It seems straightforward to create a wellness program, but building the initiatives may not be your hardest obstacle… getting your employees to buy-in is! Creating something that works for each individual employee is what it is all about!  Now that offices are re-opening and welcoming employees back, many companies are prioritizing health and wellness. So where should you start?

Companies with successful wellness programs all have one thing in common: focusing on overall workplace culture rather than individual programs. Prioritizing health looks different for everyone, so programs that are flexible may work best to engage each individual employee. Over the last few years, we all have learned how important flexibility can be and that balance is possible!

Here are some tips that most successful and flexible wellness programs do to succeed and bet that employee buy-in:

Have a Comfortable Atmosphere

We all like environments that we feel comfortable in. Who wants to stare at a white wall for 8 hours a day? Add some interest to your environment by incorporating plants, painting walls a soothing color, or allowing employees to bring their own works of art (either from themselves or their children!).

Invest in Healthy Snacks

Being hungry with limited time can lead employees to choosing the easiest option – which isn’t always the healthiest option. Provide easy, healthy options like bowls of fruit, a snack station with string cheese and veggies, or a breakfast bar with oatmeal or yogurt parfaits.

Make the Workspace Feel Healthy

Your space should reflect the healthy lifestyle that you want your employees to aspire to have. When the healthy choice is the easy choice, their actions will follow. Provide reusable water bottles, have filtered drinking water available, or offer standing desks.

People Like Free Stuff

Who says a bonus needs to come in the form of a paycheck? Many companies think about offering swag to new employees but think about those who have been around for a while too! These small gestures do amazing things to increase workplace culture. You can even give gifts like wearable devices or exercise bands to incorporate the healthy work environment you are striving for.

We Are All Kids at Heart – Don’t Forget to Have Fun

Allowing a little bit of playtime can help employees get their minds off work and blow off some steam. Employees can be even more productive after a quick mental break! Consider hanging a basketball hoop, setting up a few card games, bean bag boards in the summer or having a TV in break areas.

Overall, your wellness initiatives do contribute to making your employees feel like you care about they want to know that they are more than a number or there to collect a paycheck. A lively and inviting culture makes people want to show up and stick around long-term. They will also give you their best work know that they are cared for and thought of on a regular basis. The workplace is where people spend most of their time each week, so it is worth investing time and thought into this atmosphere. For more ideas on your wellness initiatives, contact our team at info@corewell365.com!

No matter your role in your company, schedules are always hectic. Add in the responsibility as a leader and there is no doubt your plate is full leaving little, to no time, for the activities you enjoy most! Taking care of others may come as second nature for many leaders, but are you also taking care of yourself? Taking care of ourselves keeps us grounded, balanced, and helps maintain our overall well-being. It’s time to practice what you preach and ensure you are leading by example, making your own self-care a priority! So, what does this really mean? By definition, self-care is “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.” Self-care is not a one and done, rather daily work towards becoming a part of your everyday life. It involves activities that are essential to remain in good physical and emotional health. Your nutrition, hygiene, physical activity, and medical appointments should be a priority to best manage our health. Although self-care looks different for everyone, the benefit is always the same — improved overall health and well-being.

Your WHY!

Research shows, it is making and taking time for hobbies is a great way to decompress and neglecting to do so allows stress to kick in, causing issues like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and more. Working on yourself will help you relax, foster resilience, boost self-esteem, minimize burnout, reduce anxiety, improve your mental health, and promote healthier relationships. When you treat your self-care like you would treat a meeting at work, it now becomes a priority and employees understand the value of taking time to work on their wellbeing!

So… Let’s Get Started With These Tips

  • Take Your Own Advice: What would you tell someone if they asked you how to handle stress? Think about the advice you might give and follow that yourself!
  • Push Through Change: Resisting change is normal. Push through what is uncomfortable and explore self-care activities that work best for you!
  • Big or Small — Make Time for YOU: Self-care doesn’t need to be drawn out or take up a ton of time on your calendar. You can take “mini-moments” in your day to focus on you! Journal for five minutes at the beginning of your day, take small breaks to stretch, go for a walk during your lunch break or listen to an audiobook during your commute to work!
  • Be Kind to Yourself: Your needs will change over time and what you need or enjoy this year, may change next year! Be flexible and embrace change by trying new activities that fit your life at that moment.
  • Share What Works: Do you have tips or ways that work for you to take time for yourself? Spread the word! Your employees will appreciate the thought and example you are showing for them to prioritize their own wellbeing!
  • Reflection: Whether you write it down or dedicate time to “think,” take time to reflect on your day. What went well? What could have improved? Think about how you could handle certain situations differently to prepare you for next time.

