mental wellbeing
Employee Benefits

Starting the New Year on the Right Foot

Jeff Kirke
Jeff Kirke
Vice President, Employee Benefits

The New Year just kicked off, and I think we all know what that means…time to set new goals for the year ahead. For many, personal resolutions in the form of fitness goals, gym memberships, or simply, “I need to lose 10 pounds” are being made. It really is a great time to have a renewed focus…but I’d contend there are more than just physical aspects we all need to hone in on. Mental wellbeing plays a significant role in an individual’s ability to manage emotions and stress that can fuel unhealthy eating habits and a sedentary, inactive lifestyle.

To put some numbers behind that, the Integrated Benefits Institute (which represents major U.S. employers and business coalitions) says poor health costs the U.S. economy $576 billion a year. Yes, I said BILLION! Of that, 39 percent (or $227 billion) is from “lost productivity” from employee absenteeism due to illness or what researchers call “presenteeism,” when employees report to work but illness keeps them from performing at their best.

I think we can all agree no employer wants to lose that kind of money or productivity. So, back to my original point. It’s important to address BOTH the mental and physical aspects of wellness to truly improve the whole health of a person.

So, how do you do that? Well, there are a number of ways to encourage your employees to take care of themselves. Employee wellness initiatives are no doubt an important part of that. I read an article several months back in Forbes that provided the following 10 tips with a more detailed description:

  1. Provide healthy office snacks
  2. Get your team on their feet
  3. Launch a step competition
  4. Practice gratitude
  5. Make your office pet-friendly
  6. Sponsor guided meditation
  7. Host a cooking class
  8. Bring the outdoors inside
  9. Host an anxiety workshop
  10. Host a comedy show

OK, so some of them may be a bit beyond what your workplace would feel comfortable doing, but the thought behind each of them ties right back into employee wellness…physically and mentally.

I’ve also heard many success stories from companies who take part in the Naturally Slim program, which is about retraining your brain and your body and taking care of YOU above anything else. Here are a few results that are just amazing:

  • 55 percent of participants reversed their diabetes risk
  • 7 percent of participants reversed their metabolic syndrome

A healthier employee population both physically and mentally really does impact your bottom line.

I’d love to talk with you about employee wellness initiatives you have in place or brainstorm with you on potential programs for the year ahead. Feel free to reach out. Cheers to a healthy, happy, and physically/mentally fit 2019!

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