Friday, January 15, 2016

Workplace Wellness

Today at the first meeting of the company safety and wellness committee, we discussed purchasing AEDs (defibrillators) and holding CPR and first aid classes but did not get to the part of the agenda labeled “Physical and Intellectual Wellness Programs,” which included cool ideas such as lectures and workshops on stress management, meditation, and yoga in addition to the shitty fucking idea of a company weight loss competition.

As the meeting dispersed, a coworker friend suggested programs to the facilitator that might reward employees for wellness achievements over time, such as smoking cessation, which created a segue for me to tell the facilitator I’d be emailing her with similar ideas so I wouldn’t spend an extra hour talking her ear off on the spot.

Hi [person in charge],

I enjoyed our discussions today and am excited to participate in these safety and wellness initiatives going forward. I especially want to offer input on the suggested wellness programs on the agenda that we didn't get to cover today.

The concern with weight loss programs/competitions is that they lend themselves toward under-eating and overexercising in order to win rather than focusing on actual health habits. They are also problematic in that they can be triggering and outright dangerous for people who have or are in remission from eating disorders, which is honestly a much wider-spread issue than anyone wants to talk about. Further, they set up competitions that reward a select number of people but exclude many who cannot participate in the first place due to health concerns and limitations, low initial weight, and differing personal health priorities.

However, there are many types of wellness challenges that can eliminate all the above issues. I’ll do some research on specific program setups, but for example: allowing participants to choose a healthy behavior to pursue from among a handful of options is more inclusive* for anyone who is interested. Behaviors that are shown to improve health outcomes, unlike intentional weight loss efforts, include eating more vegetables, smoking cessation, getting enough sleep on a regular basis, and adding or increasing enjoyable physical activity (e.g., setting up step-counting/tracking goals, beginning a 5k training program, moving from a sedentary lifestyle to exercising X times per week, from an active lifestyle to increasingly challenging goals or adding strength training).

Thanks for your time and interest in these issues, and I look forward to further discussion and planning.

Warm regards,

The reply I received:

Fabulous input!  Really important to give thought to such issues.  Thank you for looking into this for us!  Love it and really appreciate your support and participation!

Since I was on a positive roll, I sent in another idea:

Last summer we collected a petition/list of names of at least 50 employees who were very interested in using the business complex’s new fitness center on a regular basis (several times a week) in exchange for company assistance with the membership fee. Though the $120 yearly fee is very inexpensive when one thinks of it as $10/month, there is no month-to-month payment option, and it’s difficult for many of us to find or justify spending a lump sum like that on non-essential recreation. We submitted the petition to [HR] but never heard anything after.

In truth, there are myriad studies linking employee wellness to better gains for the company due to fewer sick days and increased focus and productivity as a direct result of engaging in regular fitness. With so many interested [OurCompany] employees and with  [OurCompany] comprising such a significant portion of the business complex, [OurCompany] is also uniquely positioned to negotiate a lower membership rate for us as a bloc.

This might be something worth following up on or reopening.


I’m keeping my fingers crossed. That fitness center is GORGEOUS and has a full lockerroom with showers I’d love to access after my mid-afternoon runs, as well as a squat rack, kettlebell set, and other weightlifting equipment that my city rec center lacks.

*I know these ideas alone fail to address all barriers, but I’ll expand on that in another post.

No comments:

Post a Comment