When it comes to wellness, it’s hard to beat Motorola. The company started a pilot project a decade ago and turned it into a global initiative that is now run by more than 50 employees and is funded with an annual grant.
Individual programs are continuously assessed on effectiveness for the 30,000 workers, family members and retirees.
The company either provides free membership to its wellness centers or pays for memberships at qualifying fitness centers. It has provided flu shots and offers a variety of health education plans each year.
The results are impressive. For workers that regularly used a fitness center, the company saved $3.93 for every $1 it spent, and participating workers cost $6.5 million less in lifestyle-related medical costs than nonparticipants. Those in the program saw health care costs rise 2.5 percent annually, compared to 18 percent for nonparticipants.
While you may not have the resources that Motorola has, there are some things you should consider. Healthy employees, whether it’s through a formal wellness program or an informal encouragement for healthier living, help your bottom line. And more importantly, a commitment to health is the right thing to do.
Each person has a sphere of influence. As CEOs, it is our responsibility to get involved to do what we can to help those around us live healthier lives. Any health initiative has to start at the top. If you aren’t serious about it, then it’s going to be much harder to achieve any results. This isn’t just about absenteeism, it’s about doing what’s right for ourselves and our companies.
Motorola’s commitment shows what can be done when you have a lot of resources at your disposal. Most middle-market companies, particularly in the current economic environment, can’t match that level of funding. But there are some things you can do to make a difference.
Once you decide to make a personal commitment to health, you need a champion for your program. It can be you, but if time constraints prevent that, then find someone who strongly believes in the effort. The key to health initiatives is getting buy-in from every level so that each employee’s success helps generate other successes. Healthy living is contagious, and by getting a lot of people involved, you will be able to start to see significant results sooner rather than later.
As time goes on, the commitment to good health will become part of the fabric of your culture, making it easier to launch new initiatives and build on prior success.
Motorola has its own fitness centers in some of its locations, a luxury you probably can’t afford. But these programs do not have to cost a fortune. Check with your insurance provider and/or your local hospitals. Many have either free or low-cost programs that can help you get started. Some have consultants or health coaches that can do initial assessments and advise you on how to set up a program that is right for your company.
Experts will tell you that you won’t see returns for probably two or three years, but if you are doing it because it’s the right thing to do rather than from a strictly economic motivation, this won’t matter. Healthier employees are happier and more productive.
Not everyone will be interested in participating in whatever program you set up, but don’t worry too much about participation rates. If you lead the way, you are giving people who are interested in good health a means to reach their fitness goals, and participation will increase as people see the successes of those around them.
In the end, it’s all about your health. Because if you don’t have that, what do you really have left?