How to Help Women Flourish in the Workplace (Webinar Recap)

We had a great webinar on March 8, in honour of international women’s day. International Women’s Day is celebrated around the world – in many countries, it is a national holiday. It has grown to become a global day of recognition of women’s achievements and a call to action to support women’s rights and advance gender equality.

I sat down with Optimity’s CEO, Jane Wang, to talk about how to promote women’s health in the workplace. You can watch the full webinar here. Note, due to some technical difficulties, the slides have been uploaded separately. To view the slides, please click here. The following are a few key takeaway points from the webinar.

We’ve come a long way to see women grow socially, economically, culturally and politically. Achievements of women can even be seen even in the workforce. With more than 50% of the working force being women, it’s important for employers to promote women’s health in the workplace.

While life expectancy is higher for women than men in most countries, a number of health and social factors combine to create a lower quality of life for women. Many of the health issues that arise, can easily be prevented if addressed early, which is why worksite can also be a good source of solutions to existing health problems and the place for promoting healthy activities.

 

The top 3 health issues for women that was mentioned in this webinar are:

 

Cardiovascular Health

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Most people believe that CVD is more common in men that women. But in reality heart attack and strokes kill more women than men. Women are more likely than men to die within a few weeks of a heart attack. 8.6 million women worldwide die from heart disease each year. Of those who have heart attacks, 42% die within a year. Leading a healthy lifestyle can lower your risk of heart disease, whether you’re male or female. To learn more about a healthy heart, check out last months webinar on “Healthy Lifestyle Choices for a Healthy Heart”.

Cancer

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Cancer is the second leading cause of death in women. Contrary to most beliefs, breast cancer is not the leading cause of cancer death in women. Lung cancer kills more women than male. This is due to the increasing number of women who use smoking as a coping mechanism for stress. One in four women in the United States smoke. Stopping smoking and reducing exposure to environmental tobacco smoke can reduce the risk of chronic lung problems. Check out our webinar on mindfulness and  meditation in the workplace to get tips on reducing stress and finding healthier coping mechanisms.

Mental Health

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Mental health is another major health issue for women. Although death by suicide is higher for men, attempted suicide rates are higher for women. Job stress among women is widespread; 42% of women have said they were bothered by stress from their jobs. Helping educate women on mental health issues, and giving them the confidence to seek assistance and speak to their doctor, is vital. One way to promote mental health is through nutrition. Studies show that a healthy diet is a proactive approach to optimal health, and that an unhealthy diet is actually a huge risk factor for depression and anxiety. Watch our past webinar to learn more about nutrition and mindful eating in the workplace.
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These top 3 health issues are present in both men and women, however more women die from these chronic illnesses than men. Fortunately, genetics plays a minor role when it comes to susceptibility. With a healthier lifestyle with more physical activity, healthy diet and less stress, one can help prevent almost all chronic illnesses.

If you need more help on promoting women’s health in the workplace, reach out to us at engage@myoptimity.com.

Or sign up here to start leading a healthier life and claiming rewards!

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The Future of Health and Wellness Today

trends-header1.jpgDid you know that Americans spent an average of $714 on out of pocket health care in 2016? This number continues to increase year on year. The rising costs of healthcare in North America makes it crucial for companies to start putting a larger focus on corporate wellness programs. The growing industry of corporate wellness programs shows that new technology, data and increased insights can really help to encourage employees to stay fit and healthy. As a result these outcomes not only benefit the employee but also the company.

The healthcare cost crisis has become so important, that major corporations like Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan are teaming up to create a new business that is designed to lower health care costs for their employees and provide increased employee satisfaction while reducing costs.

To provide a beneficial corporate wellness program we first need to talk about our current workforce. With Millennials becoming the largest generation in the US workforce (35%) they have a great impact on the wellness market. This generation has a new outlook on wellness and are said to spend the most amount of money on health programs, even though they earn less than any other generation. They also have a greater knowledge and interest in technology, which gives them easy access to wellness information and programs. Working remotely has also become a trend throughout the past few years, and as these current workforce trends change we realize that work-life balance is a thing of the past. Our digital world has us constantly connected, which means we are checking emails at any time of the night and chatting to friends and colleagues during dinner. Life and work have integrated together, and our wellness programs need to change to reflect this. New trends need new solutions.

