A good ergonomics program will address the occupational or physical risk factors of work. But what about the non-occupational and individual risk factors such as obesity, physical inactivity, diet, smoking, and stress—all of which have been linked to an increased likelihood of developing musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Worksite wellness programs can help reduce non-occupational and physical risk factors as well as address other health concerns for employees.
Recent studies show that for every dollar invested in a worksite wellness program, approximately three dollars are returned through better employee health, improved productivity, and reduced absenteeism.
Tips to encourage employees to make small changes toward a healthier lifestyle
- Educate your employees. Organize “lunch and learn” sessions on relevant topics such as nutrition, healthy cooking, weight management, smoking cessation, and stress reduction.
- Organize a wellness fair. Invite representatives from local medical facilities, gyms, or weight-loss clinics to set up tables for blood pressure and cholesterol screening, lifestyle evaluations, nutrition counseling, and fitness tests.
- Organize walking groups. Encourage participation by providing maps of safe walking routes near the office. Provide ways for participants to track their progress. Make it competitive—who walks the furthest in a week, month, quarter, and year.
- Provide fruits and other healthy snacks at meetings.
- Provide better choices in the cafeteria or in vending machines such as 100 calorie snack packs, fruit, and water. Consider offering free fruit as an alternative to sugary snacks.
- Set up friendly competitions and challenges within your facility or with neighboring employers.
- Offer a variety of incentives to encourage employee participation. Consider offering “prizes” when goals are met. This may also encourage individuals to set new and higher goals.
- Contact local gyms or weight clinics as they may be willing to offer discounts to employees.
- Provide employees sufficient time and a place to practice wellness activities. Offer a meeting room for lunch time yoga or stretching classes. For those employees who go to the gym or participate in a walking group during lunch, consider giving them an extra 15 minutes for their lunch after their activity.
- Develop a newsletter or internal web page outlining your program and the benefits to employees.