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Live Wellness At Work

The #1 resolution for every new year is health and wellness related. Consider linking the considerable amount of hours employees spend at work with this.

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Consider some of these options for your Employee Wellness Program:

1. Home cooking recipe club

Obesity, heart disease, diabetes… they’ve all been linked to diet in one way or another. Thinking about wellness and food made a few of us in the team review our cooking habits. We quickly discovered that there was a whole lot of healthy eating expertise right here in the office waiting to be shared.

Home cooking recipe club is an email trail that we add to when we’ve made something delicious and healthy at home. From baked sweet potato with yogurt slaw to a humdinger of a healthy hotdog recipe, we’ve had some eye-opening contributions. Sometimes if we get lucky, the meals make it to work for a lunchtime bring-a-dish party.

2. Standing desks

Sitting down for long periods of time isn’t great for your health – ask any long distance truck driver. So why not give your people the option to work standing up for a while? When I looked at a few sites the other day, you could pick one up a standing desk for under $200 – less than the price of many office chairs (which you’re hopefully going to use less of).

Standing desks first became popular in the tech industry, where workplace wellness was also pioneered in the early 2000s. But they’ve been around way longer – did you know Hemingway used one?3 They apparently reduce your risk of obesity, diabetes and even cancer. Sounds like a good investment to me.

3. Plants

Do plants really make a difference? Heck yes! According to this article on the CIPHR website, as well as making employees feel more relaxed they can also boost morale and improve air quality. Many varieties of plant can live happily alongside your staff without too much effort from you. Succulents and cacti are easy to care for, while tough specimens like the spider plant will grow enthusiastically with basic care (think once-a-week watering and the occasional drop of plant food). You could even invite staff to bring their own from home if they like.

Highest regards,

 

Stacia

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Minimize 3 Foods & Increase 3 Others for Healthy Eating

Limiting certain foods and eating more of others is the actual key to healthy eating for your heart, experts say.

To help keep the right things at a minimum, read the list below for helpful tips.

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Minimum Consumption of Sugar, Salt and Saturated Fat

Empty Sugar Calories

For a sweetener, use local, raw honey instead. Raw honey from your local area will build up your allergy defenses as well. Look at unrefined coconut sugar because it also has low levels of micronutrients. Limit added sugar to 6 teaspoons daily for women and 8 teaspoons for men, per the American Heart Association. Sugar is in many unexpected areas such as marinara sauce, salad dressing, and some pickles. Read the ingredients on items you purchase; you will be shocked at how often sugar is added unexpectedly.

 

High Salt Equals High Blood Pressure

Keep daily salt consumption under 2,400 milligrams a day, under 1,500 would be ideal. Dropping your salt intake to these levels may be difficult at first, but start with an easy step of eliminating 1,000 milligrams a day for a week. Each week eliminate 1,000 milligrams and getting under 1,500 milligrams will be obtainable. For comparison, 1 teaspoon of salt has 2,300 mg. Avoiding processed foods will help as these are very high in sodium typically.

 

Saturated Fats

Fatty meat and trans-fat like hydrogenated oils increase your risk of developing coronary artery disease. Avoid these all together if you can.

 

Higher Consumption of Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables and Good Fats

Whole Grains

Not only are fiber and nutrients in whole grains, they play a role in regulating blood pressure and heart health. Whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, farro, millet and amaranth are all great options.

 

Fruits and Vegetables

Vitamins, fiber, and great nutrients are found in fruits and vegetables. Each color of fruit and vegetable offers a different array of health benefits. Substances in plants may help prevent cardiovascular disease, according to the Mayo Clinic.

 

Good Fats Decrease Inflammation

Add Omega-3 fatty acids to your daily consumption. Examples would be canola oil, walnuts, ground flaxseed and fatty fish such as salmon. Omega-3 fatty acids decrease inflammation in the body, thereby lowering the risk of heart disease.

 

Increasing your consumption of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 acids while lowering your intake of saturated fat, salt, and sugar will be actions that your heart will thank you for long term.

