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Should Your Company’s Wellness Program Include a Team Weight Loss Contest?

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Our Benefits Manager, Andrea Meyer, appeared in HR Matters to shed some light on corporate wellness initiatives. As a Certified Benefit Professional, Meyer shares some great insight regarding wellness initiative programs like a voluntary team weight loss contest for employees interested in shedding a few pounds.

 

The article was originally seen on HR Matters blog. Click here to view the original article or read more from Meyer below!

 

 

If one of your company’s wellness initiatives is related to weight loss, you might want to consider implementing a voluntary team weight loss contest for employees who are interested in participating. Andrea Meyer, who works as Benefits Manager for WorkSmart Systems, Inc. and is a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and Certified Benefit Professional (CBP), shares insights regarding these types of programs.

 

Benefits of Workplace Team Weight Loss Contests

Meyer states, “As with all wellness initiatives, team weight loss contests are meant to encourage healthy employees. Healthy employees tend to be more productive each day, perform better and miss less work.” Having healthier employees can even sometimes lead to “a reduction in a company’s health care costs and a decrease in workers compensation claims,” says Meyer.

There are other benefits associated with any kind of team contest, which workplace weight loss competitions usually are. Meyer explains, “Team programs specifically help launch workplace wellness initiatives, as they help build camaraderie and social acceptance. Teams help create accountability for the contest as well as for work projects and deadlines. They encourage employees to motivate each other which creates a positive impact on company culture.”

 

Structuring a Successful Program

Before launching a team weight loss contest in your company, be sure to plan properly and structure the program so that it’s likely to be well received. Meyer points out, “It’s important to first gain the support and engagement from top management in order to have a successful program.”

She also recommends:

  • Provide communication that generates excitement about the program. These communication pieces could even include resources about creating a healthy lifestyle and case studies to detail success stories.
  • Develop a wellness council that represents employees across the organization. They should be in tune with the needs and wants of employees and communicate that to management.
  • Give employees access to technology to help them track activity.
  • Give employees the opportunity to reach health coaches that can further educate and motivate them.

 

Encouraging Employee Participation

Meyer states, “Team programs definitely help employees participate and stay motivated. Employees are more likely to recruit co-workers to participate and are less likely to blow off a workout if they know they are meeting team members. This ‘accountability’ clause helps employees stay engaged.”

She adds, “It’s vital that the wellness council communicate with employees. What’s working and what isn’t working? Who’s had success with the program? Again, it’s important to include case studies on success stories and resources about healthy lifestyles. Companies can also provide incentives for participation ranging from water bottles and pedometers to fitness memberships and wearable activity trackers.”

 

Compliance Considerations

Be sure to take compliance into consideration when implementing this type of program. Meyer advises, “All HIPAA, ADAAA, GINA and ACA compliance considerations must be taken into account when implementing a wellness program.”

She explains, “To start, participation in the program must be made available to all employees to avoid discrimination. Additionally, data must remain anonymous to the employer and programs must comply with the HITECH Act addressing privacy and security associated with the electronic transmission of health information enforced through HIPAA.”

She illustrates, “Employers may consider using a third party when implementing a program. Third-party companies are often a bit more involved and help maintain confidentiality while tracking data. For example, if there is no third party involvement and a Health Risk Assessment is included in the program, it could identify conditions about an employee you would not otherwise know.”

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