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At Optimity, our dynamic and personalized approach helps this modern generation of professionals be at their best, whether they work from the office or remotely. We support their modern routines and offer a holistic approach to wellness in the forms of mental health, financial wellness, and physical health; all of which we believe contribute to a person’s overall health. Our programs also offer 24/7 support that is dedicated to the user, because we know that a wellness program should be designed to offer support, even if you are not in the office. We know that a one-size fits all approach doesn’t help anyone, so our programs are tailored to employee’s specific goals and needs. We help people manage their time and encourage them to build healthy habits, no matter what kind of profession or workforce they are in.

Workplace Wellness Programs are here to stay, and like any program, these initiatives are only ever effective if they are done correctly. Employees continue to request wellness benefits from their employers. It’s about time companies start paying attention to the holistic wellbeing of their employees and incorporate a proactive wellness program like Optimity that fits into their everyday working life.

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Want to know more about how we can help you implement a personalized coaching program in your company? Reach out to us at engage@myOptimity.com and let’s have a chat.

Or sign up here to start leading a healthier life and claiming rewards:

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Leveraging Opportunities During Open Enrolment

Posted by Laura Carter

TIME STAMP: 2 MINUTE READ

Open enrollment season does not traditionally elicit much excitement among HR professionals or the employee population they serve. There is a lot of administrative work involved and employees are usually inundated with an overload of dry communications materials.

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But are we missing a great chance to get employees thinking about their personal health, their lifestyle goals or even their contribution to building a great workplace culture? In my 10 years of implementing employee wellness programs, I have always been surprised at this lost opportunity to engage employees in a discussion on their personal health goals and needs. If anything, open enrolment season is the one time that you have the ear of your entire employee base, because everyone is invested on some level, in knowing how they are impacted by the company health and benefits plan. Therefore, it makes complete sense that this is the optimal time to get a company-wide conversation started on health and wellness, and ignite some excitement to build a stronger, more energetic company culture.

 

At Optimity, we know that an important piece of a well-utilized wellness program is an engaging communication plan. It’s important to know your audience. We see from experience, that rolling out an ‘employee success’ program, instead of ‘wellness’, garners a lot more support from those who traditionally don’t get too excited about health and wellness. Which is important because those are the folks who stand to benefit the most from these offerings.

 

Just as important, is recognizing the personal needs and starting points of each individual. The cookie-cutter approach just doesn’t work! Incorporating all facets of wellness and personal development in a meaningful way that is based on behavioural science is most likely to create real, measurable results. Add rewards and some fun challenges into the mix, and there is a great opportunity to build a happier, more dynamic work culture on top of everything else!

 

Above all, it makes sense to start the wellness conversation at renewal time, because there is no denying that the two have an interdependent relationship. For too long, wellness and benefits have sat in different silos, even though we know that the ‘wellness’ of an individual is obviously going to impact their needs, in terms of benefits utilization. In this day and age, where chronic illness dominates the top disease areas for most organizations,  we would be remiss to overlook the connection between employee health behaviours and the consequent health outcomes we see when they need to utilize the company benefits and drug plans. Investing time in a preventative approach through engaging communications and customized offerings will go a long way in catching people before they develop chronic illness. Having a little fun along the way and building a more positive corporate culture is just the cherry on top!

 

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Want to learn more about best practices in employee engagement and wellness? Reach out to us at engage@myoptimity.com.

At Optimity we pride ourselves on driving employee engagement and health, providing a ROI to demonstrate success, all while saving valuable time for HR teams.

Sign up here to start leading a healthier life and claiming rewards!

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Seeking Healthy Behaviour Change? Adopt a Personalized Program

TIME STAMP: 3 MINUTE READ

Posted by Trista Chan

Gone are the days of a “one size fits all” approach in wellness programs. Companies have realized that people are no longer interested in general wellness data, but want their own personalized approach when it comes to improving their lifestyle, and there is no shortage of corporate wellness programs to choose from!

It seems as though these wellness programs have the right idea, as our lifestyles are taking a major toll on our overall health, with financial implications as well.  A 2012 report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that at the current rate, the number of new cases of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke could increase tenfold between 2010 and 2020- and also double again by 2030.

The most impactful strategy to take is implementing a personalized corporate wellness program, specifically tailored to high-risk employees, in the hopes of improving health and reducing the risk of developing chronic illnesses.

 

Here are just a few reasons why it’s important to adapt a personalized coaching program for wellness and healthy living.

 

Accountability

Personal coaching helps to keep you accountable for your actions. It’s likely that the employees that use these wellness programs are busy people, and change can become difficult – imagine being asked to overhaul your diet while working 40+ hours a week. By having a personalized program or coach to assist in your wellness goals, it provides easy to follow steps to avoid slipping up and increases your success rate.

