Combating Preventable Illnesses to Improve the Health of Employees is Good
for Your Company’s Bottom Line
Investing in employee health can show greater appreciation for workers
in a way pay and benefits, although appreciated in other ways, fall short.
A soda machine in the office break room or bottomless bowl of candy on
the reception desk may be office fixtures, but a constant supply of high-sugar
and high-calorie snacks and drink fails to provide long-term benefits
to employee health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 35 percent
of adults and 17percent of youth in America – about 90 million people
– are considered obese. Nearly half of all waking hours are spent
at or traveling to work, which gives employers the opportunity to take
an active role in combating this preventable health epidemic.
Obesity is a major health threat for workers that places personal strain
in the form of self-esteem and confidence in their appearance. Obesity
also places people at risk for bone and joint problems, general fatigue,
heart disease and issues with the gallbladder and liver, as well as high
cholesterol, blood pressure and sugar levels. Experts estimate 75 percent
of $2 trillion spent on medical care by businesses is attributable to
preventable illness , including conditions linked to obesity.
It is common knowledge that eating better and maintaining an active lifestyle
results in greater self-confidence and a healthier life overall. When
an employer invests in this outcome through simple changes in the workplace
and increases the appeal of a healthier life outlook, the intensity of
an employee’s tendency to eat healthy is likely to increase . When
employers show no engagement in employee health, the likelihood an employee
will make the effort to eat healthier snacks while working drops significantly .
Replacing junk food with healthier snacks such as whole fruit, cut vegetables
or trail mix can not only engage employees in their own healthy habits
and choices, but also acts as a physical manifestation of an employer’s
concern for the wellbeing of their workforce. Ditching the soda machine
in favor of a water cooler and readily available ice makes hydration with
a glass of water the easy choice over any sugary alternatives.
Stocking the break room cupboards with oatmeal, whole wheat crackers, peanut
butter, lightly salted popcorn and nuts for quick snacks can work wonders
for the overall health of the workplace and transition healthy habits
to after work hours.
Besides making healthy snack choices available for employees, creating
an environment that welcomes active lifestyle choices inspires more employees
to take part in walking breaks, desk exercises or even to stand and work
instead of reinforcing the sedentary nature of an office. An executive
that trades in their leather swivel chair for a sturdy exercise or fitness
ball can set the tone for the entire office. Employees that engage in
healthy practices at work are more likely to take those behaviors home.
Companies with low attrition rates are also more likely to be employee-oriented,
which includes these small changes to the office environment. Although
the national attrition rate sits much lower than it did five years ago,
the cost of turnover can range from half the annual wages of an hourly
worker to three to five times the salary of an upper management employee
. Keeping employees engaged in the office environment, in addition to
keeping them healthy, is imperative to keep the cost of business down.
Showing appreciation for employees through simple health initiatives can
galvanize a workforce to be active participants in their own health and
increase productivity for the company. Healthier employees are naturally
happier, translating to employees that are 180 percent more energized,
108 percent more engaged and 50 percent more motivated and productive
than their unhappy counterparts.
In future posts, Hoag Executive Health will bring you additional resources
to increase healthy practices in the workplace for both employees and
Written by Leeann Garms
 According to Victor Vroom’s 1964 Expectancy Theory