4 September 2012

Selling Businesses a “Health Menu”

Posted by Jody under: Health .

Escalating health care costs have forced most businesses to seek ways to keep their employees healthier. As individuals live and work longer, corporations must help them stay at optimal capacity to offset escalating pension plan recipients. Even in an era of cutbacks and layoffs, more companies are considering preventive health programs as an investment with a strong return.

Research shows that exercise programs are cost-effective. Studies indicate the benefits include reduced medical costs, absenteeism and turnover, fewer disability days, improved productivity and job performance, and enhanced employee morale and self-image.

Fitness clubs can capitalize on these findings by providing health promotion services and programs to local companies. With a “health menu,” businesses can select an appropriate program either on site or at the business.

Ideally, a “health menu” should include components that emphasize early detection, health education, behavioral change and progress measurements. A comprehensive menu would include the following:

Health/wellness inventory. This includes a health-risk appraisal and medical history questionnaire to analyze employees’ current lifestyles, including eating habits, personal safety, exercise frequency, and alcohol and drug use. Also, it could highlight high risk for cardiovascular, metabolic and pulmonary diseases.

Executive blood chemistry. Ideally used in conjunction with the health/wellness inventory, this measures total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, triglyceride and glucose levels.

Fitness assessment. A fitness assessment includes measurements of body composition, flexibility, cardiovascular endurance, and muscular strength and endurance. An individual report should indicate how results compare to recommended levels and include an exercise prescription.

Body composition. If a complete fitness assessment is not possible, individual body fat compositions can be taken, with immediate feedback provided.

Fitness instruction. This could be held at the fitness facility or in a corporate setting and could encompass a special corporate membership. Individual instruction could be given on the exercise equipment, and group exercise classes could also be offered.

Wellness classes. Wellness classes are ongoing, multi-week classes that provide education for lifestyle change in areas such as nutrition, weight management, smoking cessation and stress management. These classes can be taught at the worksite either during lunch or before or after the work day.

Brown bag seminars. Brown bag seminars can be scheduled at lunchtime, once per month. Almost any topic can be addressed, allowing time for employee questions.

Special events. Presented at the worksite, special events could include a one-time test for cholesterol, vision screening, seated massage, yoga class, self-defense demonstration or low-fat cooking demonstrations.

Health fair. Held once a year, the health fair is an expanded version of the special event. The fitness facility could coordinate the fair, working with local health organizations to provide many (or all) of the events in a one-day format. This is a good way to reach a lot of employees.

Health newsletter. Developed and distributed monthly or quarterly by the fitness facility, a health newsletter can include articles on timely health and fitness topics. Employees could be encouraged to send in questions to be answered in a question/answer column.

After determining your menu, have it printed on heavy paper or card stock. You may choose to have certain items from the menu printed separately on different color paper so that different services can be offered at specific times.

Naturally, you should approach larger companies within a fairly close range of your facility. Not every company you approach will purchase all of the services, but offering a full menu will allow for a diverse selection. You may even customize or combine services for specific companies.

Working with companies outside of your facility not only boosts your bottom line, but enhances relationships in the community and improves individual lives.

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