By Sue Blankenhagen, Wellness Program Specialist, Ceridian LifeWorks
Many HCM professionals today spend a great deal of their time focused on corporate health and wellness, and justifiably so. Ensuring a healthy workforce is the key to maximizing productivity and building a successful business. And more specifically, one key area of emphasis has emerged during the last few years – obesity.
For any company to be successful, it’s important for employees to have good health, overall. A growing concern in the U. S. is weight and workplaces are not immune to such concerns. Ceridian’s recent webinar hosted by HR.com, “Employee Weight Management: More than Numbers on a Scale,” reinforced this point.. For starters, it revealed a key fact about the realities of overweight and obese workers in the U.S. today – according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, roughly 30 percent of Americans were obese in 2014, meaning they had a BMI of 30 or higher.
This alarmingly high figure underscores the need for HCM professionals to pay more attention to employees’ weight when advocating wellness programs. Obesity can lead to a number of adverse effects for any business, including increased employee absences, lost productivity and steeper health insurance costs.
It’s time to take action and help employees better manage their weight. Fortunately, wellness programs can do just that. Here’s a five-step process for making it happen:
Integrate with your wellness program
The first step is to integrate your weight management program with your current wellness program. In a Northeast Business Group on Health survey, 88 percent of people said this is “the biggest key” to implementing a successful program. Most employers expect it will take 3-5 years for this step to have a tangible effect, but in the long run, it’s well worth it.
Establish goals for your initiative
It’s important for corporations to create goals for their weight management programs. For example, you could aim for 60 percent of employees to complete their health risk assessments, or for 5 percent to engage in a telephonic health coaching program each year. These are measurable benchmarks you can aim for.
Figure out how to measure success
Next, you need to determine how you will evaluate the success of your program. For example, you could calculate a baseline health score for your employees and establish goals for improving that score. BMI, sick days, disability claims and workers comp claims could all factor in.
Implement health initiatives that really work
Next, it’s time to take action to improve people’s fitness. The possible steps are endless. You could create designated walking paths. You could offer gym discounts, healthy foods and wellness coaches. You can even publish health newsletters and social media updates. The list goes on and on.
Increase employee awareness
Finally, you should call attention to the issue using campaigns (both around the office and via social media) that promote health. Ideally, you’d put in place a Health Champions Network – a group of employees who are interested in promoting health.
Obesity in the workplace is an important issue, and it’s vital that employers step in to lead behavioral change. For more information on this, look no further than the LifeWorks Wellness Program, which is loaded with resources that will help your organization make a difference.
For more facts & figures from the webcast, check out the tweet stream.
Sue Blankenhagen is a Wellness Program Specialist for Ceridian LifeWorks. With more than 20 years of experience with worksite wellness, community health education and health promotion, she understands what it takes to help employees find their motivation. Sue is a Certified Wellness Coach™ with a bachelor’s degree in General Dietetics from Madonna University in Michigan.