Raise Your Workplace's Activity Level
It could reduce health care costs and absenteeism.
- By Jerry Laws
- Apr 03, 2007
HOW physically active are the employees you manage? Given spiraling health
costs and America's stunning increase in obesity, don't you want them to be more
active and healthier?
If you doubt you can affect these, try directly rewarding workplace
physical activity. That's one approach of Atlanta-based HealthBux® Investment
Systems (www.healthbux.com), which recently partnered with Hinda
Incentives of Chicago (www.hinda.com) to offer HealthyRewards, a HIPAA-compliant,
Web-based incentive system that rewards daily "investments in health," such as
stair climbing and healthy food purchases. Dividend points are then redeemed for
merchandise in Hinda's online catalog of more than 3,000 items.
"Most workplaces are designed so you spend as much time as possible in front
of the desk. Ten-minute bouts of physical activity during the work day make a
big difference in individual health and in developing a culture of wellness.
That's why a major focus in our implementations has been increasing active
breaks at work," HealthBux CEO Alison C. Earles, an employee benefits/HIPAA
privacy attorney, told me. Employees can see health improvements when they
self-screen at on-site blood pressure and weight kiosks developed by Lifeclinic,
Earles said many wellness programs require participants to log activity and
rely on self-reporting when awarding incentives. In contrast, this
patent-pending system uses simple technology to prove and reward actual
behaviors--eating fruit in the company cafeteria or walking 10,000 steps in a
day, for example--and reinforces "the small, everyday, boring decisions that
lead to a healthy lifestyle." she said. The wide range of incentives possible
through Hinda makes these healthy choices more exciting and serve as "extremely
powerful" motivators, said Earles.
Implementations to date show significant, sustained increases in stair
climbing, physical activity breaks, and overall physical activity levels. These
improvements ultimately reduce health care costs and absenteeism.
Let's face it, sweatbands and water bottles won't motivate sedentary workers.
Offer something truly attractive if they'll take the stairs during the day or
walk a few blocks for lunch, and you can reach people who may never consider
going to a gym.
This column appeared in the April 2007 issue of Occupational Health &
This article originally appeared in the April 2007 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.
Jerry Laws is Editor of Occupational Health & Safety magazine, which is owned by 1105 Media Inc.