snacks with pretzels, fresh fruit, low-fat popcorn, yogurt and other nutritious options.
- Provide healthy meals with fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat proteins and whole grains in your cafeteria and at catered events, conferences and meetings.
- Price nutritious options at a lower cost than non-nutritious options to encourage consumption of healthier choices.
- Label foods in the vending machines and cafeterias to show serving size and nutritional content.
- Provide educational materials and healthy eating reminders to employees via email, the intranet and social media.
- Make drinking water easily accessible near vending machines to make choosing water instead of a sugary beverage more convenient.
- Provide healthy recipes and cooking classes for employees and their families.
- Offer employees the opportunity to purchase locally grown fruit and vegetables at the workplace (this could be a workplace farmers market or a community supported agriculture drop-off point).
Physical activity burns calories, which is necessary for weight loss. You can implement a variety of initiatives to encourage employees to exercise during the workday and at home.
- Install bicycle racks in convenient, accessible locations to encourage bicycling to work. Consider sponsoring a “bike to work” day and reward employees who participate.
- Post motivational signs near elevators to encourage employees to take the stairs instead.
- Create recreational company sports teams or walking clubs, or organize a company-sponsored team for a local run or walk event to help make exercise more fun.
- Provide on-site fitness equipment, offer standing desks or build walking trails near the building for employees to use. If on-site fitness is not an option, offer health coaching or discounted memberships to local fitness centers instead.
- Run programs or competitions to encourage activity, such as a walking challenge. Consider providing incentives for participation in physical activity and weight management or maintenance activities.
- Instead of sitting down for meetings, host walk-and-talk meetings when it is nice outside.
When designing wellness programs, employers must consider their legal obligations to disabled employees under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under the ADA, an employer must generally provide reasonable accommodations that enable employees with disabilities to participate in the program and earn whatever incentives the employer offers.
Adopting better eating and exercise habits requires a commitment and lifestyle change on the part of your employees. Use the following strategies to support your employees’ healthy lifestyle efforts.
- Provide a wellness program and health coaching.
- Provide monthly wellness seminars.
- Create a support group that meets weekly or an online forum where employees can encourage each other and share advice.
- Design activities that feature partners or teams to encourage accountability and peer support.
- Offer flexible work hours and breaks to enable employees to develop healthier, more active lifestyles.
Encouraging your employees to live healthy lifestyles can help lower your company’s health care costs. Focus on implementing initiatives that address exercise and nutrition, as well as provide support, in order to keep your employees healthy.
For more information on effective and preventive wellness programs, contact American Health & Wellness.