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Influencing healthy lifestyle changes


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Term paper on health and wellness

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Influencing healthy lifestyle changes

  1. 1. Workshop Six Influencing Healthy Lifestyle Changes in the Workplace Study Team Project By Team Keep It Movin’ MBA 460 Contemporary Issues in Human Resource Management BSA 504 August 15, 2011 CERTIFICATION OF AUTHORSHIPBy my signature, and to prevent an HONOR CODE violation, I certify that I am the author ofthis paper and that any assistance I received in its preparation is fully acknowledged anddisclosed in the paper. I have also cited any sources from which I used data, ideas or words,either quoted directly or paraphrased. I also certify that this paper was prepared by mespecifically for this course.Student(s) Signature: ____________________________________________________________
  2. 2. Influencing Healthy Lifestyle 2 Table of ContentsAbstract -------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3Introduction------------------------------------------------------------------------ 4Literature Review----------------------------------------------------------------- 5Existing Situation-----------------------------------------------------------------7Discussion-------------------------------------------------------------------------10Further Discussion-----------------------------------------------------------------13Conclusion--------------------------------------------------------------------------15Reference List----------------------------------------------------------------------16
  3. 3. Influencing Healthy Lifestyle 3 AbstractIt has been suggested thatU.S. employers have the highest obesity rate amongst its employees incomparison to other countries. This has a profound effect on the employer’s ability to helpsupplement employee health care costs and remain competitive verses the cost of treatingmultiple chronic illnesses and other medical conditions that affect productivity. There issignificance to implementing healthy lifestyle choices. Offering incentives for healthy lifestylechanges benefits the employers and the employees. Research shows that changingone’slifestylecan reduce health care costs, reduce absenteeism, improve morale,and increaseproductivity. CEO’s have found that healthier lifestyle changes benefits the company becausethe employees are at work more and not out sick. Therefore, the implementation of healthylifestyle programs benefits the entire company.
  4. 4. Influencing Healthy Lifestyle 4 Introduction Team Keep It Movin’ strives to influence other human resource professionals toimplement healthy lifestyle choices programs for their employees by offering incentives forhealthy lifestyle changes. Why would this be significant to other human resource professionals?The following issues will be considered for discussion: To decrease stress and improve morale To decrease sick time used To lower health insurance premiums To anticipate higher productivity To improve company imageThe implementation of healthy lifestyle changes in the workplace just makes sense, whenproperly executed.
  5. 5. Influencing Healthy Lifestyle 5 Literature Review Research was conducted on whether it was worthwhile for an organization’s humanresource department to start up a healthy lifestyle program for its employees.The research overwhelmingly points to the fact that it is beneficial for organizations to have ahealthy lifestyle program. Greene (2011) states that hospitals like Sentara Health System inNorfolk, VA have saved $3.4 million in health care costs during the past three years with 80% ofits employees participating in a healthy lifestyle program. Greene (2011) currently, 86% ofhospitals have some form of healthy lifestyle program. Greene (2011) believes that the main reason that organizations are adopting the healthylifestyle program is to reduce health care costs. The second benefit is reducing absenteeism, andimproving morale and productivity. These programs can encourage employees to quit smoking,exercise more, lose weight, and to eat healthier foods. It is a win-win situation for everyonebecause the organization wins by saving money, and the employees win by becoming healthier.They will be successful in all organizations, as long as they are embraced by employees, andthey save the company money (Greene, 2011). Hamlett-Coombs (2011) notes that it is now time for all companies to consider health andwellness programs for their employees. By having this type of program, a company will savemoney and increase productivity. Employees will miss fewer days from work for being sick, andthey will have less stress. Hamlett-Coombs (2011) argues that it is important for these programsto be led by employees since they will act to motivate each other to become healthier. It is much more cost-effective and productive to keep employees healthy than torehabilitate a sick or injured employee back into the business (Hamlett-Coombs, 2011). In some
