Employers know that when their employees adopt healthier lifestyle choices it not only helps the individual, but keeps their workforce more productive and satisfied, while cutting health-care and insurance costs. Employers are taking advantage of dangling “carrots” and swinging “sticks” by investing an average of 35% more into health and wellness programs in order to nudge workers to change their behavior and better their health.
- Adopting no-tobacco policies on and off the job
- Offering cash-incentive payments for making healthier choices
- Reimbursing workers for gym memberships
- Providing free health coaching and nutrition guidelines
- Offering insurance-premium discounts to those who meet health standards
- Provide opportunities for walk breaks and consider locating in a community where walking is an option for getting to work
- Educating employees about Georgia Commute Options
So how would a change in your daily commute benefit your health?
Physical inactivity is becoming a major health problem for us in the United States, it contributes to numerous physical and mental health problems and is responsible for an estimated 200,000 deaths per year. The National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity created a physical inactivity cost calculator that is a free, easy-to-use Web-based tool that uses a scientifically based formula to estimate the financial costs of physical inactivity among citizens in any state, community or organization in the U.S.
A successful wellness program tracks more than just registrations. It measures the engagement and progress towards healthy behaviors, which is something your employees can do through LogYourCommute.org, where they can log their weekly commute trips, track financial savings, and environmental impact.
By using these tools available, any employer can create programs that meet wellness objectives to keep employees healthier and happier!
In my life, I’ve had the privilege to see Death Valley at sunrise and the Pacific Ocean from the La Jolla Cliffs at sunset. I’ve seen the falls at Yosemite, and the snow covering the expanse of Bryce Canyon. But it is all a little harder to see than it used to be. Less frequently do we actually see with the vivid colors that were once abundant to our parents and grandparents. Instead everything is a little more muted. The air is not as clean or clear as it used to be.
Today when I take in the view from Black Rock Mountain in North Georgia, to the south toward Athens and Atlanta, I see a haze. Much of the time, it is not a haze caused by the sticky sweet humidity that seems to be overly present here, but rather the end result of decisions made by every member of our increasingly mobile and hectic world. We have polluted our air by many means, including the amount of driving we do.
In the aftermath of the attacks of 9/11, there was an air travel restriction. Basically there were no airplanes allowed over the United States for weeks. I remember the sky being more clear than I can ever recall. The planet was given a break from some of the pollution that fills the sky.
Imagine what we could do to make our air cleaner if we all pitched in to prevent the pollution coming from our tailpipes. If we decided we would take just one day a week, and not drive - anywhere. Just any random day that fits our own schedule, but at least once a week for an entire year. Get all our “running around” out of the way, and plan a single day where we never even attempt to crank the engine. What a difference we could make!
I am fortunate. My employer, Shaw Industries, encourages teleworking for those who can. With the help of The Clean Air Campaign, Shaw associates have reduced about 1 million vehicle miles from the roads since 2010, as well as 600 tons emissions. Participating employees have saved a collective $500,000 in vehicle fuel and maintenance.
So most weeks, I am able to take at least one day and “park it.” I purposefully put my car keys in another room, and work online all day. I get more work done in the same amount of time, all while contributing to a better, cleaner air supply. If we all picked one day, and made a conscious effort to “park it,” we could make that huge difference. Let’s do it, Georgia.
Jim Nielsen is manager of enterprise technology, architecture and planning for Shaw Industries, the world’s largest carpet manufacturer and a leading floorcovering provider. Shaw supplies carpet, rugs, hardwood, laminate, resilient, tile & stone flooring products and synthetic turf to residential and commercial markets worldwide. A wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. with more than $4 billion in annual sales and 23,000 associates, Shaw is headquartered in Dalton, Georgia. Click here to learn more about Shaw’s commitment to sustainability.
The Fayette County Board of Commissioners sees the value in telecommuting for our local operations and our employees. That is why we began a telework program.
With metro Atlanta’s traffic congestion issues, we were looking for a viable way to get cars off the road at the lowest possible cost and still maintain our excellent level of service. The teleworking solution is providing our employees with the flexibility they appreciate while we get the productivity we expect.
Our employees benefit from the reduction in commute costs and appreciate having more time at home without the long commutes. In turn, we have found the cost of any equipment or support infrastructure for teleworking to be minimal, something our taxpayers appreciate.
Our teleworking experience has even prepared us for meeting the sometimes extreme demands of providing for the health, safety and welfare of our citizens. Many of the services we provide do not get a break during disasters and inclement weather. Our telework program is helping us develop ways that we can still maintain vital government services away from our offices.
Fayette County is proudly joining Governor Nathan Deal and The Clean Air Campaign by recognizing Georgia Telework Week. We are spreading the word to our local business and our citizens that teleworking is a smart move.
I encourage you to avoid the hassles of traffic congestion, boost your productivity, lower your stress and reduce air pollution by implementing a simple to use and cost efficient teleworking program. It’s the closest thing we have found to a “no-lose” solution.
Steve Brown was elected to the Board of Commissioners in 2010 and is serving his first four- year term, which began on January 1, 2011 and will expire on December 31, 2014. Chairman Brown is an Atlanta native. He holds a degree in journalism management from the Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia, and currently works as a freelance writer, in addition to his duties on the Board of Commissioners.
When it comes to having a more productive workday and saving money, the best commute is no commute. Governor Nathan Deal signs the 2013 Georgia Telework Week proclamation officially declaring August 19-23, 2013 the Fourth Annual Georgia Telework Week.
