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Workplace Well-being Technology - What the Research Says

Designing a comprehensive workplace well-being program can be complicated. There are many aspects to consider as you make decisions surrounding which tools and resources your program will provide. Today, most employee well-being programs utilize some type of technology for program administration and management. But selecting this technology can be a daunting task.

Expert Interview: Tom Ciccotti

Tom Ciccotti is the co-founder and Executive Vice President of Shortlister. Shortlister is a technology platform and team of subject matter experts used by the nation’s top employers and benefits consultants to help them identify their ideal vendor match for products and services in the wellness and HR technology space. Think e-Harmony or Match.com for finding vendors in these markets.

What's Hot and What's Not. Workplace Well-being Trends You Need to Know About

 

Keeping up with trends that impact employee wellness and well-being programs can feel like a full-time job. There are numerous dimensions from which well-being is viewed, thereby requiring that a wide range of topics need to be considered.

Expert Interview: Jamie Tessler, MS, MPH

Jamie Tessler is an occupational ergonomist, lecturer, and educator. She is an adjunct professor at the Tufts University School of Medicine, where she teaches occupational and environmental health to students in the public health and professional degree programs. At Northeastern University, Jamie is busy working to modernize and upgrade the occupational and environmental health and safety training programs and platforms. She is a frequent guest lecturer on occupational ergonomics in area schools of public health.

Not your father's ergonomics!

 

When you think of ergonomics, what comes to mind? Posture, a customized chair, a hand rest for your mouse pad? Most people think of ergonomics as supports, similar to these, for the physical body.

Expert Interview: Barbara Zabawa, MPH, JD

Barbara Zabawa, MPH, JD started the Center for Health and Wellness Law after she recognized a need for legal services that shared a mission with providers to improve patient outcomes and population health to encourage wellness, protect patient interests, in choice of provider and treatment options, provide holistic care, and information access. Attorney Zabawa has twenty plus years of expertise in the healthcare field, first receiving her Master’s in Public Health from the University of Michigan before attending law school at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where she graduated with honors in 2001. Barbara has clerked in the United States District Court in the western district of Wisconsin, served as a Skadden Fellow representing health care consumers on both the national and local level, and worked for a large health insurance company providing advice on the Affordable Care Act, as well as HIPPA, privacy, and security compliance.

Barbara is the author of the book Rule the Rules on Workplace Wellbeing Programs. She is a frequent speaker and writer, both nationally and regionally on workplace wellness program compliance, the Affordable Care Act, fraud and abuse issues, and HIPPA compliance.

Workplace Well-being and the Law - Is your program up-to-date?

 

Expert Interview: Michelle Spehr (Part 2)

videoMichelle Spehr, MA, M.Ed., MCHES, CWWPC is the co-founder and Chief Framework Officer of the Mindful City Project. With more than a decade of consulting experience, her contributions to this initiative, include developing frameworks that strengthen the capacity of communities to apply mindfulness in ways that positively change mindsets and reinvent how people connect and work together. Michelle also works as a health and wellness consultant at the Benefit Services Group, Inc. In this role, she helps employers identify and apply creative solutions that address well-being at both the employee and the organizational levels. Michelle earned her Master’s degree in both Communications and Health Education. Her professional credentials include certifications as a masters-level health educations specialist in worksite wellness consultant and a faculty designation from WELCOA.

Coming to Your Workplace Soon: Mindfulness

 

Expert Interview: Michelle Spehr (Part 1)

Michelle Spehr, MA, M.Ed., MCHES, CWWPC is the co-founder and Chief Framework Officer of the Mindful City Project. With more than a decade of consulting experience, her contributions to this initiative, include developing frameworks that strengthen the capacity of communities to apply mindfulness in ways that positively change mindsets and reinvent how people connect and work together. Michelle also works as a health and wellness consultant at the Benefit Services Group, Inc. In this role, she helps employers identify and apply creative solutions that address well-being at both the employee and the organizational levels. Michelle earned her Master’s degree in both Communications and Health Education. Her professional credentials include certifications as a masters-level health educations specialist in worksite wellness consultant and a faculty designation from WELCOA.

Focus: An Essential Leadership Skill

 

Expert Interview: Sara Johnson, Ph.D. (Part 2)

Sara Johnson, Ph.D. , as Co-president and CEO, leads the Business Development and Strategy Initiatives for Pro-Change Behavior Systems. Sara brings to her role over twenty years of experience in developing behavior change solutions in a variety of domains, including weight management, smoking cessation, medication adherence, and medical education. She has been the principal investigator on over $6 million dollars of research in National Institute of Health grants to examine the effectiveness of trans-theoretical model-based interventions. She is currently leading new research initiative to integrate individual and culture-level interventions to enhance well-being, increase engagement with evidence-based mobile apps that promote behavior change, and to develop interventions for pain self-management, sleep, and financial well-being.

Healthy Behaviors Start with Workplace Culture

 

Expert Interview: Sara Johnson, Ph.D. (Part 1)

Sara Johnson, Ph.D. , as Co-president and CEO, leads the Business Development and Strategy Initiatives for Pro-Change Behavior Systems. Sara brings to her role over twenty years of experience in developing behavior change solutions in a variety of domains, including weight management, smoking cessation, medication adherence, and medical education. She has been the principal investigator on over $6 million dollars of research in National Institute of Health grants to examine the effectiveness of trans-theoretical model-based interventions. She is currently leading new research initiative to integrate individual and culture-level interventions to enhance well-being, increase engagement with evidence-based mobile apps that promote behavior change, and to develop interventions for pain self-management, sleep, and financial well-being.

Why is behavior change so hard?

 

Is your workplace well-being program built to last?

 Is your workplace well-being program built to last? Will it sustain changes in leadership or program management, budget cuts, and changing employee interests?

Does your employee well-being program have a brand?

 We’ve often heard the ‘quote’ if you build it they will come. But when it comes to well-being programs, you have to do more than just build a program.

Expert Interview: Brian Passon

Brian takes great joy in being constructively disruptive, and helping people in organizations think and act in ways that facilitate their success and see what really is possible. Brian speaks and consults with people and organizations to inspire more meaningful, strategic, and joyful employee experiences. He believes that to change the culture of a workplace, we must focus on long-term objectives and that are supported with the right infusion of strategy, science, creativity, and “edu-tainment.” Along with being a co-founder and facilitator of Wellness Underground, Brian has also started and led several networking groups across the U.S. around employee health and productivity, and has facilitated the technology start up Quantified Habits.

What would your employees say about their employee experience?

 

Expert Interview: Rosemary Froehlich

Rosemary Froehlich spent over 15 years in Corporate Human Resources and a decade in marketing and advertising.  As the person responsible for running the company’s wellness program, she knew which communications got attention, which newsletters and webinars attracted subscribers and attendees, and which special reports she forwarded to senior management. In this video Rosemary talks about the the importance of communications to the success of workplace wellbeing. In this video we answer the questions: 1. Elements of effective wellness program communications 2. Why it is important to create a brand for your wellness program, 3. Common mistakes in wellness program communications.

The secret to increasing employee wellbeing program participation

Senior leaders want to know that the money being spent on employee wellbeing programs is having impact. A key metric in evaluating and measuring program impact is employee participation. All too often I hear from human resource and wellbeing professionals about the low levels of participation in their programs. This is a concern, especially when having to justify the reach of their initiative to senior leaders.

Top Three Workplace Wellbeing Articles - Week of June 8, 2018

Each week I read a number of workplace wellbeing articles from various online resources. Here are my top three picks from this week on our theme of resilience. I have added my comments about each article and would like to hear what you think too.

Top Three Workplace Wellbeing Articles - Week of May 28, 2018

Each week I read a number of workplace wellbeing articles from various online resources. Here are my top three picks from this week on our theme of communications. I have added my comments about each article and would like to hear what you think too.

Top Three Workplace Wellbeing Articles - Week of May 21, 2018

Each week I read a number of workplace wellbeing articles from various online resources. Here are my top three picks from this week. I have added my comments about each article and would like to hear what you think too.

This week's theme is retention and wellbeing. See my blog, Do Your Employees Love Their Jobs. Don't miss my expert interview with Linda St. John, Founder and Principal of LSJ Leadership Coaching and an employee retention expert

Expert Interview: Linda StJohn

Linda St. John is Founder and Principal of LSJ Leadership Coaching, a Worcester, MA firm that specializes in employee retention. Linda’s work focuses on developing and implementing talent management initiatives, such as onboarding, mentoring, and coaching all with a focus on helping client companies hire and keep the right people.

