Keeping Yourself and Staff Fit in Winter

Jim Donovan A study published in the Journal of Occupational Medicine in December 2005 showed that an obese employee can cost a business $377 each year in lost productivity time (when a worker is absent from work or shows up but is unable to fully perform). And the numbers also show that the workforce, like the rest of the U.S. population, is getting fatter. To help your staff address health and weight issues over the winter months, adopt some practical strategies. Here are some suggestions from Thomas B. Gilliam, Ph.D., principal of T. Gilliam & Associates, LLC, and co-author of Move It. Lose It. Live Healthy.: Achieve a Healthier Workplace One Employee at a Time.

Workplace program
It's easier to exercise when the weather is warm and there are long hours of daylight--before and after work. It's more challenging to stay fit when it's freezing outside. During the colder months, it can be a money saver for your company to implement some basic fitness policies for your staff to help everyone remain in shape. You don't have to get personal with employees; just provide everyone with the same information and resources on exercise and health programs. Ideas:

  • Suggest that employees use the buddy system. Employees are more likely to stay with a workout or fitness program if they work in groups of two or more. They can share their experiences, perhaps walking together or comparing healthful recipes.
  • Provide good information. There's a lot of misinformation on dietary supplements and workout routines that promise great results for little or no effort. These are just scams; instead provide links to solid information (e.g., WebMD).
  • Be flexible about exercise time. If an employee needs a few extra minutes to complete a workout at lunchtime, it's worth it for the company to be understanding. In the long run, these few minutes will probably be much less than lost productivity time for an out-of-shape, obese employee.

    Company assistance
    Your company can be more than a silent partner in the fitness and wellness program for staff. It can:

  • Give fitness-oriented holiday gifts. If the company usually gives small items at holiday time, this year make them relevant to an exercise program. Suggestions for inexpensive items: CDs on yoga or other exercise programs; exercise ball, stretch band or a set of dumbbells.
  • Stock only healthful foods. If the company has a "snack" area, provide fruits and other healthy items in place of candy and chips.

    Copyright ©2003-2006 Barbara Weltman

    Print page