Pictured from L-R: Tom Tomaka, The Clean Air Campaign; Lettie Hernandez-Ongie, The Clean Air Campaign; Sean Saffle, Perimeter Transportation and Sustainability Coalition; Curtis Callaway, Shaw Industries; Tedra Cheatham, The Clean Air Campaign; Tony Vazquez, Bank of America; Governor Nathan Deal; Patti Pergl, State of Georgia Accounting Office; Keith Parker, MARTA; Ryland McClendon, MARTA; Albert Murray, State of Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles; Jesse Johnson, State of Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles.
You can show your support for Georgia Telework Week 2013:
- Pledge your support if you're representing an employer here. If you're a commuter, show your support here.
- Attend one of the Georgia Telework Summits in Atlanta to get insight from local employers.
- Stand, expand, or refresh a telework program by working with The Clean Air Campaign's expert telework assistance team. More than 250 Georgia employers have gotten their telework program off the ground, and the services are available to employers free of charge.
- Teleworkers can report telework days the week of August 19-23 at LogYourCommute.org. Each day during Georgia Telework Week, participating teleworkers will be chosen at random to win $25 prizes.
One might say I am a life-long beginner when it comes to biking, or any activity that involves wheels - skating, rollerblading, even ice skating. My first memory on a bike was at the age of seven. I had a cute bike with pink and purple tassels coming out of the handlebars. My father decided I had learned enough and could safely bike around the neighborhood. Of course, he forgot about "The Hill." Like most things from childhood, things seem bigger than they really are. I’m sure if I saw that hill today, it would be nothing to gawk at. But as a kid it was gargantuan. I remember speeding down that hill with the pedals going so fast I couldn't keep up. With my legs sticking out to avoid being hit by the pedals and my checks plastered back on my face, I barreled down the hill. Once at the end, I vowed to lay off the wheels for life.
A few years ago I decided to do a triathlon and dreaded getting back on a bike for that event. I was certain I would hate cycling as much as I did when I was a child. I made it through the event and discovered I love biking. Later a coworker talked me to biking to work and I have been hooked ever since.
I’m still the beginner of all beginners. If you saw me biking, you would probably think I was intoxicated because I can’t steer at all. I also slouch my back way too much, I forget to make sure my tires are properly inflated, and my seat is too low because I’m afraid of tipping over when I brake. The list goes on and on.
But, alas, there is hope for life-long beginners like me. There are some great resources and tips that I have found helpful to make me more comfortable on the Atlanta roads.
- When biking to work, I go at non-peak hours – before 7:30 am, before 4:30 pm or after 7:00 in the evening. That way if I need to share the road, I can feel comfortable taking up a whole lane to myself.
- I use in-town trails, like the Atlanta Beltline, as much as possible. Ride the City is great for helping select routes around town.
- I build my confidence, steering and stopping ability by riding long stretches on the Silver Comet Trail. Pedestrians are accustomed to sharing this path with bikers and there are only a handful of road crossings; all of which have crossing signs and places for cars to stop.
- You can help the City of Atlanta make strategic improvements to bicycle infrastructure by downloading the free smartphone app, Cycle Atlanta. It uses your phone's GPS to record your routes allowing you to report problems like potholes and obstructed bike lanes.
- You can also find tips and other resources on bicycle commuting at the Georgia Commute Options website.
I’ve come to accept that I might never be a smooth or natural looking rider. I’m always going to have some kinks, but I know how to be a safe, cautious, and courteous ride. AND I’m helping the planet at the same time by giving my car a rest. Happy riding!
New York City has the uncanny ability to transport you from one world to another, without actually leaving the city.
You can start your morning off in the Financial District, home to the New York Stock Exchange and Wall Street, and end the day with a nightcap at Bacchus, a fabulous Bistrot à Vins in Brooklyn. Of course, you would have already walked 2 miles over the Brooklyn Bridge to reach your destination, but only after you drink fresh vegetable juice at the kiosk outside of the Fulton St Metro Station. Oh, and don’t forget watching The Lion King at Minskoff Theatre, a circle of life spectacular complete with panoramic views of Broadway.
All of this and you still had time to stroll along the High Line, taking you through three Manhattan neighborhoods: the Meatpacking District, West Chelsea, and Hell's Kitchen. So how could you accomplish so much in less than 18 hours?
All is made possible with the swipe of your MetroCard. Similar to Atlanta’s Breeze Card, the MetroCard lets you explore your surroundings with ease. You can also load the MetroCard with fare to use on the Path, a rail system connecting more than 72 million passengers annually between northern New Jersey and Manhattan.
My favorite poem to date:
Billy Collins, b. 1941
The city orbits around eight million
centers of the universe
and turns around the golden clock
at the still point of this place.
Lift up your eyes from the moving hive
and you will see time circling
under a vault of stars and know
just when and where you are.
So how can you apply this concept to commuting in and around metro Atlanta? For those wanting to find a better way to get to work, try Georgia Commute Options, a program offering transportation resources and financial incentives. For leisure purposes, I use the MARTAGuide, an online tool providing walking and transit directions.
Below is just a sampling of how you could roam the city:
Brookhaven/Oglethorpe Station (NE8)
- Town Brookhaven
- OglethorpeUniversity Museum of Art
Lindbergh Center Station (N6)
- Lindbergh Center City
Arts Center Station (N5)
- Woodruff Arts Center
- Whole World Theatre
- Piedmont Park
- Center for Puppetry Arts
- Botanical Gardens
- Atlantic Station (the free Atlantic Station shuttle runs every 5-10 minutes)
North Avenue Station (N3)
- The Fabulous Fox Theatre (check out the Coca-Cola Summer Film Festival)
- The Varsity
Peachtree Center Station (N1)
- Centennial Olympic Park
- Georgia Aquarium
- World of Coke
- Ray’s in the City
- Meehan’s Irish Pub
- Imagine It! Children’s Museum
- The Tabernacle
- Rialto Center for Performing Arts