Thursday, August 26, 2010

The 10,000 step plan for organizational health

As part of my own personal sustainability plan, I am trying to achieve a personal record of 10,000 steps per day (from an average of about 5,000, though I haven't tracked this so far). Fortunately, I have a pedometer that I bought for my husband's birthday which he never used. (I must buy him more gifts like that). 

I was looking for a site that helps you track progress, rather than just a boring old Excel file, and came across . This is a great site which allows you to track your steps, log your progress, comment on your daily walking and even upload a foto! (I added the widget to the sidebar of this blog).

So what has this to do with organizations, CSR and HR ?
Well, by now we know that a healthy and fit workforce delivers better business results. has a program for organizations which enable groups to track their progress.An interesting article posted on the WalkerTracker blog gives the following data: 

“worksite health programs focused on lifestyle behavior change have been shown to yield a $3 to $6 return on investment (ROI) for each dollar invested.”

“It is estimated that employers spend $13 billion annually on the total cost of obesity. Approximately 9.1% of all health care costs in the United States are related to obesity and overweight. Workplace obesity prevention and control programs can be an effective way for employers to reduce obesity. They can produce a direct financial return on investment (ROI) by lowering health care costs, lowering absenteeism, and increasing employee productivity.”
“Return on investment – Canada Life in Toronto showed a return of $6.85 for every $1 invested in its Workplace Wellness program; while the Canadian government realized $1.95-$3.75 per employee per $1 spent.”
This seems to me to be both a minor investment, a lot of fun and an activity which can involve families as well as just employees (I often go walking with my husband and 8 year old son, or with my 12 year old daughter). It seems like just the sort of activity which can deliver great benefits for HR, for employees and for the business, with minimal admin time and fuss. And it doesn't need a full-blown sustainability strategy before it can get moving. It is something which is a good thing to do, no downsides, no sweat. (Well, a little sweat!) 
Of course, only an HR Manager with an CSR mindset would think about this, and start a walk-tracking program in their organization. If I were still an HR VP, I would supply pedometers for the entire workforce as New Year's gifts !  As I tend to repeat: It is time for HR to wake up to CSR!

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainabilty Reporter, HR Professional. Contact me via  on Twitter or via my website

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