Want more productive employees? Do what the Healthiest Companies in America do!

Posted on May 23, 2016 by admin
Image of a man riding a bike wearing a suit.
Mayor Darwin Hindman (Colombia, MO) riding his bike. Photo credit MoBikeFed (Wikimedia/Flickr).
It sounds funny to start a post about Global Employee Health and Fitness Month talking about kids… but here it is:
Kids get recess.
Not only do kids get recess, they are expected to engage in active play outdoors regularly, and they often have snack time built into their days. They get to climb stuff, run, jump—and in the process of “burning off all that energy”, they’re able to take a break to help them refocus and learn better.
Adults on the other hand? We develop bad habits. Sometimes, we become prone to working through the lunch hour, or starting work too early and ending too late, and then find ourselves lacking time to exercise, and eating a lot of meals out. Staff meetings, if they feature food at all, often include someone grabbing some muffins or donuts at the local bakery-cafe combo, or a to-go Starbucks order. It’s not just the fault of the employee or the employer, it’s our society.
Making a workplace healthier doesn’t have to be difficult.  Groups like Global Employee Health and Fitness, overseen by it’s Time Texas: Make Healthy Easier, exist for this purpose. Companies don’t have to do big-cost things, like get each employee a Fitbit, or have a full on gym in the break room, to get employees healthier.
Health and fitness website Greatist created a list of 40+ of the healthiest companies to work for in the United States. Here’s just a sampling of what some of these companies offer employees to incentivize healthy choices [1].
  • Encourage environmentally friendly commuting by reimbursing individuals who bike to work (Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, CA)
  • Free preventative medicine, unlimited vacation days (!), decreased insurance contributions to non-smokers, to encourage smokers to quit. (General Electric, Fairfield, CT)
  • Free health education sessions. Team members may also donate paid vacation days to one another to assist in times of difficulty. (Whole Foods Market, Austin, TX)
  • Free on-site flu-shots, flexible work schedules, various sports teams, and gyms on-site (General Mills, Minneapolis, MN)
  • Free short-term counselling for employees (Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH)
  • Game tables in conference rooms, dance-offs, free health screenings and flu shots, and company workouts (with healthy snacks!). (Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, San Francisco, CA)
  • Made-from scratch cafeteria offerings, unlimited vacation days and flexible work schedules, on-site gym with classes, and paid parental leave (Twitter, San Francisco, CA).
    Side note: I’ve had the personal pleasure of having a meal at Twitter, and I will agree that the made-from-scratch cafeteria choices are top-notch!
  • In-house basketball court, bowing alley, fitness facility, yoga studio, putting green… Need I say more? Oh, okay, untracked vacation days and annual company trips. (Red Ventures, Charlotte, NC)
I’ll stop there, but seriously… take a look for yourself at the great things companies small and large offer, and see what could be brought to your own company.
Here are some ways that the Center for Community Health at the New York State Department of Health suggests improving employee health at meetings: [2]
  • Focus on low-calorie and low-fat foods; focus on fruits and vegetables
  • Decrease portion sizes—cut muffins or bagels into halves or quarters.
  • Provide water, fat-free or low-fat milk, and 100% juices
  • Light desserts that are fruit based may be offered, such as crisps or cobblers
  • Provide a vegetarian option at meals
  • For longer meetings, provide breaks for activity and choose a venue where participants can explore the area safely; send out a memo about fitness facilities that may be available at multi-day events
  • Physical activity breaks may be organized, but also adaptable for people of all fitness levels and physical abilities to participate in.
More menu ideas for meetings can be found here.

As you can see, both big ideas and small can make a difference in the health of your employees. For companies who want to keep team-members with chronic health concerns safer at work, consider supplementing the cost of a medical ID bracelet or necklace—My Identity Doctor can work out a program that suits your company’s needs to provide cost-effective medical identification solutions for you and your employees. E-mail us at info [at] myidentitydoctor.com, and we’ll work with you in helping your team gain peace of mind!

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