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9 ways employers can help workers keep healthy resolutions

SAIF offers tips on how the workplace can support employee goals

posted January 04, 2017

With 2017 kicking off this week, there's a topic that's on many Oregonians' minds: their New Year's resolution. But, as we clean out our pantries of junk food, recommit to a gym membership, and vow to be healthier, there's one hurdle to better health that most don't think about: the workplace.

"Each individual is influenced by their environment. What we do is largely determined by what is around us," said Sabrina Freewynn, Total Worker Health® consultant at SAIF. "When you consider most workers spend one-third of their week on the job, the workplace has a lot of influence."

Supporting a healthy workplace isn't just good for people, it's good for business. Studies show that healthy workers get hurt less, are more productive and engaged, and have lower insurance costs.

"When it comes to our health, most people know what they should—and shouldn't—do. But knowing what to do doesn't make it easy," said Freewynn. "Employers can help by putting safety and health within reach. This means ensuring we have a supportive workplace environment, practices, and culture."

Here are ways companies can create a workplace that supports safe and healthy choices.

Make it easy to do the right thing:

  • Provide water instead of soda, and healthy food options on-site. Give employees access to refrigerators and microwaves to prepare their own food.
  • Encourage walking for meetings and breaks—and identify safe and interesting walking paths on-site or close to work.
  • Incentivize the right things—provide subsidized bus passes rather than free parking.

Walk the talk:

  • Be seen engaging in safety and health activities—especially if you're a manager or a senior leader at the company.
  • Reward safe and healthy behaviors, and not just outcomes. For instance, count the days everyone wears their safety gear instead of the days without injury.
  • Put away the candy dish—or better yet, replace it with a bowl of oranges.

Support the individual:

  • Make sure your benefits program includes things like tobacco cessation, behavior coaching, and other supportive programs.
  • Communicate those benefits—they're only helpful if employees know about them and how to access them.
  • Ask for input and feedback to strengthen what's working.

Employers interested in more information can visit the Total Worker Health page at saif.com/twh and explore our training resources at saif.com/training.

About SAIF
SAIF is Oregon's not-for-profit, state-chartered workers' compensation insurance company. Since 1914 it has been caring for injured workers and helping to make workplaces safer. For more, visit the About SAIF page on saif.com