10/27/2011 11:35 am ET Updated Dec 27, 2011

Wellness Begins at Home

"Doctors say it's the most important thing parents can discuss with their kids. Yet both parents and kids would rather talk about anything else -- including drugs and teen sex -- than weight." Says a recent article in WebMD

What??? Really?

Well, maybe I'm not as surprised as I should be. Being a mother myself to an 11-year-old boy -- ANY of those talks stop me in my tracks! And yet saying nothing can have dire consequences. So what's the answer?

Perhaps we need to take a step back and look at an organization's desire for a "healthy" workforce. The realization that addressing such wellness issues as obesity can have a meaningful impact on their employees own health, reducing absenteeism, disabilities, presenteeism and lowering the healthcare costs of the organization.

But why stop there? Wellness programs are beginning to expand in many various ways including adding programs that help employees find balance in all aspects of life including physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual and social. Expanding wellness programs to include these types of initiatives provide the employees with a resiliency in their ability to recover from adversities of life such as stress, illness and loss. I suggest that addressing some of these other aspects of "wellness" can free up employees even more to be better equipped to move to the next needed level of behavior modification that can truly create that desired change.

But let's go back to the beginning of this blog. What about the children?

According to a recent U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report, childhood obesity has more than tripled since 1980

What employer offered wellness programs involve and extend their employee wellness programs to the family? Some do offer programs and health risk assessments to spouses and partners, but how many are extending some of these programs to the children? Clearly -- they are our future employees and if we're not addressing it now -- they will surely bring it with them to the workplace.

So what about it? As annual enrollment season is upon us, now is a perfect time to consider programs and initiatives including appropriately aged resources for the children.

After all, October is National Work and Family month and what better way for organizations to celebrate both employees and their families than by considering this added benefit to their portfolio.