5 ways employers can build healthier workers

5 ways employers can build healthier workers
by Contributor /

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment is on the rise and with it comes health risks specific to the job. For desk workers, a sedentary lifestyle raises the risk of death by 50% and the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, chest pain, or suffering a heart attack is increased by a whopping 125%. Mentally and physically demanding jobs like construction, nursing, and public service positions like police and fire fighters will each have their own set of challenges employers must anticipate and help combat.  Preventing illness positively impacts an employee’s overall health, which means fewer missed days of work and benefits the employer by reducing health care costs.

 

Here are 5 ways employers can support the health of the men and women who keep their company running:

1. Lead by example.

If you want your team to make changes, emphasize role modeling for employees in a leadership position. If team members are asked to use the stairs and not the elevator, everyone should follow suit.  Management could encourage participation by agreeing to do something entertaining or funny if employers achieve a goal.

 

2. Offer healthy food choices.

It’s easy to sabotage good eating habits by offering vending machines loaded with junk food or a cafeteria that serves fried meals. Fill vending machines with healthy options like fruit, yogurt and healthy sandwiches and offer a salad bar and calorie-conscious toppings.

 

3. Get physical.

Of course exercise and activity is a key part of staying healthy and employers have lots of options. Some larger companies have started on-site gyms and others spur fitness or walking contests employees can do during their lunch break. If you don’t have the staff or the resources for those ventures, consider teaming with a local gym to offer employees a discount on memberships.

 

4. Offer screenings.

Larger companies may have a nurse on site who can do blood pressure screenings, weight checks and other basic assessments. If your company is too small, consider asking your local health department to drop by. Companies who might be interested in offering genetic screening services can team up with companies like Pathway Genomics to allow employees to identify their individual risk factors for chronic illness and hereditary diseas. Patients who are aware of their risk factors can work with their healthcare team to change lifestyle habits and prevent illness in the future—costing the company much less and boosting the employee’s quality of life.

 

5. Offer coverage for cessation programs.

It may be slightly more expensive up front, but offering full insurance coverage for cessation and addiction programs will help in the long run. Smoking cessation medications and programs to support quitting should be included along with access to rehabilitation services for drug and alcohol addiction, and nutrition services and counseling. This improves access and encourages use by employees to reduce unhealthy habits.

Supporting the physical and emotional health of employees isn’t a trend but common theme that more and more employers are joining. The old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is still true today, and by supporting the needs of employees from head to toe, employers can gain increased productivity and a more solid bottom line.

References:

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/empsit.pdf

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/sitting/faq-20058005

http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/1875-stressful-careers.html

http://www.cdc.gov/prc/pdf/matte-employersreducecosts.pdf

https://hbr.org/2015/11/how-to-support-employee-health-instead-of-sapping-it

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