How to Improve Productivity in the Workplace by Decreasing Stress (Webinar Recap)

Posted by Tasneem Panchbhaya 

We had a great webinar in April, in honour of stress awareness month. I sat down with Optimity’s CEO, Jane Wang, to talk about how to decrease stress in the workplace. You can watch the full webinar here. Here are a few key takeaway points from the webinar:  

Why it’s important for employers to focus on an upstream approach to preventing stress in the workplace: 

  • Stress is costing companies on average $300 billion dollar a year on stress-related absenteeism, turnover, lowered productivity, and direct medical, legal and insurance costs.
  • High stress organizations experience:
    • Increased or excessive absenteeism
    • High or increased accident rates
    • Poor interpersonal relations in the workplace
    • Poor or reduced work output and performance
    • Increased staff turnover


Stress is the harmful physical and emotional response that occurs when there is a poor match between job demands and the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker. Common stress reactions include tension, irritability, inability to concentrate, and a variety of physical symptoms that include headache and a fast heartbeat. It’s almost impossible to live without some stress. And most of us wouldn’t want to, because it gives life some spice and excitement. But if stress gets out of control, it may harm your health, your relationships, and your enjoyment of life. The following are my top 3 principles that are essential for living a healthy and stress free life!  

1. Get Support

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Stress just doesn’t happen to you, for all we know the person next to you might be suffering from a form of stress as well. One way to combat your stress is through social support. Seek help out help, you don’t always have to make hard decisions on your own, find someone to talk to. Just one or two of your co-workers can become the pillar you need to tackle the stressful situations in your life.

2. Limit the Sugar Binge

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Interestingly, the stress hormone cortisol increases your appetite because of your body’s need for energy. Essentially how this works is,during a stress reaction, Cortisol increases your blood pressure and together with Adrenaline helps accelerate your heartbeat and breathing. This sends glucose to the blood to help free up enough energy for the muscles and the brain. As a result, a fuel shortage arises, and the sugar in our body provides the quick fix, as a result making us crave sweet foods.

To avoid consuming excessive amounts of sugar, be cognizant of what you’re eating. Making healthy food choices using Canada’s Food Guide ensures your body has the nutrients it needs to meet the challenges of your day.

3. Exercise

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My third principle, and perhaps my favorite, is exercise. Studies have proven that exercises helps cope with stress, especially aerobic exercise. It can improve your mood, help you sleep better, improve your focus and mental alertness, and make you feel fitter and more confident. Have a busy work schedule? No problem, check out this blog to get tips on how to incorporate exercise into your busy schedule.

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It’s smart and also more cost-effective to prevent stress. Simple lifestyle changes can have the biggest positive impact, financially for business and for the overall health of the individual. If you want to learn more about implementing an engaging and successful wellness program that maintains a healthy work environment and reduces employee stress, reach out to us at engage@myoptimity.com for information on how Optimity can help you!

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

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Don’t miss out on next months webinar on Employee Health & Wellness on May 3, click here to register.

 

 

Physical Wellness is NOT Enough

TIME STAMP: 4 MINUTE READ

Posted by Tasneem Panchbhaya 

Wellness programs can be found in most companies throughout North America these days, yet too many corporate wellness programs focus solely on the physical wellbeing of employees. Gone are the days where a purely physical wellness program works. Together with physical wellness, mental and financial wellness all contribute to a complete wellness program that leads employees to be happier, healthier and more engaged than ever.

Workplace wellness programs can come at a cost, but if they are executed correctly then they have the potential to offset rising healthcare costs and build a healthier, motivated and more focused workforce.

To have a complete wellness program, financial and mental wellness need to be included as well. Here’s why:

 

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Mental Wellness

According to the World Health Organization, as many as 450 million people worldwide suffer from a mental or behavioral disorder, and the average costs for employees with depression may be 4.2 times higher than those incurred by a typical employee. While mental health is not as easily measured as an employee’s blood pressure, it is still just as important. When an employee’s mental health is suffering, it can lead to more serious health problems. Even stress can be a silent killer.


Things like absenteeism, high turnover and loss of productivity are often signs that are linked to poor mental health. Employers can start to incorporate mental health into their wellness program by ensuring that employees have access to mental health benefits, as well as an employee assistance program. Employee Assistance Programs have proven to work well in a wellness program, as they provide referrals to mental health professionals while maintaining a high standard of confidentiality. Employers who provide mental health programs as a part of their workplace wellness program are proven to have an advantage over those who don’t in terms of lower incidents, staff turnover and workplace injury. Activities such as yoga, massages and meditation are an easy way to start bringing mental wellness into your overall wellness program.