Showing your team that you are prioritizing your mental and emotional wellbeing by practicing self-care is a great way to lead your team. They will feel comfortable following your example and soon your culture will be more productive, happier, and healthier!

Ready to press the “FASTER” button on your results!?

You probably already know that your metabolism plays a HUGE role in your results – because it affects how your body processes fuel, both how fast and how much.

It’s tempting to think of your metabolism as a “thing” – kind of like your body’s speedometer that controls the rate your body burns energy.

But your metabolism actually is a complex PROCESS where your body converts the food you eat into energy. It’s a series of chemical reactions that happen inside your cells.

Your own metabolic burn depends on many things. Some are outside your control … like your genetics and gender. But the great news is that you have control over a LOT of the other factors … like your activity level, sleep and even how stressed you feel!

Here’s a fast look at 5 major factors that YOU control that play a role in how fast or how slow your metabolism is:

FOOD CHOICES – Eating a balanced, whole-foods-based diet with enough protein and fiber can help boost your metabolism and keep you feeling full. Drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day will also make a big impact!

EXERCISE – Nearly all workouts can help you burn more calories, but strength training and high-intensity interval training workouts can give you some bonus burn after your workout is over.

STRESS – When you are stressed, it can affect your body’s hormones, which can in turn make your body burn fewer calories (and store fat).

SLEEP – Not getting enough sleep also affects your hormones. You can end up feeling extra hungry AND burn fewer calories (this is why I talk about sleep so much!).

OTHER ACTIVITY – This is a secret weapon for metabolism! Basically, the more active you are OUTSIDE your workouts, the more calories you burn all day. It can add up fast.

Here’s the best thing that no one talks about when it comes to those 5 components: when you get them working together, not only does your metabolism rev up … but you also FEEL GREAT.

You’ll feel more energized, lighter on your feet, and you might even start to hear people comment on your healthy “glow!”

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Management often looks for returns to justify the financial and labor investment into employee wellness programs, just as what they would do in other business initiatives. Two types of perspectives usually come up: return on investment (ROI) and value on investment (VOI). Here’s a quick look at the differences between these two assessment methodologies.

Return on Investment (ROI)

The basic premise of measuring ROI is that an organization invests in employee health hoping to eventually extract lower health care costs in the future. Traditionally, ROI has been a popular way for executives to justify a wellness program, especially for organizations focused on cost containment. Unfortunately, ROI is a limited set of goals, and research indicates that employers actually have many reasons for offering health and wellness programs outside of just cutting health care costs.

Additionally, to accurately measure the value of any program, the metrics need to be based on the reason for initiating it. Given the fact that employee wellness programs are (and should be) based on many holistic improvement metrics, they cannot be authentically evaluated unless more outcomes are measured than the amount of medical cost savings. ROI on wellness programs (reducing claims and health care costs) is only a subset of the true value of investment.

If wellness programs are continuing to work towards providing benefits such as lower health care costs and other changes, why are companies still investing in such initiatives? Simply put, there is a lot to be gained from taking care of employee health beyond lower health care expenses.

Value on Investment (VOI)

VOI is a broad measure of all the benefits conferred by employee health and wellness programs. It is important to note that moving the focus to VOI does not mean that there are no financial returns to be had from wellness programs. Simply put, VOI benefits go beyond lower health care expenses and include such metrics as productivity, employee morale, retention, and satisfaction, all of which impact an organization’s bottom line.

When this broader context is taken into account, companies are able to achieve a complete view of program effectiveness that goes beyond dollar to dollar cost. On the strength of this view, organizations can then fine-tune their wellness programs.

Some of these key value-on-investment metrics are easier to track than others, but few are beyond the reach of data. Examples of such tracking include measures of employee engagement, safety incidents, absenteeism, turnover, and business profitability. Many companies already track this data but don’t analyze it in relation to workforce health. There is a direct linkage, for example, between employee wellness programs and the all-important ability to attract and retain talent.

