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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What Gen Y Teaches Us About Performance

Posted by Paul Boston

Gen Y is now entering the workforce and questioning some of the traditional management and leadership styles. As a result, they often receive some unflattering labels, such as “needy” or “entitled”. Often these labels have nothing to do with Gen Y, as there have always been needy and entitled people within organizations. If we stop and look past the labels, Gen Y might be actually teaching us how to improve workplace performance. In fact, they might have a significant role in redefining and elevating human performance within many organizations.


Looking at the performance sciences behind these Gen Y labels, you will start to uncover many performance skills and attitudes that are essential for human performance. Here are a couple of those labels and what they can teach us about improving human performance in our organizations regardless of generation.

Always requiring praise

I sometimes hear: “Oh, Gen Y always need to receive praise about their work”. I will be the first to point out to anyone that you are not always going to receive praise for the work you do. This is why the skill of self-motivation is essential. In fact, what Gen Y are asking for is performance feedback. They need to know what they are doing well and where to improve in order to better their performance.

I couldn’t imagine a high-performance athlete receiving performance feedback twice a year from a coach, and honestly being able to improve performance. However, many current performance management systems are based on reviews that happen twice a year. This might explain the growing trend in many organizations that are starting to replace old performance review processes.

Looking for quick advancement

It is said Gen Y is just looking for quick advancement within an organization, and if they don’t get it, they will look outside the organization for better opportunities. What this actually translates into from a performance standpoint, is that Gen Y wants to be challenged and need to advance their careers, both financially and professionally. This attitude is very common attitude by most high-level performers who are looking to grow their career.

Organization’s performance benefits are numerous with these types of employees. They are keen and welcome challenging assignments and new responsibilities. Organizations that can retain this type of employee will be on the road to creating a strong human performance culture.

There are many ways organizations can improve organizational performance, and perhaps one place to start is to fully understand the performance improvement attitudes and skills Gen Y are now bringing to our organizations.

All the best in achieving your highest performance.

Paul Boston


Paul Boston is the president of Actus Performance Inc., a high-performance development firm. Paul started his professional career working in the fast-paced and demanding world of marketing and advertising with Fortune 500 companies and organizations around the globe. At the same time, he started racing at the elite level of triathlons and qualified four times for the World Triathlon Championships. At that time, he discovered similarities between the approach to performance in his athletic and professional career. He then went back to school to study adult training and development, specializing in workplace performance skills. As an organizational high-performance development specialist, Paul works with clients to help them understand the fundamental performance values, attitudes and skills people, teams and organizations need in our ever-changing modern-day work world. Paul has published numerous articles and spoken to professional organizations across North America on 21st century workplace performance.

To learn more on how business performance is like athletic performance visit,www.actusperformance.com

 

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A Long Look at Office Well-Being

Posted by Jane Wang
Managing work life and personal life is a continuous struggle for most professionals. It is especially apparent in the professional services industry. When you are in a client-facing position, where billable hours dictate your performance and compensation, it is not always an easy task to juggle work assignments and personal issues at the same time.

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Reactive vs. Proactive

Do you foster everyday well-being as an organization? Do you do it to control costs or do you up-stream the issue to help support employees in building sustainable habits and work-life routines?
Coaching employees to deal with stress before it happens becomes key to the success for the HR teams who aim to keep their star players performing. Top firms internally promote their support programs, such as Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) to help their team deal with mental health and stress issues when they arise.
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EAP is a great start to supporting wellness at work. But the problem with just relying on EAP’s is that often they are reactive, versus preventive. Heavy usage is also increasingly expensive. There is often a negative stigma surrounding their usage preventing employees from using them or talking about it openly to their peers.
This is why there is a stronger engagement with proactive programs, like those being offered by PwC through Optimity. Our unique approach opportunitistically inserts micro-exercises that improves your quality of life during your 9 to 5.

You know you do not get up enough at work. But even if you do, do you know what you can do for your neck, back, wrists and mind? Focusing on managing stress is not enough. Top firms understand that they need to provide coaching, at work, to prevent physical and cultural issues.

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  • 1 min long meditations at your fingertips to regain focus and reduce stress
  • 1 min desk-ercises throughout the day to reduce back pain
  • stretches for your neck
  • exercises to reduce eye strain

Micro-breaks leading to significant impact

  • Sync up to your habits through calendar-integration, and creates a smart schedule with micro-exercises optimized to create highest impact
  • Access to coaching by medical, nutritional, and mental health experts
  • Bring any wearable to the platform, and we helps you stay engaged on the go. Making it easier to keep on track to making consistent improvements.

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Case study

McMillan LLP is a Canadian business law firm with offices in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Montréal, and Hong Kong. Nisha Rider, Director of HR, leads the HR team in supporting employees in maintaining their positive mental health. “Managing stress and mental health is a key focus in law,” says Rider. “No firm has completely figured it out yet. We need to work with our employees to find solutions that works for them.”

