Happy National Employee Wellness Month!

National Employee Wellness Month — which is this month — owes its existence to a corporation with a stake in corporate wellness. But with companies, universities, government agencies and others jumping on the bandwagon, it might be an idea whose time has come.

Virgin Pulse launched National Employee Wellness Month six years ago in an attempt to focus executive minds on offering wellness programs to employees. This year, Virgin Pulse reports, more than 200 organizations have signed on to offer special wellness opportunities to employees this month.

Virgin Pulse grabbed the URL, and uses it to host ideas about engaging workers in wellness; to honor workers who’ve participated in wellness plans and make significant gains; and to track competition among companies, dubbed the National Employee Wellness Month Challenge. Workers can share their wellness stories via social media through the website.

National Employee Wellness Month “showcases how companies can support employees by creating healthy cultures, improving their health and well-being while lowering healthcare costs and driving engagement,” Virgin Pulse said in a release.

Major players on board with the concept include AOL, Coca-Cola, Nationwide Insurance and Walgreens. Another venerable institution, Ohio State University, posted a slew of activities for faculty and staff to mark the month. Among them:

  • Cooking tips and health food options, delivered through webcasts and interactive webinars;
  • Fitness breaks offered free across the campus, including yoga classes, training with your dog, and stair climbing;
  • Sharing healthy activities via selfie videos, with prizes for the top contenders;
  • Wellness walks led by university coaches.

The month also will provide an opportunity for a national discussion about the generally sad state of most Americans’ health, with obesity running rampant, more people than ever suffering from multiple chronic illnesses, and drug, alcohol and tobacco abuse continuing to plague the population.

“Fostering and maintaining a culture of wellness in the workplace is more important than ever. With so many Americans affected by obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other health conditions, National Employee Wellness Month is an outstanding effort to help people work toward addressing our country’s obesity epidemic,” said Scott Kahan, director, Strategies to Overcome and Prevent Obesity Alliance.

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