Photo by JohnONolan

When we analyze why more companies in the credit and collection industry don’t deploy Wellness programs in their organizations, the first response is fear that it will cost too much money. Executives do not feel they have the resources to develop such a program even though they readily agree it would be “good for all employees”. Some see it as just another benefit they have to pay for just like sick days.

Wellness is more than physical fitness. It is a balanced approach to life stage health. It is comprehensive and dwells on positives rather than negatives (illness).

A well delivered program….

  • attracts employees
  • reduces sick time
  • improves the workplace in general
  • changes employees for the better
  • lowers absenteeism
  • lowers health care expenditures and staff turnover AND
  • increases productivity

The average American now works 47 hours a week and we expect employees to be at peak performance. In a recent study, the US Department of Health showed that for every $1.00 a business invested in a wellness program there was a median savings of $3.14.

We’re approaching the end of the year….time to plan for 2012.  Consider introducing a low to no-cost wellness program. Assign the task to a key senior management person who will put together a committee of employees to develop the program.  Here is a short list of what you can actually do on a low to no cost budget.

  • Lunch Bunch Wellness Groups:  60 minute time slot. Employees bring their own lunch. Company supplies drinks and fruit. A presentation, with open discussion to follow, is done by a professional on topics of interest that fit into  life stage health. Suggested topics to get started: Heart Healthy Nutrition, Sleep, Exercise, Managing Illness, Stress Management, Financial Planning, Writing a Will, Smoke Cessation. Call on local physicians, health care specialists, dieticians, financial planners, attorneys, etc. These people are very often willing to give of their time (and know they may get a new client down the road).
  • Walking and Climbing Groups:  Small groups are formed that meet an hour before or after work. One to two mile walking “trails” are developed. Groups meet at least 3 times a week and walk! Same with Climbing Groups. They use the stairs instead of the elevator. Set goals for how many flights to climb each week.
  • Biking Group: They form by geographical area. They may actually bike to and from work or they meet after work and on weekends to bike together.
  • Gym Membership: Contact a close-by gym to get your folks a special discount price. Pay 10% of the monthly fee and give the employee a 30 minute early release one day a week IF they go to the gym at least 4 times a week (including weekends).

Studies reflect that employees make positive health changes in the work environment because it is convenient, there is often moral support, and it is socially acceptable. You can make a Wellness program uplifting, fun and achievable. Consider offering incentives to employees for participating in their Wellness program. Some ideas:

  • Extra time off when they have accomplished an agreed to goal
  • Gym memberships
  • Cash
  • Tangible gifts (Kindle, Wii, etc.)
  • Selection of a gift from a company sponsored gift catalog when the employee has accrued enough points through the Wellness program to pick something. (One point equals $1.00 for example.)
  • Meeting with a personal trainer to design further physical program

Talk to your health insurance provider. Many companies now offer wellness based programs including access to online personal wellness management systems.  Go on line (dare I say Google?) to “wellness” to find a wealth of free available materials for your committee to use in their planning.

You’ll see the shift but it will take some time and some leadership participation. Remember, this is for EVERYONE’s benefit. It doesn’t have to be expensive but it does have to be meaningful.

Here’s to our better health!

Carol Freeland is passionate about wellness and would be happy to discuss further with those who are interested.  Feel free to email her at

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