Why Participation Matters

By Trista Chan

Many employers have recognized that they can play a vital and influential role in assisting employees live a healthier lifestyle that can prevent costly chronic conditions. Each year employers spend a fortune subsidizing employee healthcare cost and see a lot fewer sick days from employee’s with a higher well-being and healthier lifestyle. Dollarphotoclub_73498966.jpg

While implementing a wellness program is a no brainer, the most difficult factor is participation. Wellness programs should be carefully designed for the average employee and should be created to ensure that anyone that participates feels welcomed and motivated to make a change. Participation of these programs is a win-win situation for both the employer and employee.

 

It is imperative that the wellness program targets the right group of employee’s. Anti-selection and adverse risk selection occurs when perfectly healthy employees decide to participate in the wellness program. The claim costs for the less healthy employees are not offset by healthy employees, who usually have no claims. This pushes the average claim higher, which means higher premiums and possibly even lower participation as the affordability of the plan declines.

While it’s great to have your already healthy employee’s participating in the wellness program, most of the company costs actually come from “average” employees, who use 9.3 days of absenteeism each year! They also cost the company 10% more on RX drug claims per year and 6.5% more on health insurance and benefits utilization.

 

Disease Management programs need to be tailored and cannot be scaled to all employees. Employee’s with the risk of becoming chronically ill should have a wellness program created for them that includes regular physician visits and preventative care check-ups to monitor their health status. The Wellness program administrators should record and analyse results in house and through a third party to ensure that the management program is working and also give the employee a sense of achievement.

 

The company wellness program must be designed for the “average” employee and achieve at least a 60% participation rate in order to change health and cost outcomes. Employer’s need to know that they are getting value for their investment.

Participation in a wellness program is vital, as it is proven that the more employees you get performing at a better level, the higher their job productivity will be. They also visit the doctor less, have less sick days and also have improved mental state, which can also benefit their colleagues and clients.

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Trista Chan is a Client Services Associate at Optimity.  She leverages her education in nutrition and experience in corpoate health to guide organizations in building healthy, engaged employees.  Her “me-time” activities include yoga, reading health blogs, cooking….did she mention she likes wellness?  Her passion for all things health-related shines through in both her work and personal life.  

4 Principles for Creating a Wellness Program

Today’s most successful companies know that creating a healthy environment for employees is the most direct way to achieve an increase in productivity and encourage employee loyalty.

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With so much time spent at work, it goes without saying that a healthy work environment is vital to your employee’s health. Creating a successful wellness program can ensure that your employees are happy and healthy, and therefore more productive at work.

The following are 4 principles to consider when looking to implement a successful wellness program for your company.

1)   Educate

The most important factor in moving towards a healthier workplace is educating your employees. Choose an educational approach that encourages open communication between employees and management and ensure that the management team are strong leaders who make their employees feel safe and supported. Consider the group diversity and design activities that cater to all employees. Some employees may have prior knowledge or experience, so ask them to share their ideas with the rest of their peers to help motivate and engage the group.

2) Engage

Engaging employees in a workplace wellness program can be difficult without the correct leadership. Make it known to your employees that you are dedicated to the program by showing your appreciation at every level and ensuring that employees clearly understand expectations by management. Relating the program’s goals to your employee’s personal goals can also help the program succeed, along with a strong social presence.

3) Empower

Shifting authority and responsibility from management to employees gives the employees power over their own jobs and entrusts them to take charge of their own wellness program.  Empower your employees by asking questions and carefully listening to their answers and suggestions. Frustration occurs when employee thoughts and suggestions are not accompanied by an action.

 

4) Evaluate

Evaluating wellness programs is an ongoing process, so obtain statistics wherever possible to create comparisons on how the program is working and what can be improved. Use a range of techniques to get an understanding of how well employees are receiving the program and try to use alternative evaluation methods to suit everyone’s needs.

 

Optimity provides a highly-engaging adaptive coaching program to connect all of your company initiatives and assist with boosting employee engagement. Our App lets you see results and gain insights to make smarter, data-driven decisions. Join the community, sign up here to start leading a healthier life and claiming rewards!