Measuring VOI

A company consists of people, and anything that promotes a healthy lifestyle for those people will naturally benefit almost all of an organization’s key performance indicators (KPIs). Below are a few ways in which these connections are directly validated.

Productivity

Productivity is the 3rd most popular reason for investing in health.  That should come as no surprise given that unwell employees cost U.S. employers about $530 billion in annual productivity. This is due to both absenteeism as well as presenteeism, a term used for workers who show up feeling ill. There are other, subtler effects of less-than-optimal health in the workforce. For instance, one study shows that obese people exhibit poorer decision-making skills, and helping them lose weight improves cognitive functioning as well as delivers other health benefits. Sitting for too long also leads to cognitive decline, and the availability of standing desks for employees has been demonstrated to result in higher productivity.

62% of employees with wellness programs felt their program boosted morale and increased their productivity, and 56% reported having taken fewer sick days because of their program. Finally, the topic of stress and mental health has an important part in any discussion about productivity and wellness. Stress hormones pose health risks for human cognitive ability, and knowing that paid sick leave is available decreases employees’ stress levels.

A problem with measuring productivity is that it is hard to track. In theory, productivity can be measured by dividing business outputs (such as calls made, services produced, etc.) over the total number of employees. However, in an organization with many departments, only a few of which are actually client-facing. Business outputs rely on a small subset of employees while other departments work to keep the business running in the background without direct attribution to the products. On top of that, the quality of the output is as important as quantity, adding another layer to the assessment.

The bottom line is: measuring productivity is tricky business, but it can be done. Many organizations and teams now measure their productivity based on hitting departmental and personal goals, with standardized systems like KPIs. Additionally, employees can rate their own level of productivity. While self-report data should be used with caution, when combined with the metrics mentioned above, provide a more complete picture. Measuring productivity this way is not only good for justifying wellness programs, but it is also crucial in propelling the organization forward from a business point of view.

Recruitment/Retention

Replacing an employee costs between 20% and 213% of their annual salary, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and over 3 million people quit their jobs every month of 2018. This quit rate is nearly at a 17-year high, and those workers are searching for something better. Today’s employees, especially millennials, look for a company that cares about their wellbeing — and backs up that caring with concrete actions.

In a tight labor market, economists would expect to see wages rising as employers compete for workers. Interestingly, this is not what’s happening; instead, reflecting the priorities of workers, benefits of all kinds are becoming more generous. Retention increases when companies demonstrate that they care about healthy employees — and this extends even to workers who don’t make use of a wellness program. A survey found that 73% of employees without access to wellness programs want them, including 42% who are “very interested.”

Compared to productivity, employee retention is much easier to track. The formula is relatively simple: divide the number of employees who left during a period by the total number of employees at the end of a period to get the percentage.

Satisfaction

Research demonstrates that worker satisfaction correlates closely with whether or not an employer has a wellness program. Of employers offering wellness programs, 67% reported increased employee satisfaction, 66% reported increased productivity, 63% reported increased financial sustainability and growth, and 50% reported decreased absenteeism.

Other

The list for VOI metrics is long, so let’s throw in a catch-all category call “other.” In this category are metrics that pertain to the organization’s specific business goals, whether it is revenue, operation efficiency, scope of impact, etc.

In many cases, wellness program effectiveness can be reflected directly in the business outcome. This is simple to understand: team members who feel healthier and more positive about their job will have an influence on everyone they come into contact with.

Depending on the organization’s goal, this metric will look different for different programs. By definition, most organizations are already tracking these core business outcomes, and simply need to correlate the data with employee wellness program participation.

Acting to Improve VOI

So, what’s the best way to optimize VOI in wellness programs? In most cases, it is simply a matter of improving employee engagement and utilization in the wellness program that has been put into place. There are several tried-and-true methods.

  • Multiple channels of communication: Employees cannot participate in programs that they are not aware of. Organizations can get higher engagement rate by making sure to inform employees of the program through a broad range of communication channels, such as emails, internal communication tools, flyers, wellness portal, etc… Generating excitement through word-of-mouth is another effective channel to recruit participants.
  • Variety of offerings: The most successful wellness programs have a wide range of offerings available to participants. This is because people have different needs, and they will only engage in a program if it addresses those needs. A good program should include all major markers of holistic wellness, such as mental health, physical activity, stress management, and nutrition, and is delivered through a variety of programs such as webinars, activity tracking, and informational articles.
  • Leadership support: A study from the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) found that leaders of top-scoring organizations that publicly recognized employees for healthy actions and outcomes and served as role models for prioritizing health and work/life balance were more likely to report employee health improvements and medical cost improvements relative to organizations that did not have public recognition from leadership. Programs without leadership support and engagement are simply checking the box. By having leadership involved, the organization is truly building up its culture of health.

