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!

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Avoid a one size fits all program

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


Adapt to the workforce

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


Get professional help

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

 

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

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The Future of Health and Wellness Today

trends-header1.jpgDid you know that Americans spent an average of $714 on out of pocket health care in 2016? This number continues to increase year on year. The rising costs of healthcare in North America makes it crucial for companies to start putting a larger focus on corporate wellness programs. The growing industry of corporate wellness programs shows that new technology, data and increased insights can really help to encourage employees to stay fit and healthy. As a result these outcomes not only benefit the employee but also the company.

The healthcare cost crisis has become so important, that major corporations like Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan are teaming up to create a new business that is designed to lower health care costs for their employees and provide increased employee satisfaction while reducing costs.

To provide a beneficial corporate wellness program we first need to talk about our current workforce. With Millennials becoming the largest generation in the US workforce (35%) they have a great impact on the wellness market. This generation has a new outlook on wellness and are said to spend the most amount of money on health programs, even though they earn less than any other generation. They also have a greater knowledge and interest in technology, which gives them easy access to wellness information and programs. Working remotely has also become a trend throughout the past few years, and as these current workforce trends change we realize that work-life balance is a thing of the past. Our digital world has us constantly connected, which means we are checking emails at any time of the night and chatting to friends and colleagues during dinner. Life and work have integrated together, and our wellness programs need to change to reflect this. New trends need new solutions.

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At Optimity, our dynamic and personalized approach helps this modern generation of professionals be at their best, whether they work from the office or remotely. We support their modern routines and offer a holistic approach to wellness in the forms of mental health, financial wellness, and physical health; all of which we believe contribute to a person’s overall health. Our programs also offer 24/7 support that is dedicated to the user, because we know that a wellness program should be designed to offer support, even if you are not in the office. We know that a one-size fits all approach doesn’t help anyone, so our programs are tailored to employee’s specific goals and needs. We help people manage their time and encourage them to build healthy habits, no matter what kind of profession or workforce they are in.

Workplace Wellness Programs are here to stay, and like any program, these initiatives are only ever effective if they are done correctly. Employees continue to request wellness benefits from their employers. It’s about time companies start paying attention to the holistic wellbeing of their employees and incorporate a proactive wellness program like Optimity that fits into their everyday working life.

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Want to know more about how we can help you implement a personalized coaching program in your company? Reach out to us at engage@myOptimity.com and let’s have a chat.

Or sign up here 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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Proactive vs. Reactive Corporate Wellness Programs

Posted by Abena Osei-Kwabena

To date, most people rely on reactive healthcare services, that is, they visit healthcare professionals only when a problem arises or a condition worsens. However, the benefits of a proactive healthcare approach can actually save more lives.

As the saying goes, “prevention is better than a cure.” A proactive approach prepares the body even before you are ill and can reduce health costs over the years. When educating employees for a proactive healthcare approach, they need to be provided with detailed information about how to minimize their health risks, prevent impending health issues, manage existing chronic conditions and prepare for work-related emergencies.

 Over 51.6% of Canadians over 20 has been diagnosed with some type of chronic disease. Lifestyle changes are one of the biggest contributors to conditions such as cancer, obesity, kidney problems, and cardiovascular and liver diseases. Stressful work conditions can cause common issues like back pain and insomnia, as well. It is roughly estimated that Canadians lose about $130 billion in productivity losses and $70 billion in direct healthcare costs due to chronic illnesses.

 The top four illnesses that can decrease an employee’s performance are headache, flu, back pain and arthritis. Such conditions are not only detrimental to the individual, but they can indirectly impact their coworkers as well. For example, if they were to go on a sick leave, their coworkers’ workloads may increase. Corporate wellness programs, however, can greatly reduce absenteeism, direct healthcare expenses and compensation claims and thus can provide an ROI of $1.40 to $4.70 for every $1 invested by the corporation. Breaking the fact sheet, the ROI for different programs for every $1 spent includes health risk assessments ($6.04), fitness programs ($4.90), wellness coaching ($4.50), smoking cessation ($3.50), flu shots ($2.10) and obesity management ($1.17).

