Unlocking the Hidden Values of HR

Posted by Emily Guterres

You may have heard it before, “ HR is a cost center.” “What does your HR department do exactly?” At most times, the questions about HR’s value are not asked politely.

In 2016, engaged productive employees are the biggest investment and reap the greatest rewards. CEO’s are increasingly investing in health and wellness programs because it may be the single, most powerful enhancer of employee engagement. When business leaders recognize the remarkable benefits of a healthy workplace to the organization, they are more likely to commit the time and resources to support and implement the program.

A strategically designed investment in employees’ social, mental and physical health pays off. Better health often equals greater engagement. Research from Gallup shows that employee engagement is positively correlated with better health – engaged workers are less likely to be obese and have chronic conditions, as explained by Harvard Business Review.

Wellness incentives and benefits should not only be viewed as an-add on, but a strategic imperative. With an aging workforce and health care costs that are only rising. It’s that clear healthy employees are always more productive. Dale Carnegie Training reports that companies with employee-centric characteristics outperform those without by up to 202%.

So how do we empower our employees to be engaged and feel involved in the workplace?

Valuing People and Showing Them You Care

Dale Carnegie study shows that “employees want their managers to care about their personal lives and to take an interest in them as individuals, to care about they feel and support their health and well- being”. A manager’s abilities to lead and foster strong relationships with employees are key to helping employees perform at the highest possible level.

McKesson Canada in 2016 has shown that investment into employee wellness initiatives yields between 3-4x ROI within Canada, and 10-11x ROI in the USA (with about 15% participation in their active prevention programs).

Optimity has seen dramatic changes from hard ROI measures such as reduction to cost of designing and launching a program to cost savings from decreased claims and benefits cost. Not to mention the dramatic employee positive feedback in the forms of softer dollars: more productive hours, lower absenteeism, and improved engagement scores.

Investing in HR at every level

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If you want to attract and retain top talent, you have to invest in employee development. Almost all employees can benefit from an employee development program. However, often times with the pressure of day-to-day business this often gets puts to the side. As a business owner, the ROI when investing in your employees is priceless.

By investing in your employees’ training and development in an organization, you see many positive outcomes. The benefits of employee development seem endless. It includes employee loyalty, engaged employees and most of all it helps attract and keep the greatest employees.

The same can be said about other value-adding coaching functions: wellness, productivity, and fiscal responsibility.

When it comes to building that long-term sustainable competitive advantage – fostering that aspect of growth is key to retaining talent at your workplace.

Overemphasize your investment in your employees, and never underestimate its impact on culture, costs, and profits. Not only will you see short-term changes in sick days, stress leaves, utilization of benefits, the report on motivated people working together as a highly-functional team is never short of positive.

Tell your employees you do care, help them stay engaged and feel passionate about their work, by doing this you will realize there is nothing that they won’t strive to achieve.

Optimity is standing up for employee investment and the outstanding results that come with it.

Where do you stand?

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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.  

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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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How to Make New Employees Feel Welcome & Immersed in the Company Culture

TIME STAMP: 2 MINUTE READ

On boarding can be defined as the organizational socialization of the workplace, where new employees are made familiar with expectations, expertise, knowledge and ethnicity of your company.

For newbie’s the first day at a new office is just as frightening as the first day of school, with nerve-wracking thoughts hovering throughout your mind. Even the employers have a to-do list which includes formal paperwork, insurance forms, an office tour, orientation, and familiarising the new employee with the company culture.

However, the most crucial element which can often be ignored is welcoming the new employee, appreciating their experience and knowledge, exposing them to your work environment and helping them become a part of the organization. Investing in the employee on boarding process establishes a foundation for future success.

 

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Here are few ways to ensure your newbie is actually “on-board”:

 

Make a plan

A welcome strategy or plan can make your new employee feel that they are a valued part of an organization and boost their confidence in their new role. As an employer you should involve the existing employees in designing the welcome plan. Ask for their suggestions on how they would want their new company to welcome them, or how your colleagues can make the new team member be more comfortable. These suggestions could be used to create a detailed written plan.

