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On-Site Employee Benefits: Bringing Dental Care into the Workplace

Employee expectations are changing, with many looking to their workplaces to provide better benefits and wellness solutions. Employees want to feel valued, and in turn, they value employers who take the initiative to make sure their workers are healthy.

In recent years, workplaces have been offering on-site health services, including massages, counseling, eye-care check-ups, and more. Bringing benefits to employees makes their lives easier and gives them a greater chance of staying healthy. Organizations that prioritize comprehensive benefits not only make themselves more competitive in the job market, but also show that their brands are flexible, forward-thinking, and that they care about the wellness of their people. Which, as we all know, should always be a top priority.

Our Guest: Jordan Smith, CEO, Jet Dental

On the latest #WorkTrends podcast, I spoke with Jordan Smith, CEO of Jet Dental, an on-site provider of dental care for corporations nationwide. They offer pop-up clinics, which can be set up in the office. Jordan is a seasoned chief revenue officer with experience in the healthcare industry and growing call centers. Before joining Jet Dental, Jordan led a 400 person sales team with annual sales of $200 million.

Pre-pandemic, 45 percent of people with dental insurance were not going to the dentist annually, Jordan explains. This was due in part to it being difficult to get away from their busy work schedule. Now that people have more flexibility with hybrid work, I wanted to know: What’s the advantage of pop-up dental clinics for today’s employees?

Since COVID, a lot of people have delayed preventive care. A study by Business Group on Health is predicting a 5.3 percent increase in health plan costs for large employers because of delayed care brought on by the pandemic,” Jordan says. “As a result, individuals are delaying care, waiting until maybe it’s too late.”

A big incentive for employers to offer in-office services like dental care is to prioritize employee health. Not just to make sure employees are well, but to help cut unnecessary costs. Insurance carrier Cigna did a study of a million of their members over a five-year period and found that those who got regular preventive care saw a 31 percent decrease in costs in that period. People who didn’t get that care saw a 43 percent increase in costs.

“The healthier your workforce, the less likely it is for you to see increases in premiums,” Jordan says. “A simple thing like regular dental care check-ups, twice a year, can prevent a host of maladies.”

Bringing Dental Care to Employees: Motivating the Unmotivated

So what does in-office dental care really look like? How do employers motivate employees to walk down the hall to pop-up clinics and prioritize their health?

“The vast majority of the folks we’re seeing aren’t going to the dentist just because it’s one other item on their task list. So by making it convenient, we get those people to go down the hallway to get a cavity filled. We motivate the unmotivated,” Jordan says. “Also, in our experience, there are people who are afraid of the dentist, and by offering them the in-office option, we see those people on a daily basis.”

As employees continue to demand better benefits packages in the competitive job market, employers are looking for new ways to make benefits a top priority. On-site benefits and services like dental care will likely become the new normal, Jordan says. Perhaps even expected by employees.

“A lot of us have gained more empathy for one another due to the pandemic. Because of that, I think employers are looking even further into how they can help employees have a better experience at work and find a better work-life balance,” Jordan says. “Going forward, we’re going to continue to see more onsite health vendors. We’re going to see not savings for 401ks, but for travel and matching travel expenses to help people go have great experiences. Those competitive offerings are going to continue to evolve and improve and not just for white-collar businesses, but blue-collar as well. We’re starting to see that and will continue to see it.”

I hope you enjoy this episode of #WorkTrends, sponsored by Jet Dental. You can learn more about employee dental care by connecting with Jordan Smith on LinkedIn.

Image by Katarzyna Bialasiewicz

How to Best Support Employee Health and Well-being in 2021 and Beyond

Over one year into the pandemic, nearly everything about the workforce has changed — from when and where we work to how employees interact with each other and clients. How employers have adapted their benefits design and their employee well-being and support strategies have also been affected. It has become increasingly clear that this crisis has accelerated significant shifts in many dimensions of our life and work.

The pandemic has also underscored the many complexities of navigating and accessing quality healthcare and how every aspect of their well-being impacts an employee’s work performance — not just physical health.  As a result, many employers are placing health benefits at the center of their overall workforce strategy. As I’ve seen first-hand in my role as Chief People Officer at Castlight, this mindset change has created a shift in the roles of HR and benefits leaders. Specifically, C-suite leaders have become more actively involved in their employees’ benefits experience.

For the workplace of the future and the employees of today, this change is essential. Nearly half of Americans receive health insurance through their company. And a recent trust survey showed that most Americans trust their company leadership more than governmental media. That means employers are in a unique position to impact their employees’ health journeys positively.

Top Priorities for Employers in 2021

The pandemic has given employers an inside look into employees’ daily lives. Now, many organizations have an opportunity to transform how they decide to support their workforce. When it comes to supporting employee health in 2021 (and beyond), employers must pay attention to what employees consider their top priorities. These include navigating the COVID-19 vaccination process and engaging employees in a whole-person approach to their health.

Supporting Employee Well-being Through the Pandemic and Beyond

As vaccine eligibility opens up for more of the population, employers can leverage their position as a trusted resource to improve vaccine literacy. They can also help facilitate more seamless distribution among their workforce.

Employees have many questions about the vaccine, and there’s a great deal of misinformation circulating. Almost a third of the public is still hesitant about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine — many are worried about side effects. Others are concerned the vaccine is too new or that it could give them the virus. Employers must step up and provide their workforce with comprehensive vaccine education materials backed by science, yet easy to understand.

Additionally, by providing ongoing targeted communications, HR leaders can ensure that all employees get the specific care and information they need. For example — essential employees need to know about on-the-job safety protocols and whether or not they’re eligible to receive a vaccine within their state. In contrast, non-essential employees may want to know when they’ll be eligible, where they can get a vaccine, and how to make an appointment.

A Whole-Person Approach to Sustained Employee Well-being

COVID-19 has emphasized just how foundational an employee’s health and sustained well-being is to their happiness, engagement, productivity, and success. So beyond vaccine distribution, employers need to be thinking about keeping their employees engaged in their healthcare long after the pandemic ends. Many leadership teams have started reimagining how they think about benefits as a whole.

After all, remote work has offered a glimpse into everything their employees are juggling each day. Now, it is clear that employees routinely deal with issues all on top of a full-time job. These real-world demands include childcare and homeschooling, taking care of a loved one, and more. This perspective has helped employers learn more about what their teams are dealing with outside of the office. And they’re finally starting to understand the importance of flexibility.

On top of that, COVID-19 highlighted other aspects of well-being, such as mental health. For example, from before the pandemic to January 2021 symptoms of anxiety or depression among U.S. adults jumped from 11% to 41%. Now, employers must look holistically at their employee populations. They must consider all facets of health — physical, mental, emotional, social, and financial. Then they must develop a personalized, equitable benefits design that meets the health goals and needs of every employee.

The Role of the C-suite: Leading Through Complex Times

Moving forward, critical benefits conversations are no longer the priority of just the benefits manager. Members of the C-suite must become intimately involved in employee well-being as well. CHROs, in particular, need to understand their employee segments more deeply. Ensuring a healthier, productive workforce starts with understanding who you have.  Then catering to their specific needs by offering benefits in a personalized way.

Employers can (and should) play a vital role in employee well-being in 2021 — and beyond.

Specifically, given their unique and significant reach into the workforce, mid-size and large employers can be critical leaders in health advocacy. Compassion, communication, courage, and a strong community focus will continue to be imperative leadership traits throughout these difficult times. The way employers care for their employees — and the health and holistic well-being of the employees’ families — will determine their employer brand for years to come.

 

Image from Daxiao Productions

The Secret to Healthy Living: Work Well and Play More [#WorkTrends]

For more than a year now, many of us have been enjoying our work at home experience. On the surface, this has been an opportunity for better integration of work and life commitments. We’ve enjoyed being more available to family and friends (including the furry variety). We’re also eating at home more often and, with much lower commute times, perhaps sleeping more. That seems like healthy living to me.

