As National Employee Wellness Month, June is the perfect time to start or build momentum for employee wellness initiatives and programs at your company. If you’re looking for reasons to start these programs, there are many – including the serious effects of obesity.

Across Colorado, obesity weighs on our businesses and affects their bottom lines. From increased healthcare costs to higher rates of employee absenteeism, obesity affects the well-being and prosperity of the companies and organizations that help drive our state’s economy. In fact, Colorado spent $1.637 billion treating diseases and conditions related to obesity in 2009. Nationally, there is an estimated $190 billion price tag for annual medical costs due to obesity – double some earlier estimates.

While traditional worksite wellness programs can seem daunting, focusing on healthy eating and physical activity opportunities at work can make it more attainable for companies large and small. 

At LiveWell Colorado, we’re “walking our talk” and are committed to providing and modeling a work environment that makes the healthy choice the easy choice. Focused on improving our staff’s access to healthy food and opportunities for physical activity throughout the workday, LiveWell Colorado has created numerous policies that have translated into everyday small successes. We are so committed to these small – yet meaningful – changes that they are part of our employee handbook.

Often times, companies are hesitant to enact wellness programs because of perceived potential barriers and costs. LiveWell Colorado is proof that employee wellness programs do not have to be expensive or difficult to implement. However, they do need to be well thought out, modeled by your company’s leadership team, embraced by your employees and be sustainable over time.

If your company is looking for a few ways to get started, here are some easy things that LiveWell Colorado does:

Healthy Foods and Beverages

LiveWell Colorado encourages employees to eat healthy foods during the workday by doing the following:

  • Maintaining a bowl of fresh whole fruit at the reception desk;
  • Providing facilities to refrigerate, prepare and eat meals in the office;
  • Asking that staff be cognizant of balancing healthy and unhealthy treats brought to the office; and,
  • Providing ongoing education on fitness and nutrition topics.

LiveWell Colorado also encourages employees to drink healthy beverages during the work day by doing the following:

  • Serving water;
  • Offering tea and coffee unsweetened with nonfat or 1% milk;
  • Providing glasses, water bottles, tap water and an icemaker; and,
  • Not providing sugar-sweetened beverages and discouraging employees from drinking them at work.

Physical Activity

LiveWell Colorado encourages employees to move throughout the workday and to walk, bike or take public transportation to work whenever possible. We encourage this active behavior by doing the following:

  • Providing bicycle racks;
  • Providing fitness balls and hand weights that can be used at any time;
  • Allowing employees flexibility in their daily schedule to exercise;
  • Conducting walking meetings;
  • Using the stairs, not the elevator; and,
  • Encouraging employees to participate in group fitness events.

Through these changes, LiveWell Colorado has created a culture of health that is both appreciated and embraced by employees. We hope you will join us for National Employee Wellness Month by replicating or expanding upon these initiatives, and sustaining them over time.