 

Education

This approach will also provide you with the correct information about your health goals and body to make informed decisions on a daily basis.  Your coach will take the time to ensure that you understand your program and how it may differ from a friend or colleagues, based on your family history, lifestyle, habits, preferences, socioeconomic status, location….everything.

 

Motivation and Action

Coaches will assist you in taking the right steps to live a healthier lifestyle. We all know that while someone can tell you that you have high cholesterol, it’s a whole other thing to actually do anything about it! Having a coach will motivate and guide you to take the action you need to improve your overall wellbeing.

 

To change a person’s lifestyle and wellbeing, data alone is often not enough. Changing a person’s behaviour can be difficult, especially when they aren’t in a supportive environment, but with a skilled coach to support, motivate and educate, it provides a better base for change.

Ideally, the most successful workplace wellness program is the one that employees want to stick to. This requires creating a plan that is tailored to their specific needs and that incorporates a wellness coach into the mix to ensure success.

 

Want to learn more about how to easily implement a personalized, and scalable, program for your employees?   Contact engage@myoptimity.com to get some strategies and best practices you can use in your organization.

 

linkedin photo.jpgTrista Chan is a Wellness Strategy Advisor 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. 

 

Sign up for Optimity to start leading a healthier life and claiming rewards!

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5 Ways to Build Positive Work Relationships

Posted by Abena Osei-Kwabena
TIME STAMP: 3 MINUTE READ
Developing a positive and motivating work environment is a top priority to make your workplace more enjoyable and less stressful. A positive work environment not only helps professionals physically, mentally and emotionally, but also influences their overall productivity.
Building relationships isn’t always easy and they can take time to develop and foster. A lot of companies now promote social gatherings, friendly contests, entertaining events and humour enhancing strategies for light-hearted fun and as a form of breaking the ice. There is also a direct correlation between a positive work environment and increased employee satisfaction.

Here are a few ways you can build a positive work relationship:

1. Be polite

Simply exchanging a smile or a friendly greeting is a great first step in developing a productive workplace. Maintaining eye contact and referring to colleagues by their names are effective conversation starters that build an opportunity to socially interact with teammates and develop a rapport with them. For a positive environment to flourish say no to “blame games” or gossip as they are foster a toxic workplace culture and diminish the sense of community.

2. Appreciate diversity

Everyone is different. We each have different viewpoints, approaches, potency and limitations so it’s important to listen, share and appreciate the differences between each of your co-workers. Being unbiased and celebrating diversity will help you become a good leader while enabling others to share their thoughts within the organisation. Everyone has value and something that they can bring to the table!

3. Exercise efficient communication

To practise effective and clear communication, you should be able to express the right emotion behind your message. Communication not only includes clear expression of thought but also includes complimenting others for their contributions, ideas or thoughts.  This can immensely help in building a pleasant and reliable relationship in your workplace.

4. Placing the right person in the right place

Before hiring a new employee, learn their skills, interests, passions, knowledge, culture and work style. This can help in placing the right person in the right place. Friction can occur among employees if a less qualified individual is hired to manage more qualified employees. Looking at the status-quo, the manager should act accordingly to avoid blame games, competition and negative workflow.

5. Incorporate incentives

The most important step towards building a healthy work environment and positive relationships is to be appreciative. Appreciation can be shown in the form of money, like a bonus or raise, or non-monetary in the form of public appreciation or a thank-you email. This can help to boost the morale of employees, potentially increase their productivity moving froward, increase their loyalty towards the organisation and reduce the turnover.
While these tips are pretty straightforward, they can definitely improve your workplace environment and culture.  Occasionally you will have to work with someone that you just don’t click with, but for the sake of your work it is important for you to maintain your professionalism and be civil. Just remember: you don’t need to be best friends and you can’t control others, but you can do your part and approach your workplace relationships with a positive attitude.
Share a bit of #Health and #Joy with colleagues, friends and family – download Optimity

 

Abena is a Client Services Associate at Optimity. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a BSc in Global Health. She is passionate about human rights and health education, and hopes to develop tailored interventions to combat health inequities around the globe. Her interests include story writing, camping and exploring different cultures on her travels.

Sign up for Optimity to start leading a healthier life and claiming rewards!

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How to Make New Employees Feel Welcome & Immersed in the Company Culture

TIME STAMP: 2 MINUTE READ

On boarding can be defined as the organizational socialization of the workplace, where new employees are made familiar with expectations, expertise, knowledge and ethnicity of your company.

For newbie’s the first day at a new office is just as frightening as the first day of school, with nerve-wracking thoughts hovering throughout your mind. Even the employers have a to-do list which includes formal paperwork, insurance forms, an office tour, orientation, and familiarising the new employee with the company culture.

