Monday, May 21, 2007

Balancing Health: Workplace Health Care Initiatives

To maintain a healthy lifestyle, one should exercise thirty minutes a day, stick to an appropriate calorie intake, limit consumption of salt and red meat, etc. We all know these things and yet how many of us abide by the rules?

Health Care Initiatives offered by employers are designed to make it easier for employees to manage their health while working. Additionally, employers reap the benefit of a workforce that is more productive, has fewer sickness related absences, and require less expensive health care. Benefits may be as extensive as on-site fitness facilities or as simple as a comprehensive medical health insurance plan. The four most common workplace health initiatives are:
  1. Health care tools: including internet access to online articles and tools. For example, the Weight Watchers corporate program offers access to online tools and workplace meetings to aid employee's weight loss efforts.
  2. Physical activity programs: may include casual runners clubs and yoga classes, company organized fitness break times and exercise workshops. Workplaces may also sponsor fitness campaigns such as a "Take the Stairs Campaign" or participate in team events such as a charity walk.
  3. Disease management programs: generally address conditions that affect a large portion of the population, such as diabetes or asthma, or affect employees on a personal level, such as ovarian cancer once a coworkers is diagnosed. Programs may center around education about the disease and encourage employees to take a proactive approach to prevention.
  4. Wellness initiatives: promote complete wellness and productivity among employees. A common element of wellness initiatives is an Employee Assistance Program employing the services of counselors to advise employees on financial, emotional, and wellness issues.
By providing access to even simple health care initiatives, a company can create for its employees a healthful workplace and provide the resources to maintain a healthy lifestyle outside of work, thereby reducing costs and boosting morale. Healthy employees are happier, more productive, and those health benefits can be a good way.

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