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Trista Chan is a Client Services Associate at Optimity.  She leverages her education in nutrition and experience in corpoate health to guide organizations in building healthy, engaged employees.  Her “me-time” activities include yoga, reading health blogs, cooking….did she mention she likes wellness?  Her passion for all things health-related shines through in both her work and personal life.  

Employee Programs Best Practices: Setting the right kind of goals

Posted by Nicholas Raditsis

Setting goals effectively is critical to employee success! Whether they be long or short term goals, the process of goal setting should be a combined effort between an employee and their manager.

Goal setting also helps to focus on employee’s problem areas. The goal is to develop skills, increase knowledge and to raise confidence by having some quick wins.

Employees also need to experience quick wins to boost their confidence within the workplace. A quick win is an improvement that is visible and has immediate benefits. The quick win does not need to have a long term impact on the business, but needs to be seen as having a positive impact on the business.  Quick wins that have the most impact on a business are easy to implement and inexpensive.

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Watch the recorded webinar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kZlCJIhjkU

The most popular framework for goal setting is S-M-A-R-T.

Specific: Knowing exactly what the goal is, what the expectations are and be easily measurable.
Measurable: Can be measured in milestones to track progress.
Attainable: The goal needs to be attainable and cannot set the bar too high or too low.
Relevant: The goal should focus on an important aspect of your project or the company.
Time-bound: Establish enough time to achieve the goal.

Here are 4 key factors to employee development and focusing on problem areas.

Coaching
Regular meetings between a manager and employee can identify problems within the workplace and help to improve performance. Discussions can be had on the problem areas that the employee needs to improve on, developing a plan to increase employee skills and meeting regularly to discuss the employee progress.

 

Counselling
Discussion between employees and managers can assist in sorting out any personal or emotional barriers that may be preventing the employee from performing at an optimum level.

 

Mentoring
Managers who mentor their employees motivate them to reach their potential in the work place and can assist with developing a career plan for the employee’s future within the business.

 

Training
Training employees is an essential part of employee development. Managers should encourage employees to take classes and attend seminars to further their knowledge.
Here are a few tips to identify a quick win.

  • Requires minimal or no capital expenditure
  • Low risk
  • High confidence of a positive impact
  • Improvements may be implemented within 60 – 90 days

Quick wins provide confidence to the employee and business and also reduce stress. Here are just a few ways you can achieve a quick win:

  • Change an inefficient procedure
  • Improve communication between two departments
  • Obtain a price reduction from an existing supplier
  • Train other team members on best practise
  • Proof read existing processes for errors

As always, we are here to support you and your employees in daily success. Let us know your feedback and reach out to me if you need any help!

Or join the community by signing up here to start leading a healthier life and claiming FREE rewards!

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Nicholas Raditsis

VP of Client Success

Nraditsis@myoptimity.com

Understanding the Numbers Game – The Real ROI Story for Engagement and Wellness Programs

Posted by Jane Wang

Unhealthy and disengaged employees are costing North American businesses a whopping $1,100,000,000 per year. Smart organizations are looking to wellness and engagement programs to change their costs, with the average corporate wellness program averaging at $700 per year. But the average participation rates for these programs are below 30%: many organization have little to no tracking of metrics or ROI. This often has people questioning whether wellness programs actually deliver returns, but the real question you should be asking is what type of wellness programs can reduce claims and lower insurance premiums.

The answer is, programs that are tailored to target “at-risk” and “high-risk” employees and also those with >70% participation from all employees to prevent them from becoming disengaged and/or chronically ill.

 

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The most difficult factor in implementing a wellness program is employee participation. Participation penalties do not have a place in the workplace and incentives, while great, can’t force employees to make their lifestyle change alone. The key to a successful program is excellent leadership from the CEO and explanations as to why the wellness program exists and rising health care costs throughout the business.

 

According to a study done by the Gallup State of the American Workplace in 2012, employees that have an overall higher “well-being” have 41% lower health related costs, compared with employees who are struggling with their health, and 62% lower costs than employees who are suffering with their health.

 

Diabetes, depression, high blood pressure and being overweight are just a few factors that at-risk employees endure that can lead to expensive health claims. There are also the employees that are chronically ill and suffer from conditions such as cancer, heart conditions and advanced diabetes. Creating a disease management program for these employees can easily and effectively prevent your insurance premiums from rising. A program that pre-empts 20 unnecessary emergency department visits can easily save a business $50,000.

