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6 corporate wellness and fitness strategies for 2017

James A. Martin | May 25, 2017
Encouraging healthy habits can help improve workers’ performance, reduce absenteeism and lower health care costs.

Among Chief Financial Officers, 88 percent said controlling health costs was among their top five priorities. But 94 percent said they don’t know how to measure the ROI of wellness program benefits, said Rod Reasen, founder and CEO of Springbuk. (Reasen was referencing an early 2016 CFO survey.) And yet, 95 percent said the top objective of workplace wellness programs is to improve employee health. Reducing healthcare costs came in at number 3.

Typical metrics to help with ROI analysis include employee time, productivity, turnover, engagement and absenteeism, Reasen said. The challenge, though, is that “most people in HR don’t have a data science degree,” which is why wellness program administrators should consider easy-to-use software tools that turn data into insights. (Sprinbuk is a health analytics software platform provider.)


4. Encourage healthy sleep habits.

Sleep is getting a lot more attention these days. Arianna Huffington has even written a book about it. And Fitbit recently started providing users of its Alta HR, Charge 2 and Blaze wearables more detailed sleep data and insights.

Americans are particularly sleep-deprived compared to their counterparts in other countries, said Maurice Ohayon, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, in a session dedicated to sleep. Many Americans get only about 6.5 hours of sleep per night on average, he said, which is “abnormal.”

Lack of sleep can lead to physical health issues, including increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and a depressed immune system; mental health conditions, such as anxiety, mood swings, depression and stress; and daytime performance and safety issues, which include declining work performance, cognitive difficulties and excessive fatigue.

Encouraging healthy sleep habits can help improve workers’ performance, reduce absenteeism and lower health care costs. Ohayon suggested counseling employees to avoid watching TV or reading a laptop or tablet before bedtime; avoid alcohol or exercise before sleep; and not engage in any activity that requires serious concentration before going to bed. Fitness breaks during the day can help, too.


5. Set a tomato timer for 25 minutes, then repeat. 

The last session of the day was entitled “Making Productivity Simple in a Connected World.” The session, led by U.J. Ramdas, co-founder of Intelligent Change, offered inspiration and tips for making the most of each day.

Among the tips Ramdas offered:

  • Decide on your most important goals in life. These goals should help inform the tasks you set for yourself every day.
  • Every night, before you finish work, jot down 3 to 5 things you need to do the next day. Rank them from highest to lowest priority.
  • Every morning, start with the highest priority task. Give it your undivided attention for 25 minutes. Don’t get distracted by email, texts, or other interruptions during this period. Set a timer to keep you on track — preferably a tomato timer. (This is called the “pomodoro technique,” as pomodoro is Italian for ‘tomato.’)
  • At the end of the 25 minutes, take a short break. Then, hyper-focus on your second most important task for 25 minutes.
  • Whenever possible, schedule meetings for the afternoons, so you can get your most important work done first.
  • Need to sustain your energy for hours? Drink bulletproof coffee.


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