Worksite Wellness is gaining traction: Over the past 20 years, the percentage of employers offering wellness programs has grown from 54 to 72 percent, according to a study by Kaiser Permanente.
Wellness programs within the business setting are shown to help employees with:
- weight reduction
- improving physical fitness
- increasing stamina
- lowering levels of stress
- increasing well-being, self-image and self-esteem
Additionally, these programs benefit employers by:
- enhancing recruitment and retention of healthy employees
- reducing health care costs
- decreasing rates of illness and injuries
- reducing employee absenteeism
- improving employee relations and moral
- increasing productivity
So a big question is: How to grow and sustain these programs?
“A worksite wellness policy is an important piece of the overall worksite wellness picture,” said Matt Jackson, Healthy Food and Beverage Policy Specialist with Tri-County Health Department. “All of these great benefits can be happening, but if the Worksite Wellness Champion leaves the organization, it could all fall apart. With a written policy in place, the momentum will continue because it is part of the culture of the organization.”
The word and concept of “Policy” can be a bit intimidating. It sounds so formal and serious – but doesn’t have to be in this case, says Jackson.
A Worksite Wellness policy can be simple and straightforward, with guidelines such as:
- No sugary beverages purchased or served by the organization (but individuals are not prohibited from bringing and consuming sugary beverages)
- Meetings with food must include a healthy option, e.g. Pizza luncheon, with salad and fruit
- Stretch or mindfulness breaks for each hour of a meeting
It doesn’t have to be too detailed, it just needs to be in writing and approved by “the boss.” It’s also helpful to include employee input and review of the policy, so that there is across the board buy-in.
Sustainability of a worksite wellness program depends on enthusiasm, cooperation, encouragement, motivation – and a written policy that “sticks!”