Do your employees love their job?

I recently asked the question “Do You Love Your Job”? In the nearly 1,000 likes and 72 comments on my article, the overwhelming response was YES people love their jobs. For employers it is a constant challenge to create an environment where employees are happy, love their jobs, and want to stay.

Top Three Workplace Wellbeing Articles - Week of May 14, 2018

Each week I read a number of workplace wellbeing articles from various online resources. Here are my top three picks from this week. I have added my comments about each article and would like to hear what you think too.

This week's theme is women's health in celebration of Women's Health Week. See my blog, Women's Health Why Employers Should Care. Don't miss my expert interview with Mache Seibel, MDone of America’s leading voices on women’s wellness and menopause. 

Expert Interview: Dr. Mache Seibel, MD

Dr. Mache Seibel helps women in and around menopause figure it out so they don’t have to tough it out. Dr. Seibel is one of America’s leading voices on women’s wellness and menopause. He is a highly sought-after health communicator and keynote speaker, who combines health information with original music, humor and stories that emotionally capture the audience and holds their attention, while the medicine goes down.

Women’s Health: Why Employers Should Care

As we celebrate Mother’s Day in the US, it’s also a good time to think about women’s health. Today women make up 47% of the US workforce. That amounts to 74.6 million women in the civilian workforce. There is good news and bad news with regard to women’s health. Women are more likely to seek medical care than men, yet women’s health care is more costly. 

Top Three Workplace Wellbeing Articles - Week of May 7, 2018

Each week I read a number of workplace wellbeing articles from various online resources. Here are my top three picks from this week. I have added my comments about each article and would like to hear what you think too.

This week's theme is gratitude and discovering purpose at work. Don't miss my expert interview with Star Dargin,  CEO of Star Leadership, LLC and author of the new book, Leading with Gratitude.

Expert Interview: Star Dargin

Star Dargin is the CEO of Star Leadership, LLC. In her roles as speaker, teacher, facilitator, consultant, and coach, Star and her associates have worked with many leaders, executives, managers, and business owners in all phases of their personal, professional, and organizational growth. In this interview she shares her expertise in the science of gratitude and its application in the workplace. 

Gratitude: A Leadership Standard of Excellence

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
G.K. Chesterton

Top Three Workplace Wellbeing Articles - Week of April 30, 2018

Each week I read a number of workplace wellbeing articles from various online resources. Here are my top three picks from this week. I have added my comments about each article and would like to hear what you think too.

This week's theme is happiness at work. Don't miss my expert interview with Silvia GarciaCEO and Founder of Feel Logic and HappiestPlacestoWork.org.

Expert Interview: Silvia Garcia

Silvia Garcia is the CEO and Founder of Feel Logic and HappiestPlacestoWork.org, and former Director of the Coca-Cola Happiness Insitute. Her work focuses on helping organizations get a competitive advantage by helping employees thrive. Through Silvia's expertise, we gain a better understanding not only of what true happiness is, but what employers can to do support employee happiness in the workplace.

The Secrets to Happiness at Work

Are you happy at work? Happiness in the workplace has been a topic of interest for several years, and with good reason. With reports of low levels of engaged employees and employee turnover at the highest rate in years, employers need to keep employee happiness on the radar. Happiness in the workplace links not only to engagement and retention, but also to attracting the right talent to the organization.

Top Three Workplace Wellbeing Articles - Week of April 23, 2018

Each week I read a number of workplace wellbeing articles from various online resources. Here are my top three picks from this week. I have added my comments about each article and would like to hear what you think too.

This week's theme is connection and belonging at work. Don't miss my blog about the importance of stepping away from your desk to connect at work, and an expert interview with Sara Mann, a Connector-in-Chief.

Expert Interview: Sarah Mann

Sarah Mann is the Principal and Connector in Chief of Spark HR Solutionswhich provides practical and strategic HR solutions to business challenges, enabling organizations to leverage their talent and meet objectives.

Step Away From The Desk and Connect

Have you ever eaten lunch at your desk? If you are like many people, this may be a daily occurrence. Perhaps you feel pressured to keep working, or you want to work through lunch so that you can head out early to beat the traffic.

Top Three Workplace Wellbeing Articles - Week of April 16, 2018

Each week I read a number of workplace wellbeing articles from various online resources. Here are my top three picks from this week. I have added my comments about each article and would like to hear what you think too.

This week's theme is employee engagement. Don't miss my blog about my visit to Zappos and an expert interview with Janet Swaysland, employee engagement expert.

Expert Interview: Janet Swaysland

Janet Swaysland of Bluefire Partners works with leaders and teams to understand what's working and what's in the way; create new structures and frameworks for more effective communication; devise creative approaches to content and channels; and help internal teams up their game and gain new influence across the organization. In this expert interview we discuss how to spot employees who are genuinely engaged workers. We also explore when an employee is motivated, what are they connected to that motivates them? Most importantly, we talk about the business impact of an engaged workforce.


The Secret to Employee Engagement: My Tour of Zappos

For the past several years, the business world and particularly the HR world has been focused on the concept of employee engagement. Way back in 2013, Gallup reported that only 13% of employees worldwide were engaged. The good news is that more recent reports indicate a higher percentage of workers engaged – 32% in the US. Since then, the race has been to find the secret to increasing employee engagement.

Top Three Workplace Wellbeing Articles - Week of April 9, 2018

Each week I read a number of workplace wellbeing articles from various online resources. Here are my top three picks from this week. I have added my comments about each article and would like to hear what you think too.

The Business Imperative of Well-Being

We hear about health care all the time. It represents 18% of GDP. Yet, what we're not hearing about is a change from the model we use here in the United States, which is an employer funded model. For now, it's here to stay. We also know that businesses profit from healthy employees. So what can you do in your organization to bring well-being to the forefront and make the connection between well-being and profitability?

Do your leaders understand the business imperative of wellbeing?

I’d like you to think back to your first job. Your first corporate job. What was that job like? I was a clerk, coding premium payments at a life insurance company in Hartford, Connecticut. It wasn’t a very intellectually challenging or stimulating job, but I quickly learned there was something that was really special about this place that I was working. 

Expert Interview: Brian Luke Seaward

Brian Luke Seaward is a renowned nationally and internationally as an expert in the field of stress management, mind/body/spirit healing and corporate health promotion. We know stress permeates our workplace culture in negatively impactful ways. This interview explores how we define wellbeing in relationship to stress, what causes stress, and what we can do to address its effect in the workplace. 


Why are your employees so stressed?

It seems everyone I speak with these days is talking about his or her stress. In 2011, stress was described as the “21st century equivalent of the Black Death” For context on this, the Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history. It resulted in as many as 200 million deaths in Eurasia and Europe from 1347 to 1351. In 2016, the World Health Organization described stress as the “Health Epidemic of the 21st Century” and is estimated to cost American businesses up to $500 billion a year.

Top Three Workplace Wellbeing Articles - Week of March 26, 2018

Each week I read a number of workplace wellbeing articles from various online resources. Here are my top three picks from this week. I have added my comments about each article and would like to hear what you think too.

In our social media postings this week, we focused on wellbeing as a talent management strategy. Don't miss our blog and video on this topic.

Wellbeing as a Talent Management Strategy: Video

Not long ago, I had a conversation with a Chief Human Resource Officer, and here’s what she said to me: “Wellbeing is the cornerstone of our talent management strategy.”

I looked at her and said, "Wow, that’s a really strong statement. I’m curious, can you tell me a little bit more about why wellbeing is so important for your talent management strategy?"

Wellbeing is the New Talent Management Strategy - And It Works. 

Not long ago, I had a conversation with a Chief Human Resource Officer, and here’s what she said to me: “Wellbeing is the cornerstone of our talent management strategy.”

Top Three Workplace Wellbeing Articles - Week of March 19, 2018

Each week I read a number of workplace wellbeing articles from various online resources. Here are my top three picks from this week. I have added my comments about each article and would like to hear what you think too.

