How to Eat Smart  

Posted by Tasneem Panchbhaya 

Eating healthy shouldn’t be a struggle, don’t let your long busy day hold you back from making healthy choices. Sometimes we know what the right choices are, we just don’t make them because of the unhealthier temptations around us or because we prioritize work over lunch. However, nutrition is vital if we want stay healthy, prevent illness and have a successful job performance, with a positive outlook.

Here are our top 3 tips on how to eat healthy while you work through your busy work day:

1.  Eat Breakfast
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Don’t hit snooze on your alarm, it’s better to get up 10 minutes early and have yourself a quick breakfast than to sleep in a little longer. I know when I’m trying to rush to work, the last thing on my mind is having breakfast in the morning, however studies have shown that skipping breakfast actually leads to obesity and puts you at a higher risk of susceptible chronic illness such as diabetes or cardiovascular illnesses. It’ll also help you get rid of any cranky or moodiness you feel first thing in the morning. Check out our nutrition content in the Optimity app’s library, ranging from healthy recipes to tips on mindful eating to learn more on eating healthy.

Here’s one of my favorite recipes that’s healthy and simple to make, so you can have anywhere, even on the go!

Yogurt Parfait 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup low fat yogurt
  • ¼ cup low fat granola
  • ¼  cup grapes or fruit of choice

Layer your granola and fruit on the yogurt, and enjoy! Your breakfast couldn’t get any easier and healthier than that!

2. Eat with a Buddy

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Distracted eating while working or on your phones may lead to un-healthier food choices and portions. However eating with a friend/colleague will actually boost productivity, since people who eat together will actually work better together, since many researchers attribute eating together as a team building exercise. Eating with a buddy also doubles up as an accountability partner, your buddy can help you stay on track of any health goals you have in place for yourself, as well as make you more conscious of portion sizes when you’re eating with others, you’ll stop yourself from getting a second servings when you’re eating with someone else.

3. Keep Healthy Snacks at hand

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It’s easy to skip meals or substitute your lunch meals with unhealthy processed snacks you have laying around because of how convenient and easy they are to to eat while working. Surround your desk or office kitchen with healthier snacks that you can have between your meals to keep you full. Some helpful suggestion are to have snacks high in fibre and protein, so they can help keep you fuller for longer periods of time. Try keeping a handful of nuts around, but be sure to be cognizant of portion sizes, because too much of anything can actually make you put on weight due to the extra calories. For more helpful suggestions on eating in the workplace, be sure to check out our webinar for more information.

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The way to successfully implement change in your employees healthy lifestyle is to start micro. Micro behaviour changes are key in making positive change to any work environment, because of how easy it is to actually implement. Having an app, like Optimity send out encouraging helpful nudges, and provide really insightful tips and exercise goes a really long way in promoting an overall healthy life.This approach is a lot easier and more rewarding for both the employees and employers, because both have something to gain from the shift. Employees get to change their life, bit by bit, everyday leading to better health, and in addition, get rewarded for it. This as a result, produces better health outcomes for employees, leading to a decrease in health claim cost and a better work ethics.

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If you want to learn more about implementing a successful workplace wellness program and bring down your cost while increasing productivity and engagement, reach out to us at engage@myoptimity.com to learn more.

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

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Let us know how you eat healthy throughout your busy workday!

Wellbeing in the Workplace: Why Employee Engagement Matters (Optimity Webinar Recap)

Posted by Tasneem Panchbhaya 


We had a great webinar in May, in honour of Global Employee Health and Fitness month. I sat down with Optimity’s CEO, Jane Wang, to talk about how to promote best practice tips in the workplace to promote employee engagement. You can watch the full webinar here. Here are a few key takeaway points from the webinar:  

Employee engagement is the number one problem to solve; with absenteeism and productivity as the second top concern for HR leaders.

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We took a quick poll at the start of the webinar to see what some of the leading issues were in the workplace, and it turns out employee engagement was a huge concern for 77% of our attendees, so our webinar topic clearly hit home with a lot of people.

With growing focus on employee health, corporate wellness programs are increasingly becoming the order of the day. Research shows, that those individuals who exercise frequently, stayed home from work on an average 2.11 days fewer annually and had 31% lower health care costs than individuals who didn’t exercise regularly. These numbers alone stress the importance of setting up corporate wellness programs.

Almost 50% of medical costs are incurred due to illnesses that can be avoided with small lifestyle changes. Corporations have begun to realize the importance of healthy employees and are working to encourage employees to lead increasingly healthier lifestyles.

