Building a Well Workforce 101: Attracting Healthy Employees
America’s workforce is sick. Statistics abound concerning the negative diagnoses among the nation’s employees: More than 26 percent are overweight by 20 percent or more, and up to 27 percent have heart disease which puts them at risk for cardiac disorders like heart attacks and strokes. Employers are starting to realize that the only thing worse than a bad employee is an unhealthy one.
In fact, the benefits of having employees who care for their health are seemingly unending. As much as 90 percent of health care costs covered by employees are for preventable diseases, meaning you’re footing the bill for your workers’ bad habits. However, aside from simple medical expenses, employers are losing out on precious productivity when their workers aren’t well. Healthy people tend to be more active and productive, while unhealthy people have cost U.S. businesses nearly a trillion dollars over the past year due to low efficiency alone.
Though you should be doing everything possible to hire the best candidate for the job, it makes fiscal sense to bring on workers who place a strong emphasis on their personal wellness. When your employees are health-conscious to begin with, the task of preventing chronic disease is much simpler. However, if you are just starting to encourage wellness in the workplace, it can be tricky to attract those job seekers with a clean bill of health. There are a few tips and tricks to making your company more enticing to healthy job candidates.
Do Some Remodeling
Prospective employees can learn a lot about a workplace based on the small glimpses they catch during their interviews. If they see a bare, gloomy office, they probably won’t be impressed by the current office environment, and they’ll pass in favor of a company who more outwardly shares their values.
However, you don’t have to bulldoze your building to build a more visually appealing space. Open the windows, and buy some welcoming decorations like mirrors and plants to make your workplace more inviting. Though sunlight doesn’t necessarily directly impact physical health, seeing the outdoors can do wonders on one’s attitude. Plus, the freshness and friendliness of plants bring a seeming cleanliness to the air that benefits everyone in the office.
Enact Wellness Programs for Current Employees
Healthy people enjoy being around other healthy people, so fostering health among your current workforce is key to attracting the employees you want. Changing your office culture is a bit more difficult than hanging pictures on the walls, but the results can be immensely beneficial to individuals and companies alike.
You can show that your company is committed to health by encouraging your current employees to take steps toward their own fitness. Wellness initiatives are generally cost-effective ways to help your employees begin thinking about health. These programs take a variety of shapes; any of the following activities may be appropriate for your office:
- Alternative commuting — walk, run, or bike to work
- Walking meetings — skip the seating and move while you talk
- More nutritious snacks — substitute the donuts and chips for fresh fruits and veggies
- Celebrate success — give small gifts to those who achieve their health goals
Before you develop your program, assess employee interest in various activities. It may be that a sizable portion of your workforce is already interested in fitness and thus enthusiastic to participate; however, you may also find that you’ll need quite a bit of motivation to get whole departments invested. Be sure to consider employee feedback — valuing your workers’ voices is another healthy step toward increased productivity — and stay positive.
Emphasize Health With Your Benefits Packages
Many companies today are attempting to discourage unhealthy habits with rewards and penalties in their benefits packages. UPS, GE, and others require employees who smoke to pay additional monthly fees on their health care premiums, and Safeway and others award monetary prizes to employees who keep their weight and cholesterol within healthy limits.
Programs like these can skirt the line of the law, so be sure to talk to your PEO or other benefits provider to make sure your ideas stay legal. Health-conscious workers appreciate when their employers acknowledge their attention to fitness — but less healthy individuals may feel discriminated against and think poorly of your company, so it’s important to be aware of the messages you send with this kind of tactic. Still, using your benefits package to demonstrate your commitment to health can be effective at advertising your company-wide fitness goals to your applicant pool.
A healthier America is a stronger and more productive America, so businesses’ emphasis on health is a positive step for the country as a whole. It is beneficial to encourage your current employees’ fitness initiatives even if you aren’t looking for new workers. No matter your goals, a healthier workforce is better for everyone, so you should take steps to overall wellness today.