13 small, (mostly) low-cost employee wellness changes for 2013

January 10, 2013

in wellness

right about now your employees are wondering whether they’ll keep their new resolutions or dust off the old ones and give them one more go. even your employees who didn’t make resolutions are likely stewing over possible ones as they listen to everyone talk about strategies for keeping theirs…really…this year. since health resolutions top most employees’ lists, why not give your employees a helping hand? after all, you have a vested interest in their success.

i’ve asked various health and wellness experts to share one small thing they recommend employers do to help employees this year. the january issue containing these experts’ ideas will be published next week. if you’re interested in knowing what they suggest, sign up for my newsletter. in the meantime, consider these 13 small changes from me. they range in specificity, focus, and the level of implementation—and shall we say finessing?!—involved.

  1. become the mayor of your cafeteria. i’m not talking foursquare here. take a note from NYC mayor bloomberg’s page and eliminate the largest drinks cup in your cafeteria.
  2. support impulse buying. of the healthy kind. place fruit at the cafeteria register, receptionist’s desk and conference table.
  3. play traffic cop. lead employees to healthier choices with traffic light labels that make it easy to find and select the healthiest (or healthier) item.
  4. make a swap-o-rama-rama. look into healthy vending machines, or review placement options to position lower-calorie options at eye level.
  5. be the DJ. pull out your jambox, sync it to your playlist, and start a little lunch beat craze in your office.
  6. point the way. increase stair traffic with a few well-placed signs by the elevator. post signs to good health elsewhere, too.
  7. get them outta their seats. you probably can’t give all of your employees standing or treadmill desks or bouncy seats. but you can reduce the risk of sitting disease with tools and at-work breakswalking meetings, and other ways to encourage replenishment.
  8. move the playground indoors. paint a hopscotch or foursquare course, build a parcourse, hang a swing. playtime is crucial for more than kids. adult playgrounds are the #2 must-watch trend in 2013.
  9. put financial security on a straighter course. make this the year you consider adding 401(k) auto-enrollment and automatic escalation so employees quickly push their savings to the max.
  10. say au revoir to the gauloisesbecome a tobacco-free workplace in support of those you’re encouraging to quit, those who already have, and those who never started.
  11. help them help others. being “good” connects to being well. line up a day of volunteering, adopt a school or other nonprofit, communicate your corporate matching policy, or simply communicate ways to give back.
  12. free their minds. heavily promote your employee assistance program and the various ways it can help employees and their dependents at different life stages.
  13. dare to repeat yourself. create a game plan to communicate year-round instead of only at major milestones.

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