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Employers taking holistic approach

Employers taking holistic approach
July 10
13:54 2017

Corporate employee wellness programs are now going beyond free flu shots and discounted passes to a local gym.

Locally, businesses are incorporating more efforts to address Oklahoma’s high rates of obesity and chronic weight-related conditions.

Administered by the Oklahoma Turning Point Council and the Center for the Advancement of Wellness at the Oklahoma Department of Health, the Certified Healthy Business Program was created in 2003 to recognize companies that actively encourage health and wellness for their employees.

To receive the designation, companies have to show documentation of policies, procedures, and programs available to their employees to support a healthy lifestyle. As of February, more than 750 businesses statewide have Certified Healthy status.

Although some components, such as a smoke-free workplace policy, are standard for Certified Healthy Businesses, Julie Dearing with the Center for the Advancement of Wellness has noticed an emerging trend that brings in an unexpected ally: the office vending machine.

While representing the Certified Healthy program at a conference, Dearing was approached by a representative of a vending machine company who had multiple Oklahoma-based clients shift their office’s offerings toward nuts, sunflower seeds, and other healthier pre-packaged options.

“That we’ve got companies giving that push to vending machine vendors — and then have the distributor come up and talk to me about it — is something,” she said. “If the demand’s not there for healthier items, they’re not going to supply them.”

Dearing said she has also noticed more businesses start subsidizing personal fitness trackers and encouraging step count contests to get their employees moving more during the day.

With an estimated 20 percent of American adults experiencing depression or other mental health issues, more employers nationally are starting to take a holistic approach.

The National Business Group on Health is a nonprofit organization that advocates on behalf of large companies on national health policy issues and works with those companies to manage and improve health care for their employees.

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