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Poor Health is Bad for Business

Author: South Valley Chamber
Published: February 25, 2020

Poor Health is Bad for Business

Why does worksite wellness matter?

The average time people spend being sedentary has increased significantly to over 6 hours a day. In fact, only about half of Utah adults participate in the recommended amount of physical activity. However, health starts where people live, work, and play. Adults spend a significant portion of their day at work. Creating a healthy work environment makes it easier for employees to be healthy, engaged, and productive.

Poor employee health can reduce productivity, increase healthcare expenditures, and increase absenteeism. A recent study found that employees with an unhealthy diet and those who didn’t exercise regularly were less productive at work than those who regularly ate whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and regularly exercised. However, getting employees to want to be involved in worksite wellness can seem tricky. Funds can be limited, and it may seem like any wellness benefits, challenges, or initiatives just haven’t seemed to work or be sustainable in the past.

The Utah Health Values Study found that a lack of time, energy, and convenience can make it difficult to be healthy. Additionally, factors like education, income, access to healthy food, reliable transportation, and social support can influence employee engagement in worksite wellness initiatives.

So where do we go from here?

  1. Assess your worksite- Convene a group of individuals interested in improving health and have a leader champion the efforts. Ask your employees questions through surveys, focus groups, or one-on-one interviews to understand social factors and the biggest barriers to being healthy.
  2. Implement a wellness policy- A wellness policy is a written document that guides and supports an organization’s efforts to create a healthy environment. Policies can be big or small like offering paid release time for employees to exercise, encouraging the use of stairs, or only offering food that meets The Dietary Guidelines for Americans at meetings.
  3. Start a worksite wellness program- From your assessment, create a worksite wellness program that ensures employees can have greater access and opportunity to being healthy. The program may include offering public transit discounts, mental health resources, and a healthy snack policy.

Next steps:

Strategies to put health as a priority in the workplace don’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. They can lead to vast benefits including reduced turnover, improved morale, increased trust and commitment to the organization, improved interactions with customers, and more positive work culture and environment.