Highest regards,

Stacia

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Learn How Yoga Can Help You In The Workplace

When people think of yoga, they often think of yoga mats, complicated positions and retreats in the mountains requiring days of silence. However, I am here to tell you that if you can breath, you are in luck with yoga. Yoga is something you can even do at work without anyone knowing you are doing it.

This practice is about using our innate tools to quickly rid our own suffering. Now you may be thinking, “Stacia, I am not suffering” but we all suffer more than we’d like to admit.

 

Such things like negative thoughts, boredom, frustration and even anger are triggers letting you know there is some kind of suffering going on.  So how does simple yoga help this? It all starts with breathing. When we breathe with intention and attention, we are present to the very moment.

 

It doesn’t matter if you wear a three-piece suit, medical scrubs, a uniform or construction boots and a hard hat to work.

 

Remember if you can breathe, you can do do yoga at work. Try this right now, inhale and notice what happens to your body’s toros. Exhale, and notice again what happens to your body. Repeat this 15 times while counting to 1, 2, 3 each time you inhale and exhale.

 

When you focus on breathing this intently, your mind isn’t wandering to anything else, putting a quick halt to any pain and suffering going on in your world, body, life. You calmed your nervous system and unknowingly to you, you decrease your cortisol, the stress hormone. If you are depressed or sad, this same breathing techniques is known to help.

 

There is no required number of rounds for breath-work, but the longer you can do each, the more you’ll feel the effects. Believe it or not, you are practicing yoga.

 

Warmest regards,

Stacia

 

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Create A Culture of Health and Wellness

Most employees are working between 1040 and 2080 hours a year in an office setting, depending on if they are working part-time or full-time. That is a lot of time sitting being that there are 8760 hour in a year. That is 11.8% to 23.7% of the time. WOW! Almost 25% of a year sitting! This not taking into consideration overtime or project work those employees may do.

 

We wonder why American workers find it difficult to find time to squeeze in trips to the gym. With health-related expenses costing companies millions of dollars a year, employers should be doing everything in their power to keep their employees fit and healthy.

 

Let’s look to see what could be done to improve employee health overall:

 

Here are 4 simple ideas of things employers can do to keep their health care costs down.

 

  1. Decide what kind of culture your firm and employees want to have.

This can be done through collaboration of departments and make a fun spirit amongst peers.  Provide the space for healthy living.

    1. Investigate what you are promoting. What does your organization supply in your vending machines? Do you put our fruit or donuts for team meetings?
    2. Make sure your leaders are on board. When the management of a company promotes healthy living, it is easier for everyone else to jump on board.
    3. Make health easy. Encourage others by putting in a gym or walking path and praise employees for their healthy choices through words of affirmation.
  1. Find a buddy amongst the ranks.
    1. Put together fun workplace initiatives such as a walking or running group.
    2. Drum up a team weight maintenance or fat loss program during the holidays.
    3. Sign up a team for a recreation league and accept all players who want to be healthy.
    4. Invite local health and wellness professionals to host workshops and cooking demos.
  2. Get buy in.
    1. Ask your teams what they want to accomplish in living a healthy lifestyle through surveys or opinion boxes.
    2. Help them identify the hurdles that may come up and set up a collaborative time to help them over the hurdles
    3. Don’t push the unmotivated employee to change if they don’t want to. Work with the willing.
  3. Give free information.
    1. Set up a company intranet page that showcases healthy living articles, workouts, social media pages, ideas, success stories and even a chat area for others to collaborate on and off business hours.
  4. Make it worth their while.
    1. Employees will do a lot for a little recognition and praise.
    2. If you so feel inclined,make a contest with some layers of prizes or incentives they can win for doing what you want them to…being healthy.

 

You’ll have buy in, if everyone that supports your company initiative wants to truly live a healthy lifestyle. So be all in and get well and stay well. You are worth it.

 

Warmest regards,

 

Stacia

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5 Things Millennials Look For From A Workplace

Millennials are flooding the job market and now make up one-third of the US workforce, making it imperative for employers to attract and retain young talent. But that can be tricky, since millennials often are looking for unconventional benefits.