  6. 6. Influencing Healthy Lifestyle 6cases, a healthy lifestyle program will lower an organization’s health and safety premiums. Forthe program to be successful, the organization should encourage all of its employees toparticipate in it. But the company should keep it voluntary, and not force people to be a part of it. Merrill (2011) describes a study undertaken to measure the effectiveness of a wellnessprogram in small companies. The four indicators that were measured were physical health,emotional health, healthy behavior, and basic access to health related services. The study wasundertaken at Lincoln Industries in Lincoln Nebraska. Nearly all of the employees participated inthis wellness program. The results were that physical health, mental health, and healthy behaviorwere significantly greater for the employees of Lincoln Industries. The conclusion of the studywas that the wellness program was proven effective for the workers in this small company.Merrill (2011) feels that this study is important, because it shows that healthy lifestyle programssucceed not only in large companies, but in small companies as well. Hank Orme, the presidentof Lincoln Industries, believes that the study shows that the wellness program can have a positiveimpact on his company’s bottom line. He now feels that a healthy lifestyle program is aninvestment that yields high returns in all metrics including operating profit, customersatisfaction, and supplier satisfaction (Merrill, 2011). Bernstein (2011) has little doubt about the value of a healthy lifestyle program inorganizations. He sees large and small companies coming to the same conclusions. Even as thebad economy has forced companies to cut employees benefits, corporate wellness programs havenot only survived but grown. Bernstein (2011) reported that the reason, according to manystudies, is that wellness benefits provided in the workplace yield more productive employeeswho require less medical care.
  7. 7. Influencing Healthy Lifestyle 7 Bernstein (2011) claims that it is not just out of the goodness of their hearts, that CEOsare implementing healthy lifestyle programs. The CEOs know that their organizations will reapthe benefits of healthier and more efficient employees. When employees come to work moredays per year because they are healthier, then this means that more goods and services will beproduced. This leads to what an organization needs to survive, which is lower costs andincreased profits. According to Bernstein (2011), medical costs fall by about $3.27 for everydollar spent on healthy lifestyle programs, and that absenteeism costs fall by about $2.73 forevery dollar spent. Existing Situation In recent years, U. S. employers have come to understand that obesity is not just anindividual issue. According to, the United States at 30.6% has the highestobesity rate in the world, which is having a profound effect on the employer’s ability to helpsupplement employee health care costs and remain competitive. Because of increased obesityrates in America, chronic illnesses are on a rapid increase. The costs of treating multiple chronicillnesses and other medical conditions are having a direct impact on a business’s production andbottom-line. The passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 furtherenhances the burdenon employers. Today many employers are taking a backseat to the issue, waiting for the fallout to settleand go away, or hoping the impact will be minimal to their operation. In fact, many employersfeel that obesity is an employee’s freedom of choice. In reality, the effects of obesity and otherlife threatening acts and activities will eventually affect the employer’s bottom line andoperation. A number of organizations are taking a proactive approach to minimize the impact on
  8. 8. Influencing Healthy Lifestyle 8this epidemic by developing positive solutions to influencing employees to live a healthylifestyle. The strategic approach is another method employers are using to facilitate a leaner andmore productive workforce, and to head off the serious economic threat of enormous healthcarecosts. Employers seek to take advantage of healthcare insurance providers’ healthy lifestylepremium reduction programs. Hence, based on the U. S. obesity rate, a condition that significantly increases the risk ofmajor illness and chronic diseases, it is paramount that Human Resource Department (HRD)officials take this matter seriously. As with other functions of an organization, organizationalhealthy lifestyle programs come at a cost, which calls for serious consideration to realize the rateof return on investment. Considering the potential impact to the organization, HRD managershave a budgetary obligation to respond appropriately to minimize the health care cost to theorganization, and ensure its employees are physically able to meet the challenges of tomorrow. The National Business Group on Health (NBGOH) is a nonprofit organization with over350 registered employers taking proactive approaches to put employee healthy lifestyle programsinto play. According to the National Business Group on Health’s mission statement: “NationalBusiness Group on Health is the national voice of large employers dedicated to findinginnovative and forward-thinking solutions to the nations most important health careissues.”National Business Group on Health. (2011). About the business group: Governance. Retrievedfrom Companies such as American Airlines, Inc., AutoZone, Inc., Costco WholesaleCorporation, General Electric Company, Kohls Department Stores, Target Corporation, andWegman’s Food Markets, are examples of organizations registered as active members of the
