Are employees in the CSRA unhealthy? That’s a big yes from a recent study by WalletHub. Not one single southern city made the list for healthiest places to live, but almost all the unhealthiest locations were in the southeast including two in Georgia. Columbus came in at #4 and Augusta was #5 in the Top 10 unhealthy cities. WalletHub’s analysis used 43 metrics to rank the cities, including the cost of medical care, residents’ diets, levels of physical activity, and access to green space.
Improving our unhealthy ranking has the potential to be an economic game-changer because research also shows there are lasting economic benefits to keeping a focus on health. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, investing in better health can boost the economy and increase productive capacity. Companies would be big beneficiaries. Sickness absences would decline; healthier workers would be less distracted by managing their (or their loved ones’) conditions; and fewer workers would retire early because of health conditions. A healthier workforce would translate into lower healthcare costs. And what’s more, healthier aging would expand both the future workforce and consumption as fewer people die prematurely and healthier older consumers continue to fuel demand.
The economy would get a much-needed boost. Adding up all the ways better health lifts the economy, estimates are that better health could increase global GDP by $12 trillion in 2040—an 8% boost, or 0.4% faster growth a year. And investing in health produces a high economic return. For every $1 invested, we found an incremental economic benefit of $2 to $4.
What does a culture of health and wellness at work look like? Darin Myers, President of The Alternative Board (TAB) in the CSRA recently addressed that question in his weekly column for ABD. It bears repeating ways to initiate employee well-being initiatives for your business.
Myers says it’s important to create a health and wellness strategy that makes sense for the unique needs of your team and within a budget your business can afford.
“There is no secret recipe for creating a culture of health and well-being, but not surprisingly, it starts with possessing the right mindset as a business owner. Having a comprehensive and honest understanding of your company culture, including both its positive attributes and deficits, is a great starting point,” said Myers.
While including comprehensive health insurance in your benefits package is certainly important to employees, fostering a healthy work environment doesn’t need to break the bank. Sometimes even small, inexpensive changes can make a substantial impact.
These are some of the top ways to create a culture of health and wellness in your business:
Implement Movement Breaks. Schedule regular activity breaks for your employees at least twice a day (beyond the standard mandated breaks) during which they are urged to get up from their workspaces, take a walk, or stretch in a designated area. Movement and activity are endorphin boosters and can have a big impact on brain function and productivity.
Offer Quality Food Choices. Instead of just offering chips and candy bars, consider filling vending machines with at least a few healthier options like energy bars, nuts, and squeezable or dried fruits. At the team meeting, replace donuts and cookies with vegetable and fruit platters, hummus, yogurt, and low-fat cheese.
Consider a Wellness App. There is a huge selection of employee wellness apps to choose from, so do your homework to find one that is right for your business’s health and wellness initiatives. Think about including a subscription as part of your employee benefits package and encourage your team to engage with the platform on a regular basis. You might even offer reduced health premiums to those who regularly interact with the wellness app.
These are just a few ways to create a culture of health and wellness in your company. The most important thing is to identify what matters to your employees and implement the initiatives that support their well-being.
Long-term prevention and health promotion cannot simply be left to healthcare providers or healthcare systems. It is quite literally everybody’s business. And just plain good business at that.
Mitzi Oxford is a veteran broadcaster and features writer who also worked at the same television station in Columbus, Georgia as Augusta’s Brad Means!
If you have a South Carolina story idea for Mitzi, please email her at email@example.com.