Employers are increasingly offering incentives to their employees to live healthier lives. It’s a good thing because the obesity rates in America still remain high. The Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released their 2015 report on obesity. The report stated that all 50 states have obesity rates over 20 percent, three states have obesity rates of 35 percent, and overall obesity rates held steady across America at about 30 percent. Part of the obesity problem lies in the fact that Americans do not exercise enough, eat too many calories, and sit for long periods. Employee incentive programs at work are a terrific way for employers to help employees get started losing weight, increase their fitness level, and improve employee productivity. I have worked with several companies who wanted to improve employee health. Here are five awesome ways employers can make it easier for their employees to live healthier lives.
1. Monthly Lunch and Learn Programs
Hold monthly lunch and learn meetings in each of your locations. I have spoken at many of these events throughout the country and find that the employers who offer them get a high level of engagement from their employees. Offer engaging topics such as: Healthy Eating 101 Why Exercise Cannot Replace a Healthy Diet The How’s and Whys of Weight Management Preventing Diabetes Easy Lunch and Snack Ideas to Bring to Work Encourage employees to bring a healthy lunch or a nutritious dish for everyone to share.
2. On-Site Gym
If your facility has an empty room or office suite, consider putting down exercise mats, installing some mirrors, and setting up a small gym. Offer incentives to employees who workout a certain number of days a month. Ideas that appeal to employees include a free company t-shirt or other swag, the opportunity to wear jeans on a certain day, or coupons to a local health food store.
3. Lowered Health Insurance Costs
Some health insurance programs offer incentives in the form of reduced costs or deposits into a health savings account for quitting smoking, staying within a certain weight range, or logging exercise minutes. Usually employees must agree to a health screening arranged by the employer to be eligible for the discount or health savings account incentive. Check with your company health insurance provider and explore what options are available.
4. Free Access to Wellness Professionals
With the obesity rates so high, it is likely that many of your employees don’t really understand how to eat a healthy diet or get started losing weight. I know I sure didn’t. I spent a lot of time perusing the vending machine offerings instead of taking advantage of the salad bar. Combat the lack of knowledge among your employees by finding a local nutritionist who specializes in wellness and weight loss. Arrange for him to come to your office once a month to meet with employees who have signed up for a free 30 minute session.
5. Weight Loss Challenges
Weight loss challenges are popular in all parts of the country. Run a weight loss challenge once or twice a year as a way to help employees lose weight. You can put the employees who want to lose weight in teams or allow individual entries. Make the contest more fun by offering prizes along the way for the most exercise minutes, most healthy recipes submitted, or best weight loss slogan. Implementing these ideas can make a lasting difference in the health of you and your employees. If you are not sure which ideas your employees will respond to, put together a survey or employee health committee to explore your options.