  9. 9. Influencing Healthy Lifestyle 9NBGOH. The NBGOH website provides immediate resources for businesses to research thepros and cons of employer-supported healthy lifestyle programs, such as, employer case studies,access to health policies, health tips, and obesity cost calculators that can help businesses projecthealth insurance and operational costs. Furthermore, the NBGOH evaluates and publiclyrecognizes organizations that demonstrate the best wellness programs for the year through anational award. The recipients of the award must have demonstrated creative, comprehensive,and effective solutions that improve employee health, productivity, and well-being. Thefollowing companies have received awards in the year of 2011 as Best Employers for HealthyLifestyles: Aetna American Express H.J. Heinz The Franciscan Clinic Verizon Wyndham Worldwide Then, there are investment firms such as the Willis Group, which prides itself as offering itsclients the best risk-management advice. This matter was clearly displayed in the Willis 2009Health and Productivity Survey, Building a Culture of Health. The survey identifies theprevailing trend that more and more employers have health and wellness programs or plan to addone within the next three years. The survey also points out that managers in large firms realizethat wellness programs are an important factor in achieving business success, and if the programsare managed correctly, there is an expected return on investment in two to three years. The
  10. 10. Influencing Healthy Lifestyle 10Willis survey collaborates with Gallup, the research firm that has studied human nature for over70 years. The short-term positive effects for HRD managers to refrain from healthy lifestyleprograms, are organization capital or human resource investments; no requirements to establishprofessional human resource or communications personnel to manage and access the program,also no need to provide opportunities for employees to engage in healthy lifestyle activities andevents. The inaction to create healthy lifestyle programs will inevitably make the organizationvulnerable to higher healthcare costs, including the loss of production, creativity, andorganization competiveness, and possibly create the image of an employer that is not concernedabout its employees. Discussion As was stated previously, research was conducted on whether it was worthwhile for anorganization’s human resource department to start a healthy lifestyle program for its employees.The research overwhelmingly points to the fact that it is beneficial for organizations to have ahealthy lifestyle program because of the increased obesity rates and chronic illnessesin Americaare increasing rapidly. The implementation of an effective wellness program is essential to acompany’s survival with the current economic conditions. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (2004, March 10),smoking was the leading cause of death, killing 435,000 Americans in 2000, up from 400,000 in1990. Poor diet and physical inactivity, running a close second, are predicted to replacesmoking as the leading cause of death in the near future. These two chronic disease risk factorsaccounted for 400,000 deaths in 2000, up from 300,000 in 1990 (“Healthy Workforce 2010”
  11. 11. Influencing Healthy Lifestyle 112001).As a whole Americans are a very unhealthy group of people considering that the leadingcauses of death are heart attack, stroke, and cancer. The overall costs of treating multiplechronic illnesses and other medical conditions have had a direct impact on a business’s bottom-line. The solution is to encourage businesses to identify the need and to adopt a wellnessprogram. There are numerous reasons why chronic diseases and obesity flourish in the U.S. today;we have listed a few examples. First, due to a fast-paced society no one has time to cook, thiscoupled with growing numbers of fast-food restaurants on every corner. It is very convenient toeat out daily. Secondly, vending machines, snack bars and cafeterias have few, if any; healthychoices. Lastly, increased inactivity due to technological advances in modern labor-savingdevices such as riding lawnmowers and power tools contribute heavily. Also the use ofcomputers, video/DVD games and the lack of sidewalks, walking trails and bike paths, allencourage little to no physical activity (Gould, Johnson, 2009). Employee benefits are one of the fastest rising expenses for many companies. There is agreat need for companies to thoroughly review all theiroptions, and correctly match their needswith the appropriate wellness plan for them. To have a successful program the company shouldtake the strategic approach, which entail a long term investment; which may seem expensive inthe beginning but will prove to be beneficial in the end.Team Keep it Movin’ makes the following recommendations:1. Identify the need for a wellness program utilizing a simple survey made up of 10 or 12 questions that can provide valuable information or use a group forum.
