workplace wellness

Walk this Way

This originally appeared in the Workplace Wellness: Walk This Way guidebook from ChangeLab Solutions

Physical activity reduces our risk of insomnia, depression, diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, and even early death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that adults participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise a week and 2 days a week of muscle strengthening exercises. Yet, 4 in 5 adults are not getting even that much physical activity.

People want to do what is best for their health and the health of their families, but our environments and the policies that shape our environments continue to make meeting basic daily physical activity recommendations nearly impossible for the majority of workers in the United States. This doesn’t just affect our health and mental health; it affects our bottom lines. Physical inactivity accounts for $90 billion in medical expenses each year.

Click the map to zoom to your area.

Given that many adults spend half their waking hours at work, the workplace can play a big role in supporting positive lifestyle changes. At the organizational level, workplace wellness policies and programs vary greatly in form and scope, but they commonly focus on disease prevention and health promotion. They often help employees participate in more physical activity.

Most workplace wellness efforts have focused on the organizational level. However, jurisdiction-wide policies (such as executive orders, resolutions, ordinances, or laws) implemented by state and local governments have also encouraged organizational wellness policies. The Walk this Way guidebook discusses state and local policies for raising awareness, creating wellness councils, establishing government wellness programs, offering paid leave for physical activity, and creating tax credits for small businesses with workplace wellness programs.

Communities have used these kinds of policies to support the following activities: Ÿ

  • raise awareness about workplace wellness and the need for physical activity Ÿ
  • create demand for organizational workplace wellness policies and programs Ÿ
  • create financial incentives for businesses to adopt workplace wellness programs

Workplace wellness, though, does not begin and end at the office. Community health and employee health are intrinsically linked. For example, adults typically spend almost an hour commuting to and from work. They run errands throughout the workday – like buying lunch or picking up the dry cleaning. Research indicates that 89% of people in the United States drive to destinations that are less than 2 miles away. For adults to incorporate physical activity into their daily routine, they need communities that are designed to make it easier to walk, bike, and use public transportation.

Click the map to zoom to your area.

Recognizing this connection between employee health and community health, organizations like the National Academy of Sciences and the Vitality Institute have called for policies that promote community health and simultaneously support employee health. Additionally, the Community Guide recently released recommendations to improve physical activity through built environment strategies, many of which are included here. Therefore, this resource includes policies that implement complete streets, update comprehensive plans, revise zoning laws, and encourage transportation demand management. Communities are using these policies to support the following actions:

  • encourage employees to live healthier, more active lives Ÿ
  • reduce health care costs for the entire community as well as for individual employers Ÿ
  • improve the health of the local pool of potential job applicants

This Walk this Way guidebook provides wellness promoters with inspiration, guidance, and an understanding of some common state and local policies that support physical activity and wellness in and around the workplace. To download the guidebook, click here. Join ChangeLab Solutions and America Walks for a free webinar on policies that support workplace wellness and physical activity, Thursday, October 5 at 2:00 p.m. Register here.

Farm to Fork at Microsoft: Serving Great Food, Grown Locally

As an employer of 94,000 people in over 100 countries around the world, Microsoft is keenly aware that the dining choices offered at its campuses can be a positive part of their effort to be a more sustainable business. At the Puget Sound campus they started a program in July 2012 called Farm to Fork that partners with more than 60 regional farmers, ranchers and fishers to supply the dining hall with fresh options for our 41,000 employees in Puget Sound. Read more

Wellness At The Workplace

Lifestyle-related problems continue to be the number-one cause of death locally. This is a major cause for concern as the cost of health care spirals upwards and the benefits that can be derived from a healthy lifestyle continue to elude the average person.

The need for a healthy population, especially in a struggling economy, speaks eloquently to containing health-care costs and improving productivity. The workplace is ideally positioned to sensitise the public to the advantages of a healthy lifestyle. It is one of the major agencies to afford its personnel the opportunity to participate in fitness programmes. Offering fitness programmes at the workplace can be beneficial to all the stakeholders. The convenience and accessibility of such programmes can eliminate the main excuses most persons give for not getting involved in fitness activities.  More…

Appriss Honored for Efforts to Create Healthy Workplace

LOUISVILLE, Ky., March 15, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Appriss Inc. received a national award this week – one of only six organizations to be chosen – in recognition of its work to promote wellness among its employees. The company was presented with an Edington Next Practice Award at the annual Wellness in the Workplace Conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan on Wednesday. The Edington Next Practice Awards recognize organizations that are actively engaged in the pursuit of a healthy, high-performing workplace and workforce. Appriss was recognized for “Self Leadership.”

To promote workplace wellness and a healthy lifestyle among its 350+ employees, Appriss provides free access to an on-site doctor’s office (the only company of its size to do so) and waives health-care premiums for workers who do not use tobacco. Another incentive includes the opportunity for employees to win major prizes (such as vacations or cash bonuses) for meeting certain health goals. More…

Workplace Wellness: Perspectives From a University and a Steel Fabrication Company

More and more businesses and employers are taking action to improve the health of their employees and communities at large. Recently, we spoke with Jeff Johnson, President of Johnson Machine Works, Inc., and Joy Schiller, Director of Wellness at Des Moines University, about why their organizations have made wellness a priority, from the perspective of two very different businesses—one big, one small; one academic, one industrial. More…