Wearable Devices on the Rise in the Workplace

The incorporation of wearables within employee wellness programs are on the rise, as employers are seeking to keep organizational costs down and gather insight to help promote and benefit the wellness of their employees.
Employers Using Wearables to Monitor Health
A 2017 survey conducted by Springbuk, an Indianapolis based health analytics software company, revealed that 35 percent of employers in the US are using wearables to monitor health and calibrate their wellness initiatives. Respondents were comprised of employers, benefit consultants, and wellness vendors that participated in the Healthiest Employer” Award Program that encompasses over 8,000 employers nationally.
The remaining employers in the survey planned to have a plan in place to onboard wearables within a year. This is a drastic shift in thinking when just a few years ago, many felt that wearable health devices were just a novelty that wouldn’t gain any traction amongst employers because many users hadn’t become accustomed to the everyday use of devices. Devices were great at tracking steps, but didn’t provide much engagement outside of your basic activity data.
B.Y.O.D (Bring Your Own Device) 
There are a variety of different wearable devices on the market now and selecting the best one depends on what the individual’s usage will be with the device. Instead of purchasing a standard device to distribute to employees, more employers are allowing a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) approach to not force a new device of technology on individuals who have already gotten accustomed with their preferred tracker.
Data Helps with Strategic Wellness Program Planning
The data gained from these devices have been used to deliver insights to employers about how to invest revenue towards wellness initiatives. When choosing a device to support their wellness programs, 60 percent of employers prioritized app usability.
 
44.1 percent of the employers surveyed used the device data in strategic planning of their wellness program. These programs had an employee participation rate of 83.8 percent, a 61.9 percent change in health risks. Some other metrics used by employers include a 52.7 improvement in employee clinical outcomes, changes in financial outcomes in regards to medical plans (58.7%), and impact of productivity and performance (22.5%). 

The
MoveSpring platform allows employers to aggregate device data to assess their employees activity and create reports to analyze data for strategic planning for their wellness program. Administrators are able to create and implement step challenges, provide content that educates and motivates employees on additional benefits the company offers to help them stay healthy.
Conclusion 
While we’re still in the early stages of the overall impact that wearables can have in the workplace, they don’t appear to be falling to the wayside anytime soon. To see how MoveSpring can help boost your current wellness program, stop by movespring.com to request a demo.

How Workplace Lighting can Affect Productivity

There are several variables that affect workplace productivity. While there has been a greater shift by employers to focus on these factors to make the necessary changes to assure their employees are at their healthiest, there is one workplace element that oftentimes goes ignored: Lighting.

And the Survey Says…

According to data collected by Leesman, – the world’s largest independent assessor of workplace effectiveness – of the quarter of a million employees in 69 countries surveyed, 75.8 percent stated that natural light is important to them, yet only 56.9 percent were happy with the offering in their workplace.

Lighting can have a significant impact on the concentration and productivity of an office. A study conducted by the American Society of Interior Design revealed that 68 percent of employees disliked the lighting in their offices. Studies have also shown that your overall feeling of health and well-being can be affected by the lighting in the space you’re in. Philips Systems also conducted a recent research that indicated the link between light and our internal “built-in clocks,” better known as circadian rhythms, that determine your sleep cycle, stimulation and relaxation.

Effects of Lighting in The Workplace

Dim lighting can be a serious detriment in an office setting. Not only can it cause eyestrain but it can also cause headaches, drowsiness and lack of focus. As one could deduce, this would hamper the concentration and productivity of any employee. Many offices have florescent lighting because of its long light life, with some being able to last up to 50,000 hours. However, this can also cause eyestrain and also serve as a trigger for those who suffer from migraine headaches.

Natural lighting has been shown to affect our moods, productivity, concentration, eyes, our decision-making and our sleep cycles. How many times after coming home from an eight or nine-hour shift at work have you felt lethargic, sluggish and in need of a nap? Many don’t take into account that this pattern could be a result from the lighting in their workplace.

