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.

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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.  

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

Posted by Jane Wang

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Sources

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

Do Workplace Wellness Programs Save Employers Money?,

2012 Gallup State of the American Workplace study,

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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5 Activities for Workplace Zen

Our team at Optimity often laugh about the buzzing, dizzying professional world we inhabit as a wellness company. Indeed, it has been a hectic season again. Our organization runs lean and everyone wears a lot of hats. The demand on time and energy is high every day. So under this relentless drum for productivity and progress, we are determined to stay sunny and upbeat.

Here are 5 little exercises that has made our work-lives more enjoyably zen.

  1. Shrink the list – Prioritize the day using the ABC system (A for Urgent and important, B for Important but can wait, C for Nice-to-haves). Then proceed to only do the As. By making peace with the fact that we often cannot do it all, we enable ourselves to focus on what is the best use of our time to get to our desired outcomes.
  2. Start with deep breathes – We can get energized throughout the day if we condition ourselves to take a couple of deep breathes every time we start a new task. We often get tired because we are not getting enough oxygen consistently into our brains. So avoid those headaches, and get into the habit of using more of our lung capacity throughout the day.
  3. Queue it up – Another item for the to-do? Don’t jump into right away. Instead, put it directly into your to-do list and continue on finishing your current task with focus and swiftness. This actually saves us time in the long run and prevents errors that occur when we switch contexts too often.
  4. Noise control – Be aware of your work environment and the noise level, and find your optimum ambient sound environment. Tuning your work settings will help you stay focused, calm and head-ache free all day.
  5. Easy path to victory – Do the most difficult task first, and the day is just strolling through a progressively easier path to getting things done. Remember to smile and enjoy every little victory.

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3 Habits of Powerful Professionals

Professional Art of Balance

Over the last 2 years, we interviewed hundreds of powerful professionals [CEO, CFOs, CMO, COO, Head of Sales, VP of Marketing etc.] to gather key insights on how daily habits can shape careers:

The astounding growth in these leaders’ productivity and mindfulness seemed to be compounded over decades of their personal investment in habit building. Many shared experiences of adding simple, healthy habits into their daily routines. A few talk specifically about setting stretch goals, many swear by their routine for fitness, and most will talk about the power of continuous learning. They are all absolutely dedicated to practicing regular business-boosting habits.

The following 3 habits are easy to emulate, and can be seamlessly incorporated into your routine. They just might make the difference between stagnated personal growth and the inflection point on your competency, responsibilities and salary. The trick, as with any habit, is in making it stick.

1. Practice ACTIVE thinking

Can you place the last time that you came up with a great idea or had true fluidity and clarity of thought? For those I interviewed, they often do a lot of thinking and problem solving while they are on the move. During their jog, or as they are on a walk, their thoughts have hyper-clarity and focus.  The benefits of daily physical exercise are well known, including stress reduction, improved mental acuity, and cardiovascular health. And it can be an invaluable business resource.

“I owe a lot of my winning decisions to my exercise routine,”one CEO says. “Life is busy, and I rarely have time to focus on specific issues uninterrupted… But when I’m out cycling, for an hour I am uninterrupted and invigorated. I feel positive, alive, and my brain just solves problems almost unconsciously.”

So try this, while you are walking home take a longer route to think; while you are on the treadmill, focus on a challenge you are having at work. Very quickly, you will see that your brain and muscles are well-connected to help produce better outcomes for you.

2. Set ambitious goals

Ask yourself these questions: What ambitious goals excite you? Can you do something about it in the next 3 months? next 3 weeks? next 3 days?

Now write them down. Keep it neatly displayed in your field of view at work.

Winning CEOs have the well-developed habit of setting goals that motivate themselves and their people. They regularly take time to define success and set goals. The power comes from getting specific with timelines and actions.

At least once a week, you should practice the habits of looking at your industry and develop a vision for it. Then, figure out how you would set ambitious goals to motivate others to join you in realizing that vision.

3. Never waste a meal

This is an Optimity trademarked habit. It is about taking advantage of each meal to give your body the nutrients it needs and also as an opportunity to connect with your fellow men/women.

2 great books bring home the 2 core ideas in this habit:

  • Never eat alone” by Keith Ferrazzi, a book on relationship building.

