If your job offers health checkups, go ahead and sign up.
When my workplace offered its employees a free flu shot, health evaluation and a wellness game plan, I signed up with no hesitation. That — coupled with a chance to win an HD television and cash for our respective school — made it more appealing.
On checkup day, school staff filed into the gymnasium for appointments with nurse practitioners who checked our height and weight, pricked our fingers to perform glucose and cholesterol checks, and handed us the coveted 14-page report loaded with our personal results.
Some groaned. One employee grimaced at a new dietary plan which included adding a bowl of oatmeal to her morning routine.
My own report gave me a sigh of relief. Colorful bar graphs shaded in red, yellow and green displayed results for my heart health, blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol levels — all within normal ranges.
And while the nurse applauded my results, it was not without a caution. She told me to exercise everyday and not just on an occasional whim. I agreed.
At the end of the day, the report accomplished exactly what businesses are aiming for, curbing rising health care costs by offering wellness and preventative health programs.
About 85 percent of larger employers are providing screening activities to identify health risks and encourage preventative health at their worksites, according to the Rand Employer Survey in 2012.
Not all employees are using the programs, however. According to Gallup research, only 24 percent of employees at companies that offer wellness programs utilize it.
My husband’s workplace uses incentives to lure its employees and their spouses in for wellness check-ups. It works, too. Following the exam and health report assessment, participants received gift cards. I used my last gift card on dinner and a movie with my husband.
Of course, wellness checks are not just about earning incentives. The programs also allow employees to take a closer look at how they are eating and taking care of their bodies.
Workplace wellness programs developed as a result of epidemic lifestyle diseases including diabetes, heart diseases and chronic respiratory conditions. Many of these conditions have resulted in loss of productivity at work, absenteeism and reduced performance at work, according to the Rand Employer Survey sponsored by the U.S. Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services.
If I can begin to do something today to prevent a heart attack, the flu or a stroke in the future, then workplace wellness is an avenue that I will continue to take advantage of.
And oh yes, a free gift card and a chance to win a high definition television can’t hurt either.
Chante Dionne Warren can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org