Employer Responsible for Proper Lighting

Many employers would dread the cost of an overhaul to their office lighting but this is mainly an upfront cost. There are several lighting and energy options available that could actually help provide an employer with several thousand dollars per year in energy cost. Considering the significant negative impact poor lighting has on the productivity of a workplace, employers would be doing their employees and themselves a disservice by not looking into any option to increase the productivity of their workplace.

Can Workplace Workouts Work for You?

For many in the workforce, there are simply not enough hours in the day, especially to commute to a gym before or after work. With this in mind, any workplace wellness program – space permitting – could benefit from wellness initiatives with physical activity components.

Onsite Wellness Programs

The advantages of an onsite program would benefit those looking to get a quality workout in. This gives workers the opportunity to be active during their lunches or after their workday is complete. Employers could even incentivize their workers further to utilize the space by implementing a rewards program to help encourage more in the office to participate. There are also opportunities to help foster a sense of teamwork within the office by challenging them to work together to achieve team goals.

According to health.gov, adults gain health benefits, such as better fitness, healthier body size and composition, when they do the equivalent of at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity (2 hours and 30 minutes) each week.

Bringing Awareness to your Employer

Employees looking to get this on the radar of their employer can talk to their human resources manager to help make their case for wellness initiatives with physical activity and the benefits associated with it.

If there is no space where physical activities can be incorporated, other initiatives such as walking meetings, taking the stairs, bike programs and company step challenges can also be implemented to give coworkers more diversity in encouraging physical activity.

Summary

The goal of any wellness initiative is to lower health costs, enhance employee engagement and reduce absenteeism and turnover. By incorporating some time for physical activity, or a space dedicated to it, employers can help influence and motivate behavioral changes, which affect daily help habits, stress and an adoption of a wellness plan of their own.

Corporate wellness starts with the employees and knowing them is essential to the success of any initiative. However, employees sharing their ideas and voicing their opinions to help get plans turned into action aids in providing their employers the knowledge they need to make the proper changes.

If your interested in bringing a wellness culture to your organization:
Check out MoveSpring, a fun and easy to use health platform for companies and organization to compete in fitness tracking challenges!

How Social Connections Can Enhance Your Wellness Program

Most Americans spend a third of their day at work. With that, most of their daily human interactions come are with their coworkers. These work relationships or social connections are incredibly important to employee well-being and it’s important for employers to understand the importance of social connections in the workplace.

Social Connections in the Workplace

The importance of these relationships can directly affect an employee’s stress level or happiness at their office. These interactions can have a negative impact on the employees work performance and health, if these are negative experiences, as not many are able to work as diligently when faced with high levels of stress. According to the Mayo Clinic, stress can have negative effects to your body, mood, and behavior. The effects range from headache and are as serious as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

Strong Social Connections Can Lead to Healthier Workplace

Employers who help support social connections in the workplace build a stronger and more cohesive work environment, which leads to a more successful workforce. Employees with strong social connections are typically healthier, according to the Mayo Clinic. The benefits of these connections:

  • Increase your sense of belonging and purpose
  • Boost your happiness and reduce your stress
  • Improve your self-confidence and self-worth
  • Help you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one
  • Encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise
Workplace Collaboration, Communication & Social Connections

It’s rare that employees go into work seeking to make friends or establish relationships with their coworkers because it can be difficult to find ways to relate to a coworker on a personal level that endears you to them. That is why it’s important that the employer promotes a workplace culture that encourages collaboration, communication and social interaction between employees. This helps foster a work environment that supports trust, a sense of belonging, respect and camaraderie amongst employees.

