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Step up, Richmond County

February 27, 2014

It’s time to step it up, Richmond County.


The First in Health Richmond County 2020 Task Force will launch on Monday its RichmondFit, a corporate competition that aims to improve workplace wellness.The kickoff will begin at 5:15 p.m. at Cole Plaza by Rockingham City Hall. The event will include a 1-mile fun walk.


Here’s how it works. Teams of fellow employees can register, then record in an online journal at www.richmondfit.org their daily or weekly activities. Those activities are then converted into steps. The team with the highest average number of steps on April 30 will b eligible for prizes. This approach allows small businesses — even mom and pop shops — to compete with Richmond County’s larger employers.


In addition, the top three steppers will also be recognized.


Those interested in registering can send an email to rmelliott@firsthealth.org.


This is a simple, fun and effective way to improve workplace wellness — which, in turn, should increase workplace productivity.


One Harvard University study found that an employer’s medical costs falls about $3.27 for every dollar spent on wellness programs, and absentee day costs fall by about $2.73 for every dollar spent.


The study also stated the obvious — that many employees spend the majority of their waking hours in the workplace, which makes workplace-based wellness programs a natural venue for investments in health.


Possible benefits from workplace wellness programs include:


* A reduction in health care costs and insurance premiums;


* Healthier workers might be more productive and miss fewer days of work;


“These benefits may accrue at least partially to the employer (such as through improved ability to attract workers), even if the primary benefits accrue to the employee,” according to the study.


The same study indicated smaller businesses are less likely to offer any sort of health and wellness program. That’s where this initiative can have the greatest impact. While there are a handful of large-scale employers in Richmond County, there are plenty of businesses with fewer employees that also stand to benefit from this outreach effort.


Besides that, there are bragging rights at stake. After all, there’s a fair chance the winning team has its picture taken for the local newspaper.


It all begins at 5:15 p.m. Monday at Cole Plaza. We hope to see you there.