Monday, May 1, 2017

Why Physical Activity Should be the Corner Stone of Your Wellness Program

myInertia is supporting the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition in honor of National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. 

During the month of May all our blogs will be geared towards the benefits of activity to employers, employees and the community. To follow along be sure to connect with us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.

The benefits are clear. The healthier the employee, the more productive, motivated, and engaged, the workforce, leading to a greater payoff, in both the short and long term, for your organization.

So, as an employer looking to reap those benefits, how do you successfully improve your workforces’ overall health and wellbeing? Do you hire a nutrition counselor? Invest in a life coach hotline? Provide annual biometric screenings at no cost?

While all of these can be effective in their own right, a wellness program primarily focused on establishing regular, moderately intense physical activity will give you the best hard return on your investment.

Here’s why:

It improves your bottom line

A great deal of evidence suggests that employee health and wellness, as achieved through regular physical activity, produces significant financial gains for employers. As just one example of how a comprehensive, strategically designed investment in employees’ social, mental, and physical wellbeing can pay off, the Harvard Business Review looked at the multinational giant Johnson and Johnson. The company’s leaders estimate that their wellness programs have cumulatively saved them $250 million on health care costs over the past decade; from 2002 to 2008, the return was an impressive $2.71 for every dollar spent.[1]

It helps with retention, productivity and engagement

According to the World Economic Forum, when health and wellness are being promoted, organizations are seen as 2.5 times more likely to be a best performer, 4 times less likely to lose talent within the next year, and 3.5 times more likely to encourage creativity and innovation among employees, who are 8 times more likely to be engaged in what they do.[2]

Direct medical expenses are but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what poor employee health actually costs a company. The World Economic Forum estimates that medical payments total less than 40 percent when compared to the productivity losses that organizations suffer from employee absenteeism and "presenteeism"—people who are well enough to show up for work, but not able to perform at full capacity.

Healthy employees are more present, more attentive, more energetic and more focused. Global research conducted by Healthy Companies International over two decades suggests that a "healthy" company is one in which healthy leaders build healthy cultures that inspire healthy people to drive healthy performance.[3]

It’s measurable

As with any initiative, employee wellness programs must lend themselves to measurement in order to assess program progress, success, and failure.

The number of activity tracking devices available today that can wirelessly offload to the internet make measuring physical activity a virtual breeze for consumers and managers alike. In terms of health and fitness level assessments, biometric information such as BMI, heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol level, etc… can be used to add data points to the individual fitness puzzle. In this way, employee health assessments can be accurately and objectively made.

It’s all inclusive

Another advantage of physical activity is that it is universal - it can be done practically anywhere, at anytime, in any situation - think the proverbial stairs over elevator and parking in East Bumble examples.

Although the difficulty of each employee’s wellness program should be tailored to their individual fitness level and risk factors to ensure the greatest chance for success, the beauty of a “group” program is that it can be set up to encourage teamwork, camaraderie, and friendly competition, which can in turn lead to increased office creativity and productivity.

It’s fun

There is a wide variety of physical activity program options available that can help keep employees interested and motivated to stick with it and improve their health. If using wearables, employees can enjoy competing in challenges, earning badges or other rewards, and creating new social connections with other coworkers.

It improves a wide range of health risks

Regular, moderate physical activity, as realized through an employee wellness program, can reduce a long and scary list of health risks for certain types of cancer, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, anxiety, and depression, to name a few. It can improve your employee’s quality of life by improving their health, reducing stress, and keeping them safe and nimble to ensure that their later years are truly golden.

Overall, A physical activity focus provides a win-win to both pieces (employer and employee) in the workplace wellness puzzle. Put simply, healthier employees, achieved through an exercise-centric wellness program, perform better and cost less!

To learn more about physical activity and workplace wellness as well as the benefits of comprehensive population health programs, feel free to reach out to one of our wellness strategists using their online calendar here.