How to Promote Healthy Heart Lifestyle Choices at your Company (Webinar Recap)

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Posted by Tasneem Panchbhaya

We had a great webinar in February, in honour of heart awareness month. I sat down with Optimity’s CEO, Jane Wang to talk through how to promote a healthy heart 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 a healthy heart

Screen Shot 2018-02-14 at 2.43.45 PM.pngHeart disease is costing companies billions of dollars in loss of productivity and absenteeism.

Workplace wellness program can help prevent heart disease for their employees and in return bring down cost.

It’s essential to understand that heart disease can easily be prevented by making small behaviour changes.

See what can you do to prevent heart disease:
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Physical Activity

  • Physical activity elevates your heart rate, which is essential for keeping your heart in shape.
  • Something as simple as taking the stairs, does wonders for your heart. To read more on helpful tips on how to get physically active, especially in the colder months, check out our blog post here on exercise.

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Nutrition

  • Nutrition is key to a healthy life.
  • Some helpful tips in eating healthy is avoiding the foods that are big contributors to heart disease. Processed foods are high in sugar, fat, and sodium, so these should be kept to a minimum.
  • Cook your own food, it allows you to eat as clean as possible when using raw ingredients to make your meal.
  • Eating with others makes you more mindful of what you’re eating, and how much you’re eating. For more information on healthy eating for employees, check out one of our popular webinars on nutrition and mindful eating the workplace for more insightful tips.

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Stress Less

  • Identify your stressors in order to avoid them or create coping mechanisms that work for you.
  • Physical behaviours such as stretching and yoga can help relieve stress.
  • Change your thinking: see if your stressor is actually rational or if you’re just blowing it out of proportion. Try to make your thinking more positive.
  • Meditation is a great technique that can be done just about anywhere, and is proven to reduce stress. Here is another great webinar we’ve done on mindfulness and meditation in the workplace.

 

It’s cheaper to prevent heart disease than to treat it! Simple lifestyle changes can have the biggest positive impact financially and on the individuals health. Reach out to us at engage@myoptimity.com for information on how Optimity can help you!

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Leveraging Opportunities During Open Enrolment

Posted by Laura Carter

TIME STAMP: 2 MINUTE READ

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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Employers Turn to Workplace Wellness to Help Reduce Health Care Costs

Posted by Trista Chan

Employees are the assets of any organization, and to sustain these assets and benefit from their long term service, it’s vital to maintain their wellbeing. With the increase in awareness around living a healthy lifestyle, many employers now offer workplace wellness programs to their employees. These programs help in reducing healthcare costs and providing long term benefits to employees and their families. These programs also provide knowledge on eating a healthy diet, the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, regular exercise and leading a happy and healthy life.

According to the reports of the Society for Human Resource Management, more than 70% of employers offer wellness programs to their employees, which is almost a 10-15% increase compared to previous years.

It’s expected that everyone, during some stage of their life will face some sort of health issue, whether it be due to an unhealthy diet, sleep deprivation, alcohol, or hereditary causes.  So by utilising the benefits from wellness programs employees can make positive changes in their health and overall productivity by reducing absenteeism, stress and increasing their performance and efficiency.
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So, why do employers offer wellness programs to employees?

Employers understand the fact that a healthy employee will fetch far better outcomes than an unhealthy employee. A wellness program can offer regular health checks of employees and their families, guide them on health risks and how to prevent them, provide regular medication and provide information on the importance of exercising. When an organization emphasizes how important it is that their employees are a part of the wellness program, the employees become more aware about leading a healthy life by following healthy habits.  This can also have a domino effect on the employees’ work lives. By providing your employees with a robust wellness program, you enable them to get more out of their life and become a happier person at work, which leads to more enjoyment at work, and better results for the company.

How do wellness programs help employers reduce healthcare cost?

Wellness programs help employees identify any health risks they have and provide information on how to live a healthy life. Participating in a wellness program can help in reducing an organization’s healthcare costs due to a decrease in absenteeism, reduction in medical claims, reduction in employee stress, boosted performance and increased social interaction with family and friends. When the employees are satisfied with their health and life in general, they are more likely to put in maximum efforts at work.

Basic services that are offered under a general wellness program includes stress management, obesity reduction, healthy diet plans, blood pressure checks, cholesterol level checks, fitness guides, time management sessions etc.  Although the initial outlay of implementing a wellness program can sometimes be costly, the overall healthcare costs are reduced significantly for both employers and employees.  For example, clients of Optimity see an ROI of $1.80 to $6.93 back for every $1 spent on wellness.

 

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Trista 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.  

To learn more about how you can implement a strategic program to improve employee health outcomes and optimize work culture, contact me at tchan@myoptimity.com for a free consult.  I’ll be happy to support your organization in its wellness journey.