This means helping employees deal with some of life’s most stressful issues, including chronic illnesses and becoming a new parent. McMillan has put together a Parenting Committee that runs programs for employees who have children. The program is open to mothers and fathers, with monthly meetings. There is no set agenda. Discussions are free-formed around any topics the attendees wish to talk about. “It’s a great way for people to support each other and share ideas,” says Rider.

McMillan also offers flexible work arrangements and provides on-site cooking demonstrations, nutrition seminars and personal training sessions to help new parents work quick exercises into their days.

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To support work-life balance, you can run programs to help your employees with chronic conditions and lifestyle, such as having a 24-hour support system in place and taking a preventative stance on mental health and financial wellness. These 24/7 digitally accessible programs provide advice, information and support to employees and lift the burden of dealing with stressful or chronic situations alone.

Weave happiness into the everyday!

Innovative firms continue to invest in employee health- and lifestyle-related training. They pay attention to program design and adopting systems that integrates positive habits into their staff’s lifestyle and workflow.


So smile a little and enjoy the rest of your day!
Why not engage your whole office in the wellness game using Optimity? The Dooo Wellness program is an integrated digital full service program leveraging mobile, wearable, and online portals.
As featured in  YahooRecruiter.com and the Wall Street Journal

 

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5 Activities for Workplace Zen

Our team at Optimity often laugh about the buzzing, dizzying professional world we inhabit as a wellness company. Indeed, it has been a hectic season again. Our organization runs lean and everyone wears a lot of hats. The demand on time and energy is high every day. So under this relentless drum for productivity and progress, we are determined to stay sunny and upbeat.

Here are 5 little exercises that has made our work-lives more enjoyably zen.

  1. Shrink the list – Prioritize the day using the ABC system (A for Urgent and important, B for Important but can wait, C for Nice-to-haves). Then proceed to only do the As. By making peace with the fact that we often cannot do it all, we enable ourselves to focus on what is the best use of our time to get to our desired outcomes.
  2. Start with deep breathes – We can get energized throughout the day if we condition ourselves to take a couple of deep breathes every time we start a new task. We often get tired because we are not getting enough oxygen consistently into our brains. So avoid those headaches, and get into the habit of using more of our lung capacity throughout the day.
  3. Queue it up – Another item for the to-do? Don’t jump into right away. Instead, put it directly into your to-do list and continue on finishing your current task with focus and swiftness. This actually saves us time in the long run and prevents errors that occur when we switch contexts too often.
  4. Noise control – Be aware of your work environment and the noise level, and find your optimum ambient sound environment. Tuning your work settings will help you stay focused, calm and head-ache free all day.
  5. Easy path to victory – Do the most difficult task first, and the day is just strolling through a progressively easier path to getting things done. Remember to smile and enjoy every little victory.

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3 Habits of Powerful Professionals

Professional Art of Balance

Over the last 2 years, we interviewed hundreds of powerful professionals [CEO, CFOs, CMO, COO, Head of Sales, VP of Marketing etc.] to gather key insights on how daily habits can shape careers:

The astounding growth in these leaders’ productivity and mindfulness seemed to be compounded over decades of their personal investment in habit building. Many shared experiences of adding simple, healthy habits into their daily routines. A few talk specifically about setting stretch goals, many swear by their routine for fitness, and most will talk about the power of continuous learning. They are all absolutely dedicated to practicing regular business-boosting habits.

The following 3 habits are easy to emulate, and can be seamlessly incorporated into your routine. They just might make the difference between stagnated personal growth and the inflection point on your competency, responsibilities and salary. The trick, as with any habit, is in making it stick.

1. Practice ACTIVE thinking

Can you place the last time that you came up with a great idea or had true fluidity and clarity of thought? For those I interviewed, they often do a lot of thinking and problem solving while they are on the move. During their jog, or as they are on a walk, their thoughts have hyper-clarity and focus.  The benefits of daily physical exercise are well known, including stress reduction, improved mental acuity, and cardiovascular health. And it can be an invaluable business resource.

“I owe a lot of my winning decisions to my exercise routine,”one CEO says. “Life is busy, and I rarely have time to focus on specific issues uninterrupted… But when I’m out cycling, for an hour I am uninterrupted and invigorated. I feel positive, alive, and my brain just solves problems almost unconsciously.”

So try this, while you are walking home take a longer route to think; while you are on the treadmill, focus on a challenge you are having at work. Very quickly, you will see that your brain and muscles are well-connected to help produce better outcomes for you.

2. Set ambitious goals

Ask yourself these questions: What ambitious goals excite you? Can you do something about it in the next 3 months? next 3 weeks? next 3 days?