  12. 12. Influencing Healthy Lifestyle 122. Establish a wellness committee.Employee involvement is vital to the success of any wellness program. To obtain good results, employees should be involved in the wellness program planning process. It encourages “buy in” from both management and potential program participants.3. Select wellness program incentives.Incentives attempt to build motivation by offering individuals external rewards for taking steps in the right direction. The most common wellness program incentives are toestablish behavioral changes thatwill resultindiscounted health insurance premiums.4. Obtain support for the wellness program which is vital for the program’s success. Different types of wellness program support addressed, include the following (Gould, Johnson, 2009): •Management support for the wellness program •Employee support for the wellness program •Financial support for the wellness program •Governmental support for the wellness initiative The most important factor to the success of the wellness program is to obtain financialsupport from the organization. A study in the Harvard Business Review (2010, December),found that companies with comprehensive, well run programs can see an average return on theirinvestments of two to three dollars for every dollar spent and on the high side six dollars forevery dollar spent. Wellness program materials are also available free of charge by accessing the Internet.
  13. 13. Influencing Healthy Lifestyle 13 For example, wellness tool kits, newsletters, nutrition pamphlets and posters, fitnesspamphlets and posters and wellness glossaries can be found. There are additional sources ofinformation, such as, voluntary health organizations, local public health departments, and stateandnational government agencies. Additionally, many pharmaceutical companies marketdisease- management programs for many conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure,weight management and depression (Gould, Johnson, 2011). An effective program will prove to reduce health care costs and absenteeism, eventuallyyielding an increase in productivity. At the software firm SAS Institute, voluntary turnover isjust 4%, thanks in part to such a program; at the Biltmore tourism enterprise, the rate was 9% in2009, down from 19% in 2005. According to Vicki Banks, Biltmore’s director of benefits andcompensation, “Employees who participate in our wellness programs do not leave.” (Berry,Mirabito, Baun, 2010). Ultimately, the implementation of the wellness program will bebeneficial to employers and employees alike. Further Discussion In all organizations, employees are an expense as well as valuable resources (Noe,Hollenbeck, Gerhart& Wright, 2009, p. 505). How can an organization survive and beprofitable with its entire employee’s home in bed sick? Two plus two does not equal five.UnlessHuman Resource Professionals get serious about implementing healthy lifestyle programs; healthcare costs will continue to be a huge liability in organizations. Healthy lifestyle programs possesscertain strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to an organization. Healthy lifestyle programs can strengthen an organization by lowering health insurancepremiums and medical claims. Employee’s productivity and morale increases while stress and
  14. 14. Influencing Healthy Lifestyle 14the use of sick leave decreases. The overall image of an organization improves when employeesare healthy and take pride in their appearance. When employees are healthy, an organization canfocus more on achieving its strategic mission, and less on nursing the workforce back to health. Some weaknesses HR professionals face when implementing healthy lifestyle programsare cost, passive programs and privacy concerns. The cost to implement wellness programs cansometime exceed what’s in the company’s budget to spend. Some employees may not want toshare health information with their employer. Most wellness programs “obtain baseline measureson various indicators (weight, blood pressure, lung capacity, and so on) and measure individuals’progress relative to these indicators over time” (Noe et al., 2009, p.605). Some employees mayview wellness programs as a privacy violation. Passive wellness programs do not “support” orencourage employees to become active participants (Noe et al., 2009, p. 605). Organizations withpassive wellness programs lose money on their investment because the health of employees doesnot improve, and health insurance premiums stay the same or increase. Three opportunities HR professionals may experience in employee wellness program areimproved corporate culture, employee retention and organizational competitiveness. Thedefinition of corporate culture is “the way people dress, talk to one another and greet customers”(Kotler& Keller, 2011, p.46). Organizations that care about their employees breed employeeswho care about their job responsibilities, customers and each other. Employee retention increasesbecause the work environment is less stressful and more engaging. An organization with healthyemployees can better compete as opposed to those who do not invest in the health of theiremployees. Healthy employees have the energy, creativity and drive to follow through with theorganization’s strategic goals.
