What is an important requirement for successful wellness programs?

Bloomberg Law | Martin Berman-Gorvine | Successful Wellness Programs Require Well-Defined Goals

Employers must carefully delimit exactly what they hope to accomplish by offering employees a wellness program to ensure success, consultants say.

‘‘Define your goals, know what success would look like, and define the program from there,’’ Kate Kennedy, vice president of client management at East Greenwich, R.I.-based workplace wellness program company Provant, told Bloomberg BNA Aug. 9.

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14 Well-Being Boosts You Never Thought Of Before

Forbes | Forbes Coaches Council | 14 Employee Well-Being Initiatives That Will Boost Engagement And Productivity

A growing number of U.S. businesses are shifting focus from employee wellness programs to well-being initiatives — more comprehensive health and productivity programs that tackle elements such as the workforce’s emotional and mental health, social connectivity, financial education, sense of fulfillment on the job, and many other aspects.

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The intersection of money, stress, and productivity.

HR Technologist | Rhucha Kulkarni | Financial Wellness is Key to Employee Productivity

Considered to be a critical benefit that can have a distinct positive impact, employee wellness is generally thought of in terms of physical wellness, emotional / mental wellness, financial wellness and spiritual wellness. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) conference also saw much attention being focused on the financial wellness domain, because finances are often a leading stressor for most employees.

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How to make your wellness program fun and exciting? Technology can help.

HR Technologist | Rhucha Kulkarni | Technology Ushers in a New Wellness Era

There is a huge trend in enhancing employee wellness, be it physical, emotional or even spiritual health. Organizations have realized that a healthy and happy employee is an indispensable asset—someone who performs well and is likely to contribute for the long term.

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What vaccine is the CDC recommending for 2017-2018 flu?

CDC | Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report | Composition of the 2017–18 Influenza Vaccine

The Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccines and Related Biologic Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) has recommended that the 2017–18 influenza trivalent vaccine to be used in the United States contain an A/Michigan/45/2015 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus, an A/Hong Kong/4801/2014 (H3N2)-like virus, and a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like (B/Victoria lineage) virus.

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Are your employees doing these three things? They should.

INC. | Marcel Schwantes | 3 Workplace Habits of Happy and Engaged Employees, According to Research

An increasing body of evidence from positive psychology experts the likes of Richard Davidson, Shawn Achor, Barbara Frederickson and others confirm a simple fact: Happy people are better workers. And that translates to good business outcomes.

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Why You Should Tell Your Team to Get Out.

HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW |  Emma Seppala and Johann Berlin | Why You Should Tell Your Team to Take a Break and Go Outside

Wellness programs are becoming an integral priority for most human resource managers. After all, research shows that a happier workplace is more productive. To this end, workplaces are adding health-related perks from exercise rooms to yoga classes. Leaders participate in mindfulness and compassion trainings and are coached to learn emotional intelligence. However, there is one important wellness factor that many are forgetting even though it may be the most potent of all: access to green spaces.

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Do your employees know their purpose?

WESPIRE | Kristen Carlson | New Data: Purpose in the Workplace

Call it purpose, passion, meaning, or whatever you’d like, but these days, everyone is trying to find a job that they’re excited about and that provides them with a sense of accomplishment. We hear it from our clients, friends and family members, but we wanted to dive deeper into how people view purpose at work, its importance and whether they’ve found it or not.

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Does the amount of sleep impact a person’s waist circumference?

SCIENCE DAILY | European Society of Endocrinology | Sleep loss affects your waistline

sleep at work trouble sleeping

Sleep loss increases the risk of obesity through a combination of effects on energy metabolism. This research, presented at the European Congress of Endocrinology in Lisbon, will highlight how disrupted sleep patterns, a common feature of modern living, can predispose to weight gain, by affecting people’s appetite and responses to food and exercise.

In the 24/7 culture of the modern world, an increasing number of people report routine reduced quality of sleep and several studies have correlated sleep deprivation with weight gain. The underlying cause of increased obesity risk from sleep disruption is unclear but may relate to changes in appetite, metabolism, motivation, physical activity or a combination of factors.

Dr. Christian Benedict from Uppsala University, Sweden and his group have conducted a number of human studies to investigate how sleep loss may affect energy metabolism. These human studies have measured and imaged behavioural, physiological and biochemical responses to food following acute sleep deprivation. The behavioural data reveal that metabolically healthy, sleep-deprived human subjects prefer larger food portions, seek more calories, exhibit signs of increased food-related impulsivity, experience more pleasure from food, and expend less energy.

The group’s physiological studies indicate that sleep loss shifts the hormonal balance from hormones that promote fullness (satiety), such as GLP-1, to those that promote hunger, such as ghrelin. Sleep restriction also increased levels of endocannabinoids, which is known to have appetite-promoting effects. Further work from Dr. Benedict’s team shows that acute sleep loss alters the balance of gut bacteria, which has been widely implicated as key for maintaining a healthy metabolism. The same study also found reduced sensitivity to insulin after sleep loss.

