How Employee Benefits Can Support Weight Loss

The result could improve your company's bottom line

Employee Weight Loss
•••

 

profivideos / Pixabay / Public Domain

Obesity has reached frightening proportions in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 39.8% of all adults are considered to be obese. Obesity affects more than 93 million Americans.

The costs of health care are typically higher for obese people who suffer from other health-related problems. This can affect plan premiums, so it's not surprising that more employers are trying to find ways to help employees maintain good health and reduce the incidence of obesity by creating benefits programs that support weight loss and fitness goals.

Fortunately, you have a good many options available to accomplish this, and some can actually be quite affordable.

Preventable diseases can be caused by obesity, or obesity can be a factor or symptom, but this doesn't mean that every obese person is sick or out of shape. Many are very healthy and stay physically active throughout their lives. Being large can be caused by a number of issues, including genetics, hormonal challenges, injuries, and illnesses that can make it hard to shed weight.

Provide Access to Affordable Weight Loss Services

It's estimated that weight loss surgery can cost as much as $25,000. Millions of dollars are spent each year on weight loss products and services. It shouldn't be necessary for employees to go into debt to lose a few pounds.

Make sure that your employee benefits are affordable so everyone can access weight loss services like nutritional counseling, fitness center memberships, and medical care. Employee benefits for wellness programs that are geared toward supporting fitness and weight loss must be communicated and promoted to all workers, regardless of their weight.

Give Employees Ongoing Support

Weight loss isn't a temporary fix. It's a complete lifestyle change. You should expect to be in it for the long haul if your organization is going to get involved with employees who are trying to lose weight. Make sure employees have access to on-site support like peer-to-peer groups and counseling. Set up fitness teams and encourage all employees to participate each week in at least one physical activity.

Encourage Employees to Reduce Stress

Stress is a huge problem in America as people are overworked and continually dealing with stressful situations that can cause cortisone levels to increase. Science has shown that cortisone can result in added belly fat and the tendency to overeat.

Provide safe spaces for employees where they can de-stress and have quiet time when they need it.

Set Up Fitness Options for All Levels

If your company opts for an on-site fitness room or walking paths, make sure they're accessible for all levels of employees. You might have employees who are experiencing mobility issues, so you'll have to modify some aspects of your facility to make sure they can participate.

Take the time to visit off-site fitness centers and find out about handicap accessibility. These things can make a big difference for an employee who's struggling to lose weight.

Offer Healthy Food and Beverage Options

Motivate your employees with healthier food and beverage options. Stock your snack machines choices that won't tempt employees to indulge in sugary and salty snacks.

Every department should also be provided with a water cooler to encourage more water intake. Set up a small kitchen area if your facility allows so employees can bring healthy lunches to work, or you can have a catering company provide a healthy meal at least once a week.

Provide Fitness Wearables to Track Success

A great benefit to offer employees is the opportunity to use a wearable fitness device. This can be very motivating because they can track things like the number of steps they've taken, calories burned, the number of stairs climbed, and total miles they've walked.

Wearable fitness devices also can be connected to online communities of other folks who are trying to lose weight and get fit. Set up a team page for your company, and consider launching friendly competitions and incentive goals so all employees can jump on board. Provide incentives for reaching important milestones, and be sure to recognize employees who reach those goals.

When Corporate Wellness Programs Go Wrong

Targeting only your obese employees is actually discriminatory by its very nature, so you'll want to steer well clear of this.

A workplace that's hyper-focused on wellness can alienate employees who are considered obese. They might feel singled out, guilty, and threatened by corporate initiatives to reduce their weight. This is when benefits and wellness programs backfire.

It's important that all employees be treated with respect and compassion regardless of their size or shape so they're receiving positive reinforcement rather than negative looks and comments.

Never pull an obese employee aside and grill him about participating in the program. Instead, continue to educate and inspire all employees to reach their health goals with positive reinforcement.

What's in It for Businesses?

Most obese individuals are very aware that they have a problem, but they're not sure how to go about fixing it. Maybe they're just too intimidated to get started. You'll improve their energy levels, productivity, and even their moods if you provide them with options and if you encourage them to use them. This can increase workplace morale overall.

You'll probably also find that it cuts down on sick time and absenteeism, both of which can negatively affect your organization's productivity and your bottom line. It's a win-win for your company and your employees.