Some ways employers can look to help promote this initiative are:

  • Team building exercises: These activities should be fun and a way for workers to relax. Activities such as office trivia, escape room or even field trips (they’re not just for kids) is a great way to help build connections.
  • Team wellness challenges: While staying healthy is an individual aspect, many struggle with it because of lack of motivation. Creating a team walking or step challenge is a great way to help encourage social interactions and create a since of belonging.
  • Team meals: The easiest way to establish connections is to break bread together. Employers can host weekly or monthly team meal to help social engagement.
  • Open office areas: Depending on the size of a company, it’s easy to for employees in different departments to have no knowledge of one another. An open office area, or taking time out to introduce teammates from different departments a chance at social interaction that they otherwise wouldn’t have.
Summary

Strong social connections improve happiness and physical health, which can translate into better work performance. Just as important as an employer’s wellness offerings are is their fostering of a culture that supports social well-being among employees.

For team wellness challenge ideas, check out MoveSpring by Stridekick! Fun, easy-to-use health platform for companies and organizations. Connect any activity tracking device and get moving as a group!

Managing Obesity In the Workplace

Obesity is one of the most common diseases affecting the American workplace today. It’s also one that employers are starting to take a deeper look into to try and curb because of the money lost in productivity.

Productivity Loss Due to Obesity

Full-time workers who are overweight or obese and have chronic health problems miss about 450 million more days of work each year than healthy workers. The result is an estimated cost of more than $150 billion in lost productivity each year. According to a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Americans spend up to half their waking life sitting.

More than one-third of U.S. adults have obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC defines obesity as weight that is higher than what is considered as a healthy weight for a given height is described as overweight or obese. The disease increases the risk of numerous health and safety risks, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis and some cancers.

Contributors to the Growth in Obesity

Diet, lifestyle and genetics all play a role in the disease. According to a recently released guidance statement from the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the workplace has become a contributor to the growth in obesity because of the conversion of the American workforce from mostly manual labor to desk jobs. Because of the decline in manual labor, that has resulted in a decrease in more than 100 calories in both men and women with expending energy while at work during the day. Furthermore, sitting time at work is associated with higher BMI (Body Mass Index).

Employers Managing Employee Obesity

With most people spending most of their day at work, the responsibility for managing obesity among the working population has become that of the employers. The health of employees is critical to a company’s overall productivity and retention of talent.

Some of the preventative measures a company can take in preventing and helping treat obesity in their workplace:

  • Offer regular health screenings for employees.
  • Provide memberships or discounts to health/fitness clubs.
  • Present wellness classes on nutrition, exercise and weight management.
  • Offer healthy choices in cafeteria and/or vending machines
  • Ensure access to safe walking area for employees/encourage employees to use the stairways.
  • Provide healthier food at meetings and other employee events.

Some of the treatment options listed by the guidance statement are:

  • Implementation of a workplace wellness program that provides opportunities to aid employees in adopting healthy lifestyles.
  • Offer behavioral counseling to employees.
  • Offer coverage/access to bariatric surgery to individuals with a BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2.

To learn more about a workplace wellness solution, check out MoveSpring, a fun and easy to use health platform for companies and organizations .

Retrofit Named to List of Best and Brightest in Wellness

Promoting Health in the Workplace

Illinois-based wellness company, Retrofit, was recognized for promoting health in the workplace and community by being named to the nation’s list of Best and Brightest Companies and overall and Best and Brightest Companies in Wellness® by the National Association for Business Resources.

Retrofit Transforming Lives

Retrofit is a personalized, holistic weight-management and disease-prevention solution that is geared towards transforming lives and workplaces by improving health, happiness and performance. They deliver personalized attention of coaches, combined with live interactive classes, self-monitoring technology to encourage healthy behaviors and social support from expert-led community groups.

The Best and Brightest in WellnessTM is an awards competition that provides companies the opportunity to gain recognition and showcase their offerings in wellness.

Conclusion

Employees at Retrofit benefit from health perks such as access to the company’s weight-management and disease-prevention programs. There is also time-off to volunteer, flexible work schedules the option to work from home, unlimited paid time off, walking meetings, treadmill desks and exercise breaks during all company meetings.

The company has also been named a Great Place to Work, one of the 20 Best Workplaces in Health Care, one of Illinois Healthiest Employers and a Best Workplace for Women.

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.