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  1. #1
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    Nov 2007
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    workplace wellness programs -worthwhile?

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    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/12/up...abt=0002&abg=0

    What do you think?
    I work for an employer that does have a defined health and wellness program. No, we don't have a financial incentive (ie. to become healthier). In fact, the employer encourages strongly each major business unit has a voluntary wellness ambassador who attends bimonthly meetings, passes along upcoming events, programs if interested. The volunteer employee has to be allowed time by supervisor to participate in these simple activities..probably about 1 hr. per month.

    In the end it is up to the individual to put to practice, but having such a corporate program does cultivate some general awareness, even a cultural shift among some of our business units, to consider their personal health in general.

    We even have a volunteer employee who offers and does provide free salsa dancing once a wk. during lunch in our building. It's his own initiative but having the corporate culture that encourages some level of healthy exercise...makes it easier for him to even offer through his broad emails.. Other business units are not like ours that would be open to salsa dancing..especially by some male groups.
    Last edited by shootingstar; 09-13-2014 at 08:21 PM.
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    Concord, MA
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    Well, my workplace (the corporate part of it) just started a wellness program... it's clearly aimed at very unfit people with unhealthy habits. We get a little newsletter with "tips," and I think there are some basic, good classes on things like healthy eating. I work for a non profit community services agency and we employ a large number of people, many of them "direct care" workers in a variety of settings. These employees, in my experience, tend to be not so healthy, and I think the company could make a difference here, just in making people aware/lifestyle habits. At my last job (similar type of setting) we had these silly contests to see how far people walked and they gave out free pedometers.
    I'd love to see some type of classes, like yoga or such at work. I think that my particular work site is probably an outlier in the agency, in that this is the fittest, healthiest group of people I have ever worked with. They all do a variety of things to be that way, but, it's clearly an aware group of people.
    My DH works at a company that has a beautiful fitness center, with every type of program you can imagine. I would love that, because it would be a lot easier.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    3,176
    At my previous job there were pretty sweet financial incentives based on points earned for wellness activities including monthly self checks, wearing seat belts, not smoking, annual checks, and physical activity. We had to enter points monthly and submit some evidence of the services provided by a doc (colonoscopy, mammogram, physical) and then we got cash at the end of the year. I forget how much, but it maxed out at like $300 or something. Entering points was easy, basically just a few more clicks in the same system with time entry and approval and they sent reminders. There were even points given for entering your points on time before the 10th of the month. By entering my normal activity I always got the maximum pay out.

    They also ran weight loss activities where people formed teams and had group weigh-ins so no one would be on the spot with individual weight. My weight has hardly changed since high school, so I wouldn't have been much of an asset in that kind of game. I don't even remember what the prizes were.
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Montreal, QC
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    764
    We have such plan, and more at my work (I'm part of the team managing it). I don't know how deep it helps people to become healthier, but I know we are spending a lot of money in gym fees for 2014. More then ever. We reimburse an yearly maximum of $600 or $1000 (depending on titles) for any type of activity a person wants to do.

    We have various classes/lunch and learn offered at work (yoga, stress-management, retirement plan, zumba, even "candy" bar once a year - afterall you still need fun in life) and people are truly enjoying this.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Maine
    Posts
    959
    I manage the Wellness Center for our local hospital. They offer inexpensive Wellness memberships that can be refunded back to the employee if they meet the criteria. We also offer free fitness classes for Wellness Members. Last year I teamed up with the dietician to offer a weight loss/exercise program. Many employees also buy ski passes or attend trainer rides at the shop and again get refunded if they meet the criteria. So employees have lots of options at their finger tips.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
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    4,632
    We get...emails telling us to take the stairs instead of the elevator, eat fruits and vegetables, etc.

    I'm a grad student, though, so I only count as an employee when it's convenient for the university. Maybe they have something else for real employees. I suppose we get a slight discount at the gym...
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Houston
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    We have several programs at our office. I don't think it makes anyone any more aware, but the incentives help to motivate people.

    I think people in corporate America are perfectly aware of the healthy and not healthy things they do, but if there's a financial incentive it helps inspire employees.
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Hillsboro, OR
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    5,023
    We have a program that does all types of things including offering discounts on health insurance rates if you quit (or don't) smoke and for improving your health markers (or maintaining good ones) from year to year. We offer discounts at health clubs, host on-site weight watchers meetings, offer on-site yoga classes, sponsor teams at charity events, host wellness events (sometimes in partnership with other local companies). We also offer choices for CSA's at work that you can join and we have a local farm that sets up a produce stand in the courtyard every Wednesday during the summer.

