With only a few days left in 2017, our focus has shifted to resolutions for the New Year. January 1st symbolizes a fresh start, and an opportunity to make healthier choices. We find ourselves skirting the snack aisle, renewing our gym memberships and making commitments to spend more time with friends and families. Despite our best intentions, resolutions require forming new habits, and following through can be a true challenge. With that in mind, Axis CEO Larry Cohen has implemented a program to help employees kick one bad habit that has a negative impact on both the employee and the company – smoking.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States. It accounts for more than 480,000 deaths per year, which averages out to 1 in 5.¹
Because addictions can be so difficult to overcome, Cohen offers a $1,000 bonus to any employee who can successfully reach 6 months without a cigarette. “The program is our way of helping the employee reach a very difficult goal. We encourage them by providing accountability and a reward. The money can be used in any way they want, which means they can turn the cash into a reminder of how much they have overcome. That could be mean paying down a loan, family vacation or even a designer bag.”
When an employee stops smoking, it has a positive effect on business by improving their health and decreasing sick days and extra breaks. “Productivity is very important to our organization,” says Cohen, “but ultimately there is nothing more important than having healthy employees.”
This year, Axis is celebrating two smoke-free anniversaries. Irving Marshall, Accounts Payable Manager, stopped smoking in October 2015, recently hit his 2 year anniversary. “The money is nice,” said Marshall, “but the true motivator is what Larry said to me. One day, he saw me smoking outside and told me, “Irving, I want you to live a long time – to be with us a long time.”’
Pearl Park, Marketing Manager, quit smoking in January 2017 and is approaching her 1 year anniversary. “Seeing Irving’s success in being smoke-free, healthy and happy inspired me to make the change,” Park said. “Also, I have saved $1,600 in addition to the $1,000 reward from Axis.”
So far, Marshall and Park are the only two employees to take Cohen up on his offer, but he hopes more will follow suit. “The only catch is that you have to pay the company back if you start again,” said Cohen. “But the reward of good health is well worth the risk.”
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