But in a recent poll here at TalentCulture, nearly half of you said your employer expects you to be available at all times. So do we really have greater balance? Are we taking the breaks required to remain healthy? Are we eating better and sleeping more?

If we’re constantly answering texts and emails — always working — are we really living healthier lives than our pre-pandemic selves?

Our Guest: Marcey Rader, Health and Wellness Expert

Joining us on this week’s episode of #WorkTrends is Marcey Rader, an accredited health and wellness expert, award-winning speaker, sought-after productivity coach, and author of three books. In other words, she’s perfectly qualified to discuss the issue of healthy living within our current work from home realities. From a health perspective, I asked Marcey about the upsides — and downsides — of working remotely.

“When COVID hit us last year, we heard people saying ‘I’m losing 25 pounds because now I’m taking walks every afternoon,” Marcey said. But then she added: “Now, though, we have the COVID 25  where people are not moving enough.” 

So the primary downside, simply put by Marcey: “We’re not moving enough.”

Healthy Living Secret: Work Well, Play More

Marcey went on to say that healthy living isn’t all about work-life balance, but working well and, yes, playing more. And by playing, Marcey talks about taking advantage of every “movement opportunity.” 

Marcey defines these movement opportunities as, “Every hour you get up and you do 20 squats. Or you’re doing push-ups after each of your meetings. Or you’re doing walkie-talkies (walking and talking) on the phone during meetings.” Marcey further clarified this practical secret to healthy living: 

“Any movement opportunity you can fit in your day can be helpful. We must keep moving!”

Marcey went on to talk about the importance of NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis), quality sleep, and so much more. And here’s what I learned from our conversation: Working well and playing more are not mutually exclusive concepts. Using walkie-talkie meetings as an example, we can play we can move while we work. 

To learn more about Marcey’s work, connect with her on LinkedIn. And check out her newest book, Work Well. Play More!: Productive, Clutter-Free, Healthy Living – One Step at a Time.

 

Image by Vitalinko

60 Percent of U.S. Companies Still Don’t Offer Paid Paternity Leave

A recent study revealed that roughly 40% of U.S. companies offer paid parental leave for both parents. Many publications, including the survey itself, highlighted this figure as a positive, citing lower numbers in the past. While any improvement is welcome, these results imply that 60% of organizations in the nation still don’t offer paid paternity leave.

The lack of paid leave for both fathers and mothers can intensify workplace inequality and damage businesses. Here’s a closer look.

Why Companies Don’t Offer Paid Paternity Leave

To understand this issue fully, it helps to look at why so many companies don’t offer paid leave. Perhaps the most significant factor behind this choice is that it’s not a requirement. There is no national legislation that says businesses have to offer paid leave to either parent, much less both.

There are, however, paid parental leave requirements in five states and Washington, D.C., with varying provisions. At least five other states are currently considering paid leave laws, but that leaves most of the U.S. with no such legislation. When businesses don’t have to offer these benefits, many won’t — primarily because of the expense.

At first, paying an employee while they aren’t adding value to the company can seem like a financial risk. While it may seem that not offering paid leave can save a company money, it’s destructive in the long run — both employees and the companies they work for suffer.

How These Policies Impact Different Demographics

Although 40% of U.S. companies offer paid leave to both parents, that doesn’t mean 40% of workers experience those benefits. The businesses that provide these programs don’t employ a proportional amount of the workforce, so surveys show that just 20% of private-sector employees had access to such benefits in 2020.

There is a sharp economic divide between workers who do and do not receive paid parental leave, too. Only 8% of workers in the bottom wage quartile have access to these programs. Low-wage workers, who would suffer tremendously from weeks of unpaid leave, are far less likely to get paid leave.

Years of racial bias and oppression in America mean this divide is a racial one, too. Black and Hispanic workers, coming from historically disenfranchised families and neighborhoods, are less likely to receive paid leave for either parent.

How Businesses Benefit from Paid Paternity Leave

These disparities in paid parental leave programs worsen the economic and racial divides that already plague the nation. The impacts of a lack of paid leave don’t end with creating more division, though; they have economic effects as well. And yet, when businesses offer paid leave for both parents, they often see positive productivity gains.

Caring for a newborn child is stressful, and having to do so without a reliable income exacerbates that stress. Studies show that unexpected absenteeism, which can cost companies $3.5 million a year, is more often than not the result of stress. After all, stressed employees are far more likely to miss work and be less productive in the workplace.

Offering paid leave to only one parent fails to mitigate these issues effectively. The parent at home may feel more stressed from shouldering the burden of childcare alone, potentially harming their productivity when they return. The parent at work may have trouble focusing from spending time away from their newborn, impacting their productivity as well.

Providing both paternity and maternity leave ensures both parents can raise their newborn without economic difficulty. In return, their morale will improve, leading to less stress and higher productivity when they return.

How Paid Paternity Leave Supports Women in the Workforce

It’s impossible to discuss the impacts of parental leave without mentioning gender inequality in the workplace. Lack of paid parental leave for women doesn’t just widen the gender wage gap; it drives women out of the workforce. While it may not seem unrelated at first, paternity leave also impacts women’s work experiences.

When fathers can take time off as well as mothers, it reduces the stress of childcare. Fathers can take over raising children for a time, giving mothers a chance to get back to work. Paid paternity leave means women don’t have to bear the entire burden of raising a newborn, helping them retain their vital place in the workforce.

Past studies have indicated that paid paternity leave also reduces absenteeism among mothers, helping keep women satisfactorily employed. Similarly, countries with mandated paternity leave show higher rates of female employment in private companies. The bottom line: Paid paternity leave improves equality at home, and leads to more equity in the workplace.

Gender Equality: U.S. Companies Still Have a Way to Go

This Women’s History Month, companies should consider how their policies affect their female workers. Even paternity leave can impact women’s involvement in the workplace. Businesses that don’t provide equitable policies hinder gender equality among their employees and in their communities.

For years, women have had to bear most of the burden of child-rearing, limiting their professional careers. Equitable policies like paid leave for all parents lighten this burden, enabling women to achieve their full professional potential. The U.S. has made some tremendous strides in the pursuit of workplace gender equality, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement.

Image by Shao-chun Wang

Digital Fatigue: How to Make Technology Work for You, Not Against You

What is digital fatigue? And how does it impact your business and the people who work there?

Think of how many times you interact with technology each day, whether that interaction was intentional or not. Technology is ingrained in our lives, both personally and professionally. But you don’t need me to tell you that. You also don’t need me to point out that despite the simplicity and positivity it brings to our lives, it also brings stressors and pain.

One of those stressors and pains is digital fatigue.

Just as many of us are experiencing pandemic fatigue, digital fatigue is very real. For many, the multiple systems we all interact with during a day’s work only exacerbate the situation.

Surrounded by Screens

In the past decade, technology has transformed our personal and professional lives in many dramatic ways. The apps and technologies we have access to have generally made our lives much more comfortable and productive. This includes but is not limited to how we communicate, and consume and process information, and how we innovate. Technology has also transformed how to learn new skills, buy and sell, work — and stay healthy.

But not all that glitters is gold. Or, in this case, not all that pings is good.

In our work environments alone, we have surrounded ourselves with screens that continuously push a stream of messages that demand our focus and attention. Emails, social networking, communication apps, kanban boards, video conferencing tools — the list goes on and on. Just thinking of one workday and the multiple mediums you interact with is enough to make your head spin. Not to mention what you use across the entire employee life cycle from pre-hire to retirement.

Even when we step away from the large screens, we carry one or more small screens with us in our pockets or purses. When not at work, we are already conditioned to constantly interact digitally. This proclivity for accessing our new technology sidekicks has resulted in many of us suffering from a malady called digital fatigue syndrome.

