Quick Summary: An eat-well/live-well program that translates into weight loss is a smart way for employers to show employees that the most important company asset is its people. And how people feel—their overall wellness—has a big impact on the bottom line, according to Maggie Lehnert, who handles corporate wellness for TOPS (Taking Off Pounds Sensibly).
Effective communication will help you successfully implement a weight-loss program that subsequently improves morale, productivity, and the overall work culture. Here are 5 ways you can implement a workplace weight-loss initiative and encourage employees to stick to the program:
1. Gauge interest. Two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, “So the need is there,” Lehnert says for lifestyle-changing nutrition and exercise programs. “But is the interest there?” she counters. “Will employees be engaged in a program like this?”
Find out by surveying employees in all areas of your company. “Committing to weight loss has to come from within,” Lehnert says, noting that regardless of the tools and support a company provides, employees must want to participate for the program to be effective.
2. Tailor the program. Cost and time are two major barriers to implementing a weight-loss program at work, Lehnert says. Turn to affordable outside sources and find out when employees can conveniently meet as a group for support, education, or exercise programs.
Customize your program to accommodate everyone who wants to participate. Exercise options should appeal to all types of people (yoga, step aerobics, walking clubs). Encourage personal goal setting.
3. Motivate staff. Provide different tools for motivating people, such as food diaries and online tools that are effective. Share inspiring books during a meeting. Lehnert says once the program is running for a while, hold an open house so others who did not join the initiative from the get-go feel comfortable getting on board. Appoint an employee leader or team so workers can confide in peers.
4. Promote the program. “It’s important to post information in newsletters and keep the word out consistently,” Lehnert says. Check to see how the program is working by emailing short surveys, and keep those confidential by using an inexpensive online survey tool. Managers should constantly reach out to employees by encouraging workers to give feedback on the program.
5. Revisit core benefits. Your company benefits may include discounts on gym memberships or even home delivery of farm-fresh produce. Do employees know about these opportunities? A friendly reminder is always effective.
• Communicate how the company-sponsored weight-loss program will work in a meeting, through email, in newsletters—and keep updating employees on the initiative. After a few months, extend another invitation to join.
• Consider incentives to keep employees motivated. Some ideas: drawings for fitness or nutrition-related items, t-shirts, or a half personal day off work.
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