 

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Financial Wellness

Financial wellness can be categorised as having control over one’s finances, or the capacity to manage unexpected expenses or bills. Financial wellness programs offer employees the chance to better educate themselves on a variety of financial information that they would not bother to search for themselves or that may be stressing them out.


To provide an adequate financial wellness program, employers must provide resources that help short and long term financial goals. Financial planning for retirement is great, but what about next week’s bills? Employees with low financial confidence risk making bad financial decisions, or avoid making them at all, and as a result end up stressed and unhappy.


As with any wellness program, financial wellness programs need to be tailored specifically to the employee. Every employee’s financial situation will be different and will require a specific plan.

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Any wellness program that is implemented within a company should incorporate all types of wellness in a more holistic approach. It is no longer beneficial to the employee or employer to miss one of these crucial elements out of their wellness program. Read more tips on how to avoid failing traditional approach to wellness programs.

At Optimity, our customized holistic approach incorporates all aspect of health, by providing customized solution to wellness. Our approach garners positive results.

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We help the average worker take productive 30 second to 2-minute micro-breaks that have long last beneficial impact. These micro-habits boosts their mood, helps them focus and encourage social connectedness to their culture. Optimity’s app provides users with tips on financial wellness, that way employees now have the tools to confidently make smart decisions about their finances.


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 lets have a chat.

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

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One-size fits all wellness programs are a thing of the past!

160901_Ladder_Ramo_healthcare_wellness_program_scam.jpg.CROP.promo-xlarge2.jpgWe know that everyone is unique, so why do we still think that a one-size fits all wellness program can succeed in our workplaces? Employees are individuals with different needs and wants and a single approach to wellness can only benefit a small number of employees, which means that it is more likely to fail.

With research showing that an effective employee wellness program can provide a 300 – 600% ROI, it is worth the time and money to invest in a successful wellness program.

Health is a personal issue and an employee that feels obligated to join a one-size fits all wellness program is doomed to fail. Not only will they not feel personally supported, but there is a high chance that it simply will not work for them. As an Employer, you need to get to know your employees and customize your wellness program to suit.

 

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Here are our top tips on creating a successful wellness program in your workplace.

Avoid a one size fits all program

When implementing your wellness program, think of two people from completely different ends of the spectrum. If your wellness program will not meet the needs of both people, then it probably won’t succeed in your company. One size fits all approaches to wellness programs decrease the motivation levels of your workforce. If your employees are not feeling important or valued, then they are less likely to participate.


Adapt to the workforce

According to a recent study, 76% of employers now taking on an innovative approach to wellness programs that address physical, mental, and financial health.  Modern companies are turning to their employees to understand what they value and to create a good company culture. Speak to your employees to figure out what they will appreciate in a corporate wellness program. A 55-year-old female and 26-year-old male are bound to have completely different needs and wants in a wellness program, and it’s important to adapt your program to suit both.


Get professional help

It can be difficult to implement an employee wellness program alone. Without the most up to date data and tools it can open your wellness program up to flaws and decrease the chances of success. Employee wellness programs not only benefit employees, but provide increasingly high ROI’s to company’s as well, so it is worth investing in some help to set up your customized employee wellness program.

 

Here at Optimity we specialize in providing a customized solution to wellness programs, while monitoring your ROI. Optimity’s technology platform is scientifically supported. We help the average worker take productive 30 second to 2-minute micro-breaks that have long last beneficial impact. These micro-habits boosts their mood, helps them focus and encourage social connectedness to their culture. Our pocket coach is also customized to each employee and provides your company with historical and ongoing claims analysis to help you understand your highest costs.

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How to Deal with the Holiday Blues

Posted by Jeff Cai

Being grateful for what you have this Christmas

TIMESTAMP: 3 MINUTE READ

For a lot of us, the holidays are a time for happiness, love and celebration, but for others, this time of year can be difficult, whether it be due to the loss of loved ones, a recent break up or just general stress. December is often known as one of the toughest months of the year and staying positive throughout this time can be hard, but no matter how difficult things are, there is always a way to make the most of the good moments you have. By staying focused on the good in your life, it will make it a lot easier to get through the holiday season when you are feeling not so festive.

Here are a few ways you can stay positive when the holidays get hard.

