Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Fitness Centers, Health Screenings And Wellness Programs Now Common On-The-Job Work Perks

Fitness centers, health clinics and teeth cleanings? Post offices, dry cleaning service and ATMs? Potlucks, health fairs and cooking classes? This is a workplace? For many across Northeast Ohio, a workplace is no longer where you go to earn a living. The workplace now is often where you go to learn to live. Fifty-seven percent of large U.S. employers, those with 500 or more workers, offer employee wellness programs that include things such as gym memberships and weight loss help, according to a 2008 survey by insurance giant MetLife. That number is up from the 49 percent MetLife measured in 2006. However, the number of smaller employers, those with fewer than 500 workers, with wellness programs was substantially less, at 16 percent. Employers like wellness programs because they can save money while improving employee health and morale, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For employees, such initiatives can mean less stress and increased well-being, self-esteem and stamina. A National Institutes of Health-funded research review appears to support that. One study found a relationship between workplace comprehensive health promotion programs and reduced employee health care costs, absenteeism and turnover. Many Northeast Ohio companies have such programs. The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, which made health a focus since merging with the HealthSpace museum several years ago, recently recognized 13 businesses for their workplace wellness efforts. The winning companies created programs to improve their employees' health, work/personal-life balance, education and quality of life. Winners also were recognized for environmentally friendly actions in the workplace. ‘We had a hunch there were many good wellness programs out there,’ said Linda Spurlock, the museum's human-health director. ‘We cast a very wide net and we found so many interesting things. There's a lot, and they are diverse.’ A number of the winners revealed an inventive array of wellness initiatives: Grand-prize winner Sterling Jewelers of Fairlawn has a staffed on-site fitness center with a variety of weight training and cardiovascular equipment. Employees have flex time so they can use the center throughout the day.”


No comments: