5 Ways to Give your Employees a Healthy Start

You don’t have to build a fitness center or hire a full-time wellness coach to bring healthy changes into your culture. In fact, it’s best to start small and then make additions or adjustments based on employee feedback and your budget. Here are 5 ways to begin putting your employees on a path to wellness without breaking the bank:

1. START A GROUP CHALLENGE. Thanks to social media and health-related consumer technology, it’s easier than ever to get the team moving together. Challenge your employees to a step-off, using pedometer technology such as Fitbit, to measure the number of steps they take each day and encourage lunch time walks. “Or it can be done based on heart rate or calories burned, whatever is motivating for them,” says Stuart Slutzky of Humana’s Go365 program.

2. SUBSIDIZE HEALTHY OPTIONS. If you have an onsite cafeteria, consider subsidizing the nourishing choices more heavily than the junk. At NCCI, employees have a wide range of choices, from hamburgers and French fries to soups and salads, but the latter enjoy a bigger percentage of subsidy, says CEO Bill Donnell. “If you want the French fries, you’re going to pay full price.” Another option would be to secure a group rate at a local gym for employees.

3. CAN THE SUGARY SODA. According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly half (46.4%) of added sugar in American diets comes from beverages, contributing to obesity and chronic diseases such as diabetes. In April, New York Presbyterian, as part of its NYPBeHealthy employee wellness program, launched an initiative to phase out all beverages with an added caloric sweetener containing more than 25 calories per eight ounces.

4. OFFER INCENTIVES. At Geokinetics, employees receive a cash reward for healthy behavior. “If you get a full physical in a calendar year, we will give you $1,000 back just for doing that,” says CEO David Crowley. At NCCI, Donnell is looking at ways to incentivize employees who take advantage of the biometric screening offered at the company’s health clinic; one option, he says, is to increase the company’s contribution to that employee’s medical deductible.

5. TAKE THE LEAD. Your program will have significantly more buy-in if you make it clear you’re involved and that you value the time spent on the activity, says David Roddenberry of HealthyWage. “Overall, the more engaged the CEO, the easier it is to attract and retain employees around health and wellness.”

Read more: Employee Health: Why Wellness Works

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