 

The science of wellness programs improving health is proven, but it is imperative that these programs are targeted at the right group of employees with the right programs with the right level of support and relevant content to ensure success.

 

The key is to engage in proactive health culture to support 100% of your employees, and allow highly data-driven specialist firms (such as Optimity) to use dynamic health risk assessments algorithms and smart targeting coaching programs to find the high-risk employees by engaging your employees in actively participating in their success. It is about building a culture of awareness and self-improvement to be able to achieve ROI.

 

Really and truly, any organization can do it. It is just about committing to change and getting the right experts on-board to help train and support you in understanding your own number and succeed in launching your proactive employee success practices.

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Sources

https://hbr.org/2016/04/meet-the-wellness-programs-that-save-companies-money

Do Workplace Wellness Programs Save Employers Money?,

2012 Gallup State of the American Workplace study,

The Trillion Dollar Price Tag on an Unhealthy Workplace

Posted by Jane Wang

If serious health risks caused by stress, poor diet and lack of exercise aren’t enough to make a case for the dangers of an unhealthy work environment, how about 1.1 trillion dollars?

According to the Milken Institute, studies show that unhealthy workers cost North American employers approximately that much in lost productivity every year.  Sure, a job well done often requires sacrifice – extra hours, sometimes skipping meals, rearranging the exercise routine – but at what point does that sacrifice become counterproductive?

An unhealthy workforce is going have repercussions on your business’ bottom line

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Unhealthy workers are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases, require prescription medications and seek healthcare, driving up insurance and short-term disability costs.  At the office, these workers are typically unable to perform to their full capacity and are 27% more likely to call in sick than their healthier counterparts.  No matter how you look at it, an unhealthy workforce is bound to make both productivity & profits suffer.

 

According to Mayo Clinic Health Institutions, American employees that carry 5 or more health risks (such as poor nutrition, emotional health, safety and weight), incur an extra $3,321.00 above average in annual medical costs per person. They are also 12.2% less productive than employees that carry two health risks or less.  Even common, on-the-job pains like headaches & back pain come with a steep price tag – $47 billion in decreased productivity each year.  Clearly, unhealthy employees don’t come cheap.

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Health initiatives are worth investing in

Considering the numbers, employers stand to gain a lot from investing in wellness programs.  Taking a proactive approach to promoting healthy habits will not only improve productivity, financially, it’s simply smart business.

Corporate wellness doesn’t have to solely consist of health scans, gym memberships and reimbursements. There are more creative ways of cultivating a healthy office environment.

The goal is create a culture where employees choose to live a healthier lifestyle, rather than being forced to do so. Wellness works best when the experience is a shared one either through communal goals or — taking the opposite approach — pitting employees against each other to create healthy competition. Different people are motivated by different things.

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Generally, companies will use the trackers as a motivator as part of a rewards program or company-wide competition. Then, they can use a Optimity dashboard with aggregated data to track steps, calories burned, active minutes, distance, hours of sleep etc.

BP, for example, has run a one million step challenge with Fitbit, where employees who hit the mark over the course of a year are eligible for a more deductible health plan. In one year, 23,000 employees took over 23 billion steps. Another company in the program celebrated the World Cup by challenging teams to walk a distance comparable to that of the company’s HQ to Rio de Janeiro — a total of 5,547 miles, or 4.4 miles (8,804 steps) per member per day.

 

You can run seasonable challenges, let employees bring their own wearables since Optimity syncs many wearables such as Fitbit, Misfit, Jawbone, Amazifit, Mi Band, etc. and normalizes all their step data to produce an equalized database.  This way rewards and team challenges will be perceived with fairness.

The normalized database also powers the Optimity dashboard to produce real-time analytics on the population’s behaviours with associated health and business risks.

Client Success managers can help you to make data-driven decisions using the dashboard to drive down your population risk for diabetes, heart disease and depression. Clients such as CST Consultants and Windley Ely are leveraging a cross-sectional team of employee success champions within their organization to boost rewards or change up their program systematically to achieve 80%+ participation! ( See more in our case studies section)

 

After all, a whole lot of good can be accomplished with a trillion dollars.

