by Jude Carter
Workplace health & wellness has gone from being a “nice to have”, to something that can have a direct impact on the bottom line. When workers are healthy, companies experience:
· Lower health insurance costs
· Reduced absenteeism
· Increased productivity
But it’s not just about the workers. When it comes to the cost of health insurance, employers are taking on the whole family, along with their health habits…or lack thereof.
Companies like IBM, long noted for their commitment to health and wellness, have extended their reach with an innovative program. Their Children’s Health Rebate program provides incentives for healthy habits: family dinners, eating more fruits and vegetables, increasing physical activity and decreasing TV and computer time. They offer a $150 rebate to those who complete the program.
That’s great for a huge company like IBM, but what’s a small to mid-sized company to do to?
It really starts with communication. Think of what you’re already doing to reach your workers, and then extend the message to include the whole family.
· What behaviors are you trying to reinforce? Avoiding accidents, reducing stress and encouraging exercise and healthy eating are all messages that apply outside of the workplace, too.
· How are you delivering those messages? Whether it’s workplace posters, videos or newsletters, by including pictures of kids and families, at home safety tips and exercise suggestions, you’ll be reinforcing healthy behavior outside of work. (Paycheck stuffers offer another way to send the message home.)
· Does your company host family events¾summer picnics or holiday parties? They offer another opportunity to reinforce healthy food choices, and encourage physical activity.
By extending the message to the whole family, you’re telling your employees that you care about them as people, not just as workers.