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A Young Guy Looks at Wellness & Aging

by Andrew SzczesniakMarch 4, 2013 9:30 AM

Recently, I turned 48. Forty years ago, the age of 48 looked and sounded ancient. When I hit my 30s, it no longer seemed so old. I’ve been seeing a lot of stories recently about people I know or know of who are dying in their 50s and 60s. As I look at my two daughters, I grow more concerned about the prospect of only being on this planet for another 10-15 years.

Every morning I curse my 4:55 a.m. alarm when it wakes me so I can meet my buddy Kurt for our 6 a.m. workout. Having a workout partner helps on those cold Cleveland mornings — and there are many! However, as I was making that trek in to work out, I thought how lucky I was to be working for a company that values employee wellness the way GMS does.

Healthy Employees are Productive Employees

There definitely is a financial component to this value. Small businesses and large companies alike can see a $3 reduction in their health insurance premiums for every $1 that they spend on employee wellness.

In addition, healthier, fitter employees tend to be more productive employees. In a recent article, Lee Dukes, president of Principal Wellness Company says "It’s in every employer’s interest to have healthier, happier, more productive employees." To that end, "Employers have to do more than offer wellness programs; in order to see the benefits, they have to incent participation."

Incentivizing Wellness

In my travels as a sales rep, I talk to business owners across a wide range of industries. I have yet to meet anyone who dismisses wellness as a fad, but most only pay lip service to it. Most are not willing to offer employees incentives to stay healthy.

Should we as employees be interested in our own health? Absolutely! Can we be more interested if there’s an incentive? Yes.

I have seen firsthand at GMS an uptick in physical activities among employees every year in the third quarter when we have our annual wellness contest. I have also seen many of those habits in my fellow employees carry on throughout the year.

Many of these same Ohio small business owners I talk to don’t think about healthier employees being more productive employees. They buy into the idea that it’s none of their business what the employees do with their personal time and habits. However, healthier employees are not just more productive, they also tend to work more injury-free, greatly helping small businesses in their risk management and lowered worker’s compensation claims.

Long and Healthy Lives

When I go home at night and I’m too physically tired to do everything my daughters want me to do, I do take some comfort in knowing that I’m doing what I can to make sure that I’ll be around for another 30-40 years.

Have you thought about these issues? I’d love to hear what others are doing to help ensure they lead long and health lives. What are some ways employers can incentivize wellness?

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