A welcome kit including your company t-shirt, coffee mug, office bag, welcome card and a customised gift would be the cherry on top of the cake for the newbie, and these surprises can make them feel right at home.

 

Assign a mentor

Incorporating a mentor for your new employee can enhance the effectiveness of the on boarding process. Mentors can guide your new employee by boosting morale, creating teams, increasing efficiency, enhancing knowledge and skills and helping in continued career advancement. Along with the mentor, the other team members should also bring their foot forward to make the newbie feel welcome.

 

Formalize team building

To ensure that your new employee fits in with the other employees it’s a good idea to formalize the team building process. Allocating diverse team members for every on boarding process can help to acquaint them with the other members of the office. You can assign a companion, who will make the new hire familiar with the office, answers inquiries, accompany them during tea breaks or lunch and provide discussion starters.

  

Ask for feedback

Ask your new employee for feedback on how their first week went so that you can understand what did and didn’t work during the onboarding process. Getting a fresh perception can help in building lasting impressions for future employees.

 

The way a new employee starts their first day and their onboarding process is crucial to the experience that they will have at their new job. It is well worth the company’s time and attention to ensure that the onboarding process is welcoming, positive and exciting to guarantee a long-lasting working relationship.

 

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Trista Chan is a Wellness Strategy Advsior 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.

 

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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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Employee Programs Best Practices: Setting the right kind of goals

Posted by Nicholas Raditsis

Setting goals effectively is critical to employee success! Whether they be long or short term goals, the process of goal setting should be a combined effort between an employee and their manager.

Goal setting also helps to focus on employee’s problem areas. The goal is to develop skills, increase knowledge and to raise confidence by having some quick wins.

Employees also need to experience quick wins to boost their confidence within the workplace. A quick win is an improvement that is visible and has immediate benefits. The quick win does not need to have a long term impact on the business, but needs to be seen as having a positive impact on the business.  Quick wins that have the most impact on a business are easy to implement and inexpensive.

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Watch the recorded webinar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kZlCJIhjkU

The most popular framework for goal setting is S-M-A-R-T.

Specific: Knowing exactly what the goal is, what the expectations are and be easily measurable.
Measurable: Can be measured in milestones to track progress.
Attainable: The goal needs to be attainable and cannot set the bar too high or too low.
Relevant: The goal should focus on an important aspect of your project or the company.
Time-bound: Establish enough time to achieve the goal.

Here are 4 key factors to employee development and focusing on problem areas.

Coaching
Regular meetings between a manager and employee can identify problems within the workplace and help to improve performance. Discussions can be had on the problem areas that the employee needs to improve on, developing a plan to increase employee skills and meeting regularly to discuss the employee progress.

 

Counselling
Discussion between employees and managers can assist in sorting out any personal or emotional barriers that may be preventing the employee from performing at an optimum level.

 

Mentoring
Managers who mentor their employees motivate them to reach their potential in the work place and can assist with developing a career plan for the employee’s future within the business.

 

Training
Training employees is an essential part of employee development. Managers should encourage employees to take classes and attend seminars to further their knowledge.
Here are a few tips to identify a quick win.

  • Requires minimal or no capital expenditure
  • Low risk
  • High confidence of a positive impact
  • Improvements may be implemented within 60 – 90 days

Quick wins provide confidence to the employee and business and also reduce stress. Here are just a few ways you can achieve a quick win:

  • Change an inefficient procedure
  • Improve communication between two departments
  • Obtain a price reduction from an existing supplier
  • Train other team members on best practise
  • Proof read existing processes for errors

As always, we are here to support you and your employees in daily success. Let us know your feedback and reach out to me if you need any help!

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Nicholas Raditsis

VP of Client Success

Nraditsis@myoptimity.com

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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