Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Companies can and do make wellness work on the job

It’s difficult to find a work/life balance today, when work consumes so much of our lives. If we don’t have the time or the resources, it’s a struggle to stick to a healthy lifestyle. But as I’ve learned working for UnitedHealthcare, success on the job doesn’t have to come at the expense of personal health.

That’s because more and more employers are providing the tools employees need to make smarter, healthier decisions, and the tools really help. According to a recent MetLife study of employee benefits, 85% of employees who participate in wellness programs successfully lose weight, while 84% improve their diet and exercise, 81% better manage health problems like high blood pressure, cholesterol and stress and 63% are able to stop smoking.

Why, then, are there still many workers out there not taking advantage of wellness programs? The same MetLife study found that even though more employers are including wellness initiatives in health benefits, just 57% of employees are participating.

Those statistics got me thinking about what different companies can do to get their employees to take a more active role in improving their health. To start, they should take a look at the many employer-sponsored wellness programs in the area that are already taking off.

Companies throughout the Philadelphia region, of all sizes and from many different industries, have found creative ways to engage their employees in wellness initiatives. Some of them are doing such a great job, UnitedHealthcare, in partnership with the Philadelphia Business Journal, decided to give them an award.

At American Heritage Federal Credit Union, for example, employees compete against each other in the “Maintain Don’t Gain” holiday weight-watching challenge. At Compas, Inc., staff members get to spend their lunch hour with a personal trainer. And teachers in the Downingtown area school district can actually win prizes for improving their health. That’s why they’re all winners of the 2010 UnitedHealthcare Healthy Workplace Award.

Here is a complete list of Healthy Workplace Award winners.

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