North American society is getting sick. Every few days we hear reports of rising obesity rates, rising rates of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and stress. Walk into any office and you'll hear employees complaining about rising workloads or their employer taking advantage of them.
We all know that we need to eat better, exercise more and look after our health but the question is why so few people make it a priority.
Corporations have a legal responsibility to provide a safe workplace but also a social responsibility to provide a healthy workplace. If the only food available is chips and chocolate, I can guaranty that the employees will be eating it. If no opportunity is provided for employees to improve their health and fitness, chances
are they wont.
Employees feel they are working too hard, for too many hours and then spending too much time commuting. No wonder when they get home they don't think of making their fitness a priority. They are getting burned out and that's not good for them, their family, their employer, their community or society as a whole.
The cost of health care is also on the rise and our average age is rising so it's not going to get any better in the short term. Along with the rising cost of health care is the cost of insurance for employers.
The primary reason most employers do not provide any health programs to their employees is the perception that it will cost too much. Yes there may be an investment up front but money spent on corporate wellness pays dividends. Less sick time, more productive employees, lower health care premiums all easily pay for any up-front investment.
If employers want to get the most out of their employees they need to get creative with ways to encourage healthy lifestyles in their employees. Encourage your employees to take a walk at lunch by providing maps of walking routes for instance is an easy and cheep way to help your employees help themselves. Instead of offering donuts for meetings, offer something healthy.
Also employers should think beyond the easy little fixes as the benefits of a larger program would also be greater. Hit The Road...Running offers corporate running programs for beginners all the way to marathon runners. The programs run out of the companies office right after close of business and allows employees to take part before heading home. By building a corporate running team, employers can also get a lot of positive exposure at local races and events as well as around the neighbourhood where the business is located. Outfit your employees with t-shirts with your companies logo and you have an instant running billboard. Others will soon start to recognise that the employer values it's employees. The employees will have better communication and teamwork as well as a social aspect to their jobs which leads to better job satisfaction.
So how much will a program like this cost an employer? Very little; Most employers will just act as a host and allow the employees who are interested to pay for their own training. Just providing a meeting location will provide huge benefits to the employer. Other employers will opt to pay for the training as a benefit to employees but studies have found that when the employee pays for the training themselves, they tend to stick to it longer and get more out of it.
Want to add another major benefit? Try adding a charity component. Challenge your employees to run for your corporations favourite cause. The added commitment of fund raising often keeps people in the programs longer and gives them a sense of accomplishment. It also allows employers to benefit a good cause and meet their social responsibility.
Most people say that they would do more physical activity if it was more convenient so if your company can give people a program they want, when they want it the employees will jump at the opportunity and there's nothing for the employer to do but reap the benefits.
About The Author
Tony Denford is a certified personal trainer and owner or Hit the Road. He has been training primarily runners since 2002 and has worked with beginners all the way to Boston Qualifier Marathon runners.
Tony emphasizes balance and variety in his training methods and always tries to make sure his client’s fitness routines are fun as well as beneficial.
Visit www.hittheroadrunning.com for more details on Hit The Road’s programs and services.