One of the studies we discussed in the webinar by Aon Hewitt, established that successful employers make employee engagement a business priority. When employers care about their employees, the employees respond with a better rational and motivation. This leads to 20% increase in engaged employees. When putting this number into context, it means if an organization has 30,000 employees, then there are 6000 employees who are going above and beyond with their jobs to serve their customers and drive efficiency. The graph below reflects these stats, where there is roughly a 20% gap between “best employers” and others (employers who don’t prioritize employee engagement), and we can see the difference in how much more successful the organization is when employee engagement is at the top of the employers agenda.  

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Organizations know that wellness programs are key to addressing employee issues, which is why more than half the organizations already have wellness programs.

wb chart-2With the second poll that we took, it clearly supported the new industry norm of wellness programs being a prominent addition in majority of workplaces, with 77% stating they already incorporate a wellness program in their organization.

 

Wellness programs don’t just benefit employers, it also supports the needs of the employees, some of which are:

●  Improving their physical strength, stamina, and general well being
●  Improving their focus at work
●  Increasing job satisfaction and fostering a positive outlook on life
●  Bettering relations with co-workers and supervisors  

An effective workplace wellness programs is the backbone to improving engagement in the workplace. Gallup’s most recent global research finds only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work, and according to the latest State of the American Workplace report, just 33% of employed residents in the United States are engaged at work.

Here are two important facts that came about a study done by The Corporate Leadership Council on employees performance and retention:

  • Engaged companies grow profits as much as 3X faster than their competitors.
  • Highly engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave the organization.

Other key findings were that:

  • A disengaged employee costs an organization approximately $3,400 for every $10,000 in annual salary.
  • Disengaged employees cost the American economy up to $350 billion per year due to lost productivity.

All these key findings suggest that if companies want to boost productivity and profitability, customer loyalty, and bring down attrition and disengagement losses, they need to start engaging employees.

So you may be wondering, what’s the solution, especially if more than half of organizations have already incorporated a wellness program, why is engagement so low? Well the problem and the solution lie in the approach to wellness. A lot of the organizations are still relying on traditional approach to wellness programs, and that’s not to say they’re not good, they’re just not as effective in getting high participation and and sustainability. What successful organizations are doing is going digital.

Non-traditional approaches to wellness are still the most common route used by many organizations. 

wb chart-3The last poll we did during this webinar was to see how our attendees faired with using a digital wellness tool. Although a few have had the chance to implement it, more than half do not, and this just shows why only a handful of organizations have such great engagement rates, they’re implementing wellness programs the right way, the digital way.

One of the main reason’s why a digital wellness program is so effective is with their use of a dynamic and innovative health risk assessment (HRA).

An effective HRA allows the wellness program to understand the nuances of an individual’s statistical situation by collecting their key biometric data and health information. With the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) we’ve now been able to integrate a wellness system to take information from the HRA and use it to automatically create a tailored program for the individual. This approach customizes, and tailors the program to the individuals needs which is a huge leap forward from traditional approaches that focuses solely on fitness and nutrition, and requires on site attendance for wellness programs. The digital approach gives the individual the power to create true and meaningful change. 

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To learn more about implementing a successful wellness program that increases engagement, be sure to check out our webinar, where we also go over our top 3 best practice tips that you can implement in your workplace, even if you don’t (yet) have Optimity.  

A comprehensive corporate wellness programs have proven to be beneficial and cost effective to the employer as well as the employee in the long run. If you’d like more information on implementing a successful wellness program, please reach out to us at engage@myoptimity.com.  

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

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The Corporate Benefits of Employees Who Sleep

Posted by Abena Osei-Kwabena 

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According to the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) conducted in the U.S., less than 40% of adults are getting enough sleep. To be productive, adults are recommended to sleep for a minimum of 7 hours on average per night. Being deficient in sleep is costing companies $63 million in lost efficiency.

 

Sleep deprivation can also lead to major health issues that affect your on-job performance and productivity. So it’s no surprise that many organisations are now paying their employees to take a nap on the job to get them refreshed and productive. Google, which has been ranked as one of the best companies to work for, gives their employees a number of wellness benefits including access an on-site gym, a spa and massage centre, and a unique nap station where they can take 40-minute naps on recliner chairs, while listening to music to help alleviate their stress. This has proven to boost their employees’ performance and aid them in producing a better quality of work.

Based on a study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, not getting enough sleep can decrease your alertness and efficiency, and long-term sleep deprivation can increase your risk of heart attacks, high blood pressure, obesity and elevated stress levels.

 

To prevent the onset of these issues, a rising number of organisations have been introducing Sleep Management Programmes to educate employees on the importance of sleep and its impact on wellbeing and job performance. These programmes also educate employees on the issues associated with excessive use of their phone before bed, the benefits of having at least 7 hours of sleep, how impactful sleep is on their performance and behaviour, and the benefits of a nap room in the office.

