fruits and vegetables

When it comes to helping employees stay fit, few organizations go further than the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in Manhattan. The for-profit school, which trains health counselors, spends nearly $700 a week to provide organic lunches and midafternoon snacks for its 25-person staff.

But the caring efforts go beyond the institute’s recent lunch of tilapia with couscous, fennel and Brussels sprouts. The school also provides its team with free weekly chair massages and yoga classes.

“We want our employees to be in good health,” says Suzanne Boothby, editorial coordinator for the institute. “I can’t say that no one here has ever taken a sick day, but the program helps.”

Small businesses in New York City, where health insurance costs are among the highest in the nation, are increasingly turning to wellness and preventative measures to keep their premiums down.

The moves range from sponsoring traditional weight-loss and anti-smoking campaigns to hosting on-site health fairs and relaxation workshops.

“Stress has a long-term impact on employee health and, therefore, a company’s bottom line,” says Miriam Belov, founder of The Wellness Agenda, a Manhattan company that organizes on-site stress-reduction programs that incorporate approaches like meditation and yoga.

An ounce of prevention

Annual costs for wellness initiatives can range from several hundred to thousands of dollars, but the outlay is worth it, experts say.

Every dollar employers spend on wellness saves them $2.30 on direct health care expenditures, according to Dr. Neil Gordon, chief medical officer of Nationwide Better Health, an Ohio firm that provides health-risk screening, personal health coaches and other services to businesses nationwide. When productivity improvements and reductions in lost time are factored in, the savings can easily reach $5, Dr. Gordon says.


WELLNESS PROGRAMS can do more than keep workers healthy. They can also help attract top candidates, who have come to expect such extras in the workplace.

Temp Trends, a five-person employment agency in New York City, has gotten that message. The three-year-old firm gives its temporary workers access to its 20% corporate discount for classes at YogaWorks and promotes use of a free online dieting support community called SparkPeople.

“We try to find affordable solutions,” says Amanda Whiting, Temp Trends’ manager of administrative services. “The little things make a difference.”

Derived from an article by

Elaine Pofeldt



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