Quick Summary: According to a poll commissioned by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), 70% of people believe they lack the time necessary to exercise. Employers can offer the flexibility and spark inter-office competitive spirit that motivates workers to get in shape and stay well.
“It’s simple to bring activity into employees’ regular day through programs that are already built, such as WalkingWorks,” says Carole Redding Flamm, MD, MPH, executive medical director for BCBSA. (WalkingWorks is a program developed by BCBSA. View details at www.bcbs.com/innovations/walkingworks/.)
WalkingWorks uses pedometers, online tools, and materials to help employees create personalized walking and nutritional programs. Workplaces that enlist employees in the program set mileage goals, track progress, and create a fun workout environment.
Here are 4 easy steps to pump up participation in your wellness program:
Step #1—Start at the top. Capturing CEO support is the first priority. Managers can set the example by serving as team leaders or coaches. They should share wellness goals with the staff to show that everyone is in the same boat.
Step #2—Plan activities. For employers starting a wellness program from scratch, begin by penciling in events that focus on fitness. Invite a health professional to give a wellness presentation on any of these topics, or challenge your company to participate in a 5-K walk or run that benefits a community organization. Build fitness opportunities into the workplace calendar.
Step #3—Challenge your team. A little competitive spirit can do a lot of good. Set goals for employees, Dr. Flamm says, then make reaching those goals fun. For instance, if employees wear pedometers to track steps taken, pin up a map of the United States and log their mileage. “Create an environment that encourages sporadic participation,” Dr. Flamm says. Encourage workers to keep comfortable shoes in their workspaces so they can take lunchtime walks. “Twenty to 25 minutes of fresh air is good for productivity, improves the mood, and reduces stress,” she adds.
Step #4—Explain the benefits. A healthy staff will spend less on medical costs, which affects health insurance premiums in a good way. Communicate this to employees so they understand the big picture of wellness and how it impacts the business.
• Begin with the basics. Plan activities that will not intimidate employees who have been in a fitness lull for some time.
• Involve family. Invite spouses and workers’ children to participate. Encouragement from work and home is a double-dose of motivation.
• Try a pre-packaged program. Tap into a structured plan with proven results—don’t reinvent the wheel.
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