What will wellness be in only a few short years?

CORPORATE WELLNESS MAGAZINE | DEAN GRIFFITHS | APRIL 11, 2017 - Well-being is a $3.72 trillion industry, according to new research released by the Global Wellness Institute. With people living longer and our pace of life only getting faster. Keeping healthy is now a full-time job within itself. On the flip side of this, statistics predict that the number of people who will suffer from one of the leading causes of disease, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and depression is only going to increase.

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The latest trend in well-being? We're seeing dollar signs - but it's not what you think.

WASHINGTON BUSINESS JOURNAL | TINA REED | APRIL 11, 2017  - Most companies already have smoking cessation, physical activity challenges and biometric screening on their radars when it comes to employee wellness perks. Some have even begun encouraging sleep and offering egg freezing. But what about help with money?

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How do you cultivate a healthy workplace?

FORBES | MELISSA THOMPSON | MARCH 22, 2017 - Entrepreneurs, whether in the early stages of startup or driving the ongoing momentum of longer term growth, know that one important factor for success is true – keeping employees’ spark alive so they can be healthy and engaged in the often high-pressure workplace. Businesses that can maintain a healthy workplace in a consistent and sustainable manner, often avoid burnout of staff and support people that grow great companies.

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What's the trend in new approaches to employee well-being? Hint: Zzz.

CORPORATE WELLNESS MAGAZINE | ROBIN BOUVIER | Paying Employees to Sleep at Work May Be Good for Business

“Worksite wellness” is once again under fire. A Health Affairs blog in January 2017, entitledBuilding A Culture Of Workplace Health: More Complicated Than Offering Workers Money To Be Healthy,” has suggested that “workplace health promotion programs, founded exclusively on providing financial incentives for achieving targeted health outcomes…is not all that is needed to create a healthy workforce.” This likely comes as a surprise to many employers who expected to reduce health plan costs by keeping healthy employees healthy.

Robin Bouvier, a Vice President on Aon’s Health Transformation Team, presented on a panel discussing best practices in corporate sleep strategies sponsored by the National Sleep Foundation at the 8th Employer Healthcare & Benefits Congress (EHBC) last fall. Aon’s Health Transformation Team provides well-being consulting to organizations in order to improve the health and performance of their workforce. They help organizations develop, operationalize and measure the impact of well-being strategies based on the business results that are most important to company leaders while focusing on the lifestyle behavior changes that are most important to the workforce.

“Recruitment and retention is a major business metric that organizations need to be measuring as part of their well-being strategy. There is a lot of turnover, especially in the Millennial population,” according to Bouvier.

Research conducted by Gallup reveals that there is a strong link between employee engagement, well-being and the likelihood of someone seeking out a new job. Organizations are struggling both to retain top talent and to quantify the impact of their wellness programs using health plan claims. In a workforce with high turnover, employees simply are often not on the health plan long enough for the employer to demonstrate a change in utilization or health risks and are thus unable to show a return on investment (ROI).

So how can employers improve the well-being of Millennials? According to the 2016 Consumer Health Mindset Study[*], conducted by Aon in partnership with the National Business Group on Health and The Futures Company, the well-being activities most important to Millennials in their personal lives are spending time with family and friends, managing stress, getting enough sleep, and balancing work and personal commitments. Sounds like the typical worksite wellness program, right? Wrong. According to Aon’s 2016 Health Care Survey, the two most common focus areas in employer wellness programs are exercise and nutrition.

Even when worksite wellness programs are offered, the Consumer Health Mindset Study found that 76 percent of employees encounter hurdles when it comes to making healthy choices. The top hurdles are time and money.

This equation may appear to be the perfect storm when it, in fact, creates an ideal opportunity for organizations to take a new approach to the well-being of their workforce. From an organizational perspective, Bouvier offers these suggestions:

  1. Commit to the business results that really matter to your company’s leadership and that have the greatest impact on organizational success. These should form your mission and strategic goals.
  2. Assess employee interests and needs when determining your focus areas. Incentives become a key motivator when employees are asked to do things they don’t want to do, or that are not their top priorities. Supporting employees in addressing the well-being activities that are most important to them may be all the motivation they need to take action.
  3. Think beyond the program. If employees perceive that they don’t have the time or money to make healthy lifestyle behavior changes, incorporate healthy activities into the work environment and culture.
    • Increase movement during the workday with standing desks, walking meetings, stretch breaks and by promoting the use of the stairs instead of elevators.
    • Change the nutritional values, portions, and costs of foods available in your cafeteria and vending machines to promote healthy options, and institute catering policies that limit company-sponsored meals to healthy menus.
    • Take full advantage of the built environment to create spaces for socializing, rest and relaxation – including napping and meditation rooms. Employees are entitled to take breaks and should be encouraged to do so throughout the day in order to optimize their energy levels and productivity.
  4. Move away from a traditional ROI model (based on health plan cost savings) to a VOH – or value on health – model that incorporates such metrics as productivity, retention, employee engagement, job satisfaction and other business results that may have a more meaningful impact on your bottom line results.

“The goal is not only for employees to bring their best self to work but for their employer to support them in bringing their best self back home at the end of the day. That is really when we start to see the impact of total well-being on business results,” said Bouvier.

