Northeast Wisconsin
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • October 2016
Written by 

Workplace wellness programs: get involved!

Workplace wellness programs are becoming more and more popular with companies in our area. So why should you, as an employee, take advantage of your employer’s workplace wellness program?

Most people spend about 36 percent of their total waking hours at work, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. More and more employees are becoming overweight from poor eating habits and physical inactivity. With heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes all linked by common risk factors associated with poor eating habits, physical inactivity and tobacco use, it makes sense to utilize a workplace wellness program if your employer offers one.

Almost every person has at least one sort of health risk, whether it’s unhealthy eating, lack of sufficient sleep or exercise, drinking, smoking or even something genetic. Using a program can make positive change happen. Workplace wellness programs can help you get healthier, even if that simply means learning how to reduce stress and muscle strain when you are on the job. Depending on what your company offers, it might also help to lose weight, lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, sleep better, and save money on prescriptions. Sometimes, all you need is a little motivation to get the ball rolling and a workplace wellness plan might be it.

Don’t know where to start? Try talking with your supervisor or coworkers, visiting your company’s Human Resources Department or employee website. You can also ask if your company has a Wellness Committee.

Many Fox Cities employers are currently offering wellness benefits, such as onsite fitness classes, lunch and learns with topics ranging from nutrition to exercise, weight loss classes, smoking cessation programs, fitness facility membership reimbursements and some even offer onsite fitness facilities. Companies have come up with unique ways to engage employees in their wellness programs.

One Fox Cities’ employer offers employees the opportunity to take one 15-minute break per day specifically to get away from their desk/workstation and get active. According to a web survey conducted by Right Management, a human resources consulting firm, 65 percent of Americans eat lunch at their desks every day and this can lead to eating more unhealthy food choices, and decreased performance. Letting your brain “rest” in your lunch break can help recharge your creative capabilities.

Another employer offers a daily stretching program that was implemented to reduce the number of musculoskeletal injuries, improve employees’ flexibility and enhance overall well-being. All employees are expected to participate in the daily stretching. In the plant, each crew stretches as a group at the start of each shift. In the headquarter location, each department has a group stretch break during the day and additional stretch breaks are offered in the cafeteria once a day. The stretch breaks are about 10-15 minutes long, and employees attend on company time.

Another great benefit of wellness programs is a feeling camaraderie with your coworkers. Support is a very important part of achieving a healthy lifestyle and participating in programs with your coworkers will encourage you when you need it and hold you accountable to your goals. Seeing your coworkers’ positive results may even motivate you to try harder.

Taking advantage of company sponsored wellness programs can improve your overall physical and mental wellness, make you happier, help you live a longer and healthier life and reduce your risk of chronic diseases.

If your company is not currently offering wellness programs you can still get healthy at work. One thing you could do is speak with your Human Resources Department about starting a Wellness Committee and implementing easy and low cost initiatives such as walking and hydration challenges or installing a bike rack making it more convenient for employees to bike to work. One local facility has bicycles available for employees to ride between buildings on their campus. Other options may be to start a walking club or join a rec league with your coworkers that your company may sponsor.

The bottom line is that everyone needs to improve their health in some way and since most people are at work during the majority of their day, workplace wellness just makes sense.

Kristin Johnson

Kristin Johnson is the Membership Development Assistant with the YMCA of the Fox Cities. She focuses on working with area companies to bring Workplace Wellness programs to their employees. For more information visit

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