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I. Overarching Question and Sub Questions

How can society’s physical fitness, or general health, be improved to increase productivity in the work place?

1. Where is the problem of unhealthy employees most evident?

2. What were the first signs that American society was undergoing a change in its health?

3. When did Americans first become concerned about exercising regularly and maintaining good nutrition?

4. How much time and money are wasted by employees who are absent from work because of health problems that were preventable if they had better exercise and nutrition habits?

5. What guidelines do experts give for a healthy lifestyle?

6. Should regular exercise be a required part of worker’s daily lives?

7. What is the United States government doing to insure better working environments in the future?

8. What is the single greatest cause of poor health in the United States today?

II. Specific Problem Statement

How can an organization’s overall employee health be improved through the use of incentives and goals to insure a more productive business or company?

III. Overview of Solution

The benefits of exercise and proper nutrition are common knowledge to the public. It is not hard to prove to people the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. The difficulty comes when trying to motivate men and women into participating in health related activities. The solution of this study will explain imaginative and specific incentives to encourage employees to engage in exercising and maintaining a lifestyle which is conducive to the health promotion goals of the organization. The incentives will be aimed at reducing a measurable cost related to the health activities of employees. The solution in this study is created for one single company, but can be used in slightly different formats for a wide variety of businesses and companies.

IV. Goals of Study

I. Have all assignments done a week in advance so I can correct them if necessary A. Have a third of the book that is due for the month read each week B. Try to get ahead of schedule if I don’t have many activities a certain week C. Have papers done a week in advance

II. Be aware of examples or solutions to the problem in the community A. Go to any speeches or seminars that have to do with my topic B. Cut out articles from local newspapers or magazines that relate to my topic C. Talk to employers about how they are solving the problem

III. Promote wellness to other people through the project A. Volunteer to work at any community events that involve health promotion B. Create a web page that gives facts and solutions to the problem C. Set an example by my own exercise habits for other people to follow

"A Scenario"

Mike Cartman is forty-four years old. He is married and has two children. He works for Smith Brothers Incorporated. Smith Brothers makes treadmills and various exercise equipment for schools and other organizations. Mike has worked at the company for twenty years, ever since he graduated from Illinois State University. Mike has been known as a very hard worker and will likely become the president of Smith Brothers by the time he is fifty years old. Mike’s lifestyle is very stressful. He has to work forty-five hours a week and is worried about paying for his children’s college education. He usually goes to a fast food place for lunch and his wife has a large dinner ready when he comes home. He is usually so exhausted when he gets home that he just sits on the couch watching television. On the weekends he generally goes to his daughters volleyball and swim meets and the rest of time watches football or basketball on television. He is five feet, eleven inches tall, and weighs close to 235 pounds. His doctor has warned him that he should probably start an exercise program, but he complains he does not have the time.

One day Mike is at work and starts to have chest pains. He tells himself it was just something he ate, but the pains continue to increase. In the afternoon, he suddenly can’t breathe and tells his coworkers to get help fast. Mike was experiencing a heart attack. An ambulance rushes to his office building. Mike is unconscious and the paramedics are not sure if he is going to make it. Mike was in critical condition at the hospital and has to undergo several operations. Luckily Mike pulls through, but he will be hospitalized for several weeks and will not be able to go back to work for some time. The doctor says he has very high blood pressure and his cholesterol level was very high. Mike is told he is very lucky to have survived. The doctor tells him rehabilitation will take up to a year and Mike must stop eating unhealthy and should begin a light exercise program as soon as possible..

Mike is finally able to return to work a year later, but he is not in touch with the everyday operations of the company. His bosses tell him he will not be able to become president because the chance of him suffering another heart attack is too great. Mike does begin an exercise program and has practiced better nutrition, but the company still lost over $200,000 caused by lost wages and time spent training him.

"An Interview with the Problem"

Since the middle 1970’s, businesses and other organizations have started learning more about the relationships between health and productivity. The familiar phrase " healthy workers are more productive workers" has become common place to those in the business world who have had to deal with rising health insurance costs, a high rate of employee absenteeism, and low morale among workers. An industry has even developed to help organizations manage and improve their workforces’ health. Private occupational health services offer a wide range of services which include implementation of fitness programs, educational seminars, and physical health assessments for employees. Because of an endless amount of studies which have consistently shown the benefits of proper nutrition and exercise, employers cannot afford to support employees who have very poor health habits and contribute to a loss in profitability by having gigantic health insurance premiums and more days of absence.

The health of the American workforce can be related to a deterioration of wellness in the lives of the American public this past century. Various historical events, medical studies, laws, and inventions contributed to a change in the health of the nation. The world which Americans lived in during the nineteenth century is vastly different compared to the technological society which we live in today. While the lives of Americans in general has improved, the overall health of our society has declined steadily in the past decades. Employers must take in account changes which have occurred in society and develop and implement wellness programs which correspond to alterations in Americans’ lifestyles which have changed the workforce if they are to be successful. Organizations and businesses cannot expect the same methods and solutions to improve their employees’ health which were used even ten years ago. A company must develop exciting and intriguing programs which catch the excitement and attention of employees. Incentives must be offered to employees for what they accomplish as an individual in the organization’s wellness or health program. The employees must understand the benefits of health not only to the individual, but to the overall productivity and profitability of their employer.

A necessity of an occupational health program is money. Encouraging results will come from a wellness program only if a sufficient amount of money is invested. A health promotion program must also be measurable. If a program cannot be distinguished from failure or success, then it is of no use to the organization implementing it. A business must specific goals for its health programs and set aside measurable targets and a timeline for reaching its goal.

The Health Connection: A Study of Productivity will address all the above issues in great detail. The point of focus of the study is not on guidelines for proper health or wellness, but on the implementation, development, and success of health related programs. Ideas which have already been practiced will be discussed, but new plans which will hopefully improve upon the old ideas will be the focal point of the solution.

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