Expert Interview: Leigh Stringer

The focus of wellness programs used to be on reducing health risks, with the goal of reducing health care costs. Now we understand that the financial benefits of employee wellbeing are most impactful on a company's bottom line. No one knows this better than Workplace Researcher and Strategist, Leigh Stringer, of EYP Inc. In this interview, Leigh details the research and strategies used by top companies to compete for the top line as well as the bottom line through the use of employee wellbeing.

The Bottom Line: Do Employee Wellbeing Initiatives Impact Profits?

Top Three Workplace Wellbeing Articles - Week of March 12th, 2018

Each week I read a number of workplace wellbeing articles from various online resources. Here are my top three picks from this week. I have added my comments about each article and would like to hear what you think too.

Don't miss this blog from earlier this week "Is employee financial wellbeing your business?". Also, don't miss this week's Expert Interview with Lora Fickett, CPA.

Expert Interview: Lora Fickett

Financial wellbeing is an important dimension of our overall wellbeing. In this interview with Lora Fickett, CPA, we explore how financial wellbeing causes stress for employees and the role employers can play in supporting employee wellbeing from the financial perspective.

Is Employee Financial Wellbeing Your Business?

When you think about financial wellbeing. What comes to mind? Does it mean having money in savings, paying your bills on time, having an investment or retirement plan? Are you one of those people who wait until April 14th to think about tax filing? Financial wellbeing really means different things to different people. Your employees are likely all at different places in terms of the approach they take to managing money.

Top Three Wellbeing Articles - Week of March 5th, 2018

Each week I read a number of wellbeing articles from various online resources. Here are my top three picks from this week. I have added my comments about each article and would like to hear what you think too.

Don't miss this blog from earlier this week "Who needs a wellness strategy: successful businesses that's who".

Wellbeing Program Expert Tips: Strategy

Every successful business has a well-thought out strategy. Wellbeing initiatives are no exception. To be successful, every business needs to have a strategy for the goals they want to achieve, and this includes employee wellness.

Who needs a wellness strategy? Successful businesses, that's who. 

When I first came to the field of workplace wellness over a decade ago, I came from a business background. I noticed there was very little written about, or well-adopted practices, on planning wellness programs. Every successful business has a well-thought out strategy. By definition, strategy is a high-level plan to achieve one or more goals under conditions of uncertainty. A wellbeing program certainly falls under the category of "conditions of uncertainty," health and wellbeing is an ever-moving target. To be successful, every business needs to have a strategy for the goals they want to achieve, and that includes employee wellbeing.

Top Three Wellbeing Articles - Week of February 26, 2018

Each week I read a number of wellbeing articles from various online resources. Here are my top three picks from this week. I have added my comments about each article and would like to hear what you think too.

This week in our blog postings and social media we focused on a theme of social connections in the workplace. Don't miss this blog "A Surprising Key to Improve Employee Communications: Let's Go Bowling" or this Expert Interview with Nettie Nitzberg of West 5 Consulting.

Expert Interview: Nettie Nitzberg

In this expert interview with Nettie Nitzberg, of West 5 Consulting, we explore the topic of employee resource groups (ERG) and how they foster connection in the workplace.

A Surprising Key to Improve Employee Communication: Go Bowling!

I have fond childhood memories of bowling. It was a fun thing to do on a cold, wintry weekend. In New England, we have candlepin bowling, so regardless of age or skill level you could still participate and still have fun.

Top Three Wellbeing Articles - Week of February 19th, 2018

Each week I read a number of wellbeing articles from various online resources. Here are my top three picks from this week. I have added my comments about each article and would like to hear what you think too.

This week in our blog postings and social media we focused on a theme of the role managers play in supporting wellbeing. Don't miss this blog "Middle Managers: Wellbeing's Biggest Supporters or Greatest Threat?" or this Expert Interview with Laura Putnam of Motion Infusion.

Expert Interview: Laura Putnam

In the Workplace Wellbeing Essentials Expert Series interview, my guest is Laura Putnam. In this conversation, we explore the role that managers play in supporting wellbeing in the workplace.

Middle Managers: Wellbeing's Biggest Supporters or Greatest Threat?

Top Three Wellbeing Articles - Week of February 12th, 2018

Each week I read a number of wellbeing articles from various online resources. Here are my top three picks from this week. I have added my comments about each article and would like to hear what you think too.

This week we focused on a theme of support for employees in the form of Employee Assistance Programs. Don't miss this blog "What motivates an employer to offer an EAP?" or this Expert Interview with Kathy Greer of KGA.

Workplace Wellbeing Evaluation

In my experience in managing workplace wellbeing initiatives and consulting to clients with existing programs, I often see that evaluating wellbeing initiatives is often overlooked.

 

Why you might ask, is it often overlooked? Many organizations just don’t take the time to make a plan for it or evaluation is added as an afterthought.

 

When we talk about an evaluation plan, we are referring to a systematic way that you are going to measure the results of your initiative. So why do you want to evaluate? The easiest answer is because you want to know if your worksite wellness initiative is working. Or even better, because you want to know if the initiative is efficient, effective, and has impact.

 

There are two approaches you can use to evaluating your programs: Process Measures and Outcome Measures.

 

Process measures examine the steps taken and activities required for implementation.

  • These measures include things such as participation, the response to activities and feelings that participants have about the program. Do employees like the way it is being delivered? Is the time of day convenient? Do they like the format? .

Outcome measures include changes to health risks, biometric measurements healthcare costs and productivity.

  • Examples include changes to individual health status indicators such as blood pressure, Body mass index, or they can be measured in terms of organizational data such as Short Term Disability. Absenteeism, changes in workplace policies, or medical costs.

 

Evaluation needs to be built in along the way as you are implementing your programs. This is very helpful to have information on what is working, what is not working, and what needs to be changed. Then you can make mid course corrections to ensure high participation rates and overall program success.

Expert Interview: Kathy Greer

In this expert interview with Kathy Greer of KGA, Inc., we talk about employee assistance programs and the benefits they provide to both employees and employers.

What motivates an employer to offer an EAP?

Top Three Wellbeing Articles - Week of February 5th, 2018

Each week I read a number of wellbeing articles from various online resources. Here are my top three picks from this week. I have added my comments about each article and would like to hear what you think too.

This week we focused on a theme of mindfulness in the workplace. Don't miss this blog "How to Influence Innovative Thinking and Motivate People: A Culture of Mindfulness" or this Expert Interview with Tara Healey of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.

Expert Interview: Tara Healey

Is mindfulness in the workplace just a passing fad? Why is it becoming so popular? Why now? In this expert interview with Tara Healey of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, we explore why mindfulness is here to stay.

How to Influence Innovative Thinking and Motivate People: A Culture of Mindfulness

Top Three Wellbeing Articles - Week of January 29th, 2018

Each week I read a number of wellbeing articles from various online resources. Here are my top three picks from this week. I have added my comments about each article and would like to hear what you think too.

This week we focused on a theme of creativity in the workplace. Don't miss this blog "Fostering Creative Minds: Does Your Office Culture Kill Creativity at Work" or this Expert Interview with Rochelle Seltzer.

Expert Interview: Rochelle Seltzer

Does your workplace foster creativity? Do you feel most creative when you are at work? What does creativity have to do with wellbeing? In this expert interview with Rochelle Seltzer, we explore aspects of creativity at work. And don't miss our blog Fostering Creative Minds: Does Your Office Culture Kill Creativity at Work?

 

Fostering Creative Minds: Does Your Office Culture Kill Creativity at Work?

When you think about creativity at work. What comes to mind? Developing new and innovative products that meet some previously unmet need. New ideas. Taking risks.

Top Three Wellbeing Articles - Week of January 22nd, 2018

Each week I read a number of wellbeing articles from various online resources. Here are my top three picks from this week. I have added my comments about each article and would like to hear what you think too.

This week we focused on a theme of healthy eating in the workplace. Don't miss this blog 'Nourish or Nosh: Food at Work .' or this video interview with Leslee McGovern, RD, LDN.

Expert Interview: Leslee McGovern

It would be hard to get through a workday without food. Food can be a part of the culture in a workplace. But how healthy is the food in your workplace? In this expert interview, Leslee McGovern, MS, RD, LDCN, CWPM discusses nutrtion in the workplace and how organizations can serve as a role model by offering healthy choices.  You can also read our previous blog on food at work here.

 

Nourish or Nosh? Food at Work.