Ideally, offering wellness programs does lead to healthier employees, which does lead to lower health care costs. However, measuring ROI has been an elusive goal for most employers. Instead of focusing on dollar-for-dollar cost savings, organizations should adopt a value-on-investment measurement framework. Once these holistic metrics are captured and analyzed alongside data on engagement in wellness programs, organizers can paint a complete picture of the program effectiveness and start fine-tuning their wellness offerings.

When the VOI of a wellness program is measured, the organization’s profitability will reflect the true extent of benefits that arise from a healthier workforce.

There is no question that this past year has had a significant impact on the workplace resulting in many employers to evaluate the new norm to operate their organization and how they offer employees with benefits. For years, we have discussed the importance of a holistic approach to offering benefits and now more than ever, taking care of our employees and their individual needs are critical!

More and more employees are turning to their employer asking for support in areas such as mental health, financial concerns, juggling their home life and more!  In a recent study conducted by SHRM, 58% of employers are offering their employees wellness benefits, 83% are offering mental health coverage and 79% of employers offer an EAP.

Leaders are taking a step and back and considering how they are taking care of their employees, what resources they have in place and taking steps towards ensuring employees are feeling supported, they are taking care of their well-being and creating the right culture.

Balancing work and life activities this past year has been extremely difficult for many employees!  Well-being benefits can support your employee’s mental health and well-being. Employers can use regular check-ins to gauge their employees’ needs and offer benefits that care for the whole individual.

Below I have listed a variety of trends Well365 is seeing in popular employee perks to help you evaluate your benefits and determine if it is time for you to revamp!

Healthcare and Flexible Spending Accounts

Historically, the flexible spending account has been a “use it or lose it” account, but a new law is allowing employees to hold on to their money for an additional year. The Consolidated Appropriations Act was passed by Congress and signed by President Trump in December. The legislation was designed to provide Americans with financial relief from the pandemic.

Wellness Programs

Employee wellness has been a major area of concern throughout the pandemic, as stress, depression and anxiety have plagued employees. December marked the lowest levels of employee well-being since the start of COVID-19, according to the Mental Health Index by Total Brain and the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions. Wellness programs like exercising and financial assistance are increasing in popularity as employees seek ways to manage stress and build healthier habits during the pandemic.

Retirement Plans

Retirement has always been important and as markets fluctuate and employees’ financial needs evolve, traditional retirement plans aren’t enough to secure a worker’s financial future anymore. Giving this past year and the pandemic, it has made it more difficult for individuals to reach their long-term savings goals.  As an employer, consider implementing education on how to help employees save for the long-term.

VTO

Most organizations have a paid time off policy, but one that includes time dedicated specifically to volunteering can show employees your organization values community involvement and helping others.

Physical Activity Initiatives

Stay active regularly helps to promote health and boosts employee engagement, according to SHRM. 52% of workers surveyed by SHRM claimed that they had more energy and felt more productive when participating in a physical wellness program.

PTO

Employers understand how important it is for employees to unplug and recharge. Social distancing, lockdowns and remote work have all negatively impacted people’s mental health and interfered with their lives and the way they work. Even though travel options are limited due to the pandemic, it is important for employers to encourage employees to use their time off so they can rest their minds and improve their overall health.

Mental Health

While 96% of employers think they are doing enough to support employee mental health, just 69% of employees feel the same, according to a recent report by Ginger, a mental healthcare platform. 92% of employers say they have increased their focus on mental health during the pandemic, but just 57% of employees agree. The pandemic has increased the focus on mental health as more employees struggle with depression, anxiety and high rates of burnout.

For more information on how Well365 can help you and your team enhance your employee benefit offerings, contact info@corewell365.com.

