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

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Posted by Tasneem Panchbhaya

We had a great webinar in February, in honour of heart awareness month. I sat down with Optimity’s CEO, Jane Wang to talk through how to promote a healthy heart in the workplace. You can watch the full webinar here. Here are a few key takeaway points from the webinar:

Why it’s important for employers to focus on an upstream approach to a healthy heart

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

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

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

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

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

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Nutrition

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

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Stress Less

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

 

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

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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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5 Ways to Build Positive Work Relationships

Posted by Abena Osei-Kwabena
TIME STAMP: 3 MINUTE READ
Developing a positive and motivating work environment is a top priority to make your workplace more enjoyable and less stressful. A positive work environment not only helps professionals physically, mentally and emotionally, but also influences their overall productivity.
Building relationships isn’t always easy and they can take time to develop and foster. A lot of companies now promote social gatherings, friendly contests, entertaining events and humour enhancing strategies for light-hearted fun and as a form of breaking the ice. There is also a direct correlation between a positive work environment and increased employee satisfaction.

Here are a few ways you can build a positive work relationship:

1. Be polite

Simply exchanging a smile or a friendly greeting is a great first step in developing a productive workplace. Maintaining eye contact and referring to colleagues by their names are effective conversation starters that build an opportunity to socially interact with teammates and develop a rapport with them. For a positive environment to flourish say no to “blame games” or gossip as they are foster a toxic workplace culture and diminish the sense of community.

2. Appreciate diversity

Everyone is different. We each have different viewpoints, approaches, potency and limitations so it’s important to listen, share and appreciate the differences between each of your co-workers. Being unbiased and celebrating diversity will help you become a good leader while enabling others to share their thoughts within the organisation. Everyone has value and something that they can bring to the table!

3. Exercise efficient communication

To practise effective and clear communication, you should be able to express the right emotion behind your message. Communication not only includes clear expression of thought but also includes complimenting others for their contributions, ideas or thoughts.  This can immensely help in building a pleasant and reliable relationship in your workplace.

4. Placing the right person in the right place

Before hiring a new employee, learn their skills, interests, passions, knowledge, culture and work style. This can help in placing the right person in the right place. Friction can occur among employees if a less qualified individual is hired to manage more qualified employees. Looking at the status-quo, the manager should act accordingly to avoid blame games, competition and negative workflow.

5. Incorporate incentives

The most important step towards building a healthy work environment and positive relationships is to be appreciative. Appreciation can be shown in the form of money, like a bonus or raise, or non-monetary in the form of public appreciation or a thank-you email. This can help to boost the morale of employees, potentially increase their productivity moving froward, increase their loyalty towards the organisation and reduce the turnover.
While these tips are pretty straightforward, they can definitely improve your workplace environment and culture.  Occasionally you will have to work with someone that you just don’t click with, but for the sake of your work it is important for you to maintain your professionalism and be civil. Just remember: you don’t need to be best friends and you can’t control others, but you can do your part and approach your workplace relationships with a positive attitude.
Share a bit of #Health and #Joy with colleagues, friends and family – download Optimity

 

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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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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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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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.

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