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  • Walk Toward Health!

    Employee poor health and well-being comes at a hefty price in terms of increased health care costs and decreased productivity for employers.    Irvine, Calif.-based KimStaffHR has actively sought to change this by helping their employees to get motivated to lead a more active lifestyle, both on and off the job. 

    They looked at various optios to assist their employees, including weight loss management programs but decided to put a process together themselves, spearheaded by Management.  A a top-down approach is the key to success of any wellness program offered by organizations, but particularly for smaller companies the size of KimStaffHR, which has about 25 employees. ”

    Their program was inspired by the  book: “ICount: 10 Simple Ways to a Healthy Lifestyle,” authored by Susan Parks and Patricia Bonavia. “ICount” argues that the failure to engage in an active lifestyle can result in a huge hit to organizations across the country in terms of health-related costs, lost productivity and employee attrition.  The premise of the book is that even with busy schedules and hectic lives, individuals can still engage in simple activities that will lead to a stronger mental and physical condition.

    KimStaffHR used the apprach that walking would fit into the lives of their busy employees and would lead to health and wellness. They did not require any of its employees to take part in the program, recognizing that some might not feel comfortable.  They introduced the idea to their workforce and supported those who expressed interest. Weekly meetings were held to focus on not just weight loss alone, but on how employees could incorporate more movement into their day.  With the goal to march 10,000 steps daily, employees walked at home, at work and all points in between. The company recognized that it needed to incorporate this new wellness routine into the workday. To accomplish this, meetings are now held outside, with workers walking while discussing items that normally would be handled in a conference room setting. During the winter months, the halls of the office became the walking grounds, as the employees refused to let weather interrupt their wellness efforts.  Some workers tracked their progress with pedometers and walked with their families, fostering a healthy lifestyle in the home as well. And with members of employees’ families likely participating on the health plans of KimStaffHR employees, the cost savings from reduced health care claims can multiply time and again.

    There has been significant weight loss noted, but their workforce has benefited from becoming a more cohesive healthier unit as a result of their program.

    Though its wellness-by-walking program still is in the early stages, KimStaffHR is convinced the benefits of the simple, yet diligent, work of their employees will pay off in its own health care costs. For example, chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure are coming under control, and execs ultimately believe the program will lead to less office visits and medication needs.

    “One of the key points is that you have don’t have to spend tons of money to start a program like this. We have a lot of clients, and we have to walk the walk, literally.” The enthusiasm has also spread to other businesses that surround KimStaff in its business complex. Seeing many of the same faces walking outside day after day has inspired other organizations to take the same steps toward physical and mental fitness. And employees have connected on social sites, such as Facebook, to build a community supportive of their goals and one another. “We’ve built a culture here, and it’s recognized here,” Dillard says. “It helps to build self-esteem. Our personalities are positive, and it goes from the top down. Walking is the easiest thing to do, there is no excuse. If people stay committed to it, this will change their lifestyle. It did not cost us money and was a simple, but effective change in the workplace.”

    For more information or ideas on on wellness programs, contact Gary Whiddon at 888-474-6627 ext. 116.

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