While improving employee health and wellness is a top priority for most companies given the high cost of healthcare, a new study shows that workplace programs focused on encouraging employee eating and exercise habits can be effective at reducing obesity up to 9%.
The research, published in the American Journal of Public Health, shows that the programs can be especially effective if they are developed with input and participation from employees. As part of the study, which analyzed the behavior of 3,799 individuals, the researchers created employee advisory boards that guided the development of the programs.
The nutritional programs that the researchers used included having dieticians meet with cafeteria managers to help modify the available food choices to be healthier, organizing workshops to share healthy recipes to be used at home, and rewarding employees who made healthy choices at the cafeteria. Exercise options in the study varied widely depending on the worksiteFor example, buildings that included gyms or workout rooms upgraded their equipment while other sites used outdoor space to encourage employees to be more active.
“This study shows, in particular, that when employees are empowered to help shape wellness programs, these programs appear to result in meaningful improvements in health,” says Diana Fernandez, lead author of the study.
Looking to implement a wellness program in your building? Take a look at these 5 Tips for Healthy Workplaces to get started.