Worksite Wellness Policies

December 3, 2019

The average time people spend being sedentary has increased significantly to over 6 hours a day.  In fact, only about half of Utah adults participate in the recommended amount of physical activity. A lack of time, energy, and convenience can make it difficult to be healthy. However, health starts where people live, work, and play.  Adults spend a significant portion of their day at work. Creating a healthy work environment makes it easier for employees to be healthy, engaged, and productive.  Workplace wellness policy are one way that employers can encourage and promote healthy behaviors.

A wellness policy is a written document that guides and supports an organization’s efforts to create a healthy environment. A wellness policy typically includes goals, guidelines and recommendations, and an assessment process. Workplace wellness policies don’t have to be expensive or complicated.

Wellness policies can even benefit small employers.  As a matter of fact, Get Healthy Utah just implemented a wellness policy! Our wellness policy helps us better live by and fulfill our mission of supporting healthy eating and active living.  Healthy workplaces support engaged and productive employees and can help with recruitment and retention.

Examples of Workplace Wellness Policy Guidelines:

  • Provide incentives for physical activity such as paid release time or delayed work start time to encourage biking, walking, or use of public transportation to get to work
  • Encourage walking and stretching breaks after continuous desk work
  • Offer the National Diabetes Prevention Program onsite or as a covered benefit
  • Provide only snacks that meet The Dietary Guidelines for Americans
  • Encourage walking meetings
  • Offer paid leave for annual preventative screenings

How to get started:

If your workplace doesn’t have a wellness policy, start one! Create a healthy workplace group at your company and brainstorm what strategies would better the health of your organization. Be a champion of your wellness policy. Encourage others to actively live by the guidelines and recommendations.  Be a role model-stand up, stretch, and take a walk!

Local Examples:

BD, which employs over 1,000 Utahns, has worksite wellness policies to support healthy eating for employees. Healthy options are clearly marked in vending machines, fresh and healthy foods are available in employee break rooms, and a daily salad bar is in the center of the on-site cafeteria.

At 1-800-Contacts, the worksite wellness program aims to improve employee satisfaction and provide easy access to healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity. Employees are encouraged to bike to work and have access to a secure bike room with a fully stocked tune-up station. While all meals at the on-site cafeteria are subsidized, employees who choose healthy or fitness inspired meals get wellness points which add up to prizes

Worksite Wellness Resources:

Utah Worksite Wellness Council

Utah Department of Health Worksite Wellness Policy Ideas and Resources

Utah Health Improvement Plan Worksite Wellness Toolkit