Author: Jason Loebig
Consider an opening thought; does having car insurance make you a better driver?
I’ve read through countless corporate “Health and Wellness” reports that boast “unique wellness solutions" or the ability to "meet the demands of today’s health landscape.” I found it both highly disappointing and discouraging that neither the words “fitness” (or, exercise) nor “nutrition” were mentioned once.
Why do employers think providing health care coverage is making their employees “healthier?"
Healthcare provided to employees in demanding, high-stress corporate environments is akin to putting a knife in someone’s hands and standing ready to give out subsidized Band-Aids.
Donuts and bagels are served for breakfast meetings. Pizza is served for lunch meetings (and for dinner, if you’re lucky…). Celebrations are alcohol infused. Social support for healthy habits is non-existent.
On top of it all, our working population is sedentary. Sitting is the new smoking, which happens ALL DAY LONG.
Gym subsidies, fitness incentives and healthy food options are “fringe” benefits. The very nature of the term is disincentivizing and certainly not prioritized where it should be.
Let’s consider some common wellness programs:
· Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
· Biometric Screening
· Health Risk Questionnaire
· Tobacco Cessation
Okay, good start. You decide to participate in your company’s programs. Step 1 complete. Now the results come back. You’re notified that your BMI is high. You’re overweight and an “at risk” candidate deemed by the Health Questionnaire. But now what?
Step 2 not complete.
Unfortunately, we’re set up to fail. Why? Because there is no follow up. No additional help available. No road map to make sustainable, healthy changes.
I still don’t understand handing over the keys to the kingdom without first teaching how to rule it.
Your health is complicated, even with the right tools. Without the understanding of how to use, measure and adapt these tools (e.g. Health Questionnaire, BMI, bio-markers) you are lost.
My guess is your office does not have a nutritionist, personal trainer, or wellness practitioner on-site. Maybe they contribute to a wellness package but have never facilitated the process. Maybe a coach or trainer comes in once a month – do you feel like that’s enough?
We live in a reactive world, and have reactive healthcare. How about we change to a proactive system and address issues before they even start.
The ROI from dollars spent on wellness for future health care savings, depending on the metric, is roughly 3-6x. Want to increase the participation rate in your firm’s health offerings? Create incentives. Studies show they nearly double the participation rate.
Try a platform like Stridekick.com to create intra-office competitions and reward participants. Sign up for local races, like a 5k, host weekly yoga classes geared towards the desk-bound worker, or cater healthy food cooked by a nutritionist that can offer advice while you eat.
No matter the cost of health care, it’d sure be nice not to need it as much. One way to decrease future expenses for yourself, independent of your employer, is to start addressing all areas of health in your life – this includes both physical and mental pieces to the puzzle. See if your office will help you with the following:
1. Change the way your health is managed and measured.
Something people don’t often consider is that your doctors WORK FOR YOU. You are paying them for a service, which you are requesting. Create a holistic team of doctors – your dentist should be speaking to your general practitioner, who should be in touch with your exercise specialist. Your health is a circle; any break in the chain can cause ripple effects with long-term consequences.
2. Get your nutrition under control.
We never really had much (proper) education around nutrition practices, yet it may be the single largest contributor to good or bad health. Food is either medicine or it is poison. A good suggestion is to go see a functional nutritionist who can help incorporate lifestyle factors into your diet (I personally use Aligned Modern Health).
3. Get your physical training under control.
Whether you played sports in high school or college, go to the gym once a week, or have never picked up a weight, it’s a good idea to receive some direction in this area. A good trainer will integrate your lifestyle needs, wishes, and constraints to build something that works for you. The goal here is to make life easier, whether that means putting your kid in the car, getting your carryon into the overhead bin, or playing a round of golf without back pain. Your training should reflect your activity needs and be focused on longevity. There is so much good education out there to help you begin asking the right questions.
Speak up. Be a leader. Ask for help. Leaders do not have to hold a title in the office - lead by example. True leadership is getting people to listen, to motivate, and to inspire. Take charge and create healthy change at your workplace. Right now.
If you’re interested in hearing about what Live Better can do in your office, please reach out to Jason@livebetterco.org.