How corporate wellness helps the environment

A couple weeks ago at the Corporate Wellness Insights blog, Juliet expressed a possible conflict between companies’ efforts to reduce environmental impact and efforts for proactive employee health:

I worry that some of the funds used to create and implement these [environmental] programs might be taken away from other employee programs that encourage health, balanced lifestyle, and fitness.

She brought up Wal-Mart’s recent announcement to invest $500 million in sustainability and wondered how much of that might have been used for employee wellness. I think this is a legitimate concern, but I don’t think these two things have to be mutually exclusive.

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Coupled together, employee health and environmental sensitivity are mandatory pieces of any corporate social responsibility (CSR) program.

For instance, commuter challenges such as the BTA’s Bike Commute Challenge have the double benefit of reducing pollution and congestion caused by employees driving to work and of getting employee bodies moving. These types of jump-start efforts are extremely low cost to all involved. To keep employees riding, employers should jump in and provide facilities and incentives and maybe even create periodic competitions throughout the year.

Further, encouraging employees to be more active invariably gets them outside more, slowly increasing their appreciation for the value of open space and quality air. I may be pushing my luck a little here, but I think it’s a logical possibility. People whose outdoor engagement consists of walking from the garage door to the car and then from the car to the office door certainly don’t have the same experience as folks traveling through town by bike. Getting folks to add some more activity to their lives has the distinct probability of increasing their overall appreciation and value of their environment. Or at least that would be my hope!

It is only the most advanced employee health management programs that provide the facilities to help employees make the lifestyle changes required to transform their health, which might include gyms, clinics and various coaches and practitioners. However, even the most lightweight program can leverage the extensive resources available in the community to encourage physical activity, healthier eating and more environmentally-friendly living. I believe it can and should accomplish both goals of maximum health and minimum environmental impact.

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  1. It’s a great article. I made some experiences after my chemo therapy against lymphoma cancer and I’m now in a very better shape as years before the cancer. I made a short quiz at my website . You can test your knowledge there.

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