Digital Fatigue

So what is digital fatigue?

If you are like me, you are already checking WebMD to see if your symptoms line up with this condition. While a fairly new term, the label gives us a very clear indication of what digital fatigue is.

Vogue recently quoted a holistic wellness practitioner as saying: “If you find yourself with sore, strained eyes, more headaches than usual, and you’re suffering from poor posture or increased neck and shoulder pain, chances are you might be suffering from digital fatigue.”

Let’s face it, we don’t need this list of symptoms to tell us when too much time spent in front of a screen is making us tired. That’s it, folks; we are just tired of spending so much time in front of our screens. Beyond making us physically tired, it’s taking a toll on our well-being.

Thankfully, Vogue also added a little more science to the definition when it said, “Sleep deprivation is a key factor in digital fatigue, since an excess of screen time (and a lack of much else) can suppress the ‘sleep’ hormone melatonin, disrupting our circadian rhythms (or sleep patterns), and reducing REM sleep. All of this adds up to make us much less alert come morning. Much of it is to do with the blue (or high energy visible) light that is emitted by screens — from phone to laptop to television — which affects how our cells react, inhibiting how much melatonin they produce.”

The Pandemic’s Impact on Digital Fatigue

The pandemic has not helped. In the past year, we have all spent more time than we are used to on our technology devices and digitally communicating with the world. According to a Salesforce article, 42% of the U.S. labor force continues to work from home full time, we have heavily increased our reliance on our devices to keep us working, connected, and entertained. In fact, the average time spent with digital media is moving toward 7.5 hours per day.

Believe it or not, even millennials — the digital-natives and technology-trailblazing multi-taskers that they are — are burned out! In a recent HBR article, one of these self-identified millennials says, “My generation — the millennial generation — have proven to be great candidates for this terrible phenomenon (burnout). The pandemic isn’t helping. Without clear boundaries between the office and our homes, more work is always available, and only a hand’s reach away.”

Tidying Up Your Tech Stack

So you might be asking, what is the solution? We cannot simply eliminate screens or technology from our lives, so are we all doomed?

While we cannot remove this “necessary evil” from our lives, we can streamline it.

Combining technology into fewer platforms and channels for your employees will make their lives much easier. It will also make technology less of a disruption and focus blocker — and more of an aid (as it is intended to be).

Take inventory of the different platforms you are using. Is there any overlap? Any ability to combine forces or bring things under “one roof,” so to speak? Chances are, there are some areas where you can consolidate. For example, perhaps you can provide your employees:

  • A one-stop shop where they can take surveys to provide their managers with feedback
  • Recognize their peers (or get a much-deserved shoutout themselves)
  • Access learning tools along with values and culture reminders

This consolidation would boost engagement and minimize confusion, and you guessed it — digital fatigue.

The good news is, many HR technology solutions can help you with this consolidation effort. The bad news is, many HR technology solutions can help you with this consolidation effort. In other words, you may need to spend some time comparing and contrasting options to find the best fit, but at least you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Keep It Simple

Ironically, this brings us back to where we started — technology. Too much of it can lead to burnout, but just the right amount can make our lives a lot easier.

The bottom line is that HR leaders must minimize the distraction of too many technologies. It is costing your organization and is increasing the rate of burnout. As we are all well aware, screens are here to stay, so let’s streamline and simplify.

Consider these wise words from the German-British statistician Ernst F. Schumacher:

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.”

 

Photo by Tero Vesalainen

How The Best Employers Will Support Employee Health in 2021

As 2021 begins, human resources professionals are well-positioned to consider the actions they can take this year to help employees stay healthy. Here are five excellent ways employers will support employee health in 2021…

1. Investigate Opportunities to Relieve Stress

Keeping stress levels down at work can go a long way in helping people stay healthy. Some of the go-to stress-relieving activities include having on-site yoga and meditation sessions. While those can be beneficial, experts clarify that such activities alone are not sufficient.

It’s time for an all-encompassing approach concerning managing organizational changes, ensuring employees have what they need to excel in their roles and that they can adequately handle their workloads. Such aspects can keep stress levels low without sacrificing output. As people feel less stressed, their productivity will often rise, too.

Creating an atmosphere where people feel comfortable enough to admit feeling stressed is equally vital. For example, in a workplace where managers value high performance, people may worry that speaking up about feeling stressed due to their workload may lead to accusations that they are falling behind compared to colleagues.

2. Show Support During Mental Health Struggles

The COVID-19 pandemic called more attention to mental health struggles. Even for those who didn’t contract the virus, the worry and extra responsibilities associated with the global health threat caused additional burdens. Women bore the brunt of these societal issues.

A recent global Deloitte poll of working women showed that 39% noticed worsened mental health during the pandemic. Moreover, 75% said they experienced increased caregiving responsibilities, and a third reported a heavier general workload.

Regardless of a person’s gender and situation, employers should strive to stay sensitive to and aware of any possible mental health difficulties. They can support employees by modeling good self-care and encouraging workers to take breaks when overwhelmed, for example. Educating employees about the diversity and prevalence of mental health difficulties also helps decrease associated stigmas.

3. Help Employees Understand the Specifics of Their Health Coverage

Usually, people who receive health insurance through their employees either participate in traditionally fully insured or self-funded plans. Research shows that, of the approximately 150 million Americans who receive health insurance through employers, 61% do so through self-funded or partially self-funded plans. One of the main differences in the types is that self-funded plans involve paying the employer for coverage instead of a carrier.

Regardless of how an employee receives coverage, they may not understand the extent of associated benefits — especially newly available perks. During the pandemic, AXA Asia — part of a global insurance brand — expanded its free telehealth service to help approximately 6.5 million people. Some providers also have specialty content that helps people learn more about diagnoses, treatments, and preventive measures.

Human resources professionals should consider sending weekly tips about policy features or suggestions to help them get more out of the coverage. A company-wide email could be one effective option.

4. Cultivate a Workplace Wellness Culture

Many company decision-makers mistakenly believe that implementing a few minor changes is enough to create and maintain a workplace wellness culture. However, getting genuine, lasting results requires a more concentrated effort that relies on employee input.

Asking employees what they need and want will likely get better results than providing them with packaged, one-size-fits-all health solutions. For example, giving a gym membership to someone who’s intensely uncomfortable with the thought of exercising in public. Aske what they need, and you will probably get the desired results.

People responsible for improving or starting an employee wellness program should explore ways to reach people where they are, which means understanding that everyone has different goals and definitions of wellness.

5. Teach Employees to Avoid Health Scams

Learning to spot phishing scams is often part of workplace cybersecurity training. It’s indispensable now, since many scammers ramped up their efforts to take advantage of the unusual circumstances caused by COVID-19. Most people living through the pandemic have never dealt with something like this before. The associated uncertainty, coupled with the desire to stay well during these challenging times, makes some people more likely to fall for health-related scams.

In one recent example, cybercriminals created a fake version of the United Kingdom’s National Health Service website. It explained that people had to provide bank details for COVID-19 vaccine eligibility. To make matters worse, many older and vulnerable people living in the United Kingdom can get vaccinated soon and were likely not surprised to get emailed details about applying for a vaccination date. Health authorities confirmed they would never ask for residents’ bank details, however.

Employers should consider how incorporating health scam awareness into employee education could boost wellness. Suppose a person gets their bank account depleted after falling for a scam. In that case, they could go through extraordinary anxiety, periods of depression, and difficulties in getting essential items.

Employee Health: Input Must Guide Changes

These five tips encourage employers to think about how they can help employees stay healthier in 2021. However, it’s ideal if employee feedback shapes change to existing wellness efforts or entirely new initiatives.

