Because this is a business publication, you would suspect that my headline is clever wordplay to suggest that I'm actually going to write about the financial health of your company.

You would be wrong.

Heath care, whether you're paying for it or your company is, remains one of those hotly debated, divisive issues, if you're willing to publicly express your opinion.

I've got an opinion, too, regardless of your political take on the subject. Stay healthy and everyone's happier. This is probably so simplistic that you can't even imagine it's worth noting, but the odd part is that no one would dispute the obvious: Healthy employees, from the very top to the lowest person on the employment chart, are more productive and less likely to incur medical costs.

Look around to see what you can do to easily, and often inexpensively, bolster the healthy factor in your company, whether you have 10 employees or hundreds.

Here are some valuable tips to creating a workplace that offers a health-conscious environment, from the University of Minnesota.

  • Encourage employees to move more. Provide support to staff to use scheduled breaks or lunchtime to walk or be physically active, rest or get sunshine or fresh air.

  • Suggest a "walking meeting" when meeting one-on-one with a staff member or small employee workgroup.

  • Use staff meetings and other regular communication venues, such as bulletin boards and newsletters, to promote ways to improve employee health, safety and fitness.

  • Workday activities can require repetitive motion that may lead to discomfort and injury. Learn more about how to relieve symptoms and avoid serious injury.

  • Employees who work on a computer should give their hands and wrists a quick break every 30 minutes.

  • Ensure that healthy food and beverage choices are available for meetings and catered events.

  • Foster a culture of wellness within the company. Share your enthusiasm for creating comprehensive employee wellness and health improvement programs.

  • Model healthful behaviors. Leadership is the key to an effective work site wellness program.

I would also add a few tips of my own. Create a reward system for people who stay healthy. One measurement is those who have excellent attendance.

Keep your eye out for mental health, too. No, you're not a shrink, but if you're a reasonably astute manager or owner, you know when someone is going through a bad patch: death in the family, a divorce and money issues are a few examples. A heart-to-heart might be appropriate.

I know one owner who would do this if he was't overwhelmed with business: "Take the day off," he'd say. Sometimes when you give someone a mental health day (I don't think it would be wise to use that terminology), the benefit to the employee and his perception of the company can be long-lasting. Employees seldom forget that kind of consideration.

It's no coincidence that I'm writing about staying healthy in the December issue. We're about to embark on a New Year. As Dr. Ron Kohler, a first-class pulmonologist at Pennsylvania Hospital (the oldest in the United States), once told me: "It's amazing how even little changes can affect you for the better." He's right. Just walking a mile or two a day for someone who never walks or only eating doughnuts two days a week instead of every morning will have an impact. So small, so modest, yet so necessary if we're trying to be healthier in 2011.

Make the effort yourself, urge your employees to join you and create an environment where it seems natural. The payoff is better than a cash bonus.

HVACR Distribution Business welcomes letters to the editor. Please send correspondence to: Tom Peric, Editor 2040 Fairfax Avenue Cherry Hill, NJ 08003 856/874-0049 or e-mail tom.peric@penton.com.