  15. 15. Influencing Healthy Lifestyle 15 Threats that HR faces when implementing employee wellness programs are economicrecession, possible layoffs and employee financial worries. In these tough economic times,organizations are struggling to survive, therefore implementing wellness programs are not at thetop of the agenda. Many organizations can’t afford to retain all employees, and employees areupset and discouraged about the financial future for themselves and their families. What strategic methods of implementing healthy lifestyle programs actually work and arerecommended? First, evidence suggests that the support of management is crucial. It is humannature for people to follow the leader. When managers lead by example and actively participatein an organization’s healthy lifestyle program, employees tend to willingly participate. It wouldalso be wise for managers to appoint one of their employees as a healthy lifestyles ambassador.This employee should be well-liked, possess leadership qualities and truly support the program.Employees should join the program at will and not be coerced to join. HR professionals shoulduse the “follow up model” when implementing a healthy lifestyles program. Employees shouldhave access to exercise equipment, outreach counselors, individualized health assessment, andnutritious meals at work. Conclusion To conclude, when executed correctly, the implementation of healthy lifestyle program inorganizations just make sense. Exercise and a well-balanced diet are two key factors in keepingemployees healthy and therefore ready to carry out the organization’s mission, which is tosurvive and stay profitable.
  16. 16. Influencing Healthy Lifestyle 16 ReferencesBernstein, L. (2011, July 4).Corporate fitness programs survive hard times. The Washington Post.Greene, J. (2011, Feb.).Employee wellness proves its worth. Trustee. Vol. 64. Issue 2. Pages 8-13. Retrieved July 22, 2011 from ABI Inform.Hamlett-Coombs, K. (2011, Feb. 4). Healthy workplace good for all.The Daily Post. Retrieved July 22, 2011 from Factiva.Merrill, R. (2011, April). Evaluation of a best-practice worksite wellness program in a small-employer setting using selected well-being indices. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Vol. 53.Issue 4.Pages (2011). Health statistics obesity by country.Retrieved July 28, 2011, from Business Group on Health. (2011). About the business group: Awards program. Retrieved from (2011). 2009 Health and productivity survey: Building a culture of health. Retrieved July 21, 2011. from /Employee%20Benefits/publications/Willis_Productivity_Survey_2009.pdfBaun, W., Berry, L., Mirabito, A., (2010, Dec.) What’s the hard return on employee wellness programs? Harvard Business Review. Retrieved August 13, 2011 from,http://hbr.orgGould, R., Johnson, R., (2009) Healthy Workforce 2010 and Beyond: An essential healthpromotion sourcebook, Retrieved July 28, 2011 from,
  17. 17. Influencing Healthy Lifestyle 17 Healthy Workforce 2010: An essential health promotions sourcebook for employers, large and small (2001). Retrieved July 28, 2011 from,, R.A., Hollenbeck, J.R., Gerhart, B., & Wright, P.M. (2009). Human resource management: Gaining a competitive edge (7th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill Irwin. Kotler, P., Keller, K. L. (2009). Marketing management(13th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.