Should You Incorporate Wearables Into Your Company’s Wellness Program?

Wearables in the Workplace

Activity wearables have become tools to help promote healthier lifestyles and activity amongst users. Many now consider their days somewhat incomplete if they don’t hit their targeted daily miles or step goal.

It didn’t take long before companies begin jumping onboard in using wearables as a component of a comprehensive workplace wellness program. However, simply providing employees with these devices isn’t enough to help change health behaviors over the long term, and really, that’s the goal of any company. Typically, healthier employees translate into consistent productivity and less days missed do to sick leave.

Encouraging Participation

Aside from offering the devices or reimbursing employees of the purchase of them, implementing realistic goals to hit will make the program work by encouraging participation. Certain incentives can be set to further get more involved in the program. With any new program such as this, support is critical in helping to create new habits. Encouragement in the forms of newsletters or in-office staff is a great way to help with motivation and inspiration.

Keeping the program fresh and fun can seem like a challenge but there are numerous of ideas and themes to keep your employees active and inspired. Whether setting a collective goal, or making it competitive, the program should be one that is enjoyable and not cumbersome. Encouraging the submission of ideas, thoughts and testimonials is a great way to get first-hand knowledge of how the program is working. The testimonials can be used as a great source of inspiration around the office and the collection of ideas can help inspire new challenges to help keep things fresh.

In Summary

The goal is for the workplace practices to lead to long-term use and positive results. Wearables are only just a small part of investing into your employees overall health. While the devices are a great start, having a comprehensive strategy to encourage maximum participation is just as important.

 

If your looking for an app to help track your company’s step challenges, check out MoveSpring!

Workplace Benefits to now Include Chronic Mental Stress

Benefit to Include Chronic Mental Stress
The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) has just issued the final version of its operational policy. Which includes recent amendments to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act to expand the scope of benefit entitlement for mental stress to include chronic mental stress. The policy came into effect Jan. 1, 2018.
These amendments come shortly after the WSIB recently made changes to their policy on pre-existing medical conditions. No longer cutting benefits for health conditions that pre-existed a workplace injury.
Chronic Mental Stress in the Workplace
Work-related chronic mental stress is defined as an appropriately diagnosed mental disorder that has been predominantly caused by a substantial work-related stressor or series of stressors. A work-related stressor is an action or task that is considered substantial if it is excessive in intensity and/or duration compared with the normal tension and strain experienced by people working in similar circumstances.
 
The expanded entitlement for mental stress means that all employers will need to take some additional steps to help reduce the amount of workplace stress and minimize the existence of current and substantial workplace stressors in order to limit costly stress-related lost time claims.
 
The policy states, A worker will generally be entitled to benefits for chronic mental stress where: 1) there is an appropriate diagnosis; and 2) where the injury is caused by a substantial work-related stressor arising out of and in the course of employment.”
Summary
It’s estimated that workplace stress is costing employers about $300 billion annually, according to an infographic created by Eastern Kentucky University’s online Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety program. With such an astronomical figure, it seems the right time for companies to invest fully into the health of their employees.

Is Sitting the New Smoking?

Can sitting be just as detrimental to your health as smoking?
The Effects of Sitting Too Long
Research has shown that prolonged sitting has been linked to excess body fat, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and an increased risk of heart disease and cancer. There are also the common symptoms that stem from remaining idle for long stretches, such as fatigue and inability to concentrate.
 
On top of working in front of a computer throughout the workday, the commuting to work means that typical Americans spend up to half of their waking life sitting, according to a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
How to Combat the Effects
While that information is startling, it’s nothing new. With the growing awareness of employers to help keep their employees engaged, healthy and active, a focus on ways to encourage movement during the workday should be a top priority. There are a variety of inexpensive options employers can implement that can begin making a significant difference.
 
Many companies have already introduced walking meetings as a way to promote physical activity and energized and more alert participants. Several companies have also turned to giving their employees Fitbits and other wearable accessories to help track their daily steps. Giving employees the option of having standing or treadmill desks is also becoming more commonplace.
 
In Australia and Canada, there are campaigns that prompt companies to design their workspaces in a way that encourages activity. Most companies can adopt this strategy by structuring their workstations further away from the bathroom and kitchen area.
In Conclusion
While employers try to create concepts and incentives for getting workers to participate in office-based wellness programs, simple changes such as the ones listed can actually begin to make some progress in increasing the productivity level and attentiveness of their employees through encouraging simple increases in activity throughout the office.