If you take a look at some of the most successful wellness programs, there will be numerous common themes in all of them, including wellness champions.  These organizations recognize that wellness is hard and champions ease that burden; if it were easy, obesity, chronic conditions, and out-of-control medical expenses would not be critical issues for so many people.  Establishing a formal wellness champion committee program is one easy and important way for employers to optimize engagement and program results.

So, Let’s start with: What is a wellness champion?

Wellness champions are employees who are passionate about wellness and can serve as ambassadors of your wellness program.  They are leaders of a grassroots movement that promotes engagement by helping other employees get involved.  Some of the responsibilities include communications at their specific office location or within their department, being a captain in a team wellness challenge, and helping users setup their accounts and get involved.  The latter responsibility is one that is often overlooked, but it is critical to success for sustainable engagement with non-tech savvy employees.  Many of these employees are baby boomers and need a little help with downloading and using an online platform or setting up a wearable device.  Although this cohort may be reluctant to proactively ask for help, a wellness champion can offer their assistance, and once the employee gets over to initial setup process, they can be sustainably engaged in the program.

What are the qualities of a good wellness champion program?

A wellness champion should be someone who brings a lot of energy, positivity and is someone who will support and care about the success of the organization’s wellness initiatives.  I encourage all organizations that we work with to think of inviting a diverse group to your wellness champion program.  Wellness champions should come from various departments, have different levels of seniority, and represent the different personas within your organization.  This will allow the wellness champions to be a subset of your entire employee base while reflecting their needs, concerns, challenges, and more.  The better the group represents all employees, the better they will be able to serve them.

Good wellness committees and champions also recognize and reward their champions for going well beyond their day-to-day responsibilities at work.  Creating opportunities to publicly recognize their hard work or offering up additional incentives (gift cards, etc.) are also great ways strengthen the core of your grassroots movement.  Although recognition and rewards will motivate wellness champions, it is important to select individuals who are already intrinsically motivated.  Recognition and rewards should be the icing on the cake.

Another hallmark of a good wellness champions program is creating a formal feedback loop.  Since the group should be a reflection of your employee base and interacting with users regularly, they are a great source of immediate information.  We encourage having a regular meetings (once per month) for wellness champions to share thoughts, ideas, and feedback to each other.  This will allow for wellness champions to learn and grow from each other and provide opportunities for iterative changes and improvements to your program.

Want to learn more?  Contact Well365 at:  info@corewell365.com

1. Set the goals

How do you set business goals, anyway? As you sit down to determine your goals, here are some things to keep in mind that may help.

  • Money – How much money do you need? Have a number here – $1500 a month? $100 a week? $50,000 a year? Financial goals are very different for everyone. Just make sure you have a real number. You might want to set two financial goals – long-term and short-term.
  • Strategy – As you develop a strategy to reach your goals, you will have goals within that strategy. For example, if your goal is to start your own small business making hand-sewn handbags, then your strategy may be to make ten handbags to have available before beginning and to sell all ten in your first month.
  • Within this strategy, there are steps – you will need to schedule in the time it takes to make the handbags, and determine the amount of money needed to buy the materials. Then you may also need to set up a website and post ads to get the word out. Even within these steps are more steps – setting up a website involves multiple steps, as does advertising. Break everything down into small, specific steps and look at it on paper.
  • Time – Be honest about how much time you have. So many times it’s tempting to set goals we can’t reach because we just don’t have a grasp on how much (or how little) time we have. Also, hours on paper seldom work out exactly right in real life – you need some breaks (no one is a machine), and life happens.

For example, if your kids are in school from 8am to 3pm, you may think you have seven hours to work that day. But if you’re honest, it may be more like five by the time you factor in lunch, bathroom trips, driving to and from the school if you drive your kids, and so forth.

2. Achieve the goals

If you have been honest in the above exercises, achieving your goals will be much easier and likely. Still, you can be as detailed and careful as you want on strategy lists and such, and still have trouble reaching your goals. So it may help to keep the following in mind.

  • Keep track – Keeping a record of your business ventures, expenditures, income, and overall progress toward your goals can help you get a handle on how well you’re doing. This can also help you see areas in which you need to improve, and areas where you excel.
  • Accountability – Some sources suggest an accountability partner, goal buddy, or whatever you want to call someone who holds you accountable for reaching your goals.
  • Marketing – It is important to have a marketing plan. How will you get your name out? How will you tell people you are open for business? This is an important component to any business goal.