For many, a good portion of every day is spent at work, which leaves only a few free non-office hours to spend time with friends and family, get errands done, go to doctor’s appointments, and all the other million things that build up on your everyday to-do list. So what if you could practice some of your health mindfulness and care while working instead of trying to fit it all in after hours? According to a RAND Health Advisory Services national survey sponsored by the United States Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 50 percent of U.S. employers with at least 50 employees have wellness promotion initiatives. Does your company have one? And are you taking advantage of it?

Workplace health promotion programs

Health programs vary from company to company. They may be administered by the employer, run by an outside health program vendor, or provided through company group health plans to plan members. Most employee wellness programs offer a combination of screening activities and interventions. Among the companies surveyed, 80 percent of those with a wellness program screened their employees for health risks. This can help employees identify serious problems, most commonly: diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung disorders, and mental health issues. Employee wellness programs can also increase an employee’s job satisfaction.

The best employee wellness programs offer not only screening, but also encouragement and education to improve health. This may include:
• Classes
• Seminars
• Competitions
• On-site vaccinations
• Health screening

Why should you take advantage of a workplace program?

Having the support of your coworkers and education that you need to improve your health could drastically improve your well-being. An Ohio State University study published in Preventing Chronic Disease gathered 70 individuals with prediabetes at the university and separated them into a workplace health intervention group and a control group. Those in the intervention group met together for 60 minutes a week in groups of 10 to 15 people, had two assigned university dietitians, and were given health goals to achieve. After a 16-week intervention, those in the health and wellness group had greater weight loss, greater reduction in fasting glucose, and almost one-third met their weight loss goals compared to less than 3 percent of the control group.

If your work already has a health promotion program, schedule a meeting with a human resources representative to find out how you can take advantage of this opportunity.

Starting a workplace wellness program

If you work for a company that doesn’t have a health intervention program, you might want to propose the idea to your HR department. If you do so, go in with the facts. Research everything you can about how it might improve your company and how living healthier can improve employee job satisfaction and productivity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Diabetes Association both offer programs to help stop diabetes in the workplace and improve health outcomes.

If your company isn’t interested in sponsoring a wellness program, look into other options. Maybe your company offers a gym discount that you can take advantage of, or you and your colleagues can start your own wellness competition. Find out if there are other employees who are interested in improving health and start a challenge with each other to lose weight, go to the gym more, be more adherent to healthcare provider recommendations, eat better, or even train to run a 5K for charity together.

Health isn’t just something to focus on at home. It should be on your mind all the time, even at work! So get involved in your workplace health program, ask your company to start one, or start you own. Your coworkers will thank you!