In response to the rising cost of health care incurred by companies to properly cover their employees, workplace wellness initiatives offer tools for businesses to better ensure their employees are healthy and productive in-house. These types of programs have become so prominent in a majority of workplaces that they are often visible in the community and participation is a contractual requirement as opposed to an option as their traditional capacity had encompassed. The increased demand for the presence of wellness programs as well as the diversity of those programs creates many options for orchestrating and implementing a program that is tailored to the needs of each individual workplace. Additionally, the benefits of wellness programs that have been statistically and functionally analyzed in recent years are incredibly hard to ignore.

Thanks to modern medicine, life expectancy for Americans has continually increased. How much we enjoy these additional years, however, depends greatly on how we have lived our lives. If our quality of life is to remain high so that we can fully enjoy these extra years, we must practice good eating habits, be active and refrain from using tobacco products.

Worksite wellness programs can help support these healthy behaviors. Take advantage of these benefits in your organization and start a workplace wellness program now.  Don’t be overwhelmed when it comes to developing a program, though.  You can start as small as you want to and increase healthy options as time and demand increases.  Consider a few of these small steps:

–Having a potluck once a week where everyone brings a healthy option to share for lunch.

–Encouraging employees to take a 20 minute walk on their lunch break (as weather permits).

–Starting a ‘wellness newsletter’ where you or one of your staff includes tips on eating healthier, exercising and more.

–Offering a ‘mental health day’ or days for your employees in addition to their normal sick/vacation leave.

–Working with a business coach to offer your employees weekly, monthly or quarterly coaching sessions that can help them deal with stress, maximize their goals and live a more balanced life.

–Developing easy safety measures.  For example, if employees need to park in a garage, pair them up so they are always walking with a ‘buddy’ and never alone (especially at night or early in the morning).

–Supplying healthy snacks or drinks for employee breaks to discourage employees from going to unhealthy vending or fast food options.

Small steps like this don’t cost much (if anything) and don’t take a lot of time.  If you want to do something larger, read on.  You don’t have to be lost when it comes to incorporating a wellness program, no matter how extensive you are imagining.  There are plenty of experts out there to help!

Drug Testing Services

“With today’s emphasis on managing more work with fewer people, the impact of a bad hire is greater than ever before,” explains Gwynne Wilson with Drug Test Services.  “Considering 65% of accidents in the workplace are due to a substance abusing employee and 80%-85% of drug using employees steal from their employers, these two issues alone can have a negative impact on workplace morale and added pressure to fellow co-workers.  We go through a needs assessment with every client we work with and, based on their answer, we customize a program that fits their exact needs and what they want their program to achieve within the workplace.  Don’t overlook the potential health and financial benefits of implementing a Drug-Free Workplace Program!”

Stop Smoking Programs

One of the greatest contributing factors to higher health insurance premiums for businesses and their employees is smoking cigarettes.  Jeff Soukup, Program Coordinator for the Tobacco Free Nebraska campaign, stresses that there are many easy ways to prevent this from being a problem for your business, your employees, or your clients and customers.  According to statistics provided by Tobacco Free Nebraska, the annual cost for smoking related health care in Nebraska alone is $592 million dollars.  Businesses pay an average of $2,189 in workers’ compensation costs for smokers, compared with $176 for non-smokers, and smokers are more likely to be absent from their jobs on average 2.74 days per year more than their non-smoking counterparts.  Additionally, cigarette butts are the most littered item in the United States, and they are not only unsightly but toxic.   Allowing employees or customers to smoke on-site may take away from the presentation of your business before a customer even walks through your door.  In addition to the fact that many people don’t want to walk through littered cigarette butts or a cloud of smoke to enter your place of business, it is unpleasant to be around the smell of smoke in general and allowing your employees to smoke on-site could be damaging to your property as a fire hazard.  For example, in 2011 127 cigarette-related fires were recorded in Nebraska, resulting in total property loss of $4,185,480.

The more we know about the damaging effects of smoking to everyone involved, the more it becomes a call-to-action to have rules in place that prevent smoking on-site to protect your business and offer programming to help current employees quit smoking.  Since 2009, it has been mandatory for indoor workplaces in Nebraska to be smoke-free. However, exposure to secondhand smoke can occur anywhere—indoors and outdoors. By establishing a tobacco-free campus policy, you’re telling your employees and customers that you care about their health and welfare. A tobacco-free campus policy also reduces your liability because disability claims based on secondhand smoke exposure are eliminated, as well as the littering and fire hazard disadvantages.  There are many resources offered by Tobacco Free Nebraska that businesses can incorporate into their wellness programming.  The easiest way to start is to promote the free and confidential Nebraska Tobacco Quitline, 1-800-QUIT-NOW (784-8669), or their website at as a resource for employees.  The website offers a Web Coach application that offers motivational tools, social support, and information about quitting.  Soukup offers several other solutions to encouraging employees who use tobacco to quit, including increasing health insurance premiums for those who smoke or use other tobacco products, offering nicotine replacement therapies (gum, patches, etc.) as a health insurance benefit, or including resources provided by Tobacco Free Nebraska into your workplace newsletter or putting their poster up in an area that is visible for employees.

Employee Fitness Options

If you want a healthy and happy workforce, you want employees who are fit.  Fit employees are healthier.  Fit employees will not miss as much work because they are healthier and your medical and insurance costs will be lower.  In addition, workouts are a great stress reliever.

Encouraging your employees to work out together is a great way to promote exercise in the workplace.  TITLE Boxing Club offers group classes, which can be great for team building.  Gathering outside of work promotes camaraderie and helps employees find common ground.

The workout at TITLE offers the POWER HOUR that burns up to 1,000 calories an hour.  Everyone can go at their own pace and get out of it what they put into it.  Just three hours a week for six months will change your employees’ lives.  The workout at TITLE Boxing Club was brought from the inner city to the suburbs by a professional boxer and is a fun workout plus group dynamic which equals total motivation.  The boxing workout is 1,000 years old and boxers are some of the most fit people on the planet.  If you’re interested in getting your employees involved in this amazing program, contact one of the Omaha Clubs and they can assess your company’s needs and tailor a program that benefits you.

Wellness Workshops

Bringing in outside experts to speak with your employees about wellness issues is a great way to raise awareness and give your employees the resources they need to make healthy decisions.  Megan Johnson with The Wellness Pointe says, “We offer a Massage Wellness Day for companies where we do free 10-minute chair massages and education.  Massage benefits your employees by reducing muscle tension, improving blood flow and circulation, increasing energy, alertness and productivity, decreasing stress and anxiety and improving mental acuity.  Our massage therapists are licensed, insured experts ready to assist with your employees’ common aches and pains.  Typically we provide one or two massage therapists for on-site chair massage for two to four hours, depending on the size of you group.  We do all the work, you get all the credit!”

The Wellness Pointe does more than just offer chair massages—they are Omaha’s Premier Wellness Center and specialize in chiropractic and wellness care including nutrition and lifestyle counseling, on-site workshops and more.  Their mission is to help patients and community members reach and maintain the highest level of health through drug-free and surgery-free care.

Having healthy, happy employees is one of the best ways to ensure a successful workplace.  By working with professionals in the wellness area, you can ensure that you are providing the type of workplace your employees need to thrive!