Dr. Christian Benedict remarks, “Since perturbed sleep is such a common feature of modern life, these studies show it is no surprise that metabolic disorders, such as obesity are also on the rise.”

Although Dr. Benedict’s work has shed light on how short periods of sleep loss can affect energy metabolism, longer-term studies are needed to validate these findings. The group are now investigating longer-term effects and also whether extending sleep in habitual short sleepers can restore these alterations in appetite and energy metabolism.

Dr. Christian Benedict says, “My studies suggest that sleep loss favours weight gain in humans. It may also be concluded that improving sleep could be a promising lifestyle intervention to reduce the risk of future weight gain.”

 

Source: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170522081109.htm

 

Why workplace financial wellness programs are hot.

FORBES | Kelly Hannon | Why Workplace Financial Wellness Programs Are Hot

Most Americans are seriously anxious about their finances. It’s not simply the raw fear of outliving their money, but a more urgent yearning to sleep at night without money stresses and to have a sense of financial security. Employers, I’m pleased to say, are increasingly taking note.

The recently-released eighth annual Employer-Sponsored Health and Well-Being Survey from the National Business Group on Health and Fidelity Investments found that 84% of 141 large- and mid-sized companies surveyed now have financial wellness programs, up from 76% a year ago.

Money Angst Across America

financial planning financial wellness

It’s hard to say precisely what’s spurring the interest, but a myriad of factors are pushing employers to pay attention. For starters, numerous surveys have trumpeted the bad news blues about employee money angst.

For example, PwC’s 2017 Employee Financial Wellness Survey of 1,600 full-time employed adults said that 53% of employees are stressed about their finances. Those who are stressed are more likely to be distracted by their finances at work, miss work due to their personal financial issues and cite health issues caused by financial stress.

And a new Paychex survey of 1,000 full-time employees discovered that most felt the most important job incentive was regular bonuses — that ranked higher than paid vacation and health insurance.

The Tricky Part for Employers

Employers seem to want to help employees with their financial concerns, but figuring out the right solution is tricky.

That’s what I learned Tuesday at Double Bottom Line: The Business Benefits of Employee Financial Well-Being, a compelling panel discussion and roundtable in Washington, D.C. from the Aspen Institute’s Financial Security Program and Economic Opportunities Program, along with Prudential Financial. (Prudential announced a $5 million partnership with the Aspen Institute to provide employers with new financial-security tools and resources for their workers. I applaud that effort.)

“We believe it is a crisis,” Andrew Sullivan, president of Prudential Group Insurance, told the Aspen Institute audience. “Employers have the responsibility and the opportunity to solve this, though, and they want to.”

The Aspen Institute dialogue, led by Ida Rademacher, executive director of its Financial Security Program, focused on ways financial well-being in the workplace can improve the bottom line for employers and employees. It also covered employer-based solutions to reduce financial stress and improve the financial health of employees.

The Time Is Right for Financial Wellness Programs

In my opinion, the focus on workers’ financial wellness couldn’t come at a better time.

Not only are employees increasingly picking up the tab for rising health care expenses, they’re taking on the risk and responsibility for their financial security through 401(k) and other retirement plans. Not everyone wants to — or can afford to — hire a financial planner for guidance.

Over the years, I have been gobsmacked by the number of colleagues, family members and friends who sheepishly ask me how they should divvy up their 401(k) allotments. These are folks I would expect to have a good grip on their personal finances. But they’re overwhelmed by their 401(k) options and are paralyzed about making bad choices.

The Big Concern: Unexpected Money Shocks

Employers have an opportunity to step in and offer much-needed guidance. But I think they should be helping workers with far more than where to put their retirement contributions. Many workers are desperate for help navigating day-to-day money issues like debt and building emergency funds.

As Clint Key, research officer at The Pew Charitable Trusts said at the Aspen program, the overwhelming majority of people are mostly seeking financial stability for their families, not economic mobility. All it takes is one financial shock — like a car breaking down or an unexpected illness — to destabilize a household, Key said. “Four in ten households don’t have resources — in terms of savings or credit or even within their social networks — to help them pay a $2,000 expense,” he noted.

Experts at the Aspen Institute gathering talked about devising ways to create employer-sponsored savings accounts — kind of like emergency-fund 401(k)s — that would let employees automatically divert a portion of their paychecks into easily accessible savings accounts to help build emergency funds.

Some employers are offering video games and mobile apps to help employees learn about essential personal finance topics from saving to managing debt, according to Amanda Hahnel, associate innovation director at Commonwealth, a firm that develops and markets these kinds of products.

Why do employers increasingly care about helping workers achieve financial security? Simple. Financial distractions cost companies’ money.

“Employers get it,” said Diane Winland, manager of PricewaterhouseCoopers. They know that employees stressed about their finances are more likely to take time off to deal with them and are much more likely to take hours every workweek to deal with them, she reminded the group.

What Kind of Financial Help to Offer?

The conundrum is how deeply to go in providing help and what kind of help to provide.

