How Health Creates Wealth

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My job at the health department consists of me (one registered dietitian), about 50 social workers, 4 nurses, 3 psychologists, and a few other support staff. If you could shadow me for a day you’d quickly see that it’s not the healthiest environment.

My coworkers love helping our clients but are burnt out and always on the run. In the course of a week I may see 10 total people who pack their lunch. I see a majority of folks get their breakfast and lunch from the vending machine which consists of processed, refined food (if you can call it that) along with a pop to wash it down. Many meetings are rarely without doughnuts, cakes, sweets, and/or sugary beverages. On a positive note, after being there a few months I learned that there is a great desire to pursue good health despite so many poor choices. I was being asked multiple questions each day about nutrition. The questions often get tossed in with business talk: “Hey Jess, this consumer’s diet got changed from ground to pureed. Can you do an in-service for their staff? By the way- I heard Dr. Oz talk about [enter magic formula here]. What do you think?”

I talked to my supervisor about this and got approval to start my own worksite wellness initiative. It began with weekly newsletters that addressed basic nutrition topics like hydration, artificial sweeteners, easy & healthy breakfasts, nutritious recipes, etc. This actually spurred on additional attention because I didn’t just have the folks working in my close proximity asking questions; I now had the whole department stopping by my cubicle! I decided to try out a 4-week wellness challenge in light of March being National Nutrition Month. It had an awesome turnout and people were drinking more water, eating more fruit/vegetables, and moving more. My new supervisor even told me that before she actually met me she was led to my blog through the link I include in my weekly nutrition letters. She read my “About Me” section and ended up buying a copy of Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover AND she downloaded my homemade Budgeting Spreadsheet so she could start taking control of her finances! I love making an impact like this!

While everyone enjoyed pursuing better health, they may not have realized how many additional benefits lie behind their actions. From a physical standpoint- quality nutrition directly affects the brain and helps us to be more productive, enhances our mood, and helps us to think more clearly. Ever feel stumped trying to come up with an idea? Go for a short walk to the water cooler to stretch your legs and your brain will thank you for the fresh source of oxygen. From a financial standpoint, it’s estimated that companies can expect a $3 return in savings for every $1 invested in worksite wellness due to that increased productivity. If obesity is estimated to cost US companies $13 billion per year and employees tend to be motivated by incentives, don’t you think it’s worth it to invest a few bucks for the sake of our health?

Do you have a worksite wellness initiative at your company? I’d love to hear what that looks like in your comments.

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Money

Derek

AUTHOR Derek

My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.

14 Comments

  1. Absolutely. In my wife’s company they have a biggest loser challenge every quarter. My wife is thin but it helps everyone stay on board. To further the point my children’s daycare has a big problem. 80% of the teachers are overweight. Ironically they are teaching my kids good nutrition but it passes them by. Why? Because they are spending too many hours caring for kids that they neglect themselves. For birthday celebrations there are cakes and pizza. I assume the teachers are tempted and eat it. I know I do from time to time. Anyway, it’s a mindset that needs to change. Lifestyle if you will.
    Jai Catalano recently posted..First Job Out Of College: 5 Tips To Avoid Debt

    • Lifestyle is the key. Anyone can lose a couple pounds during an employee challenge but it’s the healthy habits that will make a lifelong difference.

  2. Poor health from poor lifestyle choices cost companies and individuals a fortune every year. If more people took the time to realize how much time their short cuts are really costing them in the long run, they might make better choices.
    Jenny @ Frugal Guru Guide recently posted..Free Flowers: Transplanting Daffodils In The Green

    • Great point, Jenny. I was shocked by the cost of some obesity related surgeries at my hospital (I wrote about this in one of my first articles here). All it takes is a few small changes to have a great affect on our health.

  3. This was brilliant. Yes, you need to be physically healthy in order for your mind to work well (generally), and hence to draw positive things to you.

    Not to be too new-agey about it. :p
    Chris recently posted..Do Anti-Snoring Devices Work?

  4. Wealth, and a better outlook (which is probably a huge factor, as you point out)! Great perspective.

    • Thanks, Mike. Companies are catching on and seeing the value of employee wellness initiatives. It’s a win-win situation.

  5. The last company I worked for held a weight-loss competition. I believe the company I just got a job with offers a discount to employees who utilize a health facility a certain number of times a month (haven’t officially started yet, so will have to check on this once I start)
    Bobby @ Ban Excuses recently posted..Traditional Societal Definitions Of Success Are Wrong

    • That’s an awesome initiative! Erika from Newlyweds on a Budget gets PAID to bike to work. I think they even gave her a bike if she committed to riding it to work a certain number of times per year. I hope more companies start getting on board with interactive incentives like what you mentioned.
      Jessica @ Budget for Health recently posted..Employee Worksite Wellness: How to get started

    • That’s a better approach. I see more frustration when people try to eliminate from their diet or make an extreme goal like working out every week. Aiming for healthy choices MOST of the time allows room for occassional indulging without guilt.
      Jessica @ Budget for Health recently posted..Cooking tips from my mom

  6. We are offered several resources at work to help improve our health. We’ve been getting a few healthier options in the vending machines over the last year and it’s great to see things other than candy bars and pop. I’ve been working on small changes over the past several years. Every now and again a few of us will challege each other to be healthier.


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