February is Heart Health Month. Employee health is an important all year, but this month might inspire you to consider how you can incorporate wellness into the workplace. One possibility is to add on-site fitness programs.
The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week. Workers are busier than ever. After work making dinner, helping kids with homework, and settling on the couch with This is Us bump exercise off the to-do list.
What if exercise was integrated into the work day? The convenience of working out in the office limits excuses and motivates employees to take care of their heart health. There are both small- and large-scale options to build on-site fitness programs for employees. Consider your employee population and budget to roll out a successful initiative.
Walk Your Way to On-Site Fitness
A walking club is the simplest way is to start. Walking is a low-impact activity that shows positive results mentally and physically. If there is safe space to walk near your office, encourage employees to step outside during their lunch breaks. Walking and talking with colleagues creates bonds and fosters employee morale.
Add friendly competition into the mix and organize a steps challenge. Workers compete to earn the most steps with the winner awarded a prize. Trion Group, Inc. hosted our own challenge and the winner earned a gift card.
Beyond rewards, the financial overhead for this style of on-site fitness is low. There is no equipment or instructors. Workers can use their smartphones to track daily steps.
On-Site Fitness is at the Head of the Class
If you want to take on-site fitness to the next level, hire an exercise instructor to teach a class. Start with a weekly class. If interest peaks, consider adding new options. Chose a class that requires limited or no equipment. So, Zumba yes, SoulCycle no.
Some popular times for classes include lunch time, early morning and late afternoon. Early birds might come in for a 7 am aerobics class. Others want to shake off the mid-day slump with a lunch class. An end-of-day class is a strong option for on-site fitness programs for employees as it lets workers go home after to shower.
This option requires open, indoor space, so it may not be available to all companies. Space for the class should be removed from other workers so the noise won’t bother them. Let all employees know class times so they can schedule meetings and phone calls accordingly.
Make sure proper legal protections are in place. Only hire insured instructors, preferably those certified in their specific fitness area. A lawyer should write waivers for employee participants that release the company from liability for injury.
Hit the Gym for On-Site Fitness
For the ultimate in workplace exercise, create a corporate gym. Buying equipment for employees is a hefty price commitment up front. However, the continual costs are low.
A gym would let workers exercise at their own pace at the time that’s best for them. Employees can squeeze in a session on the elliptical to clear their heads before that big presentation. Workers are more loyal to employers that look out for their well-being. 80% surveyed in one study said a workplace wellness program would entice them to stay with the company.
If budgets are a concern, partner with other companies in your building to buy equipment for on-site fitness. Workers would share the common exercise space. A corporate gym is an incentive to convince new companies to come into the building. As with classes, draw up a legal waiver for employees to sign before using the equipment.
On-site fitness programs for employees require an investment of time and money, yet could offer long-term cost savings. For every dollar spent on workplace wellness, employers saved $1 to $3 per employee on annual healthcare costs. Engagement in corporate fitness programs reduces sick days and increases productivity, which affect the bottom line.
One-third of prospective employees said free exercise classes would impact their decision to accept a new job. A little more than one-fifth said the same thing about an on-site gym. In the current employee’s market with its low unemployment rates, any advantage is a smart move.
Welcome to 2018! A new page in the calendar means time to set new intentions. 45% of Americans make a new year’s resolution. The most popular are losing weight, exercising, and quitting smoking.
While those are worthy ambitions, have you thought about making a career resolution instead? This year, devote time and energy to improving your performance at the office. Here are 3 ideas for how to make 2018 your best career year yet.
1. Learn a new skill
Ask yourself: What are the gaps in my skill set? What do I need to know to be more productive in my job?
Once you have your answers, investigate the best way to learn. Consider your time and your budget. Find out if your company offers reimbursement for professional development activities. If not, instead negotiate for the time to learn via low cost or free methods.
Fortunately, there are many platforms to help you meet this career resolution. Industry conferences are the costliest and most time-consuming. However, you can fully immerse yourself and pick up multiple skills from experts in your field. Your local community college is another resource for in-person professional development courses.
