Are you the biggest loser at work?

HRM 11 Jan 2013

Team-based weight-loss programmes are gaining momentum at America’s workplaces, with more companies signing their employees up, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Experts say the contests reflect a broader trend of companies encouraging healthy behaviour by offering financial incentives to employees.  A study by Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health in 2012 revealed that employer use of cash, gift cards and other prizes to reward employees for adopting healthier lifestyles has risen 69% since 2009.

These programmes deliver quick, measureable weight loss, and promote lower absenteeism and health-care costs, which are the main reasons why companies like the programmes. Moreover, team camaraderie is built up with team members eating together, working out together, motivating each other and watching their diet together.

Depending on the company’s choice, programmes can be designed in-house, or outsourced to other companies specialising in weight loss contests. Most contests require a buy-in fee that is non-refundable if you drop out. Employees can create their own teams and all participation is voluntary.

However, there are also concerns regarding such competitions. With the emphasis placed on rewards, this could encourage unhealthy dieting which is not sustainable in the long run. A competitive environment could lead to division amongst employees in different teams as well. 



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