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Take care of your people and protect your business

Your first thought may be that it’s up to the employee to maintain their own physical health. Why should the employer get involved? However, you may not have considered the many advantages that promoting physical health brings to your company. Read on to find out what those benefits are.

What Is Employee Physical Health?

Employee physical health focuses on the bodily wellness of an employee. It includes energy levels, physical activity, sleep patterns, diet and exercise routine. An employee’s physical health is majorly affected by their workload and work environment.

What Aspects of Physical Health You Can Help Your Employees With

There are many ways companies can influence the physical well-being of their employees. Below are a few impactful areas where companies can step up and be a positive influence on employee health.

  • Healthy eating environment. One thing you can do to help your employees’ physical health is to encourage healthy eating in the workplace. Many employees eat two meals a day at work. Employers can incentivize healthy eating by providing well-balanced catered meals, healthy snacks or lunch benefits.
  • Physical wellness programs and bonuses. With eight hours in the office, it can be difficult for individuals to stay motivated to exercise before or after work. Employers can offer wellness programs and bonuses for employees who engage in physical activity. Many companies have started to implement exercise in the office by implementing basketball and pickleball courts. When planning work activities, employers can also keep activity in mind. Ask yourself, what can I do on this holiday to get everyone moving? Consider a winter ski offsite or a Fourth of July game of frisbee golf.
  • Mental wellness education and programs. Employers can also contribute to an employee’s physical health by reducing employee’s stress and increasing mental wellness. For an employee to have the desire and strength to participate in physical challenges, they must also have the mental capacity. The Handbook of Total Rewards says, “Offering limited ‘wellness’ programs that focus narrowly on the single dimension of physical health as a routine part of comp and benefits has proven ineffective at inspiring lasting behavior change and boosting productivity.” By creating an environment where employees feel mentally well, it opens doors for individuals to stretch themselves and develop new habits.

Why Supporting Employee Physical Health Is So Important

An employer who supports employee physical health will not only have happier and more energetic employees, but may also have better retention rates and lower medical costs.

Happier Employees

When we exercise, our bodies release healthy endorphins that improve our mood and our mental health. Employees who are actively engaged in physical exercise have more energy, are more ready to take on the day and are more productive. As employees reach wellness goals, they feel satisfaction in their ability to succeed and accomplish new things.

Health Costs

As the physical health of employees increases, employers may also see a decrease in health costs. Healthier employees may decrease insurance renewal rates, lower the amount of disability insurance or medical costs to the employer. A SHRM study found that, “Over two-thirds (72 percent) of organizations found that wellness programs were somewhat or very effective in reducing health care costs in 2014.”

Retaining and Attracting Top Talent

Health initiatives are becoming a must for employer compensation and benefit packages. When candidates are searching for new jobs, they want to find companies that value work-life balance. Companies use physical wellness benefits to draw applicants in and increase interest to hire the best people. Exercise and wellness plans may also increase retention rates. Once employers bring these individuals in, employees may be more likely to stay in a company with a culture focused on providing an enriching life for the employee.

How To Help Employees Be More Physically Healthy

There are endless ways that you as an employer can help your employees be physically healthy. It also doesn’t have to be an extravagant or expensive benefit. Just helping incorporate simple changes into the workplace is a great start! Some other benefits to implement could be wellness initiatives, company challenges or catered or paid lunches.

Wellness Initiatives

Employers cannot force an employee to take steps to become physically healthy, but they can provide opportunities for employees to do so. Standing desks are a great tool that encourage employees to get up throughout the day and stay energized. Other wellness incentives could include cash bonuses, company gym passes or onsite fitness classes.

Company Challenges

Getting lots of people involved is a great way to motivate employees. Company challenges can offer healthy competition that allows for employees to meet their goals and stretch themselves. Consider implementing a company step challenge or a week solely focused on drinking water. Prizes may be offered for employees who meet certain health quotas. Use technology! There are many apps that offer ways for companies to track wellness goals.

Providing Healthy Food

Another way to increase employee physical health is to offer catered food or paid lunches. Employees are more willing to eat healthy when they know it has been provided for them. Offering employees ways to save money is always a great motivator. Companies can also keep their kitchens stocked full of healthy snacks for employees to munch on throughout the day. Consider providing company breakfasts for specific meetings and events.

Examples of Physical Health Initiatives Other Companies Have Implemented

Onsite Gyms

Many Utah companies, including Pura and CHG Healthcare, offer their employees access to an onsite gym. An onsite gym allows employees to save money on gym memberships and also have the convenience of quick and easy access to an exercise facility. Half the battle of exercise is getting there. Make the gym just a stop on the way to or from work.


CIT Electronics and Ancestry both offer their employees free massages. Massages are a great way to alleviate physical pain that employees may be experiencing. As employees start to exercise, what better way to help soothe their muscles and joints they aren’t used to moving. Massages also provide a relaxing and restful experience that can give more back energy to the employee.

Gym Reimbursements

If an onsite gym isn’t for you, then consider providing a company gym membership or gym reimbursements. Sometimes company memberships can get expensive and require that all employees are paid for regardless of utilization rates. Gym reimbursements, done at Pluralsight, offer employees the opportunity to take autonomy over their physical health. Your employees can choose a gym close to their house. To encourage use of the program, consider only giving reimbursements to those who are actively going to the gym.

Take care of your people and protect your business

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Questions You’ve Asked Us About Employee Physical Health

Employers may face legal issues if their policies or work environment negatively impact the physical health of their employees. While the employee is still responsible for taking care of their own body, employers should help their employees with physical health. This benefits not only the employee, but also saves cost for the employer and improves company culture!

While many factors influence a company’s productivity, physical health is definitely an important one. Employees who are physically active, taking in proper nutrition and having sufficient rest have more energy, are happier and are able to focus more attention on their work.

Ashley Whitelock graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in Sociology. After deciding to pursue a career in HR, she received her certification as an Associate Professional in Human Resources. In 2021, she started working as an HR Generalist for CIT Electronics.

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