By Ciara Martin, MPH
Creating Healthy Communities Project Director
Do you ever feel like you spend more time at your place of employment as opposed to your actual home? For some of us this may not be an exaggeration. In fact, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the typical American worker averages 44 hours of work per week. Furthermore, the International Labor Organization’s data suggest that, Americans work more than any other industrialized country in the world! Since we are spending so much time at our jobs, it is important to keep our health as a focal point.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that, “Worksite wellness programs can simultaneously improve the health of employees while also reducing health care costs for employers and improving worker productivity.” From an employer standpoint all of these benefits seem too good to pass up. With this in mind, as an employer there are several activities and initiatives that you can implement.
These initiatives can be small in size, or as grand as your budget will allow. One of the easiest items to implement, and to ensure that your employees are following a wellness regiment is applying a Wellness Policy. A Wellness Policy documents all of the items of wellness you want your staff to follow or have access too. For example, you may want it documented that employees are encouraged to utilize a walking path on their lunch breaks, much like the walking and biking path found in Middleport along the riverfront.
Employee wellness is of great significance here at the Meigs County Health Department. We too have a Wellness Policy, and Wellness Committee to maintain the health and wellness of our employees. One of the biggest behaviors we encourage at the Health Department is drinking water. To achieve this goal, we promote the Water First for Thirst initiative, and even provide fresh filtered water at all of our staff meetings. Other elements encompassed within are Wellness Policy are having the Health Department as a tobacco free campus through the Ohio Revised Code 3794, and encouraging daily physical activity during employee breaks. In addition to these steps, we are currently updating our Wellness Policy for the 2018 year. With this update, we hope to see further improvements made to our policy, including the presence of healthy vending machine for staff.
Listed below are some other suggestions of activities that you can partake in with your staff to make a pledge for worksite wellness:
- Display fitness and stretching posters in offices to encourage healthy movement
- Staff participation in a community walk supporting a good cause, such as cancer prevention
- Print health information on employee pay stubs
- Create a staff healthy cook book
- Take physical activity breaks during long meetings
- Provide fitness DVDs that employees can borrow
- Attend and host seminars focused around wellness
- Have a healthy potluck at staff events
- Host a monthly walking challenge with employees, and the employee with the most steps receives a prize
- Allow employees to flex their schedules to incorporate physical activity
As mentioned above, there are several steps that you as an employer can take to ensure the wellness of your employees. Should you have any questions regarding the implementation of a Wellness Policy please feel free to contact me at (740) 992-6626 or via email: Ciara.firstname.lastname@example.org.