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. 

 

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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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4 Principles for Creating a Wellness Program

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

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

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

1)   Educate

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

2) Engage

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

3) Empower

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

 

4) Evaluate

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

 

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

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

Employee Programs Best Practices: Setting the right kind of goals

Posted by Nicholas Raditsis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Nicholas Raditsis

VP of Client Success

Nraditsis@myoptimity.com

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

Posted by Jane Wang

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Sources

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

Do Workplace Wellness Programs Save Employers Money?,

2012 Gallup State of the American Workplace study,