Employers giving incentives to stay fit

July 29, 2011 1:53:26 PM PDT
More employers are making it more convenient and even slightly lucrative for their employees to get fit, and stay healthy. In a recent national survey by Workplace Options, a benefits and employee support provider, 36 percent of respondents said their workplace offers some type of wellness initiative.

"I think all companies should offer a wellness program," said Richard Martino.

These programs include on-site screenings and vaccinations, fitness coaches and smoking cessation programs.

"I also believe a lot of people want to quit smoking, but they don't have the stamina, or the know-how. They need help," adds Mary Louise McElroy.

Some companies even bring the gym to their employees, offering fitness centers or lunch-break exercise groups. Yet, many people still need more motivation.

The same survey found that 73 percent of workers said they'd be more likely to make a lifestyle change like to lose weight or to quit smoking if their employer offered money as an incentive. Some companies are doing just that, but not everyone agrees.

There are many reasons as to why a number of companies are not yet offering money incentives.

"One of the main reasons is there are upfront costs, and they may not realize the return on investment, they are difficult to implement and there's not buy-in from senior leadership," said Jason Spangler, Chief Medical Officer of the Partnership for Prevention in Washington D.C.

They started a program called "Leading by Example", where CEOs help other CEOs implement the programs.

"You should do this because you're concerned about the bottom line, but also because you're concerned about the health of your employees, and that's better for your business," Dr. Spangler added.

The government recently announced that 10 million dollars will go towards workplace health promotion programs.

Companies that want to apply for a chunk of that change have until August 8th to apply.

For info about the above click here.

For info about the C-D-C's "Healthier Worksite Initiative" web page, with step-by-step instructions and toolkits on implementing proven wellness programs and strategies, click here.