 

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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.  

Small Changes, Big Results

TIME STAMP: 4 MINUTE READ

Very often organizations fall into a trap of making “big changes for big results”. This approach to operating can have a devastating impact for the organization, by creating high levels of stress amongst its employees and causing instability within their industry.egg-employees.jpeg

Big changes do not necessarily mean big results. In fact, with a rapidly growing world economy, most organizations that make big changes and expect big results most likely will not achieve their desired outcomes.

I once had a client who was a people manager within his organization. He was very effective in this role and produced tremendous results. He knew however that if he remained in his manager role for much longer, he would not be advancing his career. So his next step, he felt, was to become a senior leader within his organization. He already had a list of a few big goals that would potentially give him the exposure he required to been seen as potential leader.

After my meeting with him and reviewing his big goals, as well as the risk involved with each goal, we established several small, more unassuming changes he could make that would produce the same results. Each small change was planned, intentional, and designed to advance his career in the desired direction.

One small change was to start leading his team meetings instead of the usual rotating of the meeting chair position amongst his team members. Going beyond just performing the standard meeting responsibilities, he started reviewing the team’s weekly accomplishments and the impact their achievements had on the organization’s goals and objectives. He then always ensured his team members left each meeting with a great sense of motivation and a “wow” feeling towards the tasks that needed to be performed.

As a result, by making these “small” manager performance changes, he became known within the organization as a leader who “walked his talk” through his leadership abilities and actions. These small, seemingly unimportant changes created big results, not only for him, by helping him reach his desired goal of becoming a senior leader within his organization, but also for all the people he managed.

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Turn Your Knowledge into Action

1)     As a leader or manager, what small changes are you making that are leading towards big results?

2)     How are you tracking these small changes and the results they are producing within your organization?

3)    Use strategic coaching tools such as the Optimity platform and start taking microactions towards achieving your big goal.

All the best in achieving your highest performance.

paul-business.jpg Paul Boston

 

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What Gen Y Teaches Us About Performance

Posted by Paul Boston

Gen Y is now entering the workforce and questioning some of the traditional management and leadership styles. As a result, they often receive some unflattering labels, such as “needy” or “entitled”. Often these labels have nothing to do with Gen Y, as there have always been needy and entitled people within organizations. If we stop and look past the labels, Gen Y might be actually teaching us how to improve workplace performance. In fact, they might have a significant role in redefining and elevating human performance within many organizations.


Looking at the performance sciences behind these Gen Y labels, you will start to uncover many performance skills and attitudes that are essential for human performance. Here are a couple of those labels and what they can teach us about improving human performance in our organizations regardless of generation.

Always requiring praise

I sometimes hear: “Oh, Gen Y always need to receive praise about their work”. I will be the first to point out to anyone that you are not always going to receive praise for the work you do. This is why the skill of self-motivation is essential. In fact, what Gen Y are asking for is performance feedback. They need to know what they are doing well and where to improve in order to better their performance.

I couldn’t imagine a high-performance athlete receiving performance feedback twice a year from a coach, and honestly being able to improve performance. However, many current performance management systems are based on reviews that happen twice a year. This might explain the growing trend in many organizations that are starting to replace old performance review processes.

Looking for quick advancement

It is said Gen Y is just looking for quick advancement within an organization, and if they don’t get it, they will look outside the organization for better opportunities. What this actually translates into from a performance standpoint, is that Gen Y wants to be challenged and need to advance their careers, both financially and professionally. This attitude is very common attitude by most high-level performers who are looking to grow their career.

Organization’s performance benefits are numerous with these types of employees. They are keen and welcome challenging assignments and new responsibilities. Organizations that can retain this type of employee will be on the road to creating a strong human performance culture.

There are many ways organizations can improve organizational performance, and perhaps one place to start is to fully understand the performance improvement attitudes and skills Gen Y are now bringing to our organizations.

All the best in achieving your highest performance.

Paul Boston


Paul Boston is the president of Actus Performance Inc., a high-performance development firm. Paul started his professional career working in the fast-paced and demanding world of marketing and advertising with Fortune 500 companies and organizations around the globe. At the same time, he started racing at the elite level of triathlons and qualified four times for the World Triathlon Championships. At that time, he discovered similarities between the approach to performance in his athletic and professional career. He then went back to school to study adult training and development, specializing in workplace performance skills. As an organizational high-performance development specialist, Paul works with clients to help them understand the fundamental performance values, attitudes and skills people, teams and organizations need in our ever-changing modern-day work world. Paul has published numerous articles and spoken to professional organizations across North America on 21st century workplace performance.

To learn more on how business performance is like athletic performance visit,www.actusperformance.com

 

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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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