Food is essential for life. Food is comfort. Food is love. Food is social. Food is cultural. Food is many things to many people. At work, food comes in many shapes and forms. In a previous blog, we noted that food plays many roles at work and can be deeply embedded in the organization’s culture. It is used to recognize and reward employees (company breakfasts), foster socialization and interaction between employees (ice cream socials), provide convenient sources of energy (vending machine) or it can be a perk (free snacks).

Top Three Wellbeing Articles - Week of January 15th, 2018

Each week I read a number of wellbeing articles from various online resources. Here are my top three picks from this week. I have added my comments about each article and would like to hear what you think too.

This week we focused on a theme of leading wellbeing. Don't miss this blog 'If you don't care, it doesn' happen: leading wellbeing.' or this video interview with Renee Moorefield, PhD, CEO of Wisdom Works.

Expert Interview: Renee Moorefield, PhD, MCC

The role of leadership in wellbeing initiatives is important. What does it mean for a CEO or manager to lead wellbeing? In this expert interview, Renee Moorefield, PhD, CEO/Founder of Wisdom Works, talks about the role leaders play in wellbeing in the workplace and how organizations are viewing wellbeing.  You can also read our previous blogs on leading wellbeing here.

If You Don't Care, It Doesn't Happen: Leading Wellbeing

Early on in my career in the field of worksite wellness, I learned that one of recognized best practices for a wellness initiative is to have senior leadership support. In the years that followed, as I worked with a variety of clients, it became clear quickly that without the support of senior leadership, the commitment to the wellness initiative was just not a reality.

Top Three Wellbeing Articles - Week of January 8th, 2018

Each week I read a number of wellbeing articles from various online resources. Here are my top three picks from this week. I have added my comments about each article and would like to hear what you think too.

This week we focused on a theme of healthy workplaces from the built environment perspective. Don't miss this blog 'Creating a well workplace: why the built environment matters' or this video interview with Delos Senior VP Whitney Gray, PhD, LEED AP.

Expert Interview: Whitney Gray, PhD, LEED AP

The environment in which we live and work shapes our wellbeing and influences our health. In this expert interview, Whitney Gray, PhD, LEED AP, Senior Vice President of Delos, talks about the ways in which the built environment impact our health. You can also read our previous blogs on this topic here and here.

Creating a well workplace: Why the built environment matters.

Top Three Wellbeing Articles - Week of January 1, 2018

Each week I read a number of wellbeing articles from various online resources. Here are my top three picks from this week. I have added my comments about each article and would like to hear what you think too.

Top Three Wellbeing Articles - Week of December 25th 2017

Each week I read a number of wellbeing articles from various online resources. Here are my top three picks from this week. I have added my comments about each article and would like to hear what you think too.

Top Three Wellbeing Articles - Week of December 11th 2017

Each week I read a number of wellbeing articles from various online resources. Here are my top three picks from this week. I have added my comments about each article and would like to hear what you think too.

Top Three Wellbeing Articles - Week of December 4th 2017

Each week I read a number of wellbeing articles from various online resources. Here are my top three picks from this week. I have added my comments about each article and would like to hear what you think too.

Top Three Wellbeing Articles - Week of November 27th

Each week I read a number of wellbeing articles from various online resources. Here are my top three picks from this week. I have added my comments about each article and would like to hear what you think too.

Is your workplace building making you sick?

Vacation: Good for Employees and Good for Business

As the temperatures begin to rise and daylight extends later into the evening hours, it is easy to think about summer plans and vacation time. Yet, it appears that this is not on everyone’s mind. According to Project: Time Off, 55% of American employees left vacation time unused in 2015, leaving an astounding 658 million days unused. Only 47% of employees will use all their vacation time.

Free to Roam: The Flexible Workplace

When I decided to start my own business after years of working in a corporate setting, I was looking forward to the flexibility that it offered. I would get to choose how I spent my time and what my day looked like, and where I did that work. Increasingly employees are asking for more flexibility in their workdays. They are asking for flexibility in when they work, where they work and how they work. Inherently as humans, we want to have choice. Autonomy is one of the key motivators that drives people to do their best and most productive work. Today, flexibility in the workplace is essential to attract and retain your workforce.

Don’t Put a Band-Aid on a Bullet Wound: Root Causes of Employee Stress


Not long ago, I had a conversation with a Human Resource professional that went something like this. “For the past five years, on our employee engagement surveys there is a clear message about the stress in the workplace.” In that survey, employees were asked questions such as:
  • Choose the adjectives that best describes the culture of the organization
  • People who are successful in the organization (choice of options)

Is there an app for that? Not exactly…

As the Champion for our Wellbeing initiative, Advancing Our Own Wellness, I recently reviewed the aggregate data for our annual personal health assessment.

In our action plans we like to use the latest technology, testing it before we recommend new programs to our clients. For most any program we think, "Surely, there's an app for that!" But this time we weren't so sure...

Workplace Well-being Trends 2017


We’re off and running in 2017. As we work with our clients partnering for healthier workplaces, we see changes afoot. Here is our take on what we see happening in healthy workplaces in 2017.

From Distracted to Driven


I feel like I am sliding into home plate as I settled into my chair. The meeting has already begun. I am rushing from my last meeting with barely time to take a bio break. I need a moment to switch gears, to get my thoughts prepared for the conversation for which I am physically present but not quite “in the room” yet.

Once I catch my breath, and I engage in the conversation, I notice that my mind is wandering. Random thoughts are running through my head. Did I remember to mail the mortgage payment? What time am I supposed to be at the event this evening? I feel the urge to reach for my cell phone. I’m finding I’m distracted by these thoughts and lose track of the conversation.

Three Ways You’re Doing Worksite Wellness Wrong (And How to Get It Right!)


 

Most wellness programs are designed while looking through the lens of money. Who are the most expensive employees? What can we do to change those employees so they will cost less? What you get when this is your focus is policies that charge overweight, tobacco-using employees more money for health insurance than their slender, healthier counterparts and all but forces these individuals into programs that they may or may not be ready for or even interested in participating in.

These are the wellness programs where very little changes in overall employee health and the money you were hoping to save goes down the drain along with the additional cost of your failing wellness program.

 

AdvancingWellness CEO Honored by CDC


AdvancingWellness CEO Mari Ryan Recognized at Inaugural Work@Health® Conference:

ATLANTA, GA. On Friday, September 23rd, AdvancingWellness CEO, Mari Ryan, received the Outstanding Master Trainer award during the inaugural Work@Health® Conference co-hosted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and ASHLIN Management Group.

Celebrating the Launch of Working on Wellness

AdvancingWellness is pleased to celebrate the launch of the Working on Wellness program.
Last week we welcomed the first group of Massachusetts employers in to the program.
Working on Wellness is Massachusetts' newest initiative to support employers implementing comprehensive, evidence-based worksite wellness initiatives. The program specifically aims to reach businesses or organizations that are smaller, have low-wage workers, and do not have the internal capacity to implement a comprehensive wellness program.

Workplace Wellness: The indisputable, the debatable and where we go from here

Every HR professional has a full plate of responsibilities - and
workplace wellness has become a standard item on the menu. Especially in light of the Supreme Court's recent ruling to uphold the Affordable Care Act, it is likely that workplace wellness is here to stay.  Meanwhile, workplace wellness is a field that has more questions than answers, and HR professionals are often left trying to sort out the pieces.

The Secret to Outstanding Business Performance

Every senior business leader is on the continual search for the Holy Grail that will help improve performance of his/her business. The highway to business success is littered with the remnants of many fads that were thought to be that Holy Grail: management by objectives, total quality management, Theory Z, and many more. With each passing decade, there is a new approach that comes completely outfitted with jargon, consultants, and certifications. Whether these really work is the question. And do they produce long lasting business performance?

New Massachusetts Worksite Wellness Program

Invest in your company by investing in your employees’ health and well-being!

Four Tips for Being A Better Health Advocate

A scan of Steven Keating’s brain eight years ago revealed a slight abnormality — nothing to worry about, he was told, but worth monitoring. And monitor he did, reading and studying about brain structure, function and wayward cells, and obtaining a follow-up scan in 2010, which showed no trouble.

Coping Mechanisms: When You’re Stressed What Works for You

As a worksite wellness health coach, part of my job is working one-on-one with tobacco users. Over the years, my clients and I have had a lot of good laughs together over the question, “Don’t you realize that smoking is bad for you?” Most of them have had this question posed to them hundreds of times by friends, family, and complete strangers. As they point out, “Of course I know smoking is bad for me. I would have to literally live under a rock to not know that smoking increases your risk for cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc. Lack of knowledge is not why I am still smoking.”