If virtual is more your speed, Coursera and EdX offer online classes at a variety of price points, including free. There are also countless YouTube tutorials and TED talks available to stream. If your gaps are “soft skills,” like time management, you might benefit from one of those videos.
Taking initiative to acquire a new skill shows your boss you are serious about improving your performance in 2018. Lifelong learning is a mark of intelligence and commitment.
2. Find or be a mentor
A mentor is a powerful ally as you climb the career ladder. Their feedback can help you make important decisions.
If you are a new graduate, a former professor may transition into the role of mentor, especially if your career lines up with your major. If you are further along in your career, search your professional network. On LinkedIn, look for a second degree connection whose career path you admire. Ask common acquaintances for an introduction.
Live networking events are another opportunity to meet a potential mentor. Your chamber of commerce is a good resource to find such opportunities.
Becoming a mentor and sharing your wisdom is another take on this career resolution. The best mentoring relationships are give and take. You and your mentee should both learn from each other. Providing career guidance to another can grow your self-confidence in your job.
If you want to share what you’ve learned, it’s easy to find a mentee. Many college alumni associations offer mentor match programs, pairing you with a student or young alumni. Your company might also have formal mentoring opportunities.
Technology means you don’t need to be in the same city or country as your mentor or mentee. Skype sessions, FaceTime, and Google video hangouts are free ways to have a conversation across time zones.
3. Vow to unplug
A digital detox can benefit both your mental health and your job performance. Being connected 24-7 gives the flexibility to work anytime and anyplace, which is a blessing and a curse.
Our brains can only handle so much information at once. Have you ever missed important details in a meeting because you were focused on checking your inbox? Interpersonal communication depends heavily on body language. What subtle clues are you giving coworkers in a meeting or friends over dinner if one eye is always on your phone?
There are several ways to temporarily unplug so you can meet this career resolution and improve your productivity. Install internet blocking software to minimize distractions when trying to hit deadlines. Charge your phone outside of your bedroom each night. Try not checking your work email on a Sunday. Use the time you save to engage in good-for-you, analog pursuits like cooking, exercising, and reading.
A mental reset means we face Monday morning better able to handle the challenges of a new work week.
Taking on a career resolution in 2018 can open new doors of professional success. By improving your relationships and your skill sets you increase your value at work. That sets you on the road to making a true impact in your job.
We’ve reached December! Many of your employees are preparing to celebrate Hanukkah/Christmas/Kwanzaa/Festivus, etc.
It is also a season of stress, with cooking, gift shopping, and traveling. Adding some joy to the workday can help people forget their to-do lists, even for a little while.
So, why limit the merry making to after work hours? A thoughtful, seasonal celebration can raise office morale. Here are three ideas to make December a month to remember.
1. Give Back
The saying goes, “It’s better to give than to receive.” Channel some of that spirit of generosity into a holiday giving program.
Here at Trion, we collect toys and games for Toys for Tots, which celebrates its 70thanniversary in 2017. In 2016, the charity distributed 18 million toys. Many workers, especially those with kids, are already shopping for toys this month. This program is a simple way to give a child a little holiday wonder.
Another popular option is a sponsoring a family. The Soldiers’ Angels program collects toys and gift cards for military families. Ask your county’s social services agency which local families need extra cheer. Departments could team up to buy wish list items for parents and children in need.
If you’d rather take a more active approach, organize a volunteer event. Serving food at a homeless shelter or visiting elderly residents a nursing home are two ways to spread good cheer around your community. Some people do not have family and a hot meal or a friendly chat are simple ways to brighten their spirits.
2. Friendly Competition
Spark a little good-natured boasting at the office with a friendly, low stakes competition.
Many cultures serve traditional sweets at the holidays. Host an office bake-off. Workers whip up their seasonal favorites. The culinary-challenged serve as judges. When’s there dessert, everyone wins, but consider a small prize, like a gift card to a specialty food store for the winner.
Ugly sweater parties have become a staple this time of year. Bring the fun to the office to see who has the craziest wardrobe. Employees appreciate the chance to dress down and show off their playful side. Staff votes for their co-worker with the wildest ensemble and he or she is awarded a little gift.
