June marks the start of National Employee Wellness Month, a time to highlight how fostering and maintaining a culture of wellness in the workplace is more important than ever. With so many Americans affected by obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other health conditions, many people are looking for ways to be healthier in every aspect of their lives.
According to a study conducted at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, the average full-time American employee works approximately 1,700 hours per year, accounting for nearly 20 percent of their time. The Cleveland Clinic notes that we sit far too much and that prolonged sitting puts individuals at risk for heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Knowing this, where better than work to start taking steps to be more active and improve your health?
That’s why the Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Alliance is again hosting National Employee Wellness Month (NEWM), along with Virgin Pulse, Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease and WorldatWork. We are thrilled that AICR has signed on as a proud supporter. Now in its sixth year, NEWM seeks to motivate both employers and employees to focus on health and develop healthy behaviors that they can stick with, not only for one month, but throughout the year.
Organizations of all sizes are supporting this year’s NEWM by promoting at least one healthy activity in the workplace this month. More than 200 organizations and 50,000 employees are participating in the month’s events by taking the challenge to become healthier.
You can check out the NEWM website for information about wellness challenges and awards and to read inspiring stories about employees getting active and making healthier choices with the support of their employers. Also, make sure to take a look at AICR’s epublication, Health@Work, to learn about evidence-based cancer prevention and wellness advice for employers.
Employers understand the importance of investing time and money to support employees in their efforts to be healthier because healthy company cultures drive productivity and engagement. With these issues and health care costs directly impacting the bottom line, there is no question that now is the time to play a part in helping to create healthy employees, and in turn, a better business.
You can keep up with STOP’s NEWM on twittter @STOPObesity and #NEWM2014.
Scott Kahan, MD, MPH, is the director of the Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Alliance. He is also the director of the National Center for Weight and Wellness in Washington, DC, and serves on the facilities of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the George Washington University School of Medicine and the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University.