Here’s to our health

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Not many decades ago, the concept of wellness in the workplace – that healthy employees make better workers – was considered to be groundbreaking. Times have changed, and it’s encouraging to note that for most companies, wellness is now a “check-off” program.

The results have been considerable, starting with successful smoking-cessation programs in the 1980s to today’s workplace, where many companies offer employees various opportunities to monitor their health and learn about healthy living while at work.

But let’s face it – staying healthy takes work. And it can be tough to do, especially when work can be so demanding. You have projects and priorities pulling you in different directions. Who has time to focus on their personal well-being? and how do companies make wellness a reality? Six keys to a successful employee wellness program

While not absolute, I believe there are six key elements required to enable a truly successful employee wellness program within a company:

  1. A business value proposition for wellness that’s clear, and fully understood and embraced by company leaders
  2. Programs that engage employees (and sometimes their extended families) to build excitement and create community around a culture of wellness
  3. Programs that target common and meaningful health issues such as weight management
  4. Available tools and training so employees can independently manage their health concerns
  5. Routine and voluntary health monitoring (such as biometric screenings) to help employees identify areas of risk
  6. Use of technology to enhance overall wellness awareness and user experience while enabling scalability and efficiency of program deployment.

I’m proud to say that LSI doesn’t take a back seat to anyone when it comes to wellness initiatives. We have a host of programs, and we’re always looking for ways to improve them.

We’re obviously in good company. In the San Francisco Bay area alone, more than 60 companies large and small recently participated in a program to determine the healthiest employers for that region. LSI finished in the top 10 in the 500-1,999 employee category based on the number of workers we have at our San Jose headquarters. This is the second consecutive year that LSI has made the list.

Our wellness programs run the gamut, including on-site fitness centers and exercise classes, incentive-based initiatives, personal health coaches, a worldwide annual table tennis tournament and participation in the Global Corporate Challenge (GCC), a virtual walking program aimed at changing the exercise behavior and improving the health of employees around the world.

The GCC promotes taking 10,000 steps a day to lose weight and get in shape. It’s working for us at LSI, with employees racking up nearly 4 billion steps over the past four months. That equates to burning off 651,632 pieces of chocolate cake. No matter how you slice it, that’s a ton of calories!

Numerous studies bear out that the benefits of workplace wellness programs far outweigh the costs of offering them. For instance, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that productivity losses due to personal and family health issues can cost U.S. businesses $1,685 per employee per year, or $225.8 billion annually.

You can find other insightful information in a CDC article titled “Wellness in the Workplace,” which states that “A wellness program aimed at keeping employees healthy is a key long-term human asset management strategy.” Included in the article are several resources on wellness programs and their benefits.

Another article, “Leading by Example: The Value of Worksite Health Promotion to Small and Medium-sized Employers,” outlines actions small- and medium-sized employers can take to provide for healthier employees, and highlights new tax credits and other programs that are available to smaller businesses under the U.S. Affordable Care Act. The article appears on the website for the Partnership for Prevention, a nonpartisan organization of business, nonprofit and government leaders working to make evidence-based disease prevention and health promotion a national priority.

And the U.S. Small Business Administration offers more insights and resources withWorkplace Wellness: Improving Health and Controlling Health Care Spending. This article includes a link to the Affordable Care Act’s final rules related to new incentives for employer wellness programs, as well as information about preventive services covered under the act.

From the looks of it, employees have more opportunities than ever before to get in shape and stay in shape. And their employers benefit, too, from having a healthier, happier workforce. We’ve come a long way in making wellness a permanent part of the workplace.

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