However, the most crucial element which can often be ignored is welcoming the new employee, appreciating their experience and knowledge, exposing them to your work environment and helping them become a part of the organization. Investing in the employee on boarding process establishes a foundation for future success.

 

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Here are few ways to ensure your newbie is actually “on-board”:

 

Make a plan

A welcome strategy or plan can make your new employee feel that they are a valued part of an organization and boost their confidence in their new role. As an employer you should involve the existing employees in designing the welcome plan. Ask for their suggestions on how they would want their new company to welcome them, or how your colleagues can make the new team member be more comfortable. These suggestions could be used to create a detailed written plan.

A welcome kit including your company t-shirt, coffee mug, office bag, welcome card and a customised gift would be the cherry on top of the cake for the newbie, and these surprises can make them feel right at home.

 

Assign a mentor

Incorporating a mentor for your new employee can enhance the effectiveness of the on boarding process. Mentors can guide your new employee by boosting morale, creating teams, increasing efficiency, enhancing knowledge and skills and helping in continued career advancement. Along with the mentor, the other team members should also bring their foot forward to make the newbie feel welcome.

 

Formalize team building

To ensure that your new employee fits in with the other employees it’s a good idea to formalize the team building process. Allocating diverse team members for every on boarding process can help to acquaint them with the other members of the office. You can assign a companion, who will make the new hire familiar with the office, answers inquiries, accompany them during tea breaks or lunch and provide discussion starters.

  

Ask for feedback

Ask your new employee for feedback on how their first week went so that you can understand what did and didn’t work during the onboarding process. Getting a fresh perception can help in building lasting impressions for future employees.

 

The way a new employee starts their first day and their onboarding process is crucial to the experience that they will have at their new job. It is well worth the company’s time and attention to ensure that the onboarding process is welcoming, positive and exciting to guarantee a long-lasting working relationship.

 

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Trista Chan is a Wellness Strategy Advsior 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.

 

Sign up for Optimity to start leading a healthier life and claiming rewards!

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Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

Posted by Trista Chan

Being a mother is an experience only someone who has been through it can comprehend. Sure, it has its share of mood swings, bad days, weight gain, etc., but the end result is something spectacular. Seeing a tiny life being brought to existence is absolutely worth going through all those difficult times. However, after that crazy experience, there is another challenge waiting for new mothers… the end of their maternity leave. After long hours of discussions and weighing in of options, some mothers make the call to return to work. It can be an adjustment period for some, but things don’t have to be as complicated as you may have thought.

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Here are a few tips on returning to work after your maternity leave:

Prepare a new routine for yourself

Preparation helps in any situation, and post maternity is no different. Getting yourself organized would mean a major chunk of the transition from home to office is complete. The following are some of the ways you can prepare yourself for the change in routine.

  • Set your alarm 30 minutes to an hour earlier to wake up and get organised. As a new mother, there are bound to be things that pop up and take up a lot of unexpected time.
  • Prepare a day-to-day task list of what you need to get done before heading to the office and when you leave the office so you don’t feel overwhelmed and flustered.
  • Have a conversation with your employer regarding their expectations from you. Explain that there will be days that you may be late or run in to an unexpected situation and ensure you have a flexible arrangement.

Treat yourself

We’re all aware of what pregnancy does to a women’s body, which is why it can be really difficult to get back into pre-pregnancy clothes right away. One of the easiest ways to boost your confidence is to treat yourself to some new clothes, and while you’re at it, why not get a hair treatment and a manipedi to keep your confidence index in the green zone.

 

Ease into it

If possible, schedule your return date for the middle of the week. A full week away from your baby won’t be easy, so it’s best to see if you can ease both yourself and your new born into being away from each other. You could opt to work 6 hour days, or only 3 days per week in the beginning to get in to a routine.

The transition might not be easy and you might run into some road bumps, but these things shouldn’t demotivate you from returning to the workforce. It might take a couple of days or weeks to get back in to the swing of things, but in the end it will all be worth it.

 

These are valuable tips to follow, as you now play a role as both mother and employee.  However, remember that workplaces also have the responsibility to create policies and practices that support you and your family.

For tips on how to create a workplace culture that supports mothers, contact engage@myoptimity.com to get some custom strategies and best practices.

 

linkedin photo.jpgTrista Chan is a Wellness Strategy Advisor at Optimity.  She leverages her education in nutrition and experience in corporate 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.  

 

Sign up for Optimity to start leading a healthier life and claiming rewards!

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