When you ask them why they still smoke despite their

Love your job?

Do you love your job? How do you think your employees would respond if you asked that question?

Is US Missing Out on Reasons Worksite Wellness is Good for Business?

By Valorie Bender, CWPM

I have been working in the field of corporate health promotion for over five years. During that time I have read studies and listened to expert speakers explain how companies have saved, or may save, on health care costs by implementing a wellness program. I honestly believe, over time, a well executed and comprehensive wellness program can achieve such results. I have also come to believe there are other, perhaps more compelling, reasons to have a wellness program. The rest of world seems to agree. A 2014 survey[i] of over 1,000 companies from around the world, shared why their organizations participate in corporate wellness.

When is Work the Source of Stress

In a recent conversation with a Human Resources Executive,
he asked if my company offers stress management programs as part of a worksite wellness program. I responded yes, and quickly asked his permission to ask a couple of questions. I explained that we often find that stress is a symptom of some underlying issue or issues. Our preference is to not just treat the symptoms but to uncover the true underlying issue. He pondered this for a moment and continued to tell me his story.

Realistic Expectations of a Worksite Well-being Program

As I sat across the table with one of our clients during our
annual review and planning session for their worksite wellbeing (wellness) program, I observed concerned, contemplative faces examining the data before them. One team member looked up and said to me, “I am worried that we haven’t made any significant changes in the BMI category. We’ve been at this for nearly five years and this still hasn’t really changed.” As tough as it was to hear, he was right. The numbers were not budging.  While we had seen changes in other metrics, there had been very little change in the BMI biometric over five years.

When To Give Up On A Worksite Wellness Program

It is not unusual for me to encounter employers who say they want a wellness program. In many cases, they have taken one or two small steps to implement one but they are not getting the results they were hoping for. If your program has fallen flat you may want to take a look at the following items.

AW CEO Mari Ryan Appointed Worksite Wellness Master Instructor

AdvancingWellness is pleased to announce the appointment of CEO Mari Ryan as a Master Instructor by the Chapman Institute. The Chapman Institute is recognized as one of the country’s leading educational programs for worksite wellness professionals. The WellCert program offers practical, experienced-based training and certification resources that promote professional development and establish a research-driven best practice standard for wellness practitioners. “We are delighted to have Mari working with us in this role. She brings a depth of hands-on experience from her years of managing and implementing workplace wellness programs on behalf of AdvancingWellness clients. Her vision and passion as a thought leader in our industry will be extremely valuable to those who participate in the WellCert programs she leads.” said Larry Chapman, founder of the Chapman Institute.

Employee Well-being: If You Can't Measure It, You Can't Manage It

Early in my career, a client taught me “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”.
That lesson stuck with me as I went on to manage a variety of other business operations. When I came to the field of workplace health promotion, I learned about the best practice of program evaluation. Traditionally, this is based on measuring key statistics such as employee participation, changes in health risk status, and change in health care costs.

Worksite Culture of Well-being Made Easy

When my kids would come home from school I would
have a healthy snack waiting for them on the kitchen counter. They always ate what was laid out for them, happily and with no complaints. I am sure if I had a bowl of candy they would have happily consumed that as well. Having the healthy food in reach as they walked in the door is an example of making the healthy choice the easy choice. That is what we are always striving for when creating a healthy culture in the workplace. One of the best ways to do that in the workplace is to take a look at the organizational policies, both formal and informal, that can support or sabotage a worksite well-being. An added bonus - changing or implementing policy can be one of those low hanging fruit items, which often can be easily implemented and low cost.

Worksite Wellness Shouldn’t Focus on Getting Inactive People Active

I am a long distance athlete. If you had told my 20 year old self that my 35 year old self would be a seasoned marathon runner and ironman triathlete I’d have laughed and told you that running wasn’t a sport, running was the thing “real sports” use for punishment. In terms of exercise habits, I was fairly typical of most Americans. I would decide it was time to lose weight, I would make a resolution, I would join a gym, maybe buy some home-gym equipment, and I would exercise three or four times a week for about a month, maybe three if I was really motivated. Then, slowly, I would stop going until, by the six-month mark, I’d abandon my efforts completely. If I couldn’t get my act together enough to exercise regularly in my 20s, when physical activity is supposed to be “easier,” how did I manage to run my first marathon at the age of 30 and, better than that, stick to my exercise routine so well that I actually became a running coach? What changed? The answer is “community.”

Chasing the carrot or eating the carrot

Are wellness program incentives really working?

Workplace Culture: Let's Get Physical

Creating a workplace culture that supports well-being means looking for opportunities to incorporate movement into everyone’s day on a consistent basis. Being physically active is one of the best things you can do to increase your energy level. So how about an energy boost at the start of every meeting at work? A great way to do this is to start every meeting with a few minutes of physical activity.

Workplace Culture: Disease in Vatican City

I’m standing up applauding Pope Francis for his leadership. He has one of the toughest leadership jobs in the world. He’s the chief executive of the smallest country in the world and at the same time the world’s largest Christian religion.

In his first annual Christmas address to the Curia, the equivalent of his senior leadership team, he lambasted them by describing the diseases overtaking their culture. He stated "a church that doesn't try to improve is like a sick body." He specifically categorized these into diseases: “of feeling immortal or indispensable", "pathology of power," “loss of compassion” and “terrorism of gossip”. Ouch! No doubt the members of the Curia are feeling slammed by their senior leader’s public statements about the dysfunction of this team. While airing this in public may not be the best approach to dealing with management issues, perhaps Pope Francis felt that a dramatic move was necessary.

The Power of Purpose

The man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder -- waif, a nothing, a no man. Have a purpose in life, and, having it, throw such strength of mind and muscle into your work as God has given you.

Worksite Culture of Well-being

My first real ‘career’ job was working for a life insurance company in Hartford Connecticut. Given that it was my first job, I didn’t have any base for comparison. I had only worked for very small companies not a large company such as this one, which had 1,800 employees in the home office. There were many amenities in the home office, including a cafeteria, on-site clinic offering free dental screenings, a bowling alley, showers, squash and volleyball courts. Given that I was so young, I figured all big businesses must offer these amenities. I ended up staying at this company for nine years. Had I not relocated to a different state, I might still be working there. It was a “great place to work”, long before this became a standard recognition in the workplace.

Got engaged employees?

A sustainably engaged workforce is essential to business success. AdvancingWellness CEO Mari Ryan recently presented at The Alliance for Business Leadership Fall CEO Summit. The theme for the Summit was Growing Margins, Growing Markets. You can read her blog on employee well-being as a key to sustainably engaged employees and see her slides from the event here.

Is Your Workforce Energized?

Meet ‘Melissa’, after 20 years with the same job and years of struggling with
body image and weight gain, she decided she need to make some changes in her life. She interviewed with a company for a new job.   During the interview process she was pleasantly surprised to learn about the company’s welll-being program. She got the job and felt lucky to be so supported by her new employer. She was inspired by those around her who were excellent role models for making healthy choices. Melissa participated in the company pedometer challenge, then joined the company Weight Watchers program and decided to train for a 5K race. Over the next six months, Melissa lost over forty pounds and exclaims each day she is able to give more on the job and off because she has so much energy.

The Essence of Energy

The Essence of Energy - Well being Series

The world of worksite wellness has traditionally been almost exclusively
about physical health. Are you healthy, are you absent from disease, do you eat right, exercise, etc.? But in the world of wellness, a shift is underway. New research is showing a host of other factors contribute to your overall health and well-being, such as how connected you are to others, your finances, your purpose, your environment and community all play a large role.

Improve your well-being by cultivating strong social connections

How do you cultivate strong, healthy social connections?

I have up and moved to a new city several times over the last fifteen years or so. Most of these moves have been career-driven, but some of them were financial choices, while others sprang from a need to “shake things up.” Each time I made a big move, as exciting as it was to start a new job or a new adventure, one element of starting over I have found particularly difficult and often leaves me feeling down and lonely is saying goodbye to the people I love and having to start anew with making friends.

Well-being - Community

How community connection impacts your well-being

I come from an enormous, Middle-eastern family. Think “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”
and you will get the gist of what it is like to spend time with my relatives. What is different about my family from that fictional movie family is that my family still lives in their small village across the ocean and I was born in the United States, with only my immediate family close by.

