The benefits of a wellness program in the manufacturing sector and how to promote engagement
The start of every new year prompts thousands of people to rededicate themselves to fitness, or at least to see if they can drop a few pounds. Considering that most employees spend around 40 hours per week at work, a workplace wellness program is a great way to promote fitness. Not only that, fitness programs offer as many benefits to employers as to the employees participating — especially in the manufacturing industry.
A study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that 85 percent of injured workers in the eight participating manufacturing plants were overweight or obese. It concluded: “Research findings support an association between body mass index and traumatic workplace injuries among manufacturing employees. Workplace safety personnel might consider adding policies or programs that address weight reduction and maintenance as part of ongoing comprehensive workplace safety strategies.”
Healthy employees are not only more productive and less likely to call in sick, they are also safer to have in the workplace. In many cases, manufacturing workers work long hours, often performing repetitive motions, and have familial obligations when they get home from work, making the amount of time they have to improve their health limited. A workplace wellness program appears to be an excellent option.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks when beginning a workplace wellness program is getting employees to buy in to the program. Simply announcing a wellness program might get a few people interested, but others are going to need a little more encouragement. Below are a few ways to get a workplace wellness program off to a successful start:
- Set a budget. Plan on setting some money aside for fitness classes (spinning, martial arts, etc.) as well as visits from a physician to come in and provide non-intrusive screenings that measure blood pressure and BMI (body mass index). Be sure to also set some extra money aside for prizes to use as incentives for reaching benchmarks regarding weight loss, running distance, and more.
- Provide leadership. Most companies have a leadership structure in place which can be used to get the program going but creating a “wellness committee” is a great way to give employees ownership of the endeavor and to simultaneously promote the development of leadership skills among employees.
- Promote healthy competition. Either individually or as teams, set up a score keeping method to let employees know how they are performing in the effort to get healthy. Friendly competition increases engagement and builds camaraderie.
- Make it convenient. Even the most fitness-obsessed employees won’t go too far out of their way to take part in the program. Find ways to create fitness centers on site, even if it’s a small obstacle course or path to run around the building. Pedometers, Fitbits, and heart rate monitors can also be provided for easy tracking of exercise.
- Create a culture of fitness. Look at the snacks around the office and see how they can be improved. Providing free healthy alternatives to vending machine junk food can go a long way. Similarly, set up a day to be used as a health fair for employees. Whether it’s an annual, quarterly, or monthly event, this day is a great opportunity for new people to join the wellness program and become more aware of their health while at work.
Successful Workplace Wellness Programs
Companies of all sizes stand to benefit from workplace wellness programs, and many have already successfully implemented the promotion of fitness. If getting a program started still feels a bit overwhelming, take some inspiration from the following companies who have benefitted from paying attention to workplace wellness.
Draper, Inc. – A manufacturer of A/V equipment, Draper, Inc. stands out thanks to its Wellness Park, which features a 1/5-mile track, workout stations, and a volleyball court. Employees can win prizes by completing health challenges.
Hill & Wilkinson General Contractors — The construction company offers on-site classes ranging from yoga to boot camp, along with professional trainers assisting in their fitness center.
Johnson & Johnson – The pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturer boasts a wellness program that offers individualized assessments that include stress tracking and blood pressure monitoring. The program has helped more than half of its participants reduce stress and lose weight.
Cianbro — A construction company, Cianbro offers financial incentives for healthy living and nicotine replacement products for those trying to quit smoking. It also features Safety and Health Awareness Raises Excellence (SHARE) committees which provide lessons concerning healthy living and address workers’ concerns.
Motley Fool – Employees at Motley Fool benefit from free spinning and bootcamp classes, discounted massages, consultation with the company’s Chief Wellness Fool, and 50 percent reimbursement for entering races. The company also issues a monthly health newsletter, The Flex, which highlights employees who stand out in fitness.
Phillips 66 – The multinational energy giant hosts monthlong challenges throughout the year, including a Hydration Challenge, a Stress Reduction Challenge, and an Activity Challenge. Employees can also get bonuses on their paycheck for achieving wellness goals such as a BMI below 30 and completing preventive screenings.
Hewlett-Packard – Aside from building 48 fitness centers at its various locations, the computer, printer, and tech manufacturer created a Global Wellness Challenge in which employees participate in a “virtual walk around the world.”
General Motors – GM combined with the United Auto Workers to create the UAW-GM LifeSteps Health Promotion Program, which features a health risk appraisal system, taking into account workers’ (and retirees’) age, weight, gender, intent to change their behavior, and more. Health information books are also sent home.