Offering some of those benefits that will keep your employee engaged, motivated, and less stressed at work is key.  These are 5 things that the millennial generation consistently looks for from an employer.

 

  1. Flexible work schedules – It is no secret that the workforce is demanding more flexibility at work, and millennials are a big part of this push. Millennials say more flexibility will improve their happiness and productivity. Additionally, more than half of millennials report they work from home after the standard work day is done, compared to US office workers. With families, children, and home life, flexibility is becoming more and more important with the younger generation.
  2. An eco-friendly workplace – Eco-friendly practices aren’t just good for the environment, they are good for recruiting younger workers to your company. Half of all millennials say an eco-friendly workplace is an important factor when it comes to job consideration.
  3. A well stocked break room – A well supplied breakroom leads to happier employees, less stress, more productive workers, and a more social environment. It may encourage employees to take a break to refresh and recharge, which will improve productivity and lower stress.
  4. Job-site perks – Millennials place a great deal of value on job-site perks like free lunches or on-site gyms. A good working environment is a place that offers incentives and perks, which will improve their happiness.
  5. Strong leadership and consistent feedback – Millennials more than any other generation are looking for strong relationship with their bosses. One in five millennials report that it’s their direct boss who’s their motivator. A strong leadership defines a good work culture. Feedback is very important and is truly appreciated and contributes to employee loyalty. Being recognized in any way is what most employees like.

 

Highest Regards,

Stacia

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Small Business Guide to Creative Employee Benefits

When it comes to employee benefits, health insurance, retirement accounts and sick days, they are often standard at larger companies. To set your small business apart, you’ve got to think more creatively. Here are 10 great ideas I hope you can benefit from:

 

  1. Free food: Try keeping the break room stocked with free snacks, soda, and bottled water. You could even do something more significant, like providing a catered lunch on a weekly basis. The productivity is higher each day/week because they don’t have to leave for lunch.
  2. Four-day workweek: A three-day weekend once in awhile could make your employees not only happier but also more productive. A four-day workweek allows more time for employees to restore, if you will, their energy levels.
  3. Unlimited vacation: This policy speaks mostly about your company’s values. It sends a really clear message to employees that you care about them, that you want them to spend time with their families and that you want them have a high quality of life. When people feel cared for by their company or employer, they are much more likely to do great work.
  4. Professional development: Employees want to work for companies that help them advance their careers. Paying for classes, certifications and conferences is a major draw. Another idea, however, is establishing a mentoring program between employees.
  5. Personal development: Employees place a high value on work-life balance. Consider offering personal development benefits. One way to do so is by paying for the services of a life coach. Another is by offering lunch-and-learn events. You can have your bank come in, for instance, and help people learn how to get a mortgage, when the right time is to refinance or how to use their savings account.
  6. Massage therapy: Sometimes the greatest opportunities are the simplest things, like paying a massage therapist to come for two hours on Friday afternoons to give chair massages. This helps your employees relax and relieve stress.  
  7. Flexible working: Giving employees the option to work from home shows that you care about work-life balance. So does letting them come in late or leave early when they need to.
  8. Gym memberships: Fitness and keeping healthy is very important.  If you don’t have the space for weights and a treadmill, consider gifting employees a gym membership or negotiating discounted memberships at a nearby facility.
  9. Community service: Companies that offer time off for employees to volunteer or participate in community service projects earn points with their community and their workforce.
  10. Voluntary benefits: Employers who can’t afford to pay for dental insurance, life insurance or disability insurance can still offer them. You could give your employees—through payroll deductions—the option of accumulating a block of hours for an attorney to help them with the assembly of their will or the closing of a house.

 

Highest Regards,

Stacia

 

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Health and Wellness

Other than health insurance, how important is health and wellness benefits in which a company offers in your choice of employer?

 

Nearly 90 percent of employees say it is either “very important” or “somewhat important” in their choice of an employer. Positive outcomes to employees who participate in wellness programs include lower out-of-pocket healthcare expenses, and often incentives from employers for participating or completing desired outcomes.

