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How to Motivate Employees to Eat Well and Get Fit

Tammy Cohen, PHR, SHRM-CP
March 29 2016
At InfoMart, we have lost hundreds of pounds of unwanted weight by jump-starting each New Year with a company-wide weight loss competition. Our Biggest Loser program, inspired by the popular television show, motivates employees to lose those unwanted pounds.
Every January, people have the opportunity to weigh in with the HR department.  Since they’re already trusted to know your salary, performance reviews, and personal issues, they’re perfectly suited to safe-guarding your weight!

Through years of experience, we have molded our Biggest Loser competition into a wellness program that motivates employees to form healthy habits in addition to losing weight. There is great value in the personal connection a company makes with an employee through such a program. Recognizing and caring about a major issue that affects most people in the workplace, such as healthy living, bonds employees to the company and is one of the reasons why InfoMart has been recognized as a great place to work.

Over half of the company signs up to participate in the Biggest Loser each year. Many employees share in the experience as motivators and mentors, lending tips and leading lunchtime exercise programs from yoga to kettle bell lifting.

Employees compete individually for cash prizes with awards for both male and female winners.  After years of the men always winning, we realized that there needed to be a division in the competition between men and women. Men have a different metabolism and, for the $250 first prize, we had men beefing up over the holidays and slimming down once the New Year started.

To further encourage employee engagement and participation, employees can win two years in a row as long as they use their last year’s end weight as this year’s start weight. Experience has also taught us that the Biggest Loser competition has to be based on the percentage of body weight lost, and not on pounds.

The competition lasts for three months to give everyone enough time to create and maintain good habits.  We weigh in halfway through the competition as well as at the end, and we award the winners for their progress. During those three months, we have company activities to motivate and assist employees in losing weight. This year, we provided a weekly yoga class every Thursday afternoon and encouraged everyone to participate. Even after 3 months, employee participation remained constant!

Each month, we’ve held a different fitness challenge open to everyone. For example, we started the first day of the month with 10 squats and increased by 5 each day. By the end of the month, participants completed 100 squats! We’ve also held plank and push-up challenges this year. On Veggie Wednesdays, we provide platters of vegetables with creative low-calorie dips. Vegetables people normally would not buy are provided, giving everyone an opportunity to try something new. Fruity Fridays give employees a sweet, healthy treat and another opportunity to try new diet-friendly foods.

Additional activities include special speakers, emailed hints and recipes, and a dedicated page on the company intranet with links to calorie counters and weight loss programs, just to name a few.  Education efforts seek to help our staff identify healthier food choices and high-calories alternatives. During the Biggest Loser process, employees not only learn how to make better food choices and form exercise habits, but they also learn a lot about each other. When you’re hungry, snippy, and in the throes of sugar withdrawals, those who suffer alongside you can become like family.

Each year, we lose hundreds of pounds of unwanted weight and gain greater self-esteem. The cherry on our (low-fat!) ice-cream are the friendships that form among employees and a stronger commitment to a company that cares about them.

For more ideas, keep an eye out for next week’s blog on How to Make Organizational Health Engaging.

About Tammy Cohen

Tammy Cohen, an industry pioneer and expert in identity and employment screening, founded InfoMart 30 years ago. Deemed the “Queen of Screen,” she’s been a force behind industry-leading innovations. She was most recently the first-to-market with a fully compliant sanctions search, as well as a suite of identity services that modernizes talent onboarding. Tammy revolutionized the screening industry when she stepped into the field, developing the first client-facing application and a due diligence criminal search that has since become standard for all background screening companies. Cohen has received national awards and honors for her business and civic involvement, including Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Top 25 Women-Owned Firms in Atlanta, Enterprising Women Magazine’s Enterprising Women of the Year award, the YWCA of Northwest Georgia’s Kathryn Woods Racial Justice Award, and a commendation in the 152nd Congressional Record. To learn more about Tammy, visit www.tammycohen.com.

About InfoMart

InfoMart has been revolutionizing the global background and identity screening industry for 30 years, providing businesses the information they need to make informed hiring decisions. They develop innovative technology that modernizes talent onboarding, including a first-to-market biometric identity authentication application and a verified sanctions search. The WBENC-certified company is a founding member of the Professional Background Screening Association, and they have achieved PBSA accreditation in recognition of their consistent business practices and commitment to compliance with the FCRA. The company is dedicated to customer service, speed, and accuracy, and it has been recognized for its success, workplace culture, and corporate citizenship with over 45 industry awards. To Get the Whole Story on InfoMart, please visit www.InfoMart-USA.com, follow @InfoMartUSA, or call (770) 984-2727.

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