More and more these days, employers, from large corporations to small businesses, are recognizing the value of supporting the physical fitness efforts of their employees. Their particpation in supporting and encouraging employee fitness varies from providing room and fitness equipment at the workplace and/or time for physical fitness programs to full scale fitness training and health monitoring.
However, what are the benefits to the employer and the employees of such attitudes and programs? Are the benefits worth it?
Well, each employer will have to judge for himself or herself, but here is what small businesses and major corporations are finding are the potential benefits of helping their employees improve their health and physical fitness.
One of the first things employers may notice is improved employee productivity. This comes about for several reasons. For one thing, there will normally be decreased rates of illness and injury, and absenteeism will go down because of this and because employees will simply feel better about themselves and their performance at work. They will have more energy to get through the day, both at work and at home, and will cope better with stress no matter the source and this can help not only their personal attendance and performance, but can have a very positive impact on their relationships with other employees. Employees will be better able to focus and concentrate at work, and they tend to develop their leadership and performance skills to a greater degree when physically fit.
Of specific interest to employers is the fact that costs of providing health care benefits may be reduced when employee physical fitness programs are in place. This comes about because many health care benefits providers recognize that their costs will decrease when workers are fit and in good health.
As mentioned, the employees will benefit from better health and a better ability to handle stress. Additionally, they typically experience increases and improvements in self-image, self-esteem, and general overall physical and mental feelings of well-being. Many people report an improved ability to withstand depression or even a disappearance of symptoms when they reach states of good physical fitness.
Increased physical fitness usually also brings increased stamina, cardiovascular health, and weight reduction. Weight loss is in and of itself of significant importance as obesity is a major risk factor in such diseases and conditions as heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes.
Obviously, when employees are healthy, employers have a better opportunity to be healthy as well. However, health and fitness do not turn off when the employee goes home! Physically fit employees are more likely to have better relationships with family members as well, and may find themselves more able and willing to spend more time with their children. It has long been known that parental involvement with children can be a major factor in helping combat problems such as drug abuse, teen pregnancy, and childhood obesity.
When employees are fit, companies and communities become fit as well and all affected become better able to perform their personal, business, and governmental activities.
On the 3rd Wednesday in May, the National Association for Health and Fitness (www.physicalfitness.org) administers National Employee Health & Fitness Day, which is the largest work site health and fitness event in North America.