What’s Your Role?
What’s Your Role?
As an employer, you can help improve the health of your employees and create healthier communities by promoting physical activity in your workplace and surrounding community.
On average, Americans who work full-time spend nearly 8 hours a day at their worksite. Employers like you are in a unique position to promote physical activity and potentially affect the health of millions of working adults.
For example, you can make it easier for your employees to add physical activity to their daily lives by providing access to on-site gyms and walking paths. You can also provide discounts for active commuting. These actions will create a culture of health in the workplace.
You can even take actions outside the workplace to help improve the surrounding community. For example, you can promote activity-friendly routes from people’s homes to local worksites and other important destinations.
You can also encourage employees who are working remotely to be physically active at their location of work or in their community. This will be especially important as more employers allow their employees to work from home.
Using worksite wellness programs that promote physical activity can help you create a healthier workforce, which can mean lower health care costs for both you and your employees.
Worksite wellness programs can also:
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- Increase employee productivity.
- Reduce absenteeism.
- Increase employee morale.
- Help you attract and keep high-quality employees.
You can encourage physical activity through multiple approaches, such as offering management support, access to facilities, and social support programs. Regardless of the size, resources, setting, or type of your workplace, there are many ways to help your employees be more physically active.
Your efforts can go beyond the worksite and into the surrounding community. You can lead efforts to promote physical activity through public-private partnerships across multiple sectors.
- You can work with other groups in your community to promote plans or policies to improve conditions for safe and accessible walking, biking, and wheelchair rolling near your worksite and in the local community.
- If you are looking for a new worksite location, you can choose one that allows employees to walk, bike, or use public transportation when commuting.
These changes may help others in your community—such as retirees, future workers, and your employees’ family members—be more active and improve the local economy.
You can use the following strategies to encourage physical activity among your employees:
Promote worksite programs and policies that support physical activity.
- Provide access to facilities, locations, and programs that help your employees be physically active.
- Use policies and incentives to encourage physical activity. Examples include offering flextime and paid activity breaks to employees and adding short bursts of activity or stretching into meetings. You can also provide discounts for off-site exercise facilities or active commuting options.
- Set up walking clubs or competitions that encourage and motivate employees to meet individual or team goals.
Get involved in local efforts to create safe and accessible ways for people to be physically active in the local community.
- Support the design of streets, sidewalks, and crosswalks that encourage walking, biking, rolling, and other forms of physical activity for people of all ages and abilities.
- Support safe, efficient, and easy-to-use public transit systems and transit-oriented development.
- Support community planning, land use, development, and zoning policies and plans that support walking and other forms of physical activity for people of all ages and abilities.
Educate your employees about the benefits of safe physical activity and places to walk, bike, roll, and be active.
- Communicate specific information about physical activity to your employees.
- Put up signs and maps that help people find safe places to be active.
- Provide information about accessibility for people with mobility or other limitations.
- Give employees who are working remotely information about how to be physically active at their location of work or in their community.
These employers are using effective strategies to increase physical activity in their worksites and communities. Read about their efforts to get ideas for your workplace.
Creating Long-Term Change in Massachusetts pdf icon[PDF-1.81MB]external icon
When officials in the Town of Fairhaven, Massachusetts learned that more than half of their 500 employees wanted to be more active, they made it a workplace wellness priority. They partnered with a local community fitness center to offer on-site yoga and boot camp classes for employees. They also worked with other organizations in the local community to enhance the Phoenix Bike Trail, which is the Fairhaven segment of the South Coast Bikeway. The bikeway is designed to connect residential and business neighborhoods in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Creating a Culture of Movement in Utah [PDF-2.33MB]external icon
Intermountain Healthcare is a not-for-profit health system based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Among its more than 39,000 employees, physical activity was identified as a top concern. To address this concern, the system’s LiVe Well program focused on creating a culture of movement in the workplace. It developed meeting guidelines that added movement breaks and allowed time for stretching and walking between meetings. It used posters to encourage movement throughout the day. It also provided environmental supports, such as on-site bike storage and showers, and encouraged leaders to support and promote physical activity in the workplace.
Promoting Biking to Work in Californiaexternal icon
In 2018, Mixte Communications, a small public relations firm in San Diego, California, received a Bicycle Friendly Business Gold designation from the League of American Bicyclists. The company’s leadership encouraged its employees to bike to work by providing accessible showers, a flexible dress code, and official bike parking. They also provided workshops on bike maintenance and navigation. By actively promoting a culture of biking among its staff, Mixte also helped promote physical activity and better health.
- CDC Workplace Health Resource Center
This website is a one-stop shop for workplace health resources. It has tools and step-by-step guides that employers can use to tailor a health promotion program to their unique workplace needs.
- CDC Worksite Health ScoreCard
This tool is designed to help employers assess whether they have implemented evidence-based health promotion interventions or strategies in their worksites to improve the health and well-being of their employees.
- Current Practices in Worksite Wellness Initiatives pdf icon[PDF-3.08MB]
This document highlights efforts by six state health departments to create healthier community environments through worksite wellness initiatives. Practices used by the departments include programs, policies, environmental supports, and community links that promote employee health.
- DeskFit pdf icon[PDF-1.27MB]external icon
This resource highlights 20 essential desk exercises you can do without leaving your office or home workspace.
- Fitwelexternal icon
This voluntary international certification program assesses wellness amenities and features in buildings, such as stairwell design, outdoor spaces, indoor clean air standards, and healthy food standards.
- Guidebook to Implementing an Employer-Based Commute Options Program pdf icon[PDF-3.89MB]external icon
This guidebook can help employers of all sizes develop and set up programs to support commute options. Strategies include making infrastructure changes (such as adding bike racks in the workplace) and helping employees reduce their commute expenses.
- National Physical Activity Plan: Business and Industry Sector pdf icon[PDF-9.39MB]external icon
The National Physical Activity Plan provides policy and programmatic recommendations to increase physical activity. It includes strategies and tactics that communities, organizations, and individuals in the business and industry sector can use to support physically active lifestyles.
- Inclusive Worksite Wellness Toolkitexternal icon
Employers can use the tips, strategies, and resources in this toolkit to assess whether their worksite wellness programs are inclusive of people with disabilities. They can use it to create a new program or ensure that their existing program is reaching employees with disabilities.
- Physical Activity in the Workplace: A Guide for Employers
This guide shares strategies that employers can use to increase physical activity in the workplace.
- Step it Up! The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities
The goal of this report is to increase walking across the United States by calling for improved access to safe and convenient places to walk and wheelchair roll and by creating a culture that supports these activities for people of all ages and abilities.
- Walk This Way: A Resource on State and Local Policies That Support Physical Activity and Wellness in and Around the Workplace pdf icon[PDF-5.71MB]external icon
This document provides information about state and local policies that support physical activity and workplace wellness. Decisionmakers, employers, and other professionals can use this resource to promote wellness in their communities.