Connecting Authentically to Improve Relationships

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Posted by Abena Osei-Kwabena
Do you experience that nervous jittery feeling when talking to new people? Do you find that holding a conversation with strangers at casual events is as challenging as mountain climbing? Well, socializing doesn’t come naturally to all, but it is certainly an important skill that will serve you your whole life. Socializing has a wealth of benefits which directly impact our happiness as well as existence.
Getting out there and talking to people doesn’t have to be difficult. Being more social and making new friends can be easy, all you need to do is have the will to change yourself from being the odd one out to a social and outgoing person.The following tips can help you let go of your shyness and connect authentically with people:


Initiate
 

Striking up a conversation might be the most challenging step, but taking the first step yourself can give you an opportunity to meet a lot of new people. Take matters into your own hands and introduce yourself. Compliments can serve as a great ice breaker and help you start off a conversation. 

Be Dynamic

Being rigid and standing in one spot is a common mistake that prevents people from socializing effectively. Move around with confidence and try to be more approachable. Keeping your head up and acknowledging people around you with a smile or a greeting, puts others at ease and also makes them more receptive when you approach them.

Listen

Everybody likes to talk about themselves. Therefore, practicing good listening skills is just as important as expressing yourself. It will help you appear accepting and gain other people’s confidence. Listening also allows you to learn more about others, which ultimately will aid you in establishing common interests and forming a bond.

Practice

They say that experience is the best teacher. So, go out, meet new people, interact and learn from your experiences to improve your conversational skills for the future!


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.

 

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Topics: proactive, socializing, social, positivity

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.  

Humanifesto for Your Health Community

Posted by Jane Wang 

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

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

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

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Permission to stand?

Posted by Jane Wang 

Funny story: Yesterday, we had an afternoon meeting with a leader in the innovation space of a large consulting firm, and without thinking much of it, I stood up to stretch my back in the middle of the chat as we continued to talk vivaciously about the innovation climate in Canada. After a couple of minutes, he asked: “Why did you stand up? Are you leaving?” and I realized that how the culture of “movement” have not been granted for much of the community.

The way that we work is still new and somewhat shocking, even to the innovators.

So I feel compelled to ask for permission to “stand up”… for better productivity and better health.

Back pain, poor circulation, get more standing minutes? For productivity alone, we deserve the permission to stand at work.
Back pain, poor circulation, get more standing minutes? For productivity alone, we deserve the permission to stand at work.

Being a mentor for the Lean StartUp Machine workshops has opened my eyes to how small things can have huge impacts on the success of a team.

Since the whole point at LSM is to get the teams to 1) ask the right questions, 2) drill down to the essential and 3) get out of the building to find the answers (read more on LSM), managing time and cutting through the laid-back and non-actionable chatter is of the uttermost importance.

LSM – Standing Meetings
LSM – Standing Meetings

Our mentor team at LSM experimented with many things… and one of the most effective practices we found was removing the chairs. 

These No-Chair meetings cut down the time the team members debated, and energized them to all participate during the meeting! The teams reached the same conclusions in about 1/3 of the time and often get right into action following the meeting.

The productivity argument aside, it is also a good change for people who sit for 6+ hours per day. That extra 15lbs and chronic lethargy are often side-effects of our sedentary careers. Often the back pain and swollen feet are symptoms of the culture of stillness that we are unconsciously infused in. As a woman, who loves wearing beautiful yet sometimes un-ergonomic footwear in professional settings, I enjoy rely on software, wearable tech and a healthy culture to help and give me permission to stand and move throughout the day.

So rise up, and “stand up” for your right to be more productive and pain-free. Join the community by signing up here to start leading a healthier life and claiming rewards!

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