Once employers see what workers need, want, and are likely to participate in, they increase their likelihood of bringing meaningful and sustainable results to support employee health. Moreover, workers will see organizational leaders consider their values. When that happens, they feel heard and appreciated, positively impacting morale and overall participation rates.

Photo by Anikasalsera

A Quick Look Back: TalentCulture’s Top 5 Posts of 2020

It’s that time of year again. Time to look back on TalentCulture’s Top 5 posts of 2020!

Not surprisingly, many of our most-read posts of 2020 were influenced by the pandemic that dominated the world of work. Also not surprising: Our community came through with insightful, actionable posts just as relevant today as the day they were published.

Take a look (or a second look) at each of these posts. Then put this solid advice to work at your organization!

5) Job Descriptions: How to Eliminate the Hidden Bias Within

We start this countdown with recruiting insights from Cyndy Trivella – Managing Partner here at TalentCulture. Cyndy took a bold look at how the typical job description adds bias to the corporate hiring process. As Cyndy so eloquently says, “Job descriptions are indicative of systemic injustice that impacts the lives and careers of women, the disabled, people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and specific religions or nationalities.” Read Cyndy’s post, and learn how your company can better meet your diversity goals by changing how you write job descriptions.

4) How to Establish a COVID-19 Safety Policy

The fourth most-read post of 2020  provides powerful insight into COVID-19 safety policies. And not just how to establish those policies, but how to use them to build trust among employees. Courtney Mudd, Director of Human Resources at Influence and Co., doesn’t stop there, though. She goes to great lengths to show us how full transparency is the key to creating supportive, safe work environments for employees.

3) After COVID-19: Improving Your Employee Wellness Program

In the third most popular post of last year, Antonio Barraza of Innovative Employee Solutions looked into the future to give us some much-needed insight into improving our post-pandemic employee wellness programs. From the accessibility of fitness classes to flexible office hours, Antonio covered many of today’s hot topics. More importantly, he suggests many improvements to wellness programs many companies should consider now.

2) Five Industries Poised to Thrive Post-Pandemic

In our second-most-read post of 2020, Daglar Cizmeci – CEO at Red Carpet Capital Limited – offered a close look at the five industries that were sure to thrive once the pandemic was over. The post originally appeared during the first major spike of the COVID-19 crisis. Today, we see several of these industries already doing well, including healthcare, collaboration technology, and organizations focused on remote learning.

1) Remote Work During Coronavirus: Leadership Matters

And in the top post of 2020, our own Meghan M. Biro – Founder of TalentCulture – contributed this inspiring post on the impact of leadership during the Coronavirus crisis. Her words could not have been more prophetic: “…if you approach remote leadership with a real commitment to staying human and staying present, this is just the beginning. And when this is all over, and it will be, your whole organization will be in a far better position to meet the future of work head-on.” Yes, leadership – today more than ever before – matters.

2020’s Top 5 Posts

These top 5 posts of 2020, and so many more on TalentCulture, are social proof that not all of 2020 was bad. As always, we’re incredibly grateful to our community members for sharing the insights that helped us get through a challenging year. And, of course, we must thank you, the readers, for once again making TalentCulture a go-to resource in the world of work!

Here’s to making 2021 the best year ever, together.

 

Photo: Fletcher Pride

To Boost Productivity, Hack the Stress Curve

A lot has been said about stress in the workplace over the years, and for good reason. Stress takes a serious toll on employees, both in terms of physical and mental health. It’s largely known as a productivity killer — but is that the whole story? Or is there another side to stress that is equally important, but rarely discussed in relation to performance and motivation?

The fact is, stress isn’t black and white. It’s neither good nor bad. Too much stress is, of course, detrimental to well–being and productivity, but the right amount can be used as a motivational tool to get more done. It can even be used as an engagement tool, thereby improving levels of turnover. But how can that be the case? Why do we need an optimal level of stress to ignite our desire to perform, and what can be done to keep that balance just right?

The Problem with Stress

Before moving on to the lesser-discussed benefits of stress, it’s first important to establish the problem with stress. Excessive stress can impact our bodies, mood and behavior. When exposed to prolonged stress, someone might experience headaches, fatigue, muscle tension or even chest pain. It can also result in angry outbursts, social withdrawal or drug and alcohol misuse, not to mention restlessness, burnout, anger and depression. Left unchecked, stress can contribute to long-term health problems, including diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

What’s more, stress can cause real issues for businesses. When an employee feels overwhelmed and unable to cope, organizations might experience an increase in absenteeism. They might also see a higher rate of voluntary turnover. So while the downsides of stress can’t be overlooked, we should also understand that, to a degree, stress can actually be beneficial in a working environment.

Can Stress Be Good for Productivity?

Studies into stress as a productivity tool aren’t new. In fact, they date back more than a century. As an example, we can look to the Yerkes-Dodson curve, a theory established in 1908. Understanding this curve can make a huge difference to your performance management measures and procedures, as well as our understanding of employee motivation.

The Yerkes-Dodson curve suggests that we need stress for motivational energy. The study found that low levels of stress result in poor performance. With no stress to spur them on, people generally don’t have the motivation to get their work done, resulting in laziness, complacency or avoidance. The study also found that as stress increases, performance also rises — to a point. Once stress levels are too high, performance drops. People stop focusing; they become overwhelmed; and avoidance behaviours kick in again.

Researchers have found that stress can improve our memory, make us more flexible and help us prioritize tasks and deadlines. In fact, small amounts of stress can even help our immune system. The problem is, when it comes to the stress curve, everyone is different. Some of us don’t need much stress to get motivated, while others need a lot. Some of us crumble when confronted with too much stress, while others thrive. So a manager’s job is to provide “good” stressors while keeping an eye out for signs of too much stress.

How to Stimulate ‘Good’ Stress

So how can managers provide employees with “good stress” without overwhelming them? There are ways of spurring employees on, and they all require a degree of collaboration, communication and trust.

  • Set stretching goals — When goals are too achievable, it’s easy to become complacent. Stretching goals force employees to sit up and pay attention. In fact, some companies believe that more daring goals create the most exciting work environments, as well as being the “building blocks for remarkable achievements.” Goals need to be stretching enough to interest employees, or to develop them and their skills. The balance lies in ensuring goals are realistic. Giving an employee an unrealistic goal will only serve to frustrate them.
  • Deadlines are important — Ensure goals and projects have a firm deadline. This will -introduce an element of urgency that many require to get a job done. 
  • Give more responsibility — New responsibilities and requirements are always a little scary. Even if an employee thinks they’re ready to take the next step in their career, a brand new, unfamiliar task will always be slightly stressful. But it’s the good kind of stressful, and with the right coaching and support, employees learn to navigate new responsibilities, thriving in the long run.
  • Don’t micromanage, but be present and observe — Observation, to some degree, is important in this area. Obviously, micromanagement is never a good idea, but observation to an extent might provide the right amount of stress. According to the Hawthorne Effect, employees experience improved performance when they are being watched. Rather than taking this stance too seriously, you might consider cloud-based, goal-tracking software.

How to Avoid Too Much Workplace Stress

When stress levels begin to elevate within your organization, it’s necessary to dial back the pressure. To avoid too much workplace stress, we recommend the following:

Give employees more control over their work — Autonomy is important. When an employee is overly stressed, it will help for them to regain an element of control. Find out how the employee’s role and responsibilities can be adapted to better suit them and their needs. This might involve adapting how they work (for example, it might be possible to let them work remotely part-time) or what they do at work. Consider revisiting your goal-setting process to make it more collaborative. Put your employee in the driver’s seat and allow them ownership over their goals and objectives.

Allow employees to work to their strengths — It’s great to work on our weaknesses, but constantly doing so can be stressful and overwhelming for some people. Instead, allow employees to pinpoint their strengths and work with them. Your employee might have a strength that could be a real asset to your organization. Once established, a degree of stress can then be reasserted, and employees will likely feel all the more motivated to grow and succeed.

