We don’t object to the idea of public servants working out during their workday and showering afterward.
If they do work out, we hope they do shower afterward.
We know from experience that just walking or riding a bicycle to work can lead to a sweaty couple of hours at your desk if you can’t get to a shower before plopping down in your chair.
But since it would apparently be expensive to add showers to the Warren County Human Services Building, we have to have a better idea of the level of interest before deciding whether this proposal is worthwhile.
Exercise ranks alongside dieting as human undertakings that get honored far more in the promising than the doing. In our experience, people who are determined to work out find a way to do so, whether by getting up early or hitting the gym after work or through some other strategy.
We’re guessing that if showers get added to the county complex, they will be used on a regular basis by just a handful of people. Even if more people were interested, we’re not sure how they would be accommodated. If one or two showers are put in, only a small number of people will have time to use them first thing in the morning or at lunch.
A large shower room like the ones in the men’s locker rooms at the YMCA could accommodate more people, but would be expensive to install and would require a lot of space. It seems, if this were going to be done right, it should have been part of the plans for the building, not an afterthought.
The argument for showers is that encouraging workouts keeps employees healthier, which lowers health care costs. But, while we do think the county and other public employers should make their workplaces as healthy as possible, the extent to which they can influence their workers’ life choices is limited.
The county could put in a cafeteria, heavy on the hummus, light on the french fries. But that would not prevent county workers from making a fast-food stop on the way home.
The Human Services building has three stories. One inexpensive way county administrators could boost employees’ health is to launch a reward program for people who use the stairs instead of the elevator. Start a stair club and hand out a prize every time someone’s stair count reaches 1,000.
Sitting at a desk for hours on end is physically damaging, so employees should be encouraged to get up and move around at least once an hour. Perhaps healthy snacks like peanuts and carrots could be put out in a break room — it costs money, but not as much as putting in showers.
Cigarette breaks, on the other hand, should be discouraged. Since few things are as destructive to health as smoking, any help the county can offer in the way of smoking cessation programs is worth the time and expense.
The county has lower- cost options than retrofitting its building with showers when it comes to collaborating with employees on healthfulness. Showers are a nice perk, and we’re in favor of having the county consider them in the future (can showers be added to the courthouse building that isn’t entirely up yet?), but they aren’t so necessary that they have to be added to already-constructed buildings.
Finally, there are existing showers at the county complex — in a locker room in the basement of the Municipal Center. Frank Morehouse, superintendent of buildings and grounds, said those showers can be opened up to employees. That seems like the best option of all.