Workplace Wellness Programs Encourage Employees; Get Up, Active, Healthy

We’ve all seen the headlines – probably while seated squarely in front of a TV or computer screen; sedentary lifestyles are more deadly than smoking. In fact, the nation’s “sitting crisis” is now linked to a host of chronic diseases, including conditions such as obesity, diabetes, cancer, stroke and heart disease, which impact nearly half of all Americans.

And the toll is staggering. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic disease accounts for 70 percent of deaths in the U.S. and 75 percent of health-care spending.

Businesses, too, feel the burden. In 2013, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that employer-sponsored family health insurance topped $16,000 for the first time, with employees shouldering about $4,565 of the expense.

Economic realities, coupled with the Affordable Care Act’s emphasis on prevention, are prompting companies of all sizes to encourage employees to get up, get active and get healthy.

Wealth of Benefits

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, approximately half of all employers now offer wellness-promotion initiatives, which can also have a positive impact on employee morale, retention and productivity.

The government of Orange County, City of Orlando, Florida Hospital, Valencia College and Orlando Health are among the latest employers in Central Florida to adopt workplace wellness programs. And to date, the reviews are good.
“Orlando Health is always seeking innovative solutions for driving down health-care costs, while improving our employees’ health, wellness and quality of life,” says Claire Fournier, Orlando Health Chief Strategic Partnership Officer. “Prevention is a major focus of that effort, not only for our employees but as part of our mission to improve community health.”

Partnering to Combat Chronic Disease

When launching its wellness initiative, Orlando Health partnered with the YMCA of Central Florida. Through its focus on Healthy Living, the Y offers a range of customizable options like health screenings; personalized coaching, training and goal setting; family fitness; group exercise; diabetes prevention and more.

“For companies considering a workplace wellness program, knowing where to start isn’t always easy,” says John Cardone, YMCA senior vice president of Health Strategies and Business Strategies. “The important thing is to provide the right mix of programs, inspiration, technology and personalized support that help people take small steps toward creating lifelong healthy habits.”

Cardone said the Y’s corporate program fits with the organization’s larger, mission-driven focus on chronic disease prevention. “The epidemic of chronic disease is real and growing, but there’s still time to turn the tide,” he notes. “It’s why the Y is joining with local, national and global partners everyone from businesses leaders, physicians, public health officials and researchers to create new solutions for tackling this crisis together.”