Encourage employees to take breaks to clear their heads — How many of your employees eat at their desks? Do people take regularly scheduled breaks? Are they worried about taking days off? Your employees are human and they need time away from work to recuperate. To avoid complete burnout, employees need to know that breaks are not only accepted within your organization, but encouraged and required.

As with many things in life, when it comes to stress at work, it’s all about balance. The right amount can motivate and engage employees, while too much will prove to be damaging to overall health and productivity. Your employees are individuals and their needs will vary from person to person. Managers need to get to know their team, know what they are capable of, know when to coach and know when to dial things back. Doing so will ultimately boost employee happiness and improve company culture.

Pet Insurance as a Benefit – Why Your Company Should Consider It

Fortune Magazine has called pet insurance the “hottest employee benefit” and one survey forecasts that nearly 60% of companies will offer pet insurance by 2018 (Willis Towers Watson 2016). The large growth we’ve seen at Pets Best supports this. The number of companies offering our pet insurance as a voluntary benefit in 2017 has increased over 134% since 2013.

With all the buzz around pet insurance, we often get the question, Why should companies offer pet insurance as a benefit?

For starters, 68% of U.S. households have pets (APPA survey). Further, 75% of Americans in their 30s have dogs, 51% have cats (Mintel survey). So the chances are, the majority of employees have a pet. Which also means they pay for veterinary care. Add to that the increasing cost of vet care–because the quality of care has risen to nearly human level care–it makes sense that employees are requesting pet insurance as a voluntary benefit. And of course, by offering in demand benefits, you’ll attract more talent and retain employees longer.

What trends are driving the increased interest in pet insurance?

Pets are family.

In a survey of our Pets Best customers, over 82% stated they consider themselves pet parents rather than simply pet owners (2016). Additionally, 95% of US pet owners consider pets part of the family (Harris Poll 2016). Americans’ relationship with pets has evolved over the past few decades; they are no longer just family pets, but family members. So, for pet parents, it is imperative their pets are well taken care of.

Millennials & Pet Insurance

One of the most notable trends we’ve seen at Pets Best among our customers is that the fastest growing age group are 25-34 year old millennials. From 2005-2010, 25-34 year olds represented 5.7% of our customers, whereas in 2011-2015, that same age group grew to 16.9% of customers. The average millennial got their first pet at 21, while the average baby boomer was 29 (Wakefield study). Additionally, 76% of millennials are more likely to splurge on something for their pet, than for themselves (Wakefield research). An article on Time.com discussed the growing trend of millennials who are buying homes because of their dogs (July 2017).

Unexpected Expensive Veterinary Bills

The most common reason our customers tell us they got pet insurance is because before they had it, they experienced an unexpected expensive veterinary bill. Pet insurance helps provide peace of mind, which is so important after facing an expensive medical tragedy.

If a company is interested in offering pet insurance as a voluntary benefit, what should they do?

Companies of all types and sizes can add pet insurance as a voluntary benefit. If you’re interested, check to see if the pet insurance you’re looking at is a good fit for your company. For example, is there a size requirement on how many employees your company must have? Do their plans cover what your employees want and need? And, are the plans at a price that fits your company’s budget?

Since engaging with benefits helps increase employee retention, you’ll see the best engagement with pet insurance is if it’s set up with payroll deduct. The next best engagement comes when you give the employee a set amount you’ll pay for.

With pet insurance, employees can quote and enroll all year long. It doesn’t have to be limited to Open Enrollment. Year-round availability lightens the stress of Open Enrollment plus it makes engaging with that benefit quicker and easier.

Finally, when looking at pet insurance, we suggest choosing a company that provides 24/7 access to veterinary experts. All Pets Best policy holders get free access to the 24/7 Pet Helpline, which is staffed by veterinary experts for all their pet health related questions; to help in the event of an emergency, or to provide home care advice, and more. While we knew this would be an added benefit to our customers, the unexpected effect is that it has helped with employee presentism. When an employee’s pet is sick, being able to contact the Pet Helpline first helps alleviate unnecessary emergency visits to the veterinarian which can easily eat up hours of the work day. Not to mention easing the stress of being worried about your pet.

All companies can offer pet insurance, but what are the traits of companies that add it the most?

The companies that offer our pet insurance as a voluntary benefit commonly reside in pet-friendly communities or cities. Companies that have a pet-friendly office are also very likely to offer pet insurance. We’ve also seen an increase in tech companies offering it, because they often compete fiercely to attract and retain talent. Sometimes, a strong benefits package including an in-demand one such as pet insurance can really make a difference for potential employees, especially for millennials.

Photo Credit: investmentzen Flickr via Compfight cc

An Open Letter to You The Worker

Dear Hard and Dedicated Worker,

I am writing to you today as our data highlights that you have not been spending time taking care of yourself. While we acknowledge that you do good work, we also want you to remember that you need to rest and take time to treat yourself with tender loving care. In case you got too busy being an exceptional worker, we wanted to remind you that you need to make time for yourself every day to do what brings you joy. You should never wait for a vacation or retreat to take meticulous care of your body, mind and spirit. They need to be fuelled regularly.

We recognize that this is not an easy task as there has been no holistic wellness manual given to you, so we ask that you stop what you are doing right now–whether it is email, meetings, offsites, more meetings, PowerPoint decks, Excel spreadsheets, collaboration spaces, blogging, conferences, planning, strategizing, writing, feeling busy–and take a few minutes to breath and think. Please grant yourself time for you every day.

Please understand that work-life balance has always been a myth that is unattainable. You are one whole person who has a life and in it you get to work, play, learn and live. You have been born with free will, which grants you a choice, for example, to be a workaholic or lifeaholic. You can choose how to define your own success–whether it is pursuing work-life balance or seeing yourself as a whole person living a whole life, with its ups and downs. To be human is to feel deeply. Nature does not rush. Nature is fierce. And so are you when you give yourself the space to emerge.

To be fully human requires you to treat yourself with extreme gentleness and meticulous care. Your life is about the choices you make. Please grant yourself permission to play. Expose yourself to healthy food, people, thoughts, experiences and work that fuels you. When you take meticulous care of yourself, you set the bar not only for yourself but for everyone around you, about how you treat yourself.

You can choose to make excuses for why you can’t do it, or you can just do it! It’s always a choice.

What do you choose?

Much love to my fellow lifeaholics,

Ayelet

Sanity Dose #207: We have more choices than we can imagine and the ones you make matter deeply. Your state of mind is key to healthy living.

Creativity is conceived as a reproductive act with a tangible result–a child, a book, a monument–that has a physical life going beyond the life of its producer. Creativity, however, can be intangible in the form of a good life, or a beautiful act, or in other virtues of the soul such as freedom and openness, style and tact, humor, kindness.- James Hillman 

This article was originally published on LinkedIn.

Five Powerful HR Resolutions to Implement in 2017

It’s the first month of a new year, and you know what that means—time to get moving on those resolutions and goals for the new year. Setting goals in the corporate world isn’t just an individual pursuit, however. It should involve your entire team. Get everyone together to solicit input on what you as a company or department want to achieve in 2017.

Implementing yearly goals can be a daunting task, which is why it’s a good idea to set,  and take action on, monthly and quarterly goals as well. This allows you to give your team more short-term feedback and also provides you with the opportunity to make adjustments that will keep your team on track for the improvements you hope to achieve.

Here are five powerful resolutions that will propel your HR team forward in 2017.

  1. Implement a BYOD program. BYOD means “Bring Your Own Device,” and it has become a much more prevalent practice in a variety of industries. Eighty percent of employees use personal technology for business use, so it makes sense to tap into this trend. Studies show that a BYOD program enhances employee productivity and efficiency and, ultimately, corporate profits.