    I can't say whether or not it makes a difference in overall employee health, but the events are well attended, the healthy lunches provided by the cafeteria are the most popular and the local 5K we sponsor has increased in participation every year for the past 3 years. Sounds pretty successful if you ask me!

    That said, while our main benefits are offered nationwide, some of the most popular things are unique to our site here in Oregon (the 5k, the produce stand, CSA, etc) so I can't say what participation rates are like in Texas, Florida or North Carolina. I would bet it varies pretty greatly, actually.
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
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    Western Canada-prairies, mountain & ocean
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    Quote Originally Posted by Owlie View Post
    We get...emails telling us to take the stairs instead of the elevator, eat fruits and vegetables, etc.

    I'm a grad student, though, so I only count as an employee when it's convenient for the university. Maybe they have something else for real employees. I suppose we get a slight discount at the gym...
    We don't get discount on gym facilities either. There is a tiny exercise rm. on floor where I work --simple hand weights, 1 running machine, a floor mat, a balance ball, 1 shower rm. For 2,000 employees in 1 building. Deliberately kept modest..you see I work for govn't. Taxpayers don't really want govn't employees to get discounts for the same facilities that they pay in full. We don't get discounts to recreational facilities nor to any their courses that we as municipal govn't offer to the general public. I work for municipal govn't. (When I worked for 2 provincial govn't in Ontario and B.C. we never got corporate wide fitness discounts either. It's doubtful that has changed much, given high public sensitivity how taxpayer money is spent.)

    A local company offers us noon exercise courses on-site as a convenience and time-saver, but we pay in full.

    They have tried diet notice ideas, etc. I don't get the impression it was a huge uptake. We have monthly free speaker sessions on health topics --some quite good speakers..selection of running shoes (really excellent speaker who understood biomechanics), snowshoeing tips/places, etc.

    Though there is still a tiny, but slowly growing number of employees that bike to work, it just makes it easier for us rare bike commuters to do it regularily when one knows the general corporate culture is receptive to anything related to health and wellness. Secured bike parking facilities is free to employees..I'm grateful for that. I've had to pay a nominal fee with private sector employers who didn't own their buildings.

    There is an annual sport oriented corporate challenge which includes various sports,...including some cycling, running, etc...our organization enters against other employers across the city.

    There is a program /mini contest, to track non-car commuting mileage and there are prizes. Overall there is good receptivity to just doin' something, or being involved so a person doesn't feel like a lone shark who is not understood.

    Interesting to read what other forumites are involved or what other employers offer.
    Last edited by shootingstar; 09-16-2014 at 05:35 AM.
    My Personal blog on cycling & other favourite passions.
    遙知馬力日久見人心 Over a long distance, you learn about the strength of your horse; over a long period of time, you get to know whatís in a personís heart.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
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    Mrs. KnottedYet
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    We have a large wellness program.

    Online: there's what amounts to a corporate Facebook, social networking sites that has a major section on health/wellness. Some employees who happen to have personal trainer certifications (in addition to whatever they do for the company) offer some good advice. There are forums for cyclists, tri-athletes, runners sharing information. While this can be a good resource in reality what I sense is happening is those who really want or need information (struggling to be fitter) don't feel like sharing that need on the company site. Others well on the way to fitness frankly spend a lot of time on the space.

    Facilities: Our building has a small gym with machines, a rowing machine, treadmill. We're also near hiking and bike trails. Other buildings, not so much. I've been trying to get corporate to move the bike racks from where they are (out of the way, un covered) to where riders actually park our bikes (covered area with no real way to lock a bike). Globally seems no consistent policy on supporting active commuting.

    Incentives: contests by email, talying your miles, drawings we do that all. My experience in this latest contest we're running is when it was announced in our team meeting, one of my coworkers who is very obese seemed to just blanch. Looked very discouraged. The way it was worded is that it's a weight loss contest. Instead of learning better habits, better food choices I think the way this was worded made her feel discouraged.

    To wrap up; in my job we put the sed in sedentary. I've met and bonded with some coworkers who find ways to keep fit or get fitter while working in what can be the most sedentary of jobs. In some ways to watch others go from car to desk to couch in break room back to desk to car back home to couch and one can just see what that does .... it inspires me to keep moving.
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