How does purpose influence your wellbeing?

What is the first question people often ask when you first meet?
It is usually – “what do you do”? If you are like me, you respond by describing your work. You spend the majority of your waking hours doing something you consider, a career, vocation, occupation or job.  Perhaps a better question is: “How do you feel about what you do?” If you find what you do to be enjoyable and filled with meaning you, are likely to be thriving in the well-being dimension of Purpose.

 

Personally

When you think of your overall well-being, purpose is probably not the first item on your list. Yet research is starting to show this may be the most important of all the elements of well-being. If you don’t spend the majority of your day doing something you enjoy, the odds of having high well-being in other dimensions diminishes rapidly. 

Think about it. Imagine you have a great circle of friends and family, you are secure financially and in good health – but you don’t like what you do each day for work or you have a toxic boss. Chances are, much of your social time is spent worrying or complaining about how unhappy you are in your endeavor. This causes stress, which takes a toll on your physical health. If you don’t have a purpose, you can see how this can deteriorate the other areas of your life. Purpose in life can have a positive effect on longevity, disease and even DNA repair.[i]

 

Well-being - Money

What does it mean to be thriving in the well-being dimension of money?
The easiest way to relate to this is to recall a time in your life when you weren’t thriving in this dimension. It may have been a time when you were out of work, or had more debt than income. That experience of contrast probably gave you a clear understanding of what it feels like to struggle financially.

American psychologist Abraham Maslow developed a highly regarded theory of needs. At the bottom are the basic physiological needs such as breathing, food, water, sleep, and sex. Once these needs are met, we then ascend to the next level. At the second level is safety. This level encompasses physical safety, such as not living in an area where you feel threatened, security found in family, health and financial resources. The physiological and safety needs encompass our basic needs. If these levels of needs are not met, it becomes difficult to ascend to the next level.

2014 Worksite Wellness Council of MA Annual Conference

What is well-being?

What is well-being?

When you think of the concept of well-being. What comes to mind? Being healthy, not sick? Being loved? Being satisfied with life and happy? The AdvancingWellness team asked a few friends what well-being means to them, and here’s as representative sample of the comments we received:

World Cup Mania - All About Community


Anyone who knows me would say that I’m a sports fan. A hockey fan absolutely. A football fan, sure. But a soccer fan – never. Yet, here I am, following the news, checking the FIFA app on my phone, and checking my schedule to be sure I can watch the US team in action. It’s so easy to be captivated by this sport that is followed so widely throughout the world. Part of that appeal comes from rooting for our team and from being part of something so much bigger than any one individual.

Being part of a community may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about our own wellbeing. Yet, according to research on wellbeing, being part of a community can actually be ‘the differentiator between a good life and a great one.” [1] The social interaction of being part of a community can boost your overall wellbeing. We really thrive when we give back to our community.

Why Your Worksite Wellness Program Needs a Plan

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”
Benjamin Franklin

Our late, great forefather is often cited for this quote.
And how many times I remind self when I get into some situation where I didn’t want to be, that I should have heeded his advice. If I had just taken some time to plan a little better, I wouldn't be in the predicament I find myself in.

Pool Party!

When I was a kid, there were two families in my neighborhood that had pools.
All summer long, whenever my parents wanted to know where we were, they just called over to one of those neighbors. We lived in the pool. I remember what fun it was.

Living your life in meetings? What's your worksite's culture?

Do you feel like you live your life in meetings? Are you concerned about employee engagement?
If the thought of sitting in a meeting conjures up images of uncomfortable chairs and stale donuts, it is time to re-think your routine. With everyone gathered together, meetings are an ideal time to introduce healthy options to your work place. Creating a healthier worksite culture and a culture of healthy choices can start today with these simple changes. Download this tip sheet for making meetings healthier. 

What motivates you?

Have you ever thought about what really motivates you? No, I mean really think about this. What motivates you? Is there something that excites you so much that when you get out of in the morning, you just can’t wait to get to what that special thing is. What motivates us is different for everyone.

Worksite wellness programs have historically used incentives to encourage participation in the program and motivate individuals to make health changes. Incentives are a reward designed to influence the performance of an individual or group. But do these incentives really accomplish what we hope they will? Do they motivate people to change their behavior and improve their health? Do they really work?

Got a plan?

I’ve got a question for you. Think about something important you accomplished in your life. Take a moment. What was it? How did you go about accomplishing what you set out to do? Did you have a plan?

Congratulations on your accomplishment! Relish in the great feelings of that accomplishment. I’ll bet that what ever you accomplished, you did so by having a plan. It probably took a number of steps, perhaps having to rethink some of it along the way, and maybe even find a new direction to get to your goal.

How to make it cool to be healthy

How do you make it cool to be healthy?

Worksite wellness programs that foster intrinsic motivation

I was having coffee with some friends recently when our conversation turned to children. One friend told the story of asking her pre-teen to clean her bedroom. The response was “How much will you pay me?” Trying not to show her disgust, she responded “Think of the sense of accomplishment that you will feel when your room is clean, everything in its place and easy to find.” I’m sure you know the response she got – you got it – the eye roll.

Real Men Do Wear Pink

There is an old saying –real men don’t wear pink. On Saturday, October 26, the manly members of the Ohio State football team and over 90,000 other real men and women wore pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, also raising awareness about programs at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Breast Center. It’s not often you see a football team, much less an entire stadium, drenched in pink. It was a very visual reminder of breast cancer awareness.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month may be coming to a close, but breast cancer won’t stop at the end of the month. I would imagine you know someone who has been affected by breast cancer. You may wonder what can you do besides wear pink? You can start by taking steps to detect the disease in its early stages and encourage others to do the same. Yes, men DO wear pink and CAN encourage the women they love to get breast cancer screenings.

Workplace Smoking Policies

This headline caught my eye in the NBC Health News “Smoking employees cost $6,000 a year more, study finds.” Is it no wonder why there are more and more employers seeking to put smoking policies into the workplace?

The study by Micah Berman of Ohio State University, was a culmination of reviewing studies on health care costs, presenteeism – “when people are at work but not putting in full effort” states Berman. In addition, Berman and his colleagues, reviewed studies that calculated the cost of more sick days by smokers and the cost of employee smoke breaks. Smoke breaks were included in lost productivity of smokers taking longer breaks due to the smoking ban within the workplace.

If you can't measure it, you can't manage it

Perhaps you’ve had an experience similar to one I had, one of those life lessons that you never forget. I was working in a rather intense client situation with a large New York City financial services company. The company I was working for at the time was delivering a highly customized service, something we had never done before. And at that particular moment, we weren’t doing a great job for the client. I remember the client saying to me ‘If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” Seems pretty basic, right? But it served as that slap upside the head that told me I needed to focus on ways to measure what we were doing so we could tell the story of the services we were providing and how the client was benefiting.

Many years later, I think of this often in the work we do with worksite health promotion programs. Measuring and evaluating wellness programs is a critical success factor and a best practice.

Wellness Committees

Motivation: More Precious Than Gold

Dubai recently launched an initiative to pay chunky citizens real gold to lose weight, as part of the United Arab Emirates’ efforts to curb the obesity epidemic. I would guess they will have some success in the short term, but I would be curious to see if contestants keep the weight off.

Various monetary incentives are becoming a larger and larger part of the wellness culture. Wellness professionals would love employees to be motivated by a desire to not become sick. However, for most people the possibility of maybe getting sick somewhere in the future causes their motivation to also move to “sometime in the future”. The prospect of an immediate reward is much more motivating.

Wellness Program Administrative Infrastructure or It’s Not Just the Pieces It’s the Whole Thing

Many companies have random and intermittent wellness activities, which are usually independent of each other and are short term oriented. Far fewer companies have sustainable wellness programs resulting in changing behavior, lowering health risks and providing a positive economic return.

Depression at Work

Healthy at Home

I’m lucky. Or at least I consider myself lucky. I have help with the small tasks in life that I don’t always want to do. For me that task is grocery shopping. In my household, I get lots of help when it comes to the grocery shopping. That is a good thing, since I’d rather do 100 other things than grocery shop. But it also has its drawbacks. As a result of someone else doing the shopping, all sorts of foods end up in the refrigerator and cabinets that I would not normally buy (think: chips, hot dogs, salami, pickles, ice cream). And even though I wouldn’t buy them, once they appear within arm’s reach, it is tempting to eat these things. Well, maybe not the hot dogs!