 

Here are some tips on how to make your office more nap friendly:

 

Have a dedicated nap area

Creating a comfortable and welcoming space for napping with couches and relaxing music (or peace and quiet) will encourage employees to de-stress in the middle of the work day. Afterwards, they’ll feel refreshed and ready to tackle their workloads.

 

Make napping a part of the business culture

Introducing a culture of napping to your company will normalize it and lessen the guilt that your employees may experience over having a quick nap during the workday. They need to be encouraged to take a small break from their desk.

 

Schedule nap times

Scheduling a 20-minute nap before making an important business decision can actually help in making the best decision. Studies show that making decisions when you haven’t had enough sleep often don’t turn out to be the best decision for the company.

So, nappers rejoice! By leaving a little room in their schedule for a nap, employees become healthier, more productive and less stressed!

 


Follow us on Twitter to stay current on the top cost-containment wellness strategies.  To learn more about cessation programs for smoking and their impact on your ROI, check out this link: Corporate smoking cessation programs and ROI.

 

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.

 

Share a bit of #Health and #Joy with colleagues, friends and family – Sign up for Optimity to start leading a healthier life and claiming rewards!

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What Is Your Employee Wellness Program Missing?

Posted by Hilary Turk

Wellness programs have become a positive trend in recent years, with almost 90% of employers providing them to their employees. These employers definitely have a positive objective in providing these programmes, but there are some issues that remain missing from the wellness programs that need proper attention for their success. Wellness programs often just focus on healthy eating habits, getting regular health check-ups, and providing knowledge to employees on living a healthy life, but the success of wellness programs doesn’t only depend on only these factors. Wellness programs need to engage employees, boost their morale and help them to adopt healthy changes in their work and home life as well. This can be achieved not only by introducing a wellness program but by providing the supporting tools and actions which will have everlasting effects. This would also benefit employers by saving them money on healthcare costs in the form of reduced absenteeism, decreased compensation for medical claims and increased efficiency of employees.

Here are a few ways you can improve your existing wellness program:

Improve your company culture

Wellness programs provide a great amount of support to employees, but this program can only succeed only when it is adopted within the culture of the organisation. A few health checks here and there in the office won’t cut it! Organisations should be encouraging their employees to follow a healthy routine which can boost stamina and energy levels to lead to an all-round healthier life.

Personalize your programs

Many wellness programs often skip over the part where they personalise a program to a specific person, which can ultimately lead to the success of the program. Before a successful program is implemented employees need to be carefully analysed and interviewed about their working culture, location, lifestyle, preferences etc. It’s also vital that the program be manageable and tailored to each individual’s needs.

Be engaging

Dedicate a team of employees that can create a buzz among their peers to adopt the wellness programs. Sending regular emails, educating employees and hosting monthly wellness program social events is a great way to get employees engaged and excited about joining the wellness program.

Reward your employees

Create an engaging reward system that your employees want to be a part of. It could be a financial reward for hitting their fitness goals, or a team lunch on the company for banishing a bad habit. Anything that gets your workers working towards a healthier and happy work life deserves to be rewarded.

 

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Hilary is a Wellness Advisor at Optimity. She graduated from the University of Guelph with a B.Sc. in Human Kinetics. She aims to empower others to live their healthiest and happiest lives. Her interests are swimming, hiking and hanging out with friends and family. Wellness is a big part of her life and she hopes to make it a part of others.

 

Sign up for Optimity to start leading a healthier life and claiming rewards!

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Why Wellness Works in the Workplace

Posted by Hilary Turk

Ted DeWolf, a Sales Manager from Levitt-Safety describes his positive experience with using Optimity when it was implemented into his workplace. In the post he describes his thoughts on workplace wellness and how Optimity has helped to change his workplace habits for the better.

Read the Full Post Here

Like many workforces, Levitt-Safety employees were sedentary, the majority spending 8+ hours sitting at their desks.  Research has shown that sitting for extended periods can cause:

  • Strained neck and shoulders
  • Back problems
  • Poor digestion
  • Reduced brain function
  • Poor cirulation
  • Muscle degeneration
  • Leg disorders
  • Organ damage

Optimity platform helps you effortlessly address these issues through powerful micro-actions. These small 30 second to 1 minute activities are delivered through apps and wearables so that you can complete them during the day seamlessly. For example, Optimity app will remind you to take a walk around the office mid-afternoon to substitute that extra cup of afternoon coffee or to do a shoulder stretch to improve your posture. With these small actions, much of the preventable medication such as sleeping aids and back pain medication can be significantly reduced – producing a clear hard ROI and measurable health benefits for the employees.

What is Wellness?

At first, Ted didn’t have a good understanding of what “workplace wellness” actually meant. With doing more research he has since learnt that “wellness” is more holistic in nature. It considers all other aspects that contribute to health and not just merely the absence of disease.