The BYOD strategy gives employees the freedom to buy or lease the type and brand of device they prefer. They may feel more comfortable using their own devices, knowing they can store photos, purchase apps, and text personal messages with the understanding that the phone or tablet will stay with them when they leave the company. Though the device is personal, employees are still able to access company emails, spreadsheets, contact lists, etc., with the convenience and mobility that enhances productivity.

When employees are allowed to use their own devices for work-related matters, it saves money and reduces training time because employees purchase what they feel are best suited to them and their tech abilities. A disadvantage, however, is the lack of uniformity among employees’ devices, because not all employees will be able to afford the personal expense for the same type of device. Employers can help by subsidizing purchases to ensure a minimum level of functionality.

  1. Create and implement an employee wellness program that includes a financial wellness component. Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy peace of mind and freedom from the stressors of poor financial decisions that can otherwise hamper both your professional and personal life. Just as we can credit corporate wellness programs with an increase in productivity and employee engagement in the workplace, we have a growing awareness that we need to address financial well-being as well.

If you do not have an employee wellness program, build one from the ground up with a focus on physical fitness to start. If you already have such a wellness program but have yet to incorporate elements of financial fitness, add in a component that teaches employees better money management and spending habits.

  1. Survey employees to improve engagement. Most companies want to improve employee engagement, as it results in a more motivated and productive workforce. The first step is to survey employees, soliciting input as to what you’re doing right and wrong as a company, which is also a good way to gauge employee satisfaction. Based on survey results, set goals to fix areas in need of improvement. Survey again after six months or so to see if your changes have had a positive effect on employee engagement.
  2. Revamp hiring and onboarding processes. Getting off to a good start is critical to a new employee’s perception of your company and their likelihood to stay around for the long haul. Your first step is to ensure best hiring practices, where job duties are clearly defined and job applicants’ skills and expertise are matched well to your needs. Follow that up by emphasizing an effective onboarding process that engages new employees in order to communicate from the very start the value you place on their contributions to your organization.
  3. Get rid of annual performance reviews—for good. Many employees view performance evaluations as a yearly annoyance, and rightly so—rarely do they fairly measure performance. With constantly shifting goals and responsibilities, and increasingly overburdened managers, trying to evaluate a year’s worth of performance by rating employee efforts on a 1-to-5 scale is outdated. Instead, focus on mutual goal-setting between manager and staffers on a regular basis (say, quarterly), and ditch the cumbersome paperwork.

Real progress can happen for your organization when you engage your team in planning and setting goals for the new year. Talk with your team and resolve to take your business to the next level in 2017.

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The Benefits of Developing a Workplace Culture of Health

Most of us try to live well but fall short of our goals. A recent study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found less than three percent of us have a “healthy lifestyle”—despite the fact that a vast majority of us are on a quest for personal wellness.

But wellness takes a lifestyle change, and time spent at work can either help or hinder. As more companies realize that a happy and healthy employee is better for business, they’re looking for ways to develop a workplace culture of health.

Real-world results show there’s value in workplace wellness—both for employees and the bottom line. Here’s a look at why more and more organizations are being proactive about health and how you can get employees involved.

The Benefits of Having Healthy Employees

There’s no shortage of research tying work life to physical and mental health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that health promotion programs can help employees “develop knowledge, self-management and coping skills as well as build a social support network among coworkers, supervisors, and family.”

At work, these wellness benefits translate into:

  • Fewer absences. Healthy people don’t spend as much time off sick. That connection is pretty straightforward, but the effect is far-reaching: Reducing the amount of time spent away from work improves productivity and provides room for more innovation and growth.
  • Better performance. Productivity isn’t just about time spent at a desk. People who exercise, get enough sleep, and eat right are taking care of their minds as much as their bodies, which can improve concentration and focus, and help employees avoid the dreaded “afternoon slump” or feelings of mental fogginess.
  • Higher engagement. Wellness programs bring people together outside of their day-to-day work. Group activities can encourage collaboration and improve both relationships and motivation. From better engagement and job satisfaction to retention, a well-rounded wellness program can be a boon for human resources.

Companies can also see financial benefits for their efforts:

  • Lower insurance costs. The CDC point out that healthy employees spend less out-of-pocket on health-related expenses—and so do their employers. People in good health present a lower insurance risk, which translates into lower insurance costs. A look at the ROI of employee wellness programs in 2010 found that every dollar invested provided $6 in savings.
  • Improved stock performance. A survey of 49 public companies by the Health Enhancement Research Organization and Mercer found those with wellness programs appreciated more and outperformed the S&P 500.

Why a Focus on Workplace Wellness Works

Encouraging employees to take breaks during their day to exercise or eat better is fine, but what is it about workplace culture that makes healthy living happen?

  • Built-in support. Many individuals struggle with their health goals because they feel like they’re trying to do it on their own. By creating an environment that encourages employee wellness, health goals become front and center; instead of being isolated, employees can support one another on their journeys.
  • Some companies offer incentives to increase employee participation and reward commitment. Perks like insurance discounts, time off, or monetary rewards can be helpful motivators.
  • Greater confidence and mental health. The benefits of better health help people feel better about themselves, which boosts confidence and self-esteem. Plus, activities can help alleviate some mental health problems and generate a sense of well-being.

Forcing Employees to Participate Could Backfire

Some employers make participation in wellness programs a requirement. Employees who refuse may find that they must pay for COBRA benefits, and courts are supporting the move so far. Keep an eye out to see how further cases against mandatory programs pan out, but I think requiring participation may go too far. For many companies, voluntary participation provides enough return that it isn’t necessary to strong-arm employees into it.

Creating a Culture of Corporate Wellness

Some companies are well known for their health-related benefits. Google offers napping pods as well as swimming pools, ping pong tables, standing desks, and healthy foods. Kaiser Permanente provides employees with healthy recipes, programs to track wellness goals, and group fitness activities. General Electric employees receive free preventive exams, free online second opinions, and incentives specifically for nonsmokers.

Not everyone has such deep pockets, however, and they aren’t necessary; any business can make an investment in health. Corporate wellness programs succeed when they have specific goals, established budgets, and policy for company involvement.

Consider your employees and their needs before setting program goals. Find ways to encourage employees to take small steps, like getting up and moving during the day. Talk to your insurance provider, too; many insurers have built-in programs. Even educating employees about the resources available to them can be a step in the right direction.

It doesn’t take grand gestures to promote a culture of health; simple activities can yield significant benefits. With small changes, you can effectively transition your company to one that makes employee well-being a priority.

 

photo credit: Drexel A Healthier U Drexel_Employee_Olympics_VI-80 via photopin (license)

4 Ways Leaders Inspire Employee Wellness

While today’s employers continue their steadfast commitment to improving employee health and productivity, top-level leadership support remains a key ingredient for successful employee participation.

According to results from the 2015/2016 Willis Towers Watson Staying@Work Survey, 84 percent of employers say improving employee health is a core component of their organization’s health strategy, and nearly four in five plan to sharpen their focus on building workforce health and well-being in the coming years.

However, research also shows a number of factors are keeping employers’ health and well-being programs from being as successful as they could be. Near the top of this list: A lack of senior leadership support.

Managers are top motivators

According to recent survey results from Welltok and the National Business Group on Health, “Whispers from the Water Cooler: What motivates employees to improve their health and well-being,” 57 percent of employee respondents rank their manager as a top motivator to improving their overall health and well-being.

What I’ve seen over the years is that visible support from a company’s leadership, regardless of the level within the organization, sets the tone for employees—communicating that it’s acceptable to fit in a workout during the workday, participate in a weight loss challenge with co-workers or take advantage of healthy food options.

Here are four ways I have observed that leaders at all levels of the company can support wellness program and engage employees in their health and well-being.

