Workplace Culture - Are You Only Encouraging Healthy, Active Employees During Open Enrollment?

Author: Michele MacLachlan


It is that time of year again; open enrollment. Employers are presenting benefit options for the upcoming year and providing education to their employees.  Employees are selecting their benefits for 2020.  As an employer, you provide details on each of your plans for your employees to make informed decisions.  Employee decisions are driven by preventative care options as well as the coverage available once an illness or accident occurs.  If you offer health benefits to employees or have been an employee yourself, you are familiar with this process.

We all know the statistics of how activity can improve our sedentary lifestyles.  A quick Google search will give you several of the benefits. When considering how these apply to your employees, you can quickly see how the benefits make sense.  Here are a few examples:

•    Employees that eat healthy and exercise are likely to have higher job performance.
•    Healthy employees have fewer sick days leading to lower healthcare costs for employers.
•    Employees who are given options to recharge during the day are more engaged.


Creating a positive work environment is beneficial for the employer and employee.  If this makes sense to you, are you only encouraging healthy, active employees during open enrollment?  This mindset needs to be a part of the year-round culture of your organization to be sustained.

The integration of healthy options within your culture is key if you truly are interested in the benefits of healthy employees year-round.  Culture is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.” Encouraging and educating employees on what they can do to maintain or improve their health throughout the year needs to be a part of the culture in order to be sustained throughout the year.  

Let’s consider diabetes for a moment.  According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), one in four adults are living with diabetes.   Even with a small group of employees, you will have employees with this disease.  Open enrollment brings up conversations about controlling diabetes through diet and exercise.  You may already provide this education.  Is it, however, a part of your company’s year-round culture?  The company defines its culture and can make all these things acceptable.  Providing snacks and beverages to employees that are not all soda and candy is one way to bring this into your culture.  When ordering lunch for the team, consider including healthy options instead of just pizza.  Employees that get up and move during the day are improving their physical and mental health.  Encourage employees to stand when on a long conference call or in a meeting.  Make it acceptable for employees to take a short walk or the long way back to their desks from meetings.  

Other suggestions for engaging employees throughout the year:
•    Discounts – Take a look at the benefits you provide and see what discounts are available for exercise programs.  In the past, this only applied to gym memberships.  Now the list has expanded to included yoga studios, health coaches and nutritional products.
•    Allocated funds – Review the benefits for an allocated amount each month to spend on physical activities.  Provide a list of facilities (and not just a list of the large well-known gyms) that are near the office.  
•    Time for health - Depending on your industry, have employees shift hours early or late to make time for an activity or class.  Provide a class on-site to get everyone moving.
•    Eating well – Including healthy options in any snacks, beverages or meals you provide for your employees.
•    Team building – Consider team building events that are fun and incorporate movement.  Bowling, laser tag, yoga classes or scavenger hunts all get people moving while being fun activities. 

Employees that are active and engaged are more productive, happier and tend to stay with a company longer.  Consider how you can make this a part of your company’s culture.

Michele MacLachlan is the owner of Yoga for Today, a Yoga and Tai Chi/Qi-Gong studio in Tempe.  She works with employers to improve the health of their employees through movement.  To learn more visit

Photo is original by Michele MacLachlan  

From our staff: If you are interested in selecting a new health insurance plan for you or your employees, visit our Lifestyle Health Insurance Plans page and request a quote.