Benefits of worksite wellness

Worksite wellness challenges and health improvements are the new trend for improving the worksite environment for employees.

As the New Year has come, many worksites are jumping on board to improve the wellness of their worksites. According to a 2013 RAND report, 50 percent of U.S. employers with 50 employees offered a wellness program, along with 90 percent of those with over 50,000 employees.

Worksite wellness programs that include nutrition and physical activity components have claimed to improve morale, improve productivity, increase energy and decrease sick time among employees. Programs often aim to assist employees with smoking cessation, maintaining a healthy weight and preventative screenings for cholesterol, blood pressure, cancer and other conditions.

But do they really improve all of these components and save a company money? Recent research from the journal of Health Affairs and data shows a blanket statement for thousands of PepsiCo employees that it is not accurate that all these components will improve.

Worksite wellness programs may assist in boosting employee morale, along with recruitment of employees that are interested in worksites that might provide a gym in their building or discounts for meeting with a registered dietitian.

As a worksite, you may want to investigate your options before investing large dollars into a worksite wellness program. Survey the needs of your employees and start small. This may include partnering with community organizations that offer nutrition education programming free or at a very low cost.

Michigan State University Extension offers programs such as:

My Way to Wellness Online Nutrition Education Course – My Way to Wellness is an online, interactive intervention emphasizing behavioral goals and strategies associated with healthy weight. Topics covered in the course include: Goal setting; your nutritional needs and physical activity; build a healthy MyPlate; pick the portion best for you, What’s inside? Food labels 101, fat and sugar facts, plan it out, focus on fruits and veggies, energy – a balancing act and healthy habits for a healthy life. The online course includes a pre and post behavioral assessment with 10 self-paced modules that include physical activity and food safety demonstration videos.

National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP) – The National Diabetes Prevention Program is an evidence-based lifestyle change program for preventing Type 2 diabetes. Participants meet weekly for 16 weeks followed by six to eight, monthly sessions. Research shows that 58 percent of past participants were successful in achieving normal blood sugar levels and losing five to seven percent of their body weight, which eliminated their risk of developing diabetes.

Personal Action Toward Health (PATH) – PATH provides the skills and tools to manage chronic health conditions. People who participate in PATH workshops are better equipped to face the daily challenges of living with one or more chronic conditions. PATH is a six week series facilitated by two trained leaders who have chronic conditions themselves. Through PATH you’ll learn to deal with the challenges of not feeling well, talking to healthcare providers and family members, overcome stress and relax, increase your energy, handle everyday activities more easily, stay independent and set goals.

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