THINK OF WHAT YOU HAVE, INSTEAD OF WHAT YOU DO NOT

Being grateful for the things that you have in your life, whether it be a house to live in, a good friend or a steady job…these are all good things in your life, and should not be forgotten about.

 

If you are finding it hard to think about things you are grateful for, try creating a gratitude list. Over the festive period, write down 3 things you are grateful for every day. By the end of the month you will be surprised at how many amazing things there are in your life that you may have taken for granted.

 

Not matter how difficult things are, there is at least one thing that is going right in your life. It might be miniscule in the scheme of things, but it is something positive to focus on, rather than only thinking of the bad in your life. There are great things that are happening all around you and it is up to you to open your eyes and look out for them.

 

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”- Oprah Winfrey

 

REALIZE THAT YOU ARE NOT ALONE

It is easy to feel as though you are the only one going through a tough time over the holidays, but the reality is that there are many others out there that are struggling just as you are.  Remembering that you are not alone in your struggle and that there are people doing it tougher than you are can make you feel grateful and really help to put things in perspective.

 

SPEND TIME WITH THE LESS FORTUNATE

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health in the US have found that giving activates the brain’s mesolimbic system.  Giving can trigger the release of the neurotransmitters that generate an overall sense of well-being. Whether it be giving your time, money or donations, giving to another who is less fortunate than you are is one of the quickest ways to put your life in perspective. There are some great volunteer opportunities around the holiday season, so find one that resonates with you and contact them. It will make you feel so much more positive, knowing that you are helping someone else.

 

 

GET OUT OF THE HOUSE

When you are feeling down, it can be so easy to stay inside, away from the surroundings of other people, but this is probably one of the worse things you can do.  Interacting with others might be the last thing on your mind this festive season, but force yourself to get out and socialize and you will not regret it. Being surrounded by positive people will definitely improve your mood and it will feel a lot better than being alone.

 

You might not be in the holiday mindset this year, and everyone else’s cheerful moods may be driving you crazy, but if you focus your attention on staying positive and thinking of the bigger picture then there is a good chance that you will feel some kind of joy or happiness over the next few months. Just remember, this time in your life might be tough, but there will be a holiday season when you will be one of those cheerful, happy people spreading holiday cheer.

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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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How to Nurture Your Sleeping Habits to Rejuvenate Yourself

We all agree that a nutritious diet and regular physical activity is the key to a healthy body, but there’s more to it that our bodies crave.  Adequate sleep is just as important but is frequently ignored.   Think about how irritable you feel when you starve your body from sleep due to a late-night shift, from socializing, jetlag or even stress.

Lack of sleep not only leaves us groggy and out-of-sorts the next day but prolonged sleep-deprivation can also have a profound effect on our memory and cognitive skills. Our body requires adequate rest and sleep to function properly every day.

 

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Consider the following tips to nurture your sleeping habits:

1. Have a sleep schedule and stick to it

Fix your bedtime so that you go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Follow the schedule even on weekends and holidays. Having a consistent sleep-wake cycle helps to promote better sleep at night.

 

2) Have a bedtime ritual

Prep your body for sleep by creating a sleep-inducing environment, listening to calm music or taking a warm bath. Do the same things every night before going to bed, this signals our body that it is time to doze off.

 

3) Avoid eating or drinking anything that interferes with sleep

Going to bed hungry or over-eating can lead to discomfort and ultimately disrupts our sleep. Make sure you pay attention to what you eat and drink before bedtime. Avoid drinking coffee, tea, chocolate or pop drinks at night as the caffeine found in these can keep you up all night. Similarly, smoking and drinking alcohol should also be limited as it depreciates your sleep quality.

 

4) Make your bedroom a sleeping haven

Your bedroom environment heavily contributes to the quality of your sleep. Make your bedroom ideal for sleeping by investing in a comfy mattress and pillows. If  your room is too light, try room-darkening shades, as a  quiet, dark and comfy room promotes sound slumber.

 

5) Don’t stress over falling asleep

Pushing yourself to fall asleep when your body isn’t ready only leads to frustration and makes it all the more difficult to get a sound sleep. If you can’t fall asleep at your fixed time, get up and do something relaxing and go to bed when you are truly tired. You could also try meditation to relax your body before you try to fall asleep again.

 

The quality of our sleep impacts both our health and lifestyle. In order to live a healthy, energetic lifestyle, it is important to concentrate on making our sleep patterns a priority.

 

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Trista 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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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.

Want to get started?

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