 Employers must keep in mind that their employees are their greatest asset, and need proper care. Besides a strategic implementation of effective wellness programs, regularly conducting health fairs boosts the productivity of your employees and helps to educate them on preventing and managing health issues.

   


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.

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

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Top 10 Scary Health Cost Stats that Employers Must Know for 2017

Posted by Abena Osei-Kwabena

 

From insurance coverage to increasing the productivity, good health of employees gives good returns to you in the long run. In order to get a high ROI here are the top 10 health cost stats that every employer must know in 2017…

 

1. Rising cost of biologics

Biological pharmaceuticals currently account for less than 3.5% of a corporation’s total healthcare expenditure. However, many new biologics are entering the marketplace and will soon represent 70% of the total medications. With it, the therapy costs can be $25,000 to $75,000, making the average cost of a biologic in the US about $45 compared to just $2 for chemical or molecule-based medicines.

 

2. Oral medication cost vs. injectable costs

Oral medication costs are generally charged to corporate benefits plans, whereas injectable medications and infused drugs are often covered by provincial health plans in Canada.

 

3. Smoking and lifestyle habits

There has been a considerable rise in chronic illness and obesity in the past decade. Smoking habits cost employers $570 million, whereas employees combating obesity cost about $73.1 billion per year.

 

4. Specialty Drugs vs. Transplantation costs

Spending on specialty medicines (medication for cancer, Hepatitis C, etc.) is expected to rise from $187 billion in 2016 to about $402 billion by 2020. Regular spending on specialty drugs can sometimes be higher than even transplant costs. For example, a person with mild liver disease can incur an average annual cost of $17,000 with specialty drugs—which will continue for 10 years, at least! However, compared to liver transplantation costs, the latter can be ten times cheaper.

 

5. The excessive rise in usage of prescription drugs in developed countries

Seventy percent of North Americans are on at least one prescription drug, while 5% of the world’s total population consumes 95% of the world’s prescription drugs. Lack of cost transparency and inaccurate information can result in unnecessarily costly medical bills.

 

6. Inappropriate usage of specialty drugs

There is a significant premature and overuse of specialty drugs. On an average, there is an annual waste of about $3,000 per patient due to inappropriate and unrequired usage of drugs.

 

7. Increase in cost of health insurance premiums

A recent study by National Group on Health, Washington, showed that there will be about a 6% rise in health insurance premiums in the year 2017. The major contributors to it will be specialty pharmacy (31%), high cost claimants (32%) and specific disease on conditions (17%). There will be an overall inflation of 11%.

 

8. Employers Shifting Costs to Workers

Currently, 36% of employers are considering a shared contribution strategy. About 12% of them have already adopted such strategy and this has helped them save over 4% of their expenditure on healthcare programs.

 

9. Medical cost trends needs to be recalibrated

With an 11.9% growth rate in 2007, the numbers for medical costs have steadily declined from from 6.8% in 2015 to 6.5% in 2017. While 50% is spent on outpatient and inpatient costs, there has been a considerable rise in share of pharmaceuticals from 17% to 20%, this year. Offering high deductible health insurance plans can be a savior for employers, yet a burden on employees if not utilized properly.

 

10. Hospitals demand higher prices

According to KHN, hospitals can directly employ physicians and create large and costly medical systems. Additionally, malpractices of premiums and unnecessary tests can cost employers more than $1,400 per person.
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.

 

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Get the Most from Your Corporate HRA Programs

If you need to maximise the ROI from your corporate healthcare program, then it’s wise to adopt a step by step approach. Before anything else, an extensive and complete Health Risk Appraisal/ Assessment of your organization is an absolute must for any such program to be successful.