 

Employees were asked to take the SHRM survey. We found out that rewards or bonuses for completing a wellness program rose from 23 percent in 2008 to 35 percent in 2012. Usually, the participants are those employees most in need of health improvement. Incentives are perceived as a key strategy for engaging all workers. Almost 58 percent of employees say incentives are a “very important” factor in their participation in employer sponsored wellness programs.

 

The successful use of incentives to keep employees engaged remains a combination of art and science, but a survey by Optum Health showed companies that offer incentives have a 30 percent or higher rate of participation than those that do not.

 

Even after accounting for generous incentives, employers with robust wellness programs report positive return on investment. For example: Johnson & Johnson’s well-documented worksite health promotion program began in 1979. A recent evaluation of the program’s effect on employee health risks and health care costs for the period from 2002 to 2008 measured the company’s rate of annual healthcare spend against similar large companies, and found it was 3.7 percentage points lower.

Data Source: Workforce Management 2012 Employer/Employee Survey, May 2012.

 

Johnson & Johnson shows strong return on investment According to a June 2012 article in Health Affairs, Johnson & Johnson’s employee population benefited from reduced rates of obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, tobacco use, physical inactivity and poor nutrition.

 


Highest regards,

Stacia

 

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Why Dental Coverage Helps Employers As Much As Employees

These days, everyone is moving towards eating a balanced diet and squeezing in a healthy workout. But to truly be healthy, you have to focus on more than just diet and exercise. Many people often overlook their oral health.

Oral health and cardiovascular health have been linked in the health community for a while; however, there is new evidence that provides the link between periodontitis, also known as gum disease, to stroke and heart attacks. Studies have shown that treating gum disease with a topical remedy greatly reduced vascular inflammation, which lessens risk of hypertension, heart attack, and stroke.

Cardiovascular disease is a serious problem, in the US: one of four people will die due to these complications if left untreated. It is also a huge expense for Americans, including employees and employers who sponsor their health plans. Heart disease is racking up a daily one billion dollars in lost productivity and medical care.

Gum disease can also affect more than just heart. It is actually a risk for expectant mothers, as it can affect unborn babies. The bacteria caused by the periodontitis get into the bloodstream of the pregnant woman and attack the fetus, often leading to premature birth and low birth weight. This puts newborns at risk for issues in their early life, as well as developmental issues later on, in addition to being very expensive for the family. A premature baby can cost around $49,000 in expense its first year, compared to $4,551 for an infant who has no complications. A report from the March of Dimes states the pre-term birth costs more that $12 billion in extra healthcare costs.

Oral health is also important for diabetics. In addition to being at risk for issues with their feet, eyes, kidneys, and heart, they also are more prone to periodontitis. A higher risk of gum disease can make it more difficult to regulate blood glucose, in addition to causing infections in the bones that hold teeth in place, making chewing more difficult.

It is vital for employers and employees to understand how oral health plays a part in overall health. Simple, inexpensive treatment can save businesses and plan participants thousands of dollars and countless hours of pain.

Analyzing claims data is a great indication of how oral health affects employees. The highest number of claims come from cardiovascular, maternity, diabetes, and musculoskeletal claims, all of which can be worsened by periodontitis.

Dental health has been given a back seat in health plans, wellness initiatives, and employee education. Most initiatives focused on preventing heart disease covered diet and exercise, but overlooked dental care. Many health plans do not include dental coverage, which is a minimal expense compared to other program costs and costs of potential complications. Often, employees will disregard dental care because they have never had a history of cavities. But dental coverage and employee education can help them understand the risks and therefore take their dental health into their own hands.

It is highly important that employers work closely with insurance brokers to understand dental coverage and what the associated costs are. They will likely see that medical claims are much higher than dental claims. They can work together with benefit consultants to create affordable dental plans. Bridging the gap between dental and medical coverage for those at higher risk of dental issues can truly get the treatment they need.

Employees with good dental hygiene will decrease employer’s medical costs. Proper dental coverage is vital for this win-win.


Highest regards,

Stacia

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