Managing Wellness

Employee Weight-Loss Programs: 3 Steps to Create Awareness

  • In 2017, almost one-quarter of all organizations polled by SHRM had increased their wellness offerings
  • 77 percent reduced their health care plan costs as a result of including employee wellness programs
  • Employee weight-loss programs that include incentives produce more (and lasting) weight loss
Posted by May 14, 2018

Many contemporary health care plans include access to employee weight-loss programs such as gym membership discounts, wearable fitness trackers and doctor-approved diet plans. However, employees often don’t realize these benefits exist, and thus, don’t take advantage of them.

It’s important to educate employees about weight-loss benefits while respecting and supporting those who are on a weight-loss journey. According to the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) 2017 Employee Benefits report, almost one-quarter of all organizations surveyed increased their wellness offerings to reduce health care costs and help employees get their health under control. As part of their wellness plans, more than half were focused on building a culture of wellness and implementing new work features to get employees up and moving, introducing things like standing desks.

SHRM research found that 77 percent of organizations “indicated their wellness program was somewhat or very effective in reducing health care costs” and 88 percent “rated their wellness initiatives as somewhat or very effective in improving employees’ health.”

3 Steps to Creating Awareness About Employee Weight-Loss Programs

Curious to learn how employers can help educate their workforce about the weight-loss programs they may be eligible for? Try this three-step plan for encouraging more team members to take control of their personal well-being.

1. Educate

The process of enrolling and reading through all those complicated health care plan documents can easily overwhelm employees. Often, plan administrators have access to various materials that explain any extra perks that are offered. Consider asking for this information and holding a “lunch and learn” information session to educate everyone on the employee weight-loss programs.

2. Partner

In many communities, there are a number of health and wellness services where employees can find access to personal fitness guidance, dietary planning, holistic health support and more. Organizations can build employee weight-loss programs by partnering with local wellness providers. Ask for a discount on gym memberships or personal trainers, order organic fruits and vegetables for employees to enjoy as snacks and partner with a local medical clinic that provides weight-loss services.

3. Reward

Individuals who participate in employee weight-loss programs deserve some recognition and reward for their achievements. A Duke University study published by ScienceDaily demonstrated that selling a rewards-based weight-loss program to participants increases both the amount of weight they can lose and their ability to keep the weight off over time.

In any weight-loss program, it is important to let employees decide if (and when) they choose to participate. This should not be imposed on any employee, regardless of their size or health. Most obese people face social stigmas at work, and for many, it’s not easy to admit to the struggle of being large in front of their peers. By using the above steps, employers can provide the tools and support to help all employees find ways to help themselves.

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