Now write them down. Keep it neatly displayed in your field of view at work.

Winning CEOs have the well-developed habit of setting goals that motivate themselves and their people. They regularly take time to define success and set goals. The power comes from getting specific with timelines and actions.

At least once a week, you should practice the habits of looking at your industry and develop a vision for it. Then, figure out how you would set ambitious goals to motivate others to join you in realizing that vision.

3. Never waste a meal

This is an Optimity trademarked habit. It is about taking advantage of each meal to give your body the nutrients it needs and also as an opportunity to connect with your fellow men/women.

2 great books bring home the 2 core ideas in this habit:

  • Never eat alone” by Keith Ferrazzi, a book on relationship building.

This book focuses on how each meal is a great time to network, since something special always happens when we spend time together “breaking bread”.

Being connected is a valuable asset in business and in life. Social interactions play a great part in our emotional well-being and our sense of community. So you should build the habit of enjoying food with others: try visiting an acquaintance from a different organization for lunch or invite them over for dinner. If you do this a couple times a week, you will find that your circle of influence have quickly multiplied into a powerful network.

  • Whole” by T. Colin Campbell, a book on nutrition and eating habits.

This book is about the principle of nutrition and the human body: an apple as a whole interacts differently with your body, it cannot be substituted by adding up tablets for vitamin C and A.

It teaches the habit to consume “native forms” of plants, explained by the world of nutritional chemistry. We in our career-building phase of 20 years, get to enjoy close to 22,000 meals (if you eat thrice a day). Effectively after these years, your body will be completely build and re-build with new molecules. So make each meal count, and put good chemistry into your body. Your body is a complex machine, and you deserve premium material to build it.

active and healthy lifestyle 'how to' list with goals to be fit and motivated
active and healthy lifestyle ‘how to’ list with goals to be fit and motivated

“Breakfast smoothies are my thing! And I was looking for ways to connect with my staff more, so I started this 1-on-1 breakfast walking meeting thing.” one VP of Sales shared with me. “Any of my staff can book me for a breakfast walking meeting and enjoy one of my smoothies. I started getting to know my people better and I feel incredibly close to my team. As a health bonus, Pat’s wife wrote a thank-you note to me recently! Apparently Pat got on the juicing bandwagon because of me and lost 20lbs over the last year!”

So treasure each meal, as a chance to build your body and bond with those who you want to get to know better. Don’t squander calories and time.

Tiny habits like these will compound over time. Soon, you won’t even need to think to arrange for them in your daily schedule, they will just become a part of your routine. So start today, and keep at it.

 

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Humanifesto for Your Health Community

Posted by Jane Wang 

Another beautiful summer week has gone by, and it has been rewarding to see our community ramping up! As our team is pulling together the next MTAP event, I thought it would be fun to share our “Humanifesto” for community building for your better everyday health:Humanifesto for Your Health Community

C-O-M-M-U-N-I-T-Y

  • C — Collaboration (Collaborate, don’t control — remember to lead by example and to help encourage those around you to take small steps: drink more water, take the stairs and go for a walk at lunch)
  • O — Openness (Be open and transparent in what you do, and what you need help with; you’ll be surprised to get help and support in expected and heart-warming ways)
  • M — Meditation (Don’t stress and worry during your day, practice meditation when you run into crises and build a habit of calm, this will help you learn to always get into your optimal mental state daily)
  • M — Massage (Give yourself a hand massage and bring awareness to those over-worked hands! We work with so many hand-held devices and hand-operated machines that it is easy to “overwork” them.)
  • U — Utilitarian (Reflect useful and practical content your colleagues and community can identify with and do in your work context to spruce up their day!)
  • N — Niceness (Remember being extra nice pays back in dividends, it will not only improve the experience your colleague has during their days, but it also gives you something to smile about.)
  • I — Intervals (Training in intervals is key, but also view work routines as interval training! Give yourself periods of concentration and break up those intervals with a bit of physical activity, such as a game of ping-pong, a few jumping jacks, or a quick walk around the block; these active minutes help you work more efficiently during stressful days and also gets you to better health outcomes almost effortlessly)
  • T — Time management (You may have heard that 10 minutes spent in planning saves about 90 minutes of wasted work. I know that this is very true for my work process. I can usually get much more done in a day with prioritization. Here is a helpful resource that I use to guide friends on teaching how to prioritize at work http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/how-to-manage-time-by-prioritizing-daily-tasks.html )
  • Y — Yield (Find a metric to measure what you are getting back from your effort; I like to focus on the # of days that feel happy after work or # of days that I’m off because I was sick. You’ll be surprised to find that with a little bit of change, how your quality of life will improve dramatically, if you pay attention to the “yield”.)

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