April 29, 2010
Is it an employer's job to promote healthy living to workers?
Employees aren't schoolchildren. Most adults know that the road to better health isn't paved with extra trips to the candy machine. Likewise, it's not much of a newsflash that sitting hunched over a keyboard day after day can hamper one's health.
[Photo courtesy of Adria Richards]
But when it comes to companies promoting healthy living, three out of four workers polled this March said that more employers should step up and start offering wellness programs to their people. Given how much our jobs demand of us, it's not surprising that workers would want employers to spring for some fitness classes, weight management training, or one-on-one sessions with a personal wellness coach.
According Workplace Options, the international provider of work/life solutions that commissioned this survey, a majority of the 1,000 working Americans polled were all for employers incentivizing healthy lifestyles, too. Specifically, 59 percent of those surveyed said they thought such employer incentives were "a reward for being fit." Just 20 percent said they viewed health and wellness incentives as a "penalty for being unfit."
Something else Workplace Options discovered: When it comes to encouraging fitness, money talks. Sixty-nine percent of those polled said they'd be more inclined to take advantage of a workplace wellness program if doing so would decrease their portion of their employer-subsidized health insurance premiums.
Obviously, it's in an employer's best interest to have a healthy staff. For starters, says Workplace Options CEO Dean Debnam, a healthier staff can mean lower group health insurance premiums for the company.
In addition, says Alan King, president and COO of Workplace Options, "Healthy employees are less likely to miss work due to illness, and increasing morale can lead to increased productivity."
In fact, Workplace Options found that 61 percent of poll respondents said having the option to participate in an employee wellness program would make them "feel more appreciated" on the job and therefore "more loyal to that company."
How about you? Where do you stand on employers subsidizing health and fitness programs? Does an employer offering gym privileges, nutritional counseling, smoking-cessation assistance, or other health perks get your blood pumping? Or would you rather your company kept their mitts off your eating, exercise, and health habits and focus their efforts (and dollars) on other employee benefits?
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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