Source: http://www.corporatewellnessmagazine.com/others/employees-sleep-good-business/

Adult obesity: what can employers do?

WELLNESS WORKS HUB | STUDY: CONTINUED INTERVENTIONS — VIA PHONE — HELPS WITH WEIGHT MANAGEMENT - Among the tactics of a well-run workplace wellness program can be various types of coaching around health concerns, including managing one’s weight. Now a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine shows the “efficacy of a weight loss maintenance program compared with usual care in obese adults.”

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Workplace wellness + business success: what are employers saying?

FACILITY EXECUTIVE | Survey On Workplace Wellness Points To Productivity - A recent survey of corporate real estate executives at large corporations conducted by CoreNet Global and CBRE Group, Inc. found that when a company focuses on employee health and wellness, workers report increases in engagement, retention rates increase, and absenteeism declines.

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Heart disease costs employers and employees: What workplace interventions work?

MOBI HEALTH NEWS | HEATHER MACK | Study: Workplace wellness programs focused on cardiovascular health may reduce prevalence of disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and most people are already on their way towards that fate: 99 percent of the population has at least one of seven cardiovascular health risks.

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Is your CEO also a Chief Health Advocate? Find out why they should be.

ASSOCIATIONS NOW | MARK ATHITAKIS | STRATEGY SESSION: CHIEF HEALTH ADVOCATE. Employee wellness often starts in the C-suite. The health of an organization begins with the tone at the top, it’s often said. That can be equally true when it comes to employees’ health.

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Should you add wearables to your well-being program?

Corporate Wellness Magazine | Anne-Marie Kirby | Do Wearables Actually Advance Corporate Wellness? A lot of people are looking at their wrists these days and the gesture usually has nothing to do with checking the time. Instead, they’re consulting their wearable device to find out how many steps they’ve taken, stairs they’ve climbed, calories they’ve burned or even their blood pressure.

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Does meditation really help employees manage stress?

LiveScience | Rachael Rettner | Meditation Really Does Lower Body's Stress Signals. Meditation may help the body respond to stressful situations, according to a new study that took a rigorous look at how the practice affects people's physiology when they're under pressure.

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What's the link between stress and heart attacks?

BBC News | Brain activity 'key in stress link to heart disease'

The effect of constant stress on a deep-lying region of the brain explains the increased risk of heart attack, a study in The Lancet suggests.

In a study of 300 people, those with higher activity in the amygdala were more likely to develop cardiovascular disease - and sooner than others.

Stress could be as important a risk factor as smoking and high blood pressure, the US researchers said.

Heart experts said at-risk patients should be helped to manage stress.

Emotional stress has long been linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), which affects the heart and blood vessels - but the way this happens has not been properly understood.

This study, led by a team from Harvard Medical School, points to heightened activity in the amygdala - an area of the brain that processes emotions such as fear and anger - as helping to explain the link.

The researchers suggest that the amygdala signals to the bone marrow to produce extra white blood cells, which in turn act on the arteries causing them to become inflamed. This can then cause heart attacks, angina and strokes.

As a result, when stressed, this part of the brain appears to be a good predictor of cardiovascular events.

But they also said more research was needed to confirm this chain of events.

Inflammation insight

The Lancet research looked at two different studies. The first scanned the brain, bone marrow, spleen and arteries of 293 patients, who were tracked for nearly four years to see if they developed CVD. In this time, 22 patients did, and they were the ones with higher activity in the amygdala.

The second very small study, of 13 patients, looked at the relationship between stress levels and inflammation in the body.

It found that those who reported the highest levels of stress had the highest levels of amygdala activity and more evidence of inflammation in their blood and arteries.

Dr Ahmed Tawakol, lead author and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said: "Our results provide a unique insight into how stress may lead to cardiovascular disease.

"This raises the possibility that reducing stress could produce benefits that extend beyond an improved sense of psychological wellbeing.

What does the amygdala do?

It's the part of the brain that prepares you for fight or flight, becoming activated by strong emotional reactions.

The amygdalae (because there are two of them - one on each side of the brain) are almond-shaped groups of cells located deep within the medial temporal lobes of the brain.

In humans and animals, the amygdala is linked to responses to both fear and pleasure.

The term amygdala - which means almond in Latin - was first used in 1819.

Dr Tawakol added: "Eventually, chronic stress could be treated as an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease, which is routinely screened for and effectively managed like other major cardiovascular disease risk factors."

Commenting on the research, Dr Ilze Bot, from Leiden University in the Netherlands, said more and more people were experiencing stress on a daily basis.

"Heavy workloads, job insecurity or living in poverty are circumstances that can result in chronically increased stress, which in turn can lead to chronic psychological disorders such as depression."

Emily Reeve, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke from stress normally focused on controlling lifestyle habits such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol and overeating - but this should change.

"Exploring the brain's management of stress and discovering why it increases the risk of heart disease will allow us to develop new ways of managing chronic psychological stress.

"This could lead to ensuring that patients who are at risk are routinely screened and that their stress is managed effectively."

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/health-38584975