The low-lying fruit, according to the Fidelity/National Business Group on Health survey, are the popular seminars and “lunch-n-learn” programs — 82% of employers surveyed said they expected to offer these in 2017. Nearly three-fourths (74%) will offer tools for key financial concerns such as mortgages, wills and income protection. And 71% expect to offer resources to support emergency savings, debt management and budgeting. Just a quarter of employers plan to offer student loan counseling or repayment assistance.

Personalized financial counseling is growing faster than online solutions, according to “Optimizing Financial Wellness for a Diverse Workforce,” the latest study from Financial Finesse, a provider of financial-wellness programs. That’s because counselors can readily adapt to different types of employees in highly diverse workforces.

2 Possible Stumbling Blocks for Financial Wellness Programs

I see two potential stumbling blocks, though.

For companies, there’s a fear of lawsuits from employees and retirees for divvying out advice that didn't work out or for not adhering to a financial fiduciary responsibility and legal requirements.

For employees, there’s the very real concern about privacy. As NerdWallet.com’s Dayana Yochim, a moderator at one of the Aspen Institute panels, pointed out: “Employees don’t want boss man mixed up in their business. There’s wariness about privacy issues in the workplace.”

1 Big Upside

The way I see it, however, there is a huge upside for employers who can find ways to walk the line of providing financial guidance for their workers.

Aside from potentially increased productivity and less absenteeism, this kind of benefit can build goodwill that can not only attract new employees, but help retain workers as well.

And for employees struggling with personal finance stresses, any help is worth exploring.

 

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2017/05/18/why-workplace-financial-wellness-programs-are-hot/#1b07465913f8

Mid-day breaks and their effects on work.

MINDFUL | Jill Suttie | Why You Should Take a Relaxing Lunch Break

According to a new study, we concentrate better and feel less stressed when we purposefully detach from work and enjoy a real break.

I know the importance of breaks in a workday. The science clearly shows that taking a cognitive timeout helps us to work better and feel better, and personal experience confirms that.

But, still…

Like many Americans, I sometimes find myself working right through lunch.

I get lost in my work, or I think, Hey, if I just finish this project, it will be out of my hair and then I can relax.

Relax at work

But a newly published study [by lead researcher Marjaana Sianoja in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology] suggests this is the wrong approach. It turns out that taking a deliberate break from work with a short walk in the park or a bit of mindful relaxation can have powerful effects on our end-of-day concentration, stress, and fatigue.

In this study, participants in cognitively demanding fields—such as public administration, education, engineering, and finance—were randomly assigned to either take a slow, 15-minute stroll in a park (without much physical exertion) or do 15 minutes of mindful relaxation exercises during their lunch breaks every workday for two weeks. The relaxation exercises consisted of progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, and paying attention to thoughts and sensations in a non-judgmental way. Both groups were instructed beforehand on how and where to take their walk or mindfully relax.

Before, during, and after the two-week experiment, participants were “pinged” twice a week near the end of their workday and asked to report on how well they were able to concentrate at that moment, and on their stress and fatigue. In addition, they filled out a short questionnaire every night, asking how much they enjoyed their lunch break, and if they were able to detach from work during it or not.

In analyzing the results, lead researcher Marjaana Sianoja and her colleagues found that when individuals did the mindful relaxation or took a walk, they showed significant decreases in end-of-day stress and fatigue, as well as better concentration at work, compared to days when they took regular lunch breaks. Mindful relaxation was particularly helpful for stress relief, even more so than walking in the park.

Because these results occurred in a naturalistic setting, they are particularly promising, says Sianoja.

“These two restorative activities have benefits on well-being in a real work setting—as compared to laboratory settings with only student participants—and the benefits are observable some hours after the lunch break,” she says.

Why did the experiments have these benefits? Theoretically, walks in nature can lead to “attention restoration”—recovery from cognitive overload after intense focus—while also being enjoyable, while mindfulness can increase our positive emotions, relieve stress, and boost focus.

Indeed, Sianoja found that the enjoyment experienced during walking and the greater detachment from work during mindful relaxation seemed to account for participants’ increased well-being and concentration later in the day. Though she’d expected strolling in nature to produce greater detachment from work, it was apparently less effective than the mindfulness practice in this regard.

Still, she says, “Both of these activities should shift the attention away from work-related issues quite efficiently and offer a break completely free from demands if compared to a regular lunch break.”

Because of the practices’ differing effects, Sianoja recommends that people take breaks incorporating mindful relaxation on days when they experience high work demands, and thus need to detach from work, and park walks when they long for a change of scenery and more fun. Her experiment didn’t allow for choice, but she believes that choosing one’s preferred activity may produce even stronger benefits.

Though Sianoja did not look at benefits to the organization, she also suggests that taking breaks like these could have a positive impact on productivity.

“Park walks and relaxation exercises were related to increased concentration in the afternoon and thus might have potential in maintaining productivity throughout the working day,” she argues.

Whatever the case, it’s clear that workers benefit when they take a restorative break mid-day. So, put on those walking shoes and head to a park or meditate at lunch—even if you only have 15 minutes.

 

Source: https://www.mindful.org/take-relaxing-lunch-break/

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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