I was talking to one of my friends this weekend. She was lamenting about her job and the time it takes out of her life – or as she put it, ‘what life?’ To make matters worse (she’s in retail), the holidays are approaching and she’s already burned out and helpless to make any changes. I asked if her company provided any incentives for healthy lifestyle programs, a gym or gym memberships, flex time, day care and she just rolled her eyes. Our conversation reminded me that I posted on this subject quite some time ago and maybe it was time to post it again. The following is a post from May 2, 2005 and I think it’s relevant enough to take another look.
Is Your Company A Healthy Lifestyle Advocate?
Can you believe it was almost 20 years ago when we watched Gordon Gekko spew, “lunch is for wimps!” (Wall Street – 1987). Which makes me wonder…has corporate America’s attitude really changed that much? Perhaps, it’s a bit Pollyannaish to assume a corporation might change its business model to make it easier for me to improve my health. Nevertheless, it seems obvious that employees work harder and are more productive when they’re rested, healthy and managing their stress.
Corporations need to mitigate the contradiction from what they say and what they do by offering employees more meaningful ways to meet their fitness and healthy lifestyle needs. Maybe even the powers that be where you work. Let’s get real for a minute. Where do we spend most of our adult lives? All I know is for the last 20 years I haven’t been spending much time lounging on my deck watching the sunset.
Do you know where your company stands on work life balance? (I know, you’re just too busy working to find out). A lack of programs where we work doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be empathetic to the plight of the employer. Trying to fit healthcare costs into a profit and loss statement can be nothing short of a magic act these days, much less selling the idea of special programs that offer ‘added value’ to those guarding the bottom line. Nevertheless, what more could your organization do to be proactive in the fight for your health and well-being?
Most American companies address the issue around work life balance in a mission statement somewhere, but let’s just say there’s a lot more talkin’ than walkin’. In a nutshell we seem to be lagging behind other countries. The European Network for Workplace Health Promotion believe that workplace health initiatives in the U.S. take on a much more ‘individual responsibility’ approach to employee health and fitness than our Canadian and European counterparts. Our work life conscious friends to the north (The Public Health Agency of Canada), are not only taking a stand, but more importantly taking action, by providing business case templates identify organizational needs, audience, and long-term profit, with case studies to boot.
So, can corporate America really afford to believe they’re not accountable for the health and wellbeing of their employees? The question poses more consideration than healthcare. It’s not a red state/blue state kind of argument. It’s cultural. And I encourage you to find out…and then speak up.