4 ways employers can motivate employees to lose weight

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Most employees spend at least 40 hours a week in the office. Over the course of the year, that’s 2,080 hours. Much of that time is spent sitting. And long workdays often make it difficult for workers to find time to squeeze in trips to the gym.

But, with health-related expenses costing companies millions of dollars a year, employers can, and should, be doing all they can to get their employees fit.

How? Here are four tips to help workers adopt the Little-Engine-That-Could mindset (“I think I can!”) and get on a healthy track.

1. Integrate healthy living information into everyday tasks. Some examples:

· Encourage employees to download a free workout app such as Sworkit or the Johnson & Johnson 7 Minute Workout.
· Set the company intranet homepage to a healthy living website, or incorporate a dedicated health section. The American Heart Association, The Nutrition Source by Harvard School of Public Health and The American Diabetes Association have informative websites. Also, provide a list of healthy living organizations on social media that employees can follow to keep nutrition and exercise on their mind.
· Declare Wednesdays as “Walking Wednesdays” by hosting workday walking meetings or listening to conference calls on foot. Also, encourage employees to park farther away and take the stairs.

2. Put it on paper — pros and cons style. As part of a health campaign, have employees jot down the pros, including benefits and perks, and the cons, including challenges and fears, that chasing weight loss or other personal health goals will entail. It can be difficult to be motivated a person to do something when the risks and reward aren’t clear. Ready to take it to the next level? Have an area where employees can share their lists, which will increase accountability and make it official.

3. Work the buddy system. There is power in numbers — and groups can add to both the fun and accountability. Create a community where employees can find a friend or co-worker to partner with as they tackle the challenges of healthy eating and exercising. Consider coordinating fun workplace initiatives such as a walking or running group, a team weight maintenance program during the holidays, signing up a team for a recreation league or inviting local health and wellness professionals to host workshops and cooking demos.

4. Build a supportive culture. People will not succeed if they do not believe in the process. Employers must build a space that supports healthy activities and living. If employees do not feel that the employers’ efforts are sincere, they are less likely to participate. Employers must offer a supportive culture and an array of activities to reach every employee, regardless of preferences and lifestyles. Also, they need to make sure that employees understand that results won’t happen overnight. Small changes over time can add up to big results.

These tips will help employers and their employees work together to create a healthy, productive workspace that encourages everyone to be active and live well. Getting started on a weight loss journey can be intimidating, but with the right tools and support, employees should be able to fit health into our busy lives. And what better place to start than where employees spend the majority of our time?

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