Wellness in the Workplace

Due to rising health care costs, today’s employers are looking for ways to encourage wellness among their employees. At the same time, many employees are increasingly interested in their personal and family wellness. Regardless of the motivation, the time is right to approach employers and their employees about improving the state of wellness in their organization.

Wellness champions and CEO’s are joining together to lead Wellness Committees in an effort to determine the organizational topics of concern. From that point discussions can begin about how to start up a wellness program for employees. In-service and training time may be used to deliver informational programs on a targets wellness issue.

Nutrition, physical activity and healthy lifestyle tend to be the most popular topics. Employers are making changes in vending machine selections (reducing sugar-sweetened beverages and encouraging consumption of water), cafeteria menu options (limiting high-fat, high-sodium foods and replacing them with healthier choices), and encouraging increased physical activity on and off the job. Employers are suggesting on-site walking paths, encouraging participation in local walking events, and collaborating with local fitness centers for reduced cost employee membership.

Wellness lunch and learn sessions provide on-site information and opportunities for employees to interact with local Extension wellness professionals. Many employees want wellness information via weekly email messages and online newsletters. The key is to keep information and motivation flowing to employees to maintain their interest. Employees are interested in learning and Extension educators are available to meet the need.

Joanne Kinsey, Extension Educator, Rutgers Cooperative Extension in NJ