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All too often, I see managers that are so concerned with the performance of their business that they forget it is the people who drive the metrics. The health of any organization is, without a doubt, directly affected by the health of its employees — yet too little is being done to prioritize wellness in the workplace.

Have you considered lately how the health of your employees may be affecting your business?  If you hesitated to answer the question, then consider this…

Studies have shown that nearly 50 percent of an organization’s profits are being consumed by rising healthcare costs, costing U.S. businesses over $73B in medical expenditures and lost productivity.

Imagine the possibilities if your organization supported initiatives for employees to actively improve their health and manage, or eliminate, chronic conditions such as depression, obesity, arthritis, back and neck pain, allergies or hypertension.

  • Would your healthcare costs decrease?
  • Would your performance metrics improve?
  • Would you be able to increase employees wages?
  • Would there be a shift in culture in your workplace?
  • Would your customers begin to notice positive changes in interactions with your employees?

The answer to all of these questions is a resounding YES! So let’s talk. Here are the top three ways for you to boost employee health and revive the culture in your office, while driving performance through the roof — this week, this month, and this year.

This Week – Clear the Air

Could your office equipment be emitting harmful exhaust? Is your furniture and equipment placed with air circulation, temperature control, and pollutant removal in mind? Are your employees permitted to smoke on premises?  This week, begin implementing policies and procedures to improve air quality indoors, which should include adopting a smoke-free workplace. We often think of air pollution as something that only happens outside, but the reality is that the air quality indoors can be much worse. Pollutants like lead, dust mites, fire-retardants, and chemicals from cigarettes, cleaning agents, and pesticides can all be trapped indoors, contributing to constant irritation for those with asthma or other respiratory conditions. Adhering to a smoke free workplace policy may prove difficult for some, so it is important that you offer ongoing education and support in the form of awareness programs, handouts, or any other service information encouraging employees to quit. Tailor your expectations to the size, type, and culture of your company, and outline clear consequences for those who don’t follow through.

This Month – Start a Competition

If you want any chance at decreasing your healthcare costs while still providing quality coverage for your employees, they must be willing to make lifestyle changes that contribute to their good health. This month, make it your priority to motivate your employees to start taking action by participating in a workplace wellness challenge.  Not everyone will be excited about the idea of eating salads for lunch, walking for at least 30 minutes each day, or experiencing the awkwardness of their first yoga session, so your first order of business prior to launching a challenge is to provide incentive. A healthy competition with the expectation of a reward is something everyone will get on board with, so consider entering successful candidates into a raffle for paid vacation days, a new iPad, or covering expenses for an upcoming sporting event. Get creative with your challenge and encourage your employees to participate as a way of fostering camaraderie between those who may not otherwise interact in the office. If you have an internal website or Facebook page, spur your employees to blog about their progress to motivate anyone who may be falling behind.

This Year – Assess Your Risk

Cancer, heart, and lung disease contribute to millions of deaths each year, many of which are preventable with regular medical care and early detection. This year, adopt an annual tradition of hosting a worksite “checkup” for all of your employees and their chosen family members. Many companies now exist that employ trained medical technicians to screen individuals for the most common and costly chronic conditions, through risk assessments, diagnostic blood work, and blood pressure readings. Many of these same companies can assist at-risk employees in developing an action plan to improve their risk factors, and can transmit all of this data back to their primary care physician. Treating and preventing high risk factors, such as obesity, hypertension, and elevated levels of blood sugar and cholesterol can drastically reduce the frequency and severity of medical claims, producing savings that impact your bottom line. There has never been a better time to invest in the health of your employees — your business depends on it.

About Sarah Dalton

Sarah Dalton is the founder of Able Mind Able Body, a Portland-based company offering corporate wellness services and online personal training & nutrition coaching. She takes an integrative approach to healthy living, and educates others on the benefits of fitness, nutrition and self awareness. Visit www.ablemindablebody.com for more information.