For most of us, getting in shape is usually an idea that comes post-holidays; a New Year’s resolution made with the best of intentions. Besides, it’s October and soon we’ll be wearing layers of clothing, so we can afford to blow off the gym for a while and indulge a little. Then we hear that little voice in our head telling us we have to lead by example. Promote a healthy workplace and encourage employees to live a healthy lifestyle.
Perhaps absenteeism due to illness has hurt your small business in the past, especially at this time of year when sales of Kleenex spike. A healthy workplace becomes top of mind when the employee medical plan is up for renewal and we cringe at the thought of a double-digit percentage increase, again. "But I’m a small business with just a handful of employees,” we tell ourselves, "wellness programs are for large companies that can afford them.”
I’m pleased to share with you a newly launched program called the Healthy Arizona Worksite Program, which promotes the creation or enhancement of a worksite wellness initiative. This grant-funded program is available to all Arizona employers at no cost, and is a partnership between the Arizona Department of Health Services, Maricopa County Department of Public Health and the Arizona Small Business Association.
A worksite wellness initiative is a well-planned, synchronized set of programs that include policies, benefits and a support structure custom fit to meet the needs of each work environment and its employees. The key to implementing a successful and sustainable worksite wellness initiative is buy-in and participation from you, management and senior leadership.
The goal of a worksite wellness initiative is to create, over time, a culture of good health and safety, reducing healthcare costs along with absenteeism and increasing worker productivity.
Why is worksite wellness important? Since 60 percent of adults in the U.S. over the age of 18 are employed and spend slightly more than half of their waking hours at work, the environment we create in the workplace strongly influences their wellness. As a result, the workplace plays an important role in workers’ health and in the promotion of prevention programs that address long-term chronic health problems.
As an employer, you can help your employees adopt a healthier lifestyle and decrease the risk of developing costly chronic diseases that can decrease productivity and your bottom line.
The ultimate goal of the program is to help Arizona employers create stronger and more productive companies through increased workplace wellness.
Employers who sign up to participate in the Healthy Arizona Worksite Program will receive thorough training on implementing and managing a wellness program through a five-part workshop series that covers the following program topics:
• Making the case for worksite health, leadership and culture • Assessment and data collection • Data review and worksite health planning • Planning support, implementation and evaluation • Worksite health program evaluation and annual planning
The Healthy Arizona Worksite Program also offers a variety of tools and resources to support participating businesses. One of the primary resources is the Employer Toolkit with comprehensive information on nutritious eating, physical activity, healthy choices and preventive health screenings. The toolkit provides the employer with information and support to continue to introduce new initiatives and strategies that will keep their wellness program vibrant and relevant.
More information about the Healthy Arizona Worksite Program is online at healthyazworksites.org. So far, training schedules are set up for Phoenix but classes will be offered in Tucson. The no-cost, grant-funded program is available to all Arizona businesses and it’s a great way for your small businesses to implement a wellness program suited to your unique worksite.
Stop thinking of about improving the health of your worksite and act now. Your business depends on it.
Written by Jerry Bustamante, senior vice president of public policy and oversees the Southern Arizona office of the Arizona Small Business Association, 4811 E. Grant Road, Suite 262, in Crossroads Festival, phone (520) 327-0222.
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