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 What an HRA must include?

 If you need to maximise the ROI from your corporate healthcare program, then it’s wise to adopt a step by step approach. Before anything else, an extensive and complete Health Risk Appraisal/ Assessment of your organization is an absolute must for any such program to be successful.

What an HRA must include?

Typically a HRA gives you a complete rundown about demographic characteristics, lifestyle information, personal and family medical history, height and weight, body composition analysis and blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol levels of your workforce. Specific and individual chronic conditions need to be elaborative.

 

What you must consider before designing and implementing an HRA program?

An effective HRA is one which maintains ethics, is technically sound and able to provide feedback and give space for follow ups. Providing incentives for participation and healthy mode of administration keeps the enthusiasm and eases the task. In every way, ROIs need to be calculated accurately before designing the final blueprint of the program.

What are the benefits of HRA?

HRAs give you comprehensive information about your workforce’s real age. For example, if your company have 60% of employees as obese and only 5% of are smokers, then fitness and diet programs need to have a larger focus. It also gives indications about what work or psychological conditions may be contributing to the problem.

 

How can HRAs go wrong?

If HRAs are not analysed properly, it can give you low or absolutely no ROI. HRAs can go wrong when you haven’t prepared your questionnaire properly (especially when assessing mental health related problems), by not maintaining ethics and secrecy, by making it a lengthy and time consuming process and by not explaining the process well or being unable to provide immediate, true and technical feedbacks.

 

Why you should create a momentum?

Studies show that 90% of employees say yes to the conduction of HRAs, but only 62% of them actually turn up. Most of them are disinterested and take corporate healthcare programs as an irrelevant process. Unless you are making it compulsory, corporate HRA programs need to be promoted, well explained and encouraged. You must explain how these programs can actually help each individual in maximizing their performance in both the workplace and in their personal life.

 

How you can ease the process of HRAs?

A recent study shows that more than 23% of respondents feel hesitant to open up to a corporate associated healthcare professional. However, if they are provided an online platform, they feel much more comfortable. Online HRA is also faster and the employer gets easy and immediate access to the contents and functionality. The more employees participate in the process, the better your data analysis and hence the more accurate your ROI calculations are.

 

What you must consider before designing and implementing an HRA program?

An effective HRA is one which maintains ethics, is technically sound and able to provide feedback and give space for follow ups. Providing incentives for participation and healthy mode of administration keeps the enthusiasm and eases the task. In every way, ROIs need to be calculated accurately before designing the final blueprint of the program.

 

What are the benefits of HRA?

HRAs give you comprehensive information about your workforce’s real age. For example, if your company have 60% of employees as obese and only 5% of are smokers, then fitness and diet programs need to have a larger focus. It also gives indications about what work or psychological conditions may be contributing to the problem.

 

How can HRAs go wrong?

If HRAs are not analysed properly, it can give you low or absolutely no ROI. HRAs can go wrong when you haven’t prepared your questionnaire properly (especially when assessing mental health related problems), by not maintaining ethics and secrecy, by making it a lengthy and time consuming process and by not explaining the process well or being unable to provide immediate, true and technical feedbacks.

 

Why you should create a momentum?

Studies show that 90% of employees say yes to the conduction of HRAs, but only 62% of them actually turn up. Most of them are disinterested and take corporate healthcare programs as an irrelevant process. Unless you are making it compulsory, corporate HRA programs need to be promoted, well explained and encouraged. You must explain how these programs can actually help each individual in maximizing their performance in both the workplace and in their personal life.

 

How you can ease the process of HRAs?

A recent study shows that more than 23% of respondents feel hesitant to open up to a corporate associated healthcare professional. However, if they are provided an online platform, they feel much more comfortable. Online HRA is also faster and the employer gets easy and immediate access to the contents and functionality. The more employees participate in the process, the better your data analysis and hence the more accurate your ROI calculations are.

 

 

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!

iOS | Android