As I was walking through the 2006 Surface and Fabrication Design Expo show last March, I had the feeling something was definitely wrong. It wasn't the show. That was outstanding. It wasn't my fellow fabricators. They were informative as usual. It was me. I felt tired and sluggish. Something just didn't seem right.
When I returned home the doctor told me what was wrong. I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pre-diabetes and I was overweight. What had happened? My six pack abs had turned into a keg of flab. At 44 years of age was I over the hill? Sure, my kids always tell me that, but I thought they were joking. This was becoming serious.
If this kept up, I knew it was going to affect me in many ways. I knew that not only was my well being in jeopardy, but my income potential was also in jeopardy. If you are not healthy your performance at work will likely be affected. I decided that something had to be done. Before I tell you what, let's consider a few points about your employees' health and how it will affect your bottom line.
Let's look at a few eye-opening statistics that appeared in a recent issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion and illustrate why you ought to be concerned about your employee's health.
The study shows that for men employed full time, the cost of being obese, including medical expenses and absenteeism, ranges from $460 to $2,030 annually per capita.
Obviously being overweight is cause for concern, but it is not the only issue. Other factors can also be expensive. A study showed the increased expense of the following conditions:
Smoking — $960.00
Excessive alcohol use — $400
High cholesterol — $400.00
High blood pressure — $400
Not using safety belts — $300.00
Lack of exercise — $150.00
As we can see, having unhealthy employees can really cost a company quite a bit of money. The current trend in America seems to be expanding waistlines. It's becoming a problem. Let's say that insuring an unhealthy employee costs you $1,500 a year. Now let's say you have 10 employees that fall into that category. Your insurance costs for these employees alone are $15,000 each year. With insurance costs already on the rise, this expense is overwhelming. So more and more companies are starting to see the need to help their employees become healthier and stay healthier. Let's see how this can be achieved.
First, making fun of someone's weight or putting them on the spot is never acceptable. Second, I am a firm believer that a manager shouldn't ask someone to do something unless they would do the same thing. We need to be the example. Here are a few suggestions that might help:
- Fill your snack machine with some healthy alternatives. We asked our snack person to do this. It wasn't a problem.
- Promote water instead of soda. We still have a soda machine but our soda sales have been going down.
- Talk up exercise. People are burning calories lifting all that heavy sheet stock, but that doesn't mean they are really in shape. Why not start up a walking period during one of the breaks? Power walking burns as many calories as jogging and has other health benefits, especially to the lower back where most lifting problems occur. At our place we do a lot of scheduled things, from climbing a mountain to meeting after work and running stairs. This summer we had a little 3-on-3 soccer tournament. Beside the benefit of the exercise, it fostered teamwork and camaraderie.
- Let the employees know how much healthcare really costs and perhaps set a goal to get in shape this year with a reward for the company if you reach the goal.
- Urge preventive measures. Many employees do not schedule a physical even though they have insurance. Recommend they do.
I know this seems like a lot of work, but considering all the time and money invested in your company, it is well worth it. Your company's health really does depend on having healthy, productive employees.