Employers Should Capitalize on Fitness Resolutions

The HR & Payroll Resource Center is your integrated, comprehensive source for HR and Payroll information that merges news, analysis, and guidance – including custom answers,...

By Genevieve Douglas

Dec. 22 — Getting healthier—whether it's losing weight or going to the gym more—is the most common New Year's resolution, and employers can capitalize on this by syncing their wellness initiatives with employees' new fitness goals, according to consultants.

January is a good time for human resources departments to increase their communication with employees about workplace fitness offerings, Lindsey Mariano, manager of health coaching at workplace wellness plan provider Provant, told Bloomberg BNA Dec. 21.

According to Mariano, less than 10 percent of people are able to achieve their New Year’s fitness resolution, and about 25 percent of those who set resolutions will fall off in the first week. “Employers should keep the positivity and support going to try and get people to sustain their goals,” she said.

For companies that are just now considering a New Year's wellness initiative, the best practice is to keep it simple, Michael Tinney, founder and CEO of Fitness Interactive Experience, told Bloomberg BNA via e-mail Dec. 22.

Tinney recommended employers keep their workforce fitness goals reasonable and make sure the program serves employees. “Have a clear call to action,” he said. “If you're doing a walking program, don't give your employees gym memberships, diet advice, exercise programs, etc. Give them a walking plan.”

Employers should focus their wellness efforts on the workforce's collective goals of weight loss and better health, instead of an individual’s successes or failures, David Lewis, chief executive officer of HR consulting firm OperationsInc., told Bloomberg BNA Dec. 21.

Wellness Throughout the Year.

Employers can offer something as simple as a membership to a gym conveniently located near the office, Lewis said, or even provide employees with a fitness tracking device, such as a Fitbit. Retail giant Target Corp. recently began offering activity trackers from Fitbit Inc. to its 335,000 U.S. employees, becoming the latest employer looking to the inexpensive wearable devices as a way of improving workers' fitness and reducing health-care costs (33 HRR 989, 9/21/15)(179 DLR A-7, 9/16/15).

Mariano and Lewis both said that employers should consider adding some long-term goals to their wellness programs, so that employees can sustain their health successes throughout the year.

For example, Lewis said, if a wellness contest runs through February, companies should continue to encourage maintaining the healthy behavior and weight loss by adding incentives and goals throughout the summer and fall.

Mariano recommended that employers should be aware of conflicting messages they send to employees. For example, during a health fitness challenge, serving donuts and pastries in meetings is counter productive, she said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Genevieve Douglas in Washington at gdouglas@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Nadel at snadel@bna.com