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Small Changes for Health Improvement

Originally posted at vivametrica.com

More than ever chronic or non-communicable diseases (NCDs) pose significant health risks to our populations. At the same time technology, particularly mobile technology has become prevalent in society. Smartphones and related apps are demanding more and more of our attention. A study by Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers found the average user checks their phone close to 150 times per day. A separate but related “Mobile Mindset Study” looks at how mobile has changed our lifestyles, behaviour and even emotions. That is, mobile has become an extension of our reality, with a large number of people constantly connected, “Nearly 60% said they don’t go an hour without checking their phone.”

While mobile has pervaded our lives, wearables still have yet to capture our full attention. The potential for wearable technology in Health and Wellness is considerable, however user retention is low. According to Rock Health, There are likely two major contributors to the attrition and rapid engagement decay rates noted in many other surveys. First, 28% of individuals are receiving wearables as a gift; and second, of those who purchase, 25% cite that they are doing so as an experiment. The implication of the second reason is that they do not set out with long-term ownership interest.” Wearable devices are currently in an “experimental” stage, as consumer awareness is high, but understanding the value of, and behaviour change centralizing around wearables has not adopted as it has in the case of mobile devices.

Health Improvement through Wearables

Wearables need to communicate their true value, which is a source of continuous, objective data. In this sense, devices have to go beyond simple monitoring and reporting functions in order to provide valuable information to the user. Analytics are one way to achieve this. Beyond machine learning algorithms, our team of data scientists have developed models unique to health improvement through small, measurable changes.

Vivametrica Founder and CEO Dr. Hu who is an orthopaedic surgeon has applied our technology to real life patient scenarios. In this case, the patient came to Dr. Hu regarding back pain. Dr. Hu asked the patient to use a wearable device and noticed the patient’s step count was 300-1200, well below the 8500 steps suggested for the patient’s age and gender. With encouragement from Dr. Hu, the patient was asked to increase his steps by 100 per day. As the patient’s steps increased, back pain decreased and surgery was avoided. Vivametrica has developed algorithms that can predict the risk of back pain based on activity, which is just one of the models we have based on wearable device data.

In order for wearable devices to have the same impact on society as mobile, they must first create value and have significant, meaningful function in the eyes of the user. Moreover, change has to be tailored to the individual; a generic 10,000 daily step-count recommendation simply won’t do.

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Small Changes, Big Results

TIME STAMP: 4 MINUTE READ

Very often organizations fall into a trap of making “big changes for big results”. This approach to operating can have a devastating impact for the organization, by creating high levels of stress amongst its employees and causing instability within their industry.egg-employees.jpeg

Big changes do not necessarily mean big results. In fact, with a rapidly growing world economy, most organizations that make big changes and expect big results most likely will not achieve their desired outcomes.

I once had a client who was a people manager within his organization. He was very effective in this role and produced tremendous results. He knew however that if he remained in his manager role for much longer, he would not be advancing his career. So his next step, he felt, was to become a senior leader within his organization. He already had a list of a few big goals that would potentially give him the exposure he required to been seen as potential leader.

After my meeting with him and reviewing his big goals, as well as the risk involved with each goal, we established several small, more unassuming changes he could make that would produce the same results. Each small change was planned, intentional, and designed to advance his career in the desired direction.

One small change was to start leading his team meetings instead of the usual rotating of the meeting chair position amongst his team members. Going beyond just performing the standard meeting responsibilities, he started reviewing the team’s weekly accomplishments and the impact their achievements had on the organization’s goals and objectives. He then always ensured his team members left each meeting with a great sense of motivation and a “wow” feeling towards the tasks that needed to be performed.

As a result, by making these “small” manager performance changes, he became known within the organization as a leader who “walked his talk” through his leadership abilities and actions. These small, seemingly unimportant changes created big results, not only for him, by helping him reach his desired goal of becoming a senior leader within his organization, but also for all the people he managed.

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Turn Your Knowledge into Action

1)     As a leader or manager, what small changes are you making that are leading towards big results?

2)     How are you tracking these small changes and the results they are producing within your organization?

3)    Use strategic coaching tools such as the Optimity platform and start taking microactions towards achieving your big goal.

All the best in achieving your highest performance.

paul-business.jpg Paul Boston

 

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