  1. Show, don’t tell
    Some of the most successful employee corporate wellness programs have visible leadership that can be called upon for support—whether it’s taking the first official step in a new walking program or approving strategic program decisions. Employees often listen to the words, but trust the behavior exhibited by senior leaders, such as when the CEO is first in line for a health screening.Where I work, at HealthFitness, our senior team has made a commitment to encouraging healthful behavior in the everyday routine of our employees. If you visit our Minneapolis headquarters, examples of this in action are easy to see. Employees have free access to treadmill workstations and an on-site fitness center—and senior leaders at all levels of the company regularly use both, opening the door for employees to do the same.
  2. Share success with employees
    Leaders at one large manufacturing company share health management program successes with employees, showing aggregate percentages of how many employees are at high, medium and low health risk, and how the company’s collective health is improving. Providing these results reminds everyone that their health choices affect the company’s health and demonstrates a ‘we’re all in this together’ mentality.
  3. Ensure health is part of your core business strategy
    Express your company’s passion and direction for health and productivity in your mission, vision and goal statements. Put corporate leadership front and center in communications about the program. Use all the tools in the arsenal: videos to employees, all-employee correspondence, group meetings and blog posts, among others.
  4. Support healthy behaviors at the workplace
    Provide healthy vending and cafeteria options. Map out walking/running trails and ensure they are safe. Bring fitness equipment on-site for maximum employee access. Organize a monthly farmers market or a fruit and vegetable co-op at the worksite. At HealthFitness, every Friday, employees at our Minneapolis headquarters are treated to healthy breakfast items such as fresh fruit, low-fat yogurt and energy bars.

These are just a few of the strategies I have seen be successful in the workplace. What about you? What innovative strategies have worked for you to help leaders support employee health and well-being in your workplace?

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#WorkTrends Recap: Creating a Culture of Wellness

Health and wellness extends far beyond preventing the spread of germs in the office during cold and flu season. It is a combination of keeping your mind, body and mental wellbeing in good standing to reach a higher level of productivity. Companies should prioritize the general health and wellness of their employees because it can impact productivity and the bottom line.

Recent research indicates that the availability of a wellness program is a selling point when looking for a new job, but many indicate their workplace doesn’t offer one.

On this week’s #WorkTrends podcast and Twitter chat, Host Meghan M. Biro and our special guest Jenya Adler from Staples Business Advantage, discussed health and wellness in the office.

Here are a few key points Jenya shared:

  • A wellness program is more than just fitness plan. It takes into account the whole employee.
  • Break rooms are the heart of the office. Make them a place people want to gather.
  • Let your employees know it’s ok to work from home and recharge when they are sick.

Missed the show? You can listen to the #WorkTrends podcast on our BlogTalk Radio channel here.

You can also check out the highlights of the conversation from our Storify here:

Didn’t make it to this week’s #WorkTrends show? Don’t worry, you can tune in and participate in the podcast and chat with us every Wednesday from 1-2pm ET (10-11am PT). Next week, on Sept 21, host Meghan M. Biro will be joined by Greg Besner, CEO of Culture IQ, to discuss how to layer business data and culture data.

The TalentCulture #WorkTrends conversation continues every day across several social media channels. Stay up-to-date by following the #WorkTrends Twitter stream; pop into our LinkedIn group to interact with other members; or check out our Google+ community. Engage with us any time on our social networks, or stay current with trending World of Work topics on our website or through our weekly email newsletter.

photo credit: A Waking Dream via photopin (license)

#WorkTrends Preview: Creating a Culture of Wellness

Health and wellness extends far beyond preventing the spread of germs in the office during cold and flu season. It is a combination of keeping your mind, body and mental wellbeing in good standing to reach a higher level of productivity. Companies should prioritize the general health and wellness of their employees because it can impact productivity and the bottom line.

Recent research indicates that the availability of a wellness program is a selling point when looking for a new job, but many indicate their workplace doesn’t offer one. In a wellness program, employees report they’re looking for fresh foods, onsite gyms and other perks that help improve health and fitness. Additionally, employees want their kitchen, lounge, café or break room to be well-stocked.

Join Host Meghan M. Biro and our special guest from Staples and its business-to-business arm, Staples Business Advantage (@StaplesB2B), to discuss health and wellness in the office. Jenya Adler, director of workplace strategy for Staples Business Advantage, helps businesses explore how they work, and how they want to work.

This show is guaranteed to be an informative and practical conversation about how to improve the health and wellness of your workforce.

Creating a Culture of Wellness

#WorkTrends Logo Design

Tune in to our LIVE online podcast Wednesday, Sept 14 — 1 pm ET / 10 am PT

Join TalentCulture #WorkTrends Host Meghan M. Biro and guest Jenya Adler of Staples Business Advantage as they discuss how to create a culture of wellness.

#WorkTrends on Twitter — Wednesday, Sept 14 — 1:30 pm ET / 10:30 am PT

Immediately following the podcast, the team invites the TalentCulture community over to the #WorkTrends Twitter stream to continue the discussion. We encourage everyone with a Twitter account to participate as we gather for a live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1. How does health and wellness affect productivity? #WorkTrends (Tweet this question)

Q2. How should an employer improve the health and wellness of employees? #WorkTrends (Tweet this question)

Q3. What are the benefits of a healthy workforce? #WorkTrends (Tweet this question)

Don’t want to wait until next Wednesday to join the conversation? You don’t have to. We invite you to check out the #WorkTrends Twitter feed, our TalentCulture World of Work Community LinkedIn group, and in our TalentCulture G+ community. Share your questions, ideas and opinions with our awesome community any time. See you there!

Join Our Social Community & Stay Up-to-Date!

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The Road to Well-Being Begins With “Getting” Your Employees

New research from the National Business Group on Health reinforces what we’ve been observing for quite some time—that a growing number of employers are broadening their definition of wellness to include dimensions of well-being beyond physical health. Employers are increasingly looking at employee health from a whole-person view, recognizing its physical, social, emotional, financial and environmental dimensions.

Recognizing that the definition of employee health has expanded, we must look at all dimensions when we consider the health of an employee. For example, people might be facing a challenge in a part of their life that is preventing them from regularly exercising or eating well.

At HealthFitness, we adapt the way we work with each participant and client community, which leads to sustainable healthy actions for more of our clients’ employee populations. We refer to this as Well-doingsm for more people.

We don’t limit ourselves to the physical dimensions of health. When we develop a health management program, we do it so we can engage individuals where they want support—whether it’s social, emotional, environmental and/or the financial dimensions. And we recognize that while the dimensions of well-being are critical, a key component is the delivery—how you empower employees to pay attention and ultimately take action.

Demonstrating the engagement value

The Consumer Health Mindset Report also notes the emphasis employees place on the engagement value. This is when an employee feels respected and appreciated by their employer. The employees think to themselves—and hopefully say to their colleagues—“this place gets me.”

Yet, when it comes to engaging employees in their health—actually “getting” them—employers still need help and must recognize the obstacles in engaging employees. The reality is that exercise is hard and we need to acknowledge this upfront. You can design a great wellness program—foster what we refer to as a culture of health—but at the end of the day the employees will be the ones who need to lace up their sneakers and take that first step.

When we partner with our clients, we ask them to consider the following questions about their employees: What drives them? What are their risk factors?

Then we start digging deeper, looking at specific risk factors and how this varies within the employee population. Having this information enables us to develop a wellness program with the aim of keeping employees healthy.

Tips for increasing employee education and communication

The best thing you as an employer can do to maintain a healthy workforce is to increase education and communication efforts with your employees about your wellness program. For example:

  • Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Time and resources are limited. Focus on where you can make an impact.
  • Be flexible; be willing to adjust an approach if it isn’t generating the results you want.
  • Remember that lasting change takes time and requires people, tools and processes working in concert.
  • Take a strategic approach—begin with the end in mind.

It’s ultimately very rewarding to think that our work can have a positive impact on employees—not just on their physical health, but their emotional health and how they interact with their co-workers, family and friends.

We can essentially help change how employees go about their lives. But we first need to gain a sense of where the employees want to go, so we can show them the most effective way to get there.

A version of this post was first published on the HealthFitness blog.

Image credit: StockSnap.io

10 Ways to Keep a Happy and Healthy Workforce

Happy staff within the workplace is undoubtedly one of the most important elements of an organization. A company that keeps its workforce happy has the significant benefits of increased productivity, creativity, reduced turnover and an improved bottom line. To help your company get there, we’ve created this list of what we believe to be the ten most important factors in keeping your workforce happy and healthy.

1. Provide feedback

Provide employees with consistent feedback, which is vital in developing their understanding of where they are succeeding and where they need to apply more effort. An open communication channel between employer and employee will allow for a more productive working environment. If employees don’t feel heard, they may begin to question their worth within the company and search for prospects elsewhere. By implementing monthly team meetings where all staff can share their ideas and concerns, employees are more likely to feel valued and happy to continue working hard for their employer.

2. Exercise and wellbeing

Investing in a wellness program can benefit your business in a multitude of ways. Healthy employees are more likely to work harder and add positive value to the workplace. The endorphins released during exercise will improve the mood of your employees and increase company morale. In fact, more and more companies are beginning to recognize the importance of offering means to exercise throughout the working day. Some have provided local gym memberships at a discount, some offer free or reduced cost exercise classes and others have gone as far as to install treadmill desks in the office so their employees can work and exercise simultaneously.
3. Employee communication
It is important to ensure your employees are able to work efficiently as part of a team. By encouraging interaction between workers, whether it be through team meetings or a weekly video conference, gaining an insight into what the rest of the company is up to should enhance the feeling of solidarity and working toward the same overall goal. Another effective method of achieving this unity is implementing monthly or annual teambuilding activities. Creating a workplace culture where employees communicate and respect each other will boost morale significantly and make for a happier workforce.

4. Build trust

Trust within the workplace is absolutely vital to employee satisfaction. A lack of trust can leave employees feeling insecure and affect motivation levels. This can damage both the company’s success and employee morale. The important thing here is to always attempt to remain honest and straight with your employees as far as you can. This will create the trust needed to keep them happy and to stay loyal to the company.

5. Opportunities for growth

In order to keep employees engaged and motivated it’s key to provide them with opportunities to progress within their jobs. Career development is one of the most important factors to influence employee satisfaction and can come in the form of funding advanced education and training courses, or even through providing the knowledge that there is potential for promotion within their job position. These opportunities help signify the importance the company places on the employee as part of their team and can boost morale significantly.

6. Don’t micromanage

Micromanaging restricts the ability for people to develop their skills and achieve their full potential. Workers tend to respond best to being given independence in the jobs they are asked to carry out. By allowing employees to work without constant monitoring they will develop greater confidence in their abilities and will be much happier in their jobs.

7. CSR – be a company that gives back

A great way to encourage a happy workforce is to get everyone involved in a companywide initiative that makes a difference. Having a charity that your business supports – whether that’s financially, through volunteering days, or both – is the perfect way to unite your team through the passion of helping a common cause. The knowledge that they are part of a business which cares about the greater community is also a factor which will help to boost company morale and make for a more positive work environment.

8. Small rewards

Even if the company cannot stretch to provide a massive year end bonus, offering employees something to show them they are appreciated for the work they do will improve their loyalty to the organization and make for a happier workforce. Don’t underestimate the value of an early finish every once in a while, a dress-down day, or even a simple “thank you” for a job well done.

9. Creating balance for workers

Companies that offer their employees a good work/life balance have the opportunity to ensure their workers are happy in both aspects of their lives. Understandably, this level of flexibility is not always something a business can offer and that makes it a greatly desired benefit. Providing an opportunity for this balance will keep your workers happy and should, in turn, boost their productivity.

10. Positive environment

Little things, such as allowing music to be played in the office or providing employees with free fruit every day, can improve the morale of employees significantly. Taking these small steps to improve the atmosphere of the office can prove to be invaluable in keeping a happy workforce.

This article was originally seen on Switch & Shift.

#TChat Recap: How Wellness Programs Improve Employee Performance

Making time to stay in shape isn’t easy. Frenetic schedules and long work hours take a big bite out of exercise. However, wellness programs and physical activity can boost employees’ health and it’s good for business, as well. In fact, research shows that workers who exercise during the day reported a 15 percent boost in performance, a happier mood and increased ability to meet deadlines.

This week, the TalentCulture community discussed some of the many ways you can help employees find time for wellness programs, supporting their overall well-being. Our special guest was Ann Wyatt, vice president of account management at HealthFitness, a health management leader that creates effective health management and corporate fitness programs.

Whether you have an on-site corporate fitness center or not, there are simple ways to help employees find time for health and wellness. Listen to the recording and review the #TChat highlights to learn more.

Thank you to all the TalentCulture sponsors, partners and supporters!

#TChat will be off the air next week in celebration of the Thanksgiving Holiday! 

#TChat returns Wednesday, Dec 2 @ 1 pm ET/10 am PT. We will discuss “2016 HR Tech Hiring Trends” with special guest Stacy Zapar, founder of Tenfold, a boutique recruitment consultancy specializing in employer branding, talent sourcing, social recruiting, candidate experience and company culture.

Join our social communities and stay up-to-date! The TalentCulture conversation continues daily. See what’s happening right now on the #TChat Twitter stream, in our LinkedIn group and on our Google+ community. Engage with us anytime on our social networks or stay current with trending World of Work topics on our website or through our weekly email newsletter.

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#TChat Preview: How Wellness Programs Improve Employee Performance

The TalentCulture #TChat Show is back live on Wednesday, November 18, 2015, from 1-2 pm ET (10-11 am PT).

Last week we talked about the blended workforce and its benefits and challenges. This week we’ll be talking about wellness programs; how they improve employee performance and the importance of leadership buy-in for employee participation.

According to the American Heart Association, sedentary jobs have increased 83% since 1950, and physically active jobs now make up less than 20% of our workforce. By comparison, in 1960, about half of the US workforce was physically active.

Being physically active improves employees’ health, which is ultimately good for your business. In fact, research shows that workers who exercise during the day reported a 15 percent boost in performance, a happier mood and an increased ability to meet deadlines.

We all know how hard it can be to fit exercise into a busy schedule, so what should we do?

Whether you have an on-site corporate fitness center or not, there are simple ways to help employees find time for fitness and support their overall health and well-being.

Sneak Peek:

#TChat Events:How Wellness Programs Improve Employee Performance

TChatRadio_logo_020813#TChat Radio — Wed, Nov 18th — 1 pm ET / 10 am PT

Join TalentCulture #TChat Show co-founders and co-hosts Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman as they talk about health, leadership, and employee wellness programs with this week’s guest: Ann Wyatt, vice president of account management at HealthFitness, a health management leader that creates effective health management and corporate fitness programs.

Tune in LIVE online Wednesday, Nov 18th

#TChat Twitter Chat — Wednesday, November 18th — 1:30 pm ET /10:30 am PT Immediately following the radio show, the team will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where we’ll continue the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community. Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we gather for a dynamic live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: What activities can employees do to easily integrate exercise into daily living? #TChat  (Tweet this Question)

Q2: How can companies support a culture of fitness with or without on-site facilities? #TChat  (Tweet this Question)

Q3: How should companies measure fitness and wellness program effectiveness? #TChat  (Tweet this Question)

Until then, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, our TalentCulture World of Work Community LinkedIn group, and in our TalentCulture G+ community. So feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions. See you there!!!

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