Fit for the Job

Posted On Sep 23, 2013 By Vito La Fata


Another sick day. Someone else had to go home early. Everyone's tired and dragging their feet. Sound like most workplaces?

The question: Is your staff –and are you – fit for the job?

I own my fitness studio, and I'm fortunate that my staff is healthy and fit. We give ourselves an affordable health care plan everyday, by choosing to eat well, drink plenty of water, exercise everyday, stretch and get some R&R.

But, we are not the average workplace or workforce. As a matter of fact, the average workplace is plagued by overweight and unhealthy employees racking up medical bills for the business owner and unable to perform at their fullest potential.

As a small business owner I'm always looking for ways to reduce my overhead and take advantage of any tax credits that the government allows. If you own a small business, and part of your business objective includes having healthier employees, there are many ways you can take advantage of the Affordable Care Act.

Here is a great quote from Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen, reported in Success magazine that helps explain what I mean:

"Under the Affordable Health Care Act, many small businesses can reduce their insurance rates by 30 percent based solely on the wellness of their employees. Here's how you want to think about this, an employee who has been immunized, has met the five 'normals'– normal blood pressure, normal waist circumference for his height, normal cholesterol, normal blood sugar, and no nicotine or tobacco products in the urine – will have a lifetime healthcare cost up to 50 percent below the average American's."

Now, that's all very interesting, but the missing ingredient to this conversation is that the healthier your staff, the fewer sick days and the more they can produce for your business. Healthier staff equals a healthier bottom line and a happier workplace.

Now that you see the big picture, here are some specific ways for you to apply this concept at your workplace:

1. Create the culture.

Educate and motivate your team by demonstrating the value of improving their health. Share stories and important truths about individuals whose pay has increased due to their health, or their family lives and relationships have become healthier and happier. While facts and figures about the benefits are important, people really respond to real-life stories of transformation. Collect those stories and share them, but nothing sets the tone better than you the CEO or owner leading by example.

2. Set the scene.

Like a set director, orchestrate a scene that captures health, energy and vitality. Create no-smoking zones (this is just a no-brainer). Dump the crap-filled vending machines. Encourage stretch breaks. In the growing reality that staff can be more remote now, institute a culture where they can go work out on their own schedule and not worry about punching the clock. As long as they get the work done and performance is hitting the bottom line, give them the autonomy to live healthy and work strong.

3. Provide wellness programs.

People are most successful when they feel part of something. So make changing healthy behaviors something you support, with fun fitness challenges, competitions and other health-related offerings. Look to partner with local fitness professionals and studios. Big corporate accounts at the box gyms with their whopping 5-10 percent discounts are not motivating. They are not programs. If those incentive plans were working, your staff would already be healthy. Connect with local studios where the fitness programming is better organized, provides meal plans, community and fun.

4. Drop it in the wallet.

Provide bonuses for staff to get healthy and get their "normals" in control so your medical expenses decrease. Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRA),which pays back employees for qualifying out-of-pocket medical expenses, are great for the already-healthy, but not so effective for those who are on the path to better fitness.

In order to accomplish this, it can't be all about the money to your bottom line or theirs. Money isn't everyone's motivator. So make sure you can share stories of how money saved on medical bills has helped improve the lives of families, etc. You can even reward staff that partakes in fitness challenges with something they will love, like a day off.

In the end, giving your staff tools and programs to follow makes it easier to create a "fit for the job" culture. The more variety you have, the better participation you will get. Use your company social media to allow the energy, fun and participation to take on a life of its own.

And what does this all mean to you the business owner? A competitive edge in the marketplace to help you increase your business, develop loyal staff and be a role model in your local business community.