Employees with desk jobs spend 40 hours (or more) at their desks each week. At least for a little while, make them festive. A cubicle and office decorating contest lets workers’ creativity shine. From twinkly lights to paper snowflakes, see who has the most style. People can tour the building and anonymously pick their favorite decorations. Consider a gift card to a craft store to honor the winner.
3. Not-too-Perfect Presents
Secret gift exchanges are a fun way to encourage interaction. Each employee gets the name of a colleague and anonymously drops off small treats throughout the month. At the end, workers reveal their identities and give a closing present, within a set budget. Pair employees from different departments to let them get to know people from outside their immediate team.
A white elephant party is another way to create camaraderie. Anyone who wants to participate brings a wrapped present of a set value. Workers draw numbers and number one unwraps a gift. Number two can unwrap their own gift or steal from number one. This continues everyone has a present. With large organizations, consider department-specific white elephants to make the event manageable.
When adding December festivities to the calendar, it’s important to respect all workers’ traditions. These events should always be optional and low-stakes, so employees who wish to opt-out feel no pressure. When decorating, consider a ban on overtly religious symbols. General winter themes are an inclusive way to create a little magic.
Holiday season can be time for team-building and bonding. Special events foster a sense of community among staff. Among the hustle and bustle of December, spreading smiles and goodwill ends the year on a positive note.
It’s November. That means you can see the light at the end of the open enrollment tunnel. Or maybe your company’s already driven clear through.
Your communications strategy got you through this hectic season. But what happens at the end of the year? Although your human resources staff and communications team deserve a break, there is still work on the road ahead.
Communicate often. Don’t slam the brakes because OE season has passed. After the enrollment ends but before the new plan year starts is a great time to educate your employees and start thinking about the next journey.
According to an LIMRA study, just 38% of companies surveyed even have a formal benefits communications plan. Of that group, 65% measure their plan’s success. Measurement is a useful tool to create engaged healthcare consumers. Employees who think their companies communicate benefits well have increased loyalty and engagement.
Survey your employees now, when open enrollment is still top of mind. Some possible questions to ask:
- Did you feel like you received enough information about available benefits?
- What information was the most useful in helping you make decisions?
- How would you like open enrollment messages delivered?
- What could we do better next year?
Answers can be used to craft next year’s open enrollment campaign. Employee feedback sparks conversation, whether you use an outside benefits communications firm, like Trion, or handle your own communications.
One question to ask yourself is: What can we do to rev the engines for 2018? Create targeted communication pieces to explain to employees how and why to use their benefit. You already showed your employees how to choose benefits. Now, educate them on how to use those benefits. Take a lesson from employee benefits communications firms. They help clients teach employees about the available benefits and wellness programs year-round.
Introduce a communications plan around new benefits
Is your company introducing a high deductible health plan with an HSA next year? Now is the time to teach employees about what medical expenses do and do not qualify for their HSA funds. It’s their hard-earned money in that health savings account, help them make the most of it. Are you offering an EAP program for the first time? Remind workers about its online resources and counseling services to help cope with relationship and financial stressors and other concerns.
Remind employees of flexible spending account conditions
Can employees roll over funds? What is the deadline to use those rollover funds? Is there a grace period to incur claims? Craft communications pieces that teach the answers. If employees had a lot of money remaining in their 2017 accounts, educate them on making smarter choices for next year.
Talk to employees about wellness programs
January is a popular time for health-related resolutions, but many people think about their goals now. Create communications pieces that guide employees on the path to wellness. Remind them about reimbursements for gym memberships offered through your insurance carriers. Include education about how to sign up. Help workers start off 2018 by kicking their smoking habit. Let workers know about free or low-cost smoking cessation programs from the insurance company or EAP.
Simple, specific messages are key to post-enrollment communications. Lists and infographics are great uncluttered and engaging options. An infographic that shows ways the EAP can help employees destress or a list of the Top 5 Ways to Use Remaining Healthcare FSA Funds are two examples.
Tailor messages to the right audiences. Employees enrolled in a PPO for example, don’t care about how to take advantage of their HