Many non-smokers have been complaining about the extra breaks their coworkers get when they step outside several times a day for a cigarette. Resentment leads to lower morale, which is bad for business.
One Japanese company tackled the issue and may have come up with a solution: allowing its non-smoking workers to take an extra six days of paid time off each year. The policy would make up for the inequities of the smoking breaks and might even convince some of the smokers to quit.
Reportedly, at least 25 percent of the company‘s 120 employees in the Tokyo-based marketing firm Piala Inc. have taken the company up on its offer, and it has persuaded four others to give up cigarettes.
Some American companies are following suit.
According to the American Lung Association, employers can save nearly $6,000 per year for every employee who quits smoking. Recently, a few companies in the U.S. have initiated policies that encourage smokers to stop. One company tried to find out how successful a smoking cessation program might be.
GE studies the benefits of an incentive program.
The General Electric Corporation, which spends millions of dollars on smoking-related illnesses each year, participated in a study that hoped to find out whether financial incentives could help people to quit smoking. The company gave one group of smoking employees a list of resources to help them quit and offered them $750 if they stopped smoking. A control group received the same resources but without a cash incentive. Results: the group that received the money quit smoking at over three times the rate of the control group.
Another company offers lower health insurance premiums.
In 2015, a Washington Post article reported that the Nuclear Energy Institute notified their non-smoking workers who were physically fit that they would have $500 deducted from their annual health insurance premiums. Initiatives can also be beneficial to employers since smoking–related illnesses cost them an estimated $156 billion in lost productivity each year!
Companies are getting creative in promoting healthy habits.
Some employers are looking at the possibility of offering health insurance plans that include a tobacco cessation benefit that provides for treatments, medications, and at least four counseling sessions related to quitting smoking.
But whether it’s enhanced benefits or cash rewards, businesses must continue to promote healthy habits with wellness programs and financial incentives—for their workers’ well-being and their own.
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