This Company Takes Workplace Wellness Very Seriously

Billions of dollars are now being spent by companies on workplace wellness. All with the goal to reduce health insurance cost and to keep employees from getting burned out. One problem facing most of these companies is the low participation numbers with the initiatives being rolled out. Many employees aren’t knowledgeable about the programs offered and don’t want to participate because they feel that they have enough on their plate, and others not feeling comfortable enough.
Taking Wellness to the Next Level 
In making sure that each of their employees know exactly what the program is before they even begin their first day, one Philadelphia-based investment management firm is taking wellness to the next level.
 
At FS Investments, new recruits undergo a physical assessment, where their bodies and movements are analyzed. Perks of employment include free meals issued out by a staff dietician. All the food served in the office also meets a clean” requirement. Meaning there are no desserts, soft drinks or sugary snacks available. There is an onsite, free gym that’s open 24/7, offering personal training and fitness programs with morning and mid-day classes. The actual program, aptly named the Journey,” was designed by Exos (human performance company).”
 
FS doesn’t force this program on its employees, but to actually get on the meal plan, they do have to go through a consultation, where they’re asked questions regarding their health goals, medical history and eating habits.  This may seem intrusive to many, but according to the firm’s CEO, Michael Forman, the company’s health insurance costs are down 23 percent and the participating employees collectively reduced their body fat by 10 percent in the program’s first year.
 
Forman didn’t divulge any financial figures, only offering that the cost is not insignificant.”
In Conclusion
While this program might be more extensive than some companies are willing to go, it does help offer some insight to the seriousness in which employers are now taking the wellness of their employees.

U.S Lacking is Work-life Balance

Work-life balance is one of the major concerns to any job seekers of today. When someone leaves work, they want to leave any thought of their workday at the office and not take those thoughts home. This is easier said than done for most. 
Work-life Balance Studies
According to the OECD Better Life Index, European countries dominated the study for best work-life balance. It’s no secret that the less time spent at work means the more time spent on other activities. This time outside of work is important for overall well-being, as well as the mental and physical benefits, as more may be inclined to be active if they didn’t feel so taxed with work.
 
Denmark rates No. 1 with the highest work-life balance satisfaction. The country has a working week of about 30 hours, which is the lowest weekly worked for any developed country. The US ranked 28th overall. The OECD studied 20 countries, finding that the average worker has 15 hours of leisure time per day. The United States fell below that average at 14.4 hours.
Employment Paid Leave Policies
One interesting takeaway from the OECD was the notion that the US could help working families reduce poverty rates by strengthening services and benefits for children in their early years by legislating for paid parental leave and building and improving on the child education and care services. The U.S. was the only OECD country without a national paid parental leave policy. Three states do provide leave payments (California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island). According to the research, the pay-offs to paid leave are significant to both the child’s well-being and there’s evidence that when mothers can access a leave entitlement, they are more likely to return to work than mothers who don’t have leave benefits.
 
Could shorter working hours/weeks and wellness options better satisfy employees and lead to more productivity in the US?

Could Workplace Naps Become a Thing?

We’ve all had days where it’s been a struggle to stay awake at work. Some of us, might have even succumb to the exhaustion and nodded off a time or two. You spend the remainder of the day pumping caffeine into your system just to be able to function with some semblance of regularity until you can get back home to the comforts of your bed.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could take a nap at work without having to worry about the ramifications or worry if your boss walked in on your slumber?

A number of companies have began incorporating activities like meditations sessions and free yoga during the workday to help cut back on the stress levels of their employees to help increase productivity. Some even forward thinking companies have already installed amenities like nap pods to help their employees recharge.

Sleep Factors

“Sleep is based on two factors,” says Jeff Kahn, Co-Founder of the sleep-coach performance app, Rise Science. “It’s based on what we call sleep need. That’s how much sleep are you getting relative to how much you actually need. Everyone has a different need. You might be a six and a half hour person, which is rare. Most people actually need a little over eight.”

While Rise is geared more towards helping improve performance for elite athletes — as they have partnerships with organizations and universities such as the Chicago Bulls, Clemson, Oklahoma State, Alabama and Northwestern football programs — it’s been scientifically proven that anyone performs better at what they do when they sleep better.

Sleep Fundamentals

Sleep is the foundational element of both mental and physical performance and there just never seems to be enough hours in a day for some to balance work and life responsibilities, while still finding time to get a full seven or eight hours of sleep. With this being an issue for many workers, an hour to an hour and a half nap at work might even increase the productivity of someone who is present at work, but going through the motions in that same time span.