Without realizing it, our families, friends and others we interact with regularly have significant impact on our health behaviors. The way our families come together, the way we talk together as family and friends about our health choices and they way we support and encourage each other, all work to influence our health behaviors.

Why You Should Care If Employees Are Using Their Dental Benefits

Put Your Best Mouth Forward

We’ve all heard of the 99 percent, but what about the 80 percent? 80 percent of the US adult population has some form of periodontal disease. [1] Periodontal disease, which is defined as an inflammation of the tissues supporting the teeth, can be easily prevented or managed through performing good oral health habits.

Although our dental care may seem like a less integral aspect of our physical health, the truth is quite the opposite. Our mouths are at the center of our lives, allowing us to eat, drink and speak. Although our mouths are essential for living fulfilling lives, our care for our oral health often falls behind other elements on our master checklist.

Are Our Employees Ready To Quit?

When it comes to tobacco use, our nation has come a long way. Between 1965 (when the first US general’s report came out) and 2000, rates dropped rapidly from almost 45% of American adults who smoked to approximately 25% in 2000 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). However, since 2000 rates have steadied out – at about 19.3% as of 2010. Smoking is still costing the US more than it can afford. Smoking costs US businesses $97 billion dollars each year in productivity losses alone (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2008).

People smoke for a number of reasons, including relief from stress or other discomforts, distraction, enjoyment, a concentration aid, social reasons, or for added help in weight management. Whatever the motivation may be that leads to smoking, the result is always the same- addiction. Quitting smoking is never as simple as starting.

Depression In The Workplace

John sat at his desk, exhausted. Not being able to focus on his work that he was already behind on, he thought about how not only has he lost attention at work, but how his interest in most aspects of his life has also diminished. He realized his whole outlook had shifted. He no longer could see the positives, and could only dwell on the negatives.

Absenteeism Hurts

Healthy Mind Platter

 

Creating A Corporate Environment That Supports a Culture of Wellness

Remembering Your Inner Child

I took a day off, just for me. I felt as though I deserved it. After all, I had been hard at work and feeling a little burned out with life and all its demands. I packed up the car and headed off to my favorite beach. After finding the best spot there, blanket perfectly placed on the warm sand, cooler within reach, sunscreen applied and a great book in hand, my attention was drawn to two children playing at the surf’s edge. I was close enough to observe them, finding myself drawn in by their interaction. What captured my attention was their effortless ability to enjoy the moment and find excitement in the smallest details in their surrounding.

It was obvious their child-like approach to the day served them both extremely well! One child shrieked, “Look! Look what I found!” He then proceeded to hand over a small pink seashell to his playmate. As he passed the shell over for observation, the second child said, “ Let’s start a pile for the best seashells on the beach!” The two searched and discovered one small miracle after the next. Before long I realized I had been delightfully watching them hard at work in search of nature’s beauty for more than an hour. They never tired of their adventure.

What Workplace Wellness Can Learn From Our Founding Fathers

From 1776 until the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with typical festivities ranging from fireworks, parades, concerts, casual barbecues with family and friends, and for most employees a day off from work.

Shake It Up

What Is One Thing You Can Do To Increase Your Success In Designing Worksite Health Promotion Programs?

A colleague and I were developing a physical activity program for a client and were reviewing the rough outline. Our manager asked on what we were basing the program goals? I am embarrassed to admit, after doing this for a while, I had jumped in and started planning based on my overall knowledge. I did not begin with the data.

Psychologically Healthy Workplace

Disease Management

It was about twelve years ago when I first experienced type 2 diabetes up close: a friend’s mother was diagnosed. Back then, it was generally assumed that insulin injections would be the next step and nothing could really change that fact. Rather than just sit around and wait for her diabetes to progress, though, my friend’s mother chose to get proactive about preventative care. She found support groups, interviewed nutritionists, spoke with exercise instructors, radically changed her diet, and implemented an age-appropriate exercise regimen. She is able to control her diabetes without insulin injections. To this day, she has experienced no real diminution in her quality of life.

As you can imagine, talking to all those experts took time. What took even longer was finding them. She was practicing what is now called “Disease Management,” a coordination of health care professionals and techniques designed for assisting patients that can benefit from self-care. Similar to how our health coaches help us establish realistic and meaningful health goals for a long, happy, and productive life, disease management creates an environment that coordinates many different facets of long-term care. Each patient has access to the proper and necessary medications. With disease management in play, he or she also has the information needed for healthful eating and exercise habits. Psychological well-being is also addressed.

Preventative Screenings - Do It Right

Jan Barker did everything right. As described by her sister Laurie, she was a fitness freak. Jan exercised regularly, didn’t smoke, rarely drank, and ate lots of fruits and vegetables. In October of 2007 Jan was diagnosed with colon cancer. She died two months later, leaving behind a grieving husband, son, siblings, parents and many friends. She was 55 years old.

Your first thought might be - why bother to exercise and eat right – it didn’t help her. Let me rephrase, Jan Barker did ALMOST everything right. Jan never had a preventative screening in her life, no mammograms, pap smears, regular check-ups. She didn’t have a colonoscopy even though she was over 50 and had a family history of colon cancer.

I Am Losing Him To His Disease

This story is based on a compilation of stories I have heard through my work as a registered nurse in the Emergency Department and Hospice. For the purposes of the story that I feel very passionate about telling, Jake is the character that will represent all the stories I have heard and the situations with which I have been involved. Although this story is not based on any one person, it is never the less completely true and accurate.

The Risky Business of Sleep Deprivation

Holiday Triggers

When my children were little I wanted to create special holiday memories by baking Christmas cookies like my grandmother used to. I ended up making four kinds of cookies. I felt obligated to sample one of each after every meal all through the holidays. I still remember looking in the mirror one January after eating who knows how many cookies, I looked and felt terrible. For me past traditions and the lure of creating new ones were triggers which caused me to overindulge.

Where in the world is Waldo?

As a health professional I often find myself being asked health related questions by family and friends. I usually share some basic general information regarding their concern or symptom, and refer them to their own physician, which is always best practice. Last year my mother was experiencing severe bouts of localized joint pain, swelling and immobility in several areas of her body, and decided she would diagnose herself because she wasn’t due for her next physician visit for another 2 months. For those of you with elderly parents, this same reasoning sounds familiar.

As you might imagine she did what many people do and sought out the advice of her immediate network - the Pastor, her cribbage group, friends that stopped by, TV, advertising, etc. Feeling fairly confident she had her diagnosis, she turned to another favorite resource the Internet and entered the word “gout” which produced a slew of websites for Gout, Gout Info, Diet to Cure your Gout, send us your money gout, etc.

Should I Stay or Should I Go

I recently picked my youngest son up from camp. While at camp he acquired a bad case of poison ivy. I took him right to the doctor. Sometimes it is obvious if medical care is required. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to know if you should stay at home and let something take its course, or if you should seek medical attention. There is a resource employers can make available to their employees to assist them in making that decision – a Self Care Book.

Back to my son, the next day he complained of pain in his leg (the same leg that had the worst of the poison ivy). I went to my handy medical self care book and started reading. I discovered the pain was where a lymph node is located, and I concluded there was a chance he might have developed an infection. I also discovered what symptoms to look for to determine if further medical attention was warranted. From the book I knew I had to keep a close watch on him. An hour later when he vomited and had a fever I wasted no time in getting him to the emergency room. I was told it was good I brought him in when I did. They were able to give him antibiotics and send him on his way. I was told if I had waited he would have ended up in the hospital. In this case the self care book guided me to the hospital. In some cases it may lead you to avoiding the time and expense of such a trip.

Hit me with your best shot

As we head over the summer “hump” toward August, thoughts turn to that glorious time of the year when everyone heads back to school and the house quiets. But for many parents, August also means helping their children prepare for annual visits to their family pediatricians, for immunizations. August is National Immunization Awareness month and although no one “likes a shot,” immunizations remain one of the best ways to protect children and adults from many serious illnesses. Vaccines have reduced and, in some cases, eliminated many diseases that once routinely killed or harmed tens of thousands of infants, children and adults. Childhood immunizations are based on a series of vaccinations over a period of time and recommendations from individual pediatricians are best to follow. But the importance of vaccines should not be left at the school house door, as adults should follow a standard published schedule for updating their own protection.

