Even in an age of wellness programs and weight-loss contests, employee obesity continues to affect companies’ bottom lines and cause other issues in the workplace, as well.


The workplace can majorly affect an employee’s lifestyle and weight, writes Bruce Y. Lee for Forbes, and overweight employees can have a similar effect on their employers. “Employee weight and health can be a bellwether or canary in a coal mine of how the overall business is functioning overall,” he writes.


Research shows single interventions don’t help with weight loss, Lee writes. But offering a multifaceted, comprehensive wellness program that takes advantage of new technology and detailed health screenings could make a difference.


“To avoid the disappointments of past weight-loss programs, employers committed to fighting the (obesity) epidemic should look to programs that harness the newest technologies for screening and engagement,” Lisa McVey writes for Employee Benefit Adviser. “A well-designed weight-loss program … should offer aggregate reports by location, gender, age and other relevant denominators for year-over-year tracking and program refinements as needed.”


Technology isn’t the only key, though. A successful weight loss initiative “must be supported by executive teams and actively promoted to the employee base,” McVey writes. “Various forms of incentives have proven effective at increasing participation.” Employers might also consider subsidizing healthy food at work and offering individual coaching, as well. Are your clients still concerned about the cost? Remind them of the high cost of doing nothing.


The Northeast Business Group on Health found “obesity is one of the biggest drivers of employer healthcare costs, with more than $73.1 billion spent annually,” writes Sheryl Smolkin for Employee Benefit Adviser.


“Obesity of employees is a concern for employers because they want to attract and retain a healthy and productive workforce with high performance capabilities,” she writes.


Lee believes it will be difficult for your business to succeed without healthy employees. “Having employees who are overweight and unhealthy is akin to a football team trying to compete with chronically injured players,” he writes. “If you view obesity as a completely separate issue from your business, you do so at your peril.”