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Why Some Workplace Wellness Programs Work and Others Don't

By lisa.klein - Posted on 16 September 2013

A recent article in the American Journal of Health Promotion (September/October 2013, Vol. 28, No.1) discusses why many health promotion programs have been unsuccessful.
A quote by Editor in Chief, Michael P. O'Donnell, states: "We used to think that all we had to do was tell people about the risks of smoking, excess alcohol, and obesity, and the benefits of exercise, a nutritious diet, and stress management, run them through a health screening or health risk assessment (HRA) to help them learn about their personal situation, and they would use their intelligence and rational mind to turn their lives around. Programs based on these assumptions have failed for decades."
He goes on to say that successful programs are those that not only provide education, but use strategies to build skills and provide an abundance of opportunities to practice healthy lifestyles. These opportunities, in a practical sense, include a workplace culture and environment that encourages, supports and rewards healthy behaviors. It is imperative that senior management in a workplace is not only encouraging, but expecting healthy behaviors, such as taking the stairs, eating healthy in the cafeteria, and taking time several times weekly to use on-site fitness centers that are staffed with credentialed, highly educated and trained health and fitness professionals.
The old adage of ''Build it and they will come'', does not apply to the workforce in having an unstaffed fitness center, a cafeteria in which healthy food is more expensive than unhealthy food, and where every meeting is stocked with coffee, bagels, donuts and empty calories. We all must share in the responsibility of having  a healthy workforce and keeping it in the forefront of our minds in our business practices.


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