Employers Want You to Be Healthy in 2015

If your New Year’s resolution is to get fit in 2015, your employer may be the key to your success. According to a 2014 survey of 510 human resources professionals, about a third of employers offer a program to help employees lose weight. About 7 percent more are planning to offer a weight loss program within the next year.

And did you know that about 20 percent of employers now have on-site fitness centers, and 14 percent offer on-site fitness classes?

“A lot of research is coming out, and some of it shows a return on investment for having wellness programs,” said Andrew Gavigan, founder of AG Fitness in West Hills, California, which provides wellness services to corporate clients such as Red Bull and Munchkin.

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AG Fitness offers clients on-site fitness classes, fruit and other healthy snack delivery, on-site seminars about nutrition, and smoking cessation programs.

Recent studies have shown that employee wellness programs can improve employees’ self-reported health while also saving companies money in the long run.

A Healthy Garden of Eden

Garden of Life, a nutritional supplement company in West Palm Beach, Florida, has several healthy perks for its employees. Teresa Miller, Garden of Life’s senior human resources director, told Healthline, “We want our employee programs and benefits to be in alignment with our philosophy … which is empowering extraordinary health.”

Garden of Life recently relocated to a new building. Its offices include a fitness center equipped with cardio machines, weights, kettle bells, and TRX fitness machines. Employees work from adjustable desks and with adjustable monitors, so they can stand for part of the day. They also have ergonomically correct chairs, stability ball chairs, and a “quiet room” with recliners.

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Employees also receive free on-site biometric screenings to check their body fat and blood cholesterol levels, as well as a free pedometer, said Miller.

Employees who participate in quarterly team and individual walking challenges receive gift cards, cash prizes, or FitBits, which are rubber bracelets that track a person’s activity level.

“We like to make sure people are continually incentivized to get all their steps in,” Miller said.

If that weren’t enough, Garden of Life has a nutritionist on staff who conducts “lunch and learn” seminars about health and wellness topics. Certified personal trainers are also available.

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Employee Heart Attack Inspires a New Fitness Program

esd and associates, a digital marketing firm in San Antonio, Texas, started its wellness program, “esd fit,” in 2011 after an employee had a heart attack in a company conference room.

“Luckily, a doctor in the business complex where we are located had a defibrillator and was able to revive the employee,” Robert Crowe, director of communications at esd and associates, told Healthline.

The incident got the company thinking about what it could do to help its employees lead a healthier lifestyle.

“esd fit” includes team fitness activities, incentives, and a fitness tracking app developed by the company. Employees earn points for participating in health activities each quarter, said Crowe.

Group activities, such as healthy cooking demonstrations by the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association, are also scheduled. Crowe said that by attending these sessions, employees earn points and get a Starbucks gift card.

The company also goes the extra mile by reimbursing employees for the entry fee for 5K runs, marathons, and triathlons, after employees complete the races. It also has Fitness Fridays. Company hours are 9 am to 6 pm, said Crowe. But on Fridays, employees can earn points for doing a fitness activity from 5 pm to 6 pm. “Sometimes we’ll do a group walk,” he said.

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Employees also stand to benefit from esd and associates’ partnerships with its clients, such as  the YMCA of Greater San Antonio, where employees get discounted memberships and can do a Fitness Friday activity.

Global Giant Takes a Multi-Dimensional Approach

Johnson & Johnson, the worldwide health products giant, takes a “comprehensive approach to wellness that focuses on enabling a culture of health within the organization,” Dr. Fikry Isaac, vice president of Johnson & Johnson Health and Wellness Solutions, told Healthline.

One thing that has helped J&J employees is the company’s Energy for Performance and Life Program, said Isaac. This program, based on a program at J&J’s Human Performance Institute, promotes the development of what it terms “corporate athletes.” It looks at energy from four different dimensions: spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental.

standing workers

Employees go through half-day to two-day training programs.  Isaac said they examine questions such as, What is their purpose? Why would they want to live longer? What makes them happy? What matters to them the most over the long term?

Employees look at how their purpose is linked to good health, nutrition, and habits. Employees learn how they can use their physical energy to allow them to perform well at work and in family life.

Will 2015 see more companies jumping on the fitness bandwagon? Gavigan said that convincing some companies to launch health programs “is still like pulling teeth sometimes, especially if you have someone like a CFO who is not on board.”

Still, he believes that with greater awareness of the cost savings wellness programs can provide, more companies will offer these programs and more employees will choose to take part.