This book focuses on how each meal is a great time to network, since something special always happens when we spend time together “breaking bread”.

Being connected is a valuable asset in business and in life. Social interactions play a great part in our emotional well-being and our sense of community. So you should build the habit of enjoying food with others: try visiting an acquaintance from a different organization for lunch or invite them over for dinner. If you do this a couple times a week, you will find that your circle of influence have quickly multiplied into a powerful network.

  • Whole” by T. Colin Campbell, a book on nutrition and eating habits.

This book is about the principle of nutrition and the human body: an apple as a whole interacts differently with your body, it cannot be substituted by adding up tablets for vitamin C and A.

It teaches the habit to consume “native forms” of plants, explained by the world of nutritional chemistry. We in our career-building phase of 20 years, get to enjoy close to 22,000 meals (if you eat thrice a day). Effectively after these years, your body will be completely build and re-build with new molecules. So make each meal count, and put good chemistry into your body. Your body is a complex machine, and you deserve premium material to build it.

active and healthy lifestyle 'how to' list with goals to be fit and motivated
active and healthy lifestyle ‘how to’ list with goals to be fit and motivated

“Breakfast smoothies are my thing! And I was looking for ways to connect with my staff more, so I started this 1-on-1 breakfast walking meeting thing.” one VP of Sales shared with me. “Any of my staff can book me for a breakfast walking meeting and enjoy one of my smoothies. I started getting to know my people better and I feel incredibly close to my team. As a health bonus, Pat’s wife wrote a thank-you note to me recently! Apparently Pat got on the juicing bandwagon because of me and lost 20lbs over the last year!”

So treasure each meal, as a chance to build your body and bond with those who you want to get to know better. Don’t squander calories and time.

Tiny habits like these will compound over time. Soon, you won’t even need to think to arrange for them in your daily schedule, they will just become a part of your routine. So start today, and keep at it.

 

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Morning Workouts

Posted by Jane Wang

Over the years I’ve grown to love exercising in the morning. It frees up my evenings, leaves me fewer excuses for skipping out on a workout, and helps me feel more alert throughout the day.The sense of accomplishment compounds throughout my day, giving me positive feelings that carry into client meetings and work sessions with my team.

Tips and tricks from Jane Wang, CEO of Optimity

Tips and tricks from Jane Wang, CEO of Optimity

Research shows morning workouts can also improve sleep, acuity, and productivity, as well as positively impact diet and exercise habits. At Optimity, we are tracking how it impacts business metrics and employee perception.

However, just because I love morning workouts doesn’t mean I leap out of bed at the sound of my alarm, eager to exercise every day. I’m not naturally a morning person, so I find it tough to head out for a run before the sun rises or attend a 6AM burpee bootcamp. I’ve skipped my fair share of early workouts, but I’ve also gotten quite good at not skipping them too, thanks to a little strategic planning, preparation and positive thinking.

If you’re wanting to become more of a morning exerciser, here are some of my top tips. Maybe they’ll help you too!

1. Ease into it. If you’ve never exercised in the morning before, don’t sign up for 6AM personal training sessions five days in a row. To start, schedule one morning workout per week.

2.  Enlist a buddy. It’s a lot harder to skip a morning sweat session if you have someone counting on you to show up. No one wants to be that person who bails!

3. Before you go to bed, decide exactly what morning workout you will do. For example, instead of saying, “I will exercise before work tomorrow,” say “I will jog 2 miles and do 30 pushups before work tomorrow.” This allows you to budget just the right amount of time you’ll need to fit in your workout. It also prevents you from dozing back off to sleep while pondering what type of exercise you’ll do.

4. Give yourself a reward. When your alarm goes off, don’t dwell on how much you’d rather fall back asleep or how tired you are. Instead, give yourself something to look forward to. It can be a delicious breakfast sandwich or smoothie after the workout, a more-indulgent lunch to treat yourselve (sushi versus salad), or even permission to get that item you have been eyeing for the last few weeks (that book, that gadget, or that shirt)!

Working out in the morning isn’t for everyone, but I’m living proof that the non-morning person can live better with a little self-actualization at the beginning of each day. Hope this helps!

Let’s build a community:

Do you prefer morning, afternoon or evening workouts? What helps you early exercisers get out of bed in the morning? Let us know down below. 

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