Immunization is the most effective way of reducing employee absenteeism and improving overall health in the workplace. Benefits of a workplace flu immunization program reduces interruption with service or product delivery, reduces employee sick leave and extended health costs, boosts employee morale by showing your workforce you care and making it a day to celebrate wellness in the workplace, and increases productivity and job satisfaction.

Health Care Reform and Breastfeeding in the Workplace It’s win-win for everyone!

With passage of Health Care Reform, came significant support for mothers and babies which benefits their employers as well. Section 4207 of the law amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to require an employer to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child's birth each time such employee has need to express milk. The employer is not required to compensate an employee receiving reasonable break time for any work time spent for such purpose. The employer must also provide a place, other than a bathroom, for the employee to express breast milk. If these requirements impose undue hardship, an employer that employs less than 50 employees is not subject to these requirements. Furthermore, these requirements shall not preempt a state law that provides greater protections to employees.[1]

Advanced Directives and Why They Are Important To Your Employees' Wellness

Employers are beginning to understand the value and benefits of providing wellness activities such as: smoking cessation, weight loss, and motivation to exercise for their employees. There is another option to consider for your wellness program – advanced directives.

What are advanced directives? Advance directives are legal documents that express your health care wishes should you be unable to make decisions for yourself due to illness or injury. The most commonly used directives are: Living Wills and Powers of Attorney for Health Care. What do those documents have to do with worksite wellness?

Something is missing…

Have you ever had the situation when something was missing, but you didn’t actually notice that it was missing. It was just gone. Not a trace of it. I had exactly this situation recently.

On a recent Monday morning, I awoke at 3:15 am. Suddenly my mind was a buzz. Thoughts coming and going, the to-do list started. I lay there in bed for a long time - my mind racing. Around 4:30 am I actually considered getting up and writing down the to-do list. You might be thinking, “So what’s the big deal? This happens to me all the time!” Well, it often happens to me as well. What was unusual about this was that this was the first time in 10 days that this had happened. I had suddenly noticed that I had been experiencing a ‘quiet mind’. The constant chatter was gone – completely quiet!

Health promotion programs impact on absenteeism

Every corporation wants productive employees. Yet, it’s difficult, if not impossible, for an employee to be productive if they are not there. So today we take a closer look at the effect of worksite health promotion programs on employee absenteeism.

In a two-year study at the Washoe County School District to determine if wellness programs impacted rates of absenteeism over a two-year period. It was concluded that wellness program participation was associated with large reductions in employee absenteeism. Program participants averaged three fewer missed workdays than those who did not participate in any wellness programs. The decrease in absenteeism translated into a cost savings of US$15.60 for every dollar spent on the program.[1]

Linking Incentives to Benefit Programs

There are many different methods to reward healthy behavior change. One method gaining in popularity is linking incentives to benefit programs. David Hunnicutt, President of Wellness Council of America (WELCOA) states “Perhaps the best approach in increasing wellness participation levels is formally linking your benefit program to your wellness plan design.”

There is sometimes hesitation on the part of organizations to take that route as they are concerned with employee reaction. The times are a changing. According to the Wall Street Journal/Harris Interactive Poll, 53% of U.S. adults think it is fair to ask those with unhealthy lifestyles to pay more for their health insurance (up from 37% only three years ago). According to a Washington Post article, 56% of employers plan to hold employees more responsible for the cost of health benefits.

Need a stress break?

Do you find, as I do, that every once in a while you are feeling stressed. There may be any number of things that trigger these feelings. You always know when it hits you. When that happens to me, I look for ways to stop for a moment to take a deep breath or do take a short break and do something that will relax me.

Depression at Work

Depression has always been a major mental health issue in America. But it‘s also, increasingly, a major workplace issue. A landmark 2003 study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association draws the sobering conclusion, that depression costs employers $44 billion a year in lost productivity. Those are strictly indirect costs; they don’t even begin to reflect medical costs.

Michael Mazaar, from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, states “Depression is now, in term of victims and economic impact, the world’s second most insidious illness, behind heart disease.”

Guest Blog: The Pendulum Swing

If you are like thousands of other Americans who care about their health, you probably made some type of goal this past January to improve your diet or start exercising more. All too often these eager goals get ditched and forgotten by the time March hits. The reason is simple and I call it “The Pendulum Swing.” Read on if you are interested in learning how you can not only set but achieve effective goals to improve your health.

The Pendulum Swing

Silver bullet to aging...

There is a great article in today's WSJ on the benefits of physical activity.
This supports the reasoning behind making increasing physical activity a core element in worksite wellness programs.

Behavior change in worksite programs

Many companies provide lunch and learns or one time seminars, and then become frustrated when employees ‘refuse’ to take advice or continue with behaviors that have a negative impact on their health and productivity.

Lifestyle changes such as weight control, exercise, and smoking cessation can be difficult to change and maintain over a long period of time and require more intensive behavior change programs.

What's your company's Food Culture?

When working with businesses in preparing for a worksite wellness program, we often inquire about the 'food culture' in an organization. Some people give a quizzical look when I ask about this topic, others just laugh. What's the food culture of your business? Here are a few examples of the types of food cultures we encounter.

Presenteeism – what is it and why should you care about it?

Companies are well aware of the cost of health insurance, absenteeism or short or long term disability, but not as familiar with presenteeism. Yet I would guess everyone is familiar with the co-worker sitting in the cubicle next door that is, hacking, sneezing, sniffling or complaining about their aching back. We know that person is not doing their best work as they are not fully ‘present’, hence, presenteeism.

A more specific definition would be, the cost to an organization due to employees showing up for work, but not being fully engaged and productive due to personal health and life issue distractions.

Guest Blogger: The High Price of Stress

How to Lower Health Care’s Bottom Line

Companies today carefully calculate their bottom line, and the current cost of health care is of global concern. Yet, how often is one important ingredient—STRESS—factored in?

Aging is inevitable. How healthy is your aging workforce?

Many of the companies with which I met mention their aging workforce. These companies often have low turnover, with many employees with 10 or more years of service. The American workforce will be impacted over the next two decades by the cohort of individuals known as the ‘baby boomers’. Born between 1946 and 1964, baby boomers are now entering their 60’s. During the next 18 years, they will be joined by the remainder of their generation. By 2010, 39% of the US population will be over the age of 45.

With the recent economic crisis, many older workers may be staying in the workforce longer as they rebuild their retirement savings. As these workers continue in the workforce, the health and productivity picture of these employees warrants consideration.

Two Things to do Today

I had the good fortune to start my day today at a Boston Chamber of Commerce Women’s Network breakfast featuring columnist and best selling author Suzy Welch. Suzy is promoting her new book “10-10-10”. She started her speech by talking about two activities she does each day that help her stay centered.

The first is she makes a list of people to thank. Saying ‘thank you’ is a wonderful way to show gratitude to the people in your life that you care about and who support you. Thanks for this tip Suzy, I’m definitely going to incorporate it into my life.

Flu is spreading, is your business ready? Free Webinar

The most current surveillance map from the CDC is showing the occurrence of H1N1 flu is widespread in most states. In an online survey conducted by the Boston Business Journal last week, when asked 'how ready is your company for the H1N1 flu?', 37% of respondents said their company 'is not ready at all' and 14% said 'not that ready'.

Flu – Ready or Not

Flu season is here. Is your business ready for the potential impact this flu season could bring? While most businesses may not think of flu as being anything to worry about, we can’t forget that approximately 36,000 people die from the flu in the United States each year and over 200,000 people are hospitalized with flu-related symptoms.

If the flu reaches even a fraction of its predicted potential, your business could be severely impacted. This is especially true in small businesses where each person plays a critical role and resources to replace that person on a temporary basis may be unavailable or impractical.

A Culture of Health - Why is it important?

When you think about the culture of your organization, what comes to mind? Do people come to work with spring in their step? Do they socialize regularly? Is there shared vision for what the team is attempting to accomplish?

What is a Worksite Wellness Program?

When I tell people I meet about the work I do in worksite wellness, I often get the question "What is a worksite wellness program?".
A worksite wellness program is 'an organized set of activities or programs that encourage employees and their family members to voluntarily adopt behaviors that help improve their health and enhance their performance." (Chapman, Small Employers: Options for Implementing Wellness, 2006).