Workplace Naps

The implementation of workplace napping isn’t for every industry or organization, but for those working at a desk, in front of a computer for over eight hours; a quick nap can have the same benefit as a full night of rest.

While sleeping on the job has always been thought of as taboo, Employers would be wise not to bat an eye at the benefits it could have on the productivity in their offices.

Three Factors Employers Should Consider before Structuring a Health and Wellness Program

With the New Year now here, several employers will be jumping on health and wellness initiatives. Helping to decrease the amount of time employees are on sick leave and to help increase productivity and focus. With the heightened focus on programs geared towards boosting the overall health of employees, employers might want to be smart in how they structure their wellness programs.  Here are three factors employers should focus on before rolling out any kind of program.

Communication
Before the building of any wellness can begin, it’s important for an employer to know exactly who their employees are. What their current health and activity levels are and what their goals are. For younger employees, their fitness levels and goals will be vastly different from some of the more senior employees. So it’s easy to see why they wouldn’t be incentivized and motivated with the solitary program. For large or medium-sized businesses, finding a way to sit down one-on-one with 500-plus employees isn’t feasible. A company-issued survey that targets age range, current fitness level/goals and eating habits is a great tool in helping target what employees might be good for different incentives based on the information provided.

 

Try these free online survey services:
Personalizing the Wellness Experience
With every employee’s fitness goal or activity level differing, comes the need for a more personalized experience. Wellness initiatives that are important to one employee aren’t going to be important to next. With each person’s fitness level being unique, so should his or her experience. That shouldn’t mean that there aren’t activities that can’t be done as a unit. Encouraging group activities where everyone can participate in collectively, like morning yoga or group walks, are great ways to garner more participation, and keep those needing a little boost of motivation. The values of creating a community should tie nicely to the values of the company. To help with employee activity engagement, check out MoveSpring, a fun and easy-to-use health fitness tracking platform for companies and organizations.

 

Simplicity 

With most employees already having the burdens of a daily workload and at-home tasks, employers would be wise to make sure that their program is set up so that it isn’t too complicated. Oftentimes, employers don’t see the participation levels they want due to the employees not wanting to take on anything that they feel is going to add another burden or task to their schedule. The less confusion around the initiative, the higher the participation should be.

Educating Employees on Workplace Benefits

Thanks to people being more stressed today than ever before, employers are paying a steep price for the subsequent missed work days and health care.

The cost? About $300 billion annually as a result of workplace stress, according to an infographic created by Eastern Kentucky University’s online Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety program.

Stress in the Workplace

The scope of stress in the American Workplace is staggering. 40 percent of workers report their job is “very or extremely stressful,” according to a survey by the Families and Work Institute. One-fourth of employees view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives, according to a study conducted by the Northwestern National Life. Problems at work are more strongly associated with health complaints than are any other life stressor. Even more so than financial problems, according to a study conducted by the St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Co.

Workplace stress can be defined as the harmful and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker.

Benefits Awareness

Most employees aren’t aware of all of their employer’s benefits to help them. Some of the less-utilized benefits include employee assistance programs (programs geared towards assistance in resolving personal, financial or emotional problems), wellness programs and resilience training, which can help overall health and help you recover from adverse circumstances.

What employers can do to help bring benefit awareness:

  • Inform employees on how to contact their payroll or human resources department to inquire about benefits.
  • Implement a company intranet website, where benefits can be posted and shared.
  • Utilize lunch room or break rooms to post benefit information on bulletin boards.
  • Hold an annual employee meeting to review all benefit offerings to your staff.
Benefits Usage

Employers can save themselves a ton of money by both educating and encouraging their employees to use the benefits available to them and how they’re able to access them. Employers should also look for ways to offer encouragement to employees on how to utilize these benefits and programs in ways that the employees feel supported. Employees should feel excited and enthused to take advantage of any offering from the company to improve their overall health.

How can you encourage employees to use their benefits?

  • In the case of an employee assistance program, ensure your employees that these program are confidential and protect their privacy.
  • With some benefits extending to immediate family members, it can be encouraging for an employee to know their loved ones can receive assistance as well.
In Conclusion

Employee health and wellness relates to more productivity, less mistakes, fewer missed days and fewer on the job injuries. When you consider the cost alternative of employees not being more knowledgeable of their benefit offerings, it seems to only make “cents” for companies to find strategies to better educate their employees on all the programs and benefits in place to help increase their overall help.

The research and the numbers say yes.