Archive for the ‘Corporate wellness’ Category
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.
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.
Your body was designed for throwing baseballs, shooting hoops, and jumping off diving boards and stuff. In the secret language of children, the word “fitness” doesn’t exist. It’s called “having fun.”
As I said before, “fitness” in some form or another has always been part of my life. I think it’s an important part of being a human being to make the most of this body. I’ve gotten flattering feedback from friends and colleagues that I influenced them to live healthier, more active lives. For me, the key keeping active, and heck, being happy in general, is to have fun doing it.
My favorite exercise is without question riding my bike, where I get out in the fresh air, see a variety of landscape and scenery, and have the opportunity to ride as easy or hard as I want. Sometimes I do go to the gym, but even there, I still enjoy it! That’s probably not a very popular idea. It seems most people who have a gym membership sign up with the hope that that will be motivation enough, but the fact that they don’t really enjoy that atmosphere overrides it and stops them from going. Gyms count on this behavior.
So why do big companies have gyms? My guess is that it’s the easiest type of facility to implement, and they likely get insurance rate discounts by having it. But maybe a gym is too elaborate. How about some frisbees? Or walking trails? Let people get creative. Again from the article:
Everything can be a game. Why slog through the same workout routines in boredom, when you can add a little fun?
Great point. What good is any routine if you’re not enjoying it? It won’t be much a routine for long if you stop doing it. Whatever exercise you do, keep the mission clear: have fun!
I love that statement. I ran across it when reading about Nike’s recent shoe designed specifically for Native Americans. The most surprising fact:
It will be distributed solely to American Indians; tribal wellness programs and tribal schools nationwide will be able to purchase the shoe at wholesale price and then pass it along to individuals, often at no cost.
The company anticipates selling at least 10,000 pairs and raising $200,000 for tribal programs.
Talk about a commitment to creating more athletes!
You might argue that Nike doesn’t have a peerless history, but I think the overall impact of the company is positive. How many people have been inspired to get out there and “just do it,” to get outside and get active? Coupled with good nutrition, consistent physical activity is the best way to shape, strengthen, and vitalize your body. There’s simply no better way to prevent illness than to enliven the athlete in your body.
I love to see efforts like this that target neglected niches in the world of health and fitness. I’ve seen a similar trend happening in the world of cycling over the last few years. I’ve been an avid cyclist for years now, and I make it my preferred transportation option as often as I can. When folks ask me about what bike they should choose for their style of riding, I always make the same point: make sure the bike fits. No matter how nice the bike, you won’t ride it if it’s not comfortable. Once upon a time, you could either get a beach cruiser or road racing bike. Nowadays, there are a dizzying array of bicycle designs, and more importantly, there are bikes made specifically for women or folks who are BIG and tall. Better yet, the number of custom bike builders only increases over time, giving the customer complete control over the fit, handling and utility of their bike (check out Sweetpea Bicycles for instance, which makes bikes specifically for women here in Portland).
Wait, what about that title? If you have a body, you are an athlete. At some point in high school, I realized that I wanted to always be an athlete in body and mind. In other words, I wanted to get the absolute best about both aspects of my development. I hope that others see this in themselves, too. I think that each person has the ability to define what “athlete” means in their own life, and to take the steps required to become that athlete. Until someone develops a pill to mimic exercise, being comfortable in your shoes or on your bike is requisite for you to develop an activity routine.
So cheers to you Nike, for helping another neglected population get out there and just do it. I hope it is a rousing success and influences other companies to follow your lead.
Discovered via BHIC blog
To conclude the series of ideas to apply a naturopathic approach to corporate wellness, I’ll tackle the sixth and final principle of naturopathy: prevention. The naturopathic physician recognizes the fact that the goal of healthcare is not only treatment of disease, but ultimately the prevention of disease. To meet this goal, the naturopath works with each patient to maximize their health through education and the promotion of health-building habits.
In my approach to corporate wellness, all the previous principles I have applied have been shaped to help the employee achieve proactive wellness through prevention. The process flow now looks like this:
- employee clarifies their personal health goals
- employee realizes they hold the power and responsibility to reach those goals
- the program works with the employee to identify the root cause of what is hindering them from reaching their goals
- the program helps the employee take a 360-degree view of their internal and external health, to reach their goals in totality
- the program empowers the employee with knowledge and strategies to make their goals happen
- celebrate and share success! and now reset goals and continue the process again
This process positions the employee population to take charge of their health and foster a culture of prevention. Imagine a workplace where folks talked about how good they feel as opposed to how much they’re paying for prescriptions and how tired they are all the time. Obviously the workplace itself can attribute to such negativity, but if employees have already taken charge of their health, they’ll be that much more able and motivated to take charge of their work and the shape of their company. I don’t know about you, but I want to work with that workforce!