Fitness and Wellness in the Workplace
Many businesses are taking a proactive approach to encouraging their employees to get, and stay, in better shape. It's becoming increasingly popular for organizations to provide their employees with benefits related to diet, exercise, and general wellness.
Trends in Workplace Fitness
I have personal knowledge of organizations in my community that provide employees with opportunities to participate in Weight Watchers meetings on-site and smoking cessation programs. It's also becoming more common for company benefits plans to include wellness services, such as chiropractic care, acupuncture, and consultations with nutritionists.
My company recently installed fitness equipment in a spare room, and I'm now spending part of my lunch hour walking on the treadmill on most days. I have equipment at home, but don't use it as often as I should. Having access to these tools in the workplace helps me fit time to exercise into my daily routine, and provides an outlet for stress relief. It's certainly better to head to the treadmill to let off some steam rather than visiting the candy or soda machine for a junk food fix.
Since my company put together its small fitness center, I've learned that many other local companies have done, or are in the process of doing, the same thing. Many other companies help employees pay for the cost of gym memberships or personal training. These organizations are not forcing employees to participate in diet or fitness related activities. Rather, they are structuring their benefits programs and work environments to be more conducive to making healthy lifestyle choices.
Why Are Employers Getting Involved in Employee Fitness?
There are a number of reasons that employers are taking an active interest in the fitness levels of their employees. It's in the best interest of businesses to make it as easy as possible for their employees to make healthy lifestyle choices. Fit employees are much less likely to miss days from work due to health issues than those who are out of shape.
It's also true that health and life insurance premiums are much more costly for employees who are not in good condition. Additionally, employees who are in good physical condition are less likely than others to sustain work-related injuries, which can result in time away from work and workers' compensation insurance claims.
I think the trend toward employer sanctioned wellness programs is likely to grow and continue in the coming years. I think we'll see more benefits programs that incorporate wellness options into packages that once included only standard medical care.
Readers & Fellow Hubbers: I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on this topic. Please feel free to post your impressions and ideas in the comments section below.