7 Benefits of Technology in Wellness Programs

Posted by Jane Wang

Technology surrounds us in our everyday life – it’s always changing, and workplace wellness is soon to be revolutionized by this. Where programs that are only in-person or web-based with no mobile access, or rely on substandard self-reported tracking methods, will never be able to truly impact the work-life habits of most of their employees.

Employees these days are using smartphones, wearable devices and mobile apps and it’s fair to say that almost every one of those smartphone users has downloaded at least one health or wellness related app, so why not one that has incentives and connects them to their company culture?

Accessibility and personalization is the key to designing a highly engaging program. Technology and daily wellness practices can complement each other greatly. For a workplace wellness program to be successful, and to have a real ROI, it needs to incorporate up-to-date technology. 

With Machine Learning and advance data analytics, a next-generation digital corporate wellness program like Optimity can give ubiquitous support to your people 24 / 7, and also predictively find the high-risk population to preventively give additional support and coaching to help them on their journey.

 

Here are 7 ways that incorporating technology can improve your workplace wellness program.

  1. Increased Productivity

According to a study by Rackspace, The Human Cloud at Work, employees wearing wearables at work became 8.5 percent more productive and 3.5 percent more satisfied with their jobs. Multiple studies have proven that employees who use wearable technology, such as the Apple Watch, Fitbit or Amazfit, are more productive in the workplace and tend to live a healthier lifestyle that has a positive impact on their work life.

  1.  Gathering Data

Data gathered from the wearables mentioned above can help your company fine tune the wellness program that is already in place. Wearables can provide employers with a great amount of data to help evaluate the return on investment of the wellness program. Obviously your employees will need to consent to sharing this information first!

Because the trends for health apps and wearables are a great social wave of self-quantification, having a corporate wellness platform that accepts different wearables and their unique set of data outputs becomes increasingly important. These multiple data sets should be automatically cleaned, standardized, and aggregated so that it is ready for regular strategic analysis in your corporate platform.

Gathering data for the sake of having it isn’t enough. You must add-value to each employee’s wellness experience through insights from their data. Platforms and services like Optimity, help you with exactly that: to analyze wearable data and turn the activitiy statistics into useful insights and recommendations that is helpful for each employee.

  1.   Reduce Sick days

Using these wearable technologies and using wellness apps can help reduce employee sick days, as well as increase work-life balance. Employees can become more aware of their physical activity, sleep patterns and stress levels which, if this aggregated set of data is given to Employers, can help companies to evaluate the health risks to their employees and potentially prevent long term sick leave due to illness.

  1.  Reduced Stress Levels

Technology that helps to support employee’s mental health and physical activity levels can help to decrease employee stress through interactive mind games and get-active programs. There are also additional content categories such as financial wellness and resilience training, taking care of employee life stress holistically. This leads to a more productive employee and a healthier team!

  1.  Supportive Culture

Many companies now leverage wellness platforms, such as Optimity, to also serve as a mobile-first company content hub where news, articles and experiences are shared with employees daily. Since mobile is where most employees are interacting with news forums, it seems habitual for them to also use it for connect to your workplace culture and receive encouragement for healthy living. If all of your employees use the same program or app to track their diet and lifestyle choices, it can create a stronger bond amongs peers. It boosts team morale and assist in motivating less enthusiastic employees to be a part of the company wellness culture.

  1.  Increased Motivation

We are creatures of habit who love to collect things along the way: badges, rewards, achievements. So using wellness apps that is designed with a gamifiedexperience can motivate employees to live a healthier lifestyle. By doing micro-workouts, mind games and healthy eating recipes, they are collecting lots of digital and real-life goodies that give them that dopamine hit for making good choices. Now employees know where to go to get the motivation and formed a habit to track their overall state of health, which increases their sustained ability to continue with your program.

  1.  Company Savings

Encouraging employees to use technology to track their workplace health and fitness can decrease employer healthcare costs, especially in the face of rising premiums. Having a well-run digital program significantly reduces the admin costs that come with in person programs or ad-hoc fragmented initiatives. Optimity offers training sessions and automated programming administered by dedicated client success managers who take care of the customization, coordination, internal marketing and also continuously injects “love” into a successful program. These services save HR managers about 250 hours per year and also achieves on average 10% higher annual participation rate than those ran internally!

The ultimate goal for any employer in implementing a workplace health and wellness plan is to shift the mindset from acute care to preventative care. If employees are focused on their health and take measures to prevent illness or disease, this is a win-win situation for both employees and the employer. Encouraging employees to lead a healthier lifestyle such as incorporating exercise can assist in lowering stress levels, which can ultimately lead to a more productive team.

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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.  

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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Reactive vs. Proactive

Posted by Jane Wang 

Managing work life and personal life is a continuous struggle for most professionals. It is especially apparent in 2015. When you are in a client-facing position, when your performance and 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.

I find this problem exciting, because we are truly starting to see higher engagement because our initiatives not only is loved by employees, but are getting more top-level buy in. Tech firms especially are innovators in this space, where the reduction in sick-days can be counted and gains in productivity (lines of code, deployed features, velocity) can be measured.Reactive vs. Proactive

Coaching employees to deal with stress before it happens becomes key to the success for the HR team, who aim to keep their star players performing. Top firms internally promote their Employee Assistance Programs to help their team deal with mental health and stress issues when they arise.

The problem with relying on EAP’s is that often they are reactive, versus preventative, and heavy usage is expensive. There is often a negative stigma surrounding their usage, preventing employees from using them or talking about it openly to their peers.

We are entering a world where the chronic-disease-management apps, often “free” to the employers, are a great start to helping firms understand how mobile-first technology can change behaviour.

At Optimity, we get to help on the other side, with a proactive, preventative mobile-first solution that delays and stops employees from falling into the chronic state. They are really 2-sides of the same coin in solving the rising health-cost issue for employers.

 

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