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An explanation of healthy lifestyle incentives, and how they impact businesses

Photo Credit: Monkey Business/Adobe Stock

There are many ways that employers like to show their employees that they appreciate them. They might give them a 401K and make matching contributions to it. They may provide them with holiday or quarterly bonuses.

Other possibilities might be stock in the company or free managerial training. There might be something like a company car or even season sports tickets. It’s all meant to make the employee as happy as possible.

Another program that many companies implement now is a healthy lifestyle incentive. Let’s talk about what exactly that entails, and how it impacts businesses.

The Purpose of Healthy Lifestyle Incentive Programs

Because of privatized healthcare in this country, many individuals need to pay for medical costs out of pocket. A company might give an employee healthcare, but the plan might not be the best. It could have a high deductible.

In this country, healthcare spending makes up more than 17% of the GDP. That’s considerably more than in many other countries. It goes toward things like:

  • Drug prescriptions
  • Physical therapy
  • Surgeries
  • Regular doctor checkups

The reason that employers came up with healthy incentive programs is so that they can keep their costs down. If an employer is giving its workers healthcare and the workers are healthier, the employer won’t have to pay out as much money to care for them every year.

From a practical standpoint, it is a way to keep expenditures down, which the bosses can then redirect elsewhere in the company.

How These Programs Work

There are plenty of ways that an employer can try to keep its workers healthy. They might:

  • Give them a free gym membership
  • Have office contests to see who can take the most steps during the week
  • Have an employee marathon or half-marathon with prizes
  • Offer healthy snacks during the day, like fruit or nuts

Many employers get creative with these programs and try to make them fun. They may offer yoga classes on the premises daily, or spin or SoulCycle classes. They might bring someone in to conduct daily meditation sessions.

At-work massages could be an option. They might bring in ergonomically designed furniture to help with employee posture. They might incentivize employee weight loss in different ways.

Less Turnover

These sorts of initiatives have all kinds of positive impacts. One of the most evident is that there is less employee turnover in companies with effective lifestyle incentive programs.

Most people want to eat healthy, exercise, etc., because they know that they’ll look better and feel better that way. They want to have these sorts of programs in place because it makes it easier for them to reach their goals.

If an employer has such a program, it lets the workers know that the employer appreciates them, and wants to retain them. If you’re happy in your job, then you’re less likely to want to leave.

This means that the business can promote from within more often. They do not have to spend as much time interviewing and hiring to fill empty positions.

It Makes Things Lively at the Office

Some businesses are inherently boring. One day is much the same as the last. If a company has fun programs having to do with the healthy lifestyle initiative, it makes the days much more tolerable.

If you know that there’s a competition going on to see who can lose the most weight or take the most steps during the week, then it can lead to some friendly banter around the water cooler.

Employees actively engage and mingle with each other. It’s a healthy competitive spirit in which everyone can participate.

There is Less Absenteeism

If you have unhealthy workers, that also means they’re not going to be at the office to do their work that much. Even if they work from home, which is happening more during the pandemic, they still won’t do the job if they’re sick enough.

If companies sincerely want their employees to be more productive and physically present more often, these types of programs are a huge step in the right direction. The employees are more likely to be there to do the work, and the company thrives.

There Are Fewer Disability Claims

It’s also true that when these programs exist, fewer employees have to go on disability. Disability claims mean the worker isn’t doing the job for which the company hired them.

It’s the same as absenteeism. The employees are not doing the work, so usually, the company has to hire someone to replace that worker, even if they are technically still on the payroll.

No one wants to go on disability, and with one of these programs in place, it is far less likely that it will happen.

The People Are Happier

These programs also lead to more happiness and less depression. That matters a lot right now with Covid-19 causing a housing crisis, and so many people getting sick.

If a healthy lifestyle program incentivizes employees to lead an active lifestyle, do yoga, eat right, work out at home, etc., then they are less likely to submit to depression. Some people right now feel the temptation to give up on their lives. They must fight to remain positive.

Things like physical activity help them do that. If a company can take an active role in keeping their employees in a better mental state, it makes sense for them to do so.

These programs have not existed for very long, and it’s a shame that more companies didn’t think of them sooner. Many more modern companies in the tech industry have had them for a while, but their growth is becoming more widespread.

If these programs had existed decades ago, then maybe fewer people would have died as early as they did from heart attacks, strokes, or heart disease. An active lifestyle, healthy eating, and things of that nature are always going to be a great idea. We should applaud companies that encourage these behaviors.

augusta free press
augusta free press