By Adam Sachs, Dietetic Intern
How would you describe the culture at your work? Maybe with words like “team centered” or “innovative.” But have you heard of a company that establishes health and wellness as one of its core values? I recently had the opportunity to work with the dietitian from FX Studios, a corporate wellness company who partners with Under Armour. FX Studios has several other clients besides Under Armour employees, and they offer services such as nutrition counseling, meal planning, basic medical nutrition therapy, personal training, and exercise classes. I was given the opportunity to observe clients during counseling sessions, as well as participate in seminars given to various businesses who contract with FX Studios. One of the most profound things I noticed about my time in FX Studios was the attitude held towards health and wellness by the Under Armour employees. Most everyone I came into contact with seemed very invested in their well-being, and had a positive rapport with the dietitian, personal trainers, and other staff. Wellness is a very big part of their daily lives and seemed to be incorporated into the culture of the organization.
The prevalence of chronic diseases in the United States has increased dramatically over the past decade alone. Rates of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease are increasing not only in numbers, but also in younger and younger age groups. These diseases drastically increase mortality risk, and drive up the cost of medical expenses throughout the nation. To combat this, preventative medicine practices are also on the rise. Preventative medicine usually combines many aspects of lifestyle management in order to prevent the onset or progression of chronic diseases. Improvements in diet and exercise practices have been proven to decrease the risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and weight-related complications. Preventative medicine also includes lifestyle management in areas such as alcohol/tobacco use, sleep, and stress management. Working Americans typically spend 40 or more hours each week on the job, and for many people, that involves sitting at a desk for most of the day. Sedentarism is often a contributing factor to developing some of the disease states above. Corporate wellness companies like FX Studios are really striving to promote practices help employees stay engaged in their personal well-being. One of the projects I got the chance to work on was developing a Nutrition challenge for FX Studios to implement at various client sites. The challenges allow employees to track/upload nutrition or exercise practices in order to gain points and compete for prizes. My particular challenge was designed to encourage participants to substitute healthier ingredients in their daily meals and snacks. Points could be achieved through uploading food logs, recipes, or pictures of meals to the wellness portal provided to employees in the program.The dietitian explained to me how easy it was for Under Armour employees to get on board with the challenges, because the company as a whole is already very focused on health and well-being, even during working hours.
Fortunately, many employers of other companies are also on board with idea of corporate wellness. Healthier employees tend to be more productive during working hours and take less sick days throughout the year, which can also save a lot of money for the business. Many employers are encouraging health and wellness by providing a variety of benefits that foster healthy habits. This can be as simple as offering a discount at local gyms or hosting weight loss or step challenges. Other employers even go as far as hiring personal trainers to conduct exercise classes before or after business hours, or contracting with a corporate wellness company to offer nutritional, exercise, and wellness services to employees free of charge. I was able to assist with a nutrition focused seminar for one FX Studios’ clients which is a part of a medical system. The seminar focused on meal planning during the work week. Medical professionals who attended were able to receive continuing education credits for the seminar. Many large-scale businesses such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon have implemented wellness programs for their employees for several years now, which achieved increases in employee morale, productivity, and wellbeing. Corporate wellness programs and resources are becoming more available to the average business owner making it more feasible implement some level of an employee wellness program. The CDC has some great information about promoting wellness at the workplace. Having observed a company with an extensive wellness program first hand, it is very apparent that the employees are happier and healthier while on the job. Incorporating workplace wellness into company cultures helps to promote an overall healthier work environment, especially when employees have the support of their peers and supervisors.