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updated 3/18/2013 10:19:31 AM ET 2013-03-18T14:19:31

The connection between health and job performance is widely known, and many companies are now realizing success can only be achieved by a healthy workforce. The integration of healthy living initiatives benefits both employers and employees.

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A healthy workforce results in reduced downtime due to illness, improved morale, increased productivity and higher employee retention, while employees get the benefit of increased job satisfaction and an improved ability to handle stress. Plus, getting a workout while getting some work done, sounds good too.

Related: What Successful People Eat for Breakfast

Here's a look at three companies that are taking steps to improve employee health:

Progressive Insurance
Headquartered in Cleveland, this national insurance company helps their 25,000 employees stay healthy with an onsite Fitness Centre, Weight Watchers reimbursement program, yoga and boot camp classes, personal training and a smoking cessation program. Customer Representative Carla Minichello lost 150 pounds after 18 months using Progressive’s Fitness Center.

"These amenities show Progressive's commitment to employees and their daily desire to be productive both in work and life," says Pamela Sraeel, senior manager of Benefit Services. Sraeel says making a healthy lifestyle more convenient and affordable for employees has resulted in a more motivated and less stressed staff. "When employees are healthy, they feel good. They innovate, solve problems and take initiative, which is imperative in a tough global marketplace," she says.

Twitter
The social media giant encourages its 1,000 employees at the San Francisco Headquarters to stay healthy by offering onsite yoga, Pilates, Wing Chun Kung Fu and CrossFit classes. Onsite massages and acupuncture sessions are also available for a fee.

"The attitude and energy we all bring to work is so important to our culture," says Amy Obana, HR and Wellness program manager. "But such energy can make us susceptible to fatigue and burnout. Twitter aims to avoid this by offering diverse fitness and wellness programs to encourage renewal so that as employees we can manage our energy better and get more done in a sustainable way."

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TELUS
The Canadian phone company has approximately 26,000 employees in 13 locations across the country and offers internal fitness facilities with cardio equipment, weight rooms and group fitness classes, on-site massage and reflexology practitioners, active living challenges and mental health support.

Janet Crowe, director of wellness and work-life solutions, says encouraging employees to adopt healthy lifestyle habits is part of the culture of TELUS. "It's the overall strategy of TELUS to have a healthy work environment," she says.

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Don't worry if these kinds of programs seem out of reach for your business. You don't have to build a gymnasium to encourage a healthy workforce. Crowe says wellness initiatives are possible no matter how big or small a company is and says having a healthy workforce begins with making health a priority in the workplace.

She encourages small businesses to begin by asking employees what initiatives would help them. "Don't assume what your team wants, ask them what they need to reach their goals," she says. Sraeel says reaching out to local gyms to negotiate a discount rate or hosting group lunch hour walks is something every company can do no matter the size. Celebrating business goals with a healthy cooking class or another activity staff has identified as something they'd like to try is another way to incorporate a healthy lifestyle into the office environment, plus "group activities can be empowering and team-building," says Sraeel.
 

Copyright © 2013 Entrepreneur.com, Inc.

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