Workplace Wellness - National Bike MonthCapitalize on public events like the recent National Bike to Work Day to make your workplace wellness programs more effective.

Why? The more actively your employees participate in wellness activities, the healthier they’ll be. A Workplace Wellness Study by RAND Corporation’s RAND Health,  finds that:

“Consistent with prior research, we find that lifestyle management interventions as part of workplace wellness programs can reduce risk factors, such as smoking, and increase healthy behaviors, such as exercise. We find that these effects are sustainable over time and clinically meaningful.”

The report refers to activities or actions that improve health as “lifestyle management interventions,” often with incentives for participating. For example, a business might offer a financial incentive, a gift such as a t-shirt, or a fruit and vegetable gift certificate for completing a smoking-cessation program, doing a fun run, or biking to work.

Tie Into Existing Events

Tying your wellness initiatives to existing races or events enables you to promote yours at little to no cost, and you don’t have to organize your own activities. You might encourage employees to do a community fun run as a team, and offer team t-shirts. 

Or you might plan your own event and tie into an existing one. May is National Bike Month, and the League of American Bicyclists offers a step-by step guide to planning workplace Bike to Work Day or Bike Month events. The league’s website also lists potential biking events.

You can download free resources like posters, web banners, social media resources to help promote your local events. If you need additional assistance or have questions, you can contact Liz Murphy, the league’s communications manager, at liz@bikeleague.org.

You’ll be right in style—more and more workers are interested in commuting by bicycle. USA Today’s article,  “Biking to Work Increases 60% in Past Decade,” quotes U.S. Census Bureau data  on the topic.

The Payoff

You’ll have healthier employees who are more “present” in the workplace, more productive, likelier to stay with your company, and to have less absenteeism.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Workplace Health Promotion webpage includes ample data supporting this axiom. 

And as the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s “Healthy Employees, Lower Premiums and Costs” article says, healthy employees also help keep your insurance premiums down.

Summer-time Wellness Opportunities

Summer-time is full of opportunities to support workplace wellness initiatives. There’s no reason to limit bike to work efforts to one month – just take advantage of the free press to kick-off your program.  June is national fruit and vegetable month, consider providing CSA’s and healthy cooking lessons to employees. Learn more by reading, “Building Workplace Wellness and Employee Engagement with CSA’s”.

Success Strategies

The RAND survey, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, by lead author Soeren Mattke et al, lists five keys to successful workplace wellness programs. 

  • Effective communication strategies: All five organizations in its case studies communicate wellness program information to employees, through face-to-face and mass communication. Employers emphasized the importance of clear messages from leadership.
  • Opportunity for employees to engage: Making wellness activities convenient and easily accessible for all employees can raise the level of employee engagement.
  • Leadership engaged at all levels: Senior leaders need to make wellness an organizational priority to shift company culture.
  • Use of existing resources and relationships: Using existing partnerships resources and building relationships, often with health plans, allows companies to expand offerings at little to no cost.
  • Continuous evaluation: Strive for continuous quality improvement in your wellness programs. Though RAND case study participants don’t conduct formal evaluations, they all solicit feedback from staff sand some conduct needs assessments to understand their employees’ wellness needs.

Remember: healthy employees are productive employees, and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to encourage healthy lifestyles.

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