“Proper work-life balance, means you can achieve a self-determined state of well-being that lets you effectively manage many responsibilities at work, at home and even in your community; it supports positive physical, emotional, family and social health without undue stress or other negative impact.”

How Optimity has Helped:

Since Levitt-Safety launched Optimity, they received strong employee feedback on how their quality of life improved. By taking little steps to encourage their employees to assume better working and coping habits, it has helped them along their personal and professional path towards a better work-life balance by injecting more focus on life into work!

Optimity provides a mobile app that serves as a pocket coach on daily habits that helps busy professionals stay healthy, cope with stress and get amazing tangible rewards ($50 Nike, Amazon, Starbucks gift cards). It syncs with 258 wearables and popular apps to pull in activity data so it can coach you smartly and according to your daily routines.

 

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Hilary is a Wellness Advisor at Optimity. She graduated from the University of Guelph with a B.Sc. in Human Kinetics. She aims to empower others to live their healthiest and happiest lives. Her interests are swimming, hiking and hanging out with friends and family. Wellness is a big part of her life and she hopes to make it a part of others.

Sign up for Optimity to start leading a healthier life and claiming rewards!

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Optimity and Excellence Canada

Posted by Jane Wang

Optimity is delighted to announce that it is working with Excellence Canada to provide followers of Canada’s Healthy Workplace Month® with first-hand experience using our rewards-based wellness initiative through a free trial.

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Excellence Canada is an independent, not-for-profit corporation that is dedicated to advancing organizational performance across Canada. They provide training, coaching, and tools to implement, validate, and certify organizational excellence.

One of the goals of Canada’s Healthy Workplace Month® is to increase awareness of workplace health in Canada, including fostering healthy lifestyles, supportive workplace culture, mental health, safety, and corporate social responsibility.

A lack of employee well-being can lead to an unmotivated and unwell team, which can have a negative effect on any business. Our mission at Optimity is to help you create healthy habits that will greatly improve your quality of life and reduce stress levels. Our mobile-first wellness program provides personalized coaching that is accessible at the swipe of a finger. It also has a social component that allows your like-minded colleagues to support you every step of the way on your health and wellness journey.

Together with Excellence Canada, Optimity would like to invite you to explore our rewards program initiative by trying a LITE version of our app so that you can see how incorporating more wellness into your day can help you to become healthier and happier.

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By signing up to this free LITE version, you will receive daily office-friendly health activities while you earn points to bid on exciting rewards such as Amazfit bands, VIA Rail vouchers, Starbucks gift cards, and more! You can even sign up your whole department to encourage your colleagues to join in and follow you on your new health journey.

FRENCH version is also available here. Please contact: engage@myoptimity.com for any questions, as we are happy to help support you in wellness.

Sign up here to start leading a healthier life and claiming FREE rewards!

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(Optimity apps are available in English, French and Chinese)

Why Participation Matters

By Trista Chan

Many employers have recognized that they can play a vital and influential role in assisting employees live a healthier lifestyle that can prevent costly chronic conditions. Each year employers spend a fortune subsidizing employee healthcare cost and see a lot fewer sick days from employee’s with a higher well-being and healthier lifestyle. Dollarphotoclub_73498966.jpg

While implementing a wellness program is a no brainer, the most difficult factor is participation. Wellness programs should be carefully designed for the average employee and should be created to ensure that anyone that participates feels welcomed and motivated to make a change. Participation of these programs is a win-win situation for both the employer and employee.

 

It is imperative that the wellness program targets the right group of employee’s. Anti-selection and adverse risk selection occurs when perfectly healthy employees decide to participate in the wellness program. The claim costs for the less healthy employees are not offset by healthy employees, who usually have no claims. This pushes the average claim higher, which means higher premiums and possibly even lower participation as the affordability of the plan declines.

While it’s great to have your already healthy employee’s participating in the wellness program, most of the company costs actually come from “average” employees, who use 9.3 days of absenteeism each year! They also cost the company 10% more on RX drug claims per year and 6.5% more on health insurance and benefits utilization.

 

Disease Management programs need to be tailored and cannot be scaled to all employees. Employee’s with the risk of becoming chronically ill should have a wellness program created for them that includes regular physician visits and preventative care check-ups to monitor their health status. The Wellness program administrators should record and analyse results in house and through a third party to ensure that the management program is working and also give the employee a sense of achievement.

 

The company wellness program must be designed for the “average” employee and achieve at least a 60% participation rate in order to change health and cost outcomes. Employer’s need to know that they are getting value for their investment.

Participation in a wellness program is vital, as it is proven that the more employees you get performing at a better level, the higher their job productivity will be. They also visit the doctor less, have less sick days and also have improved mental state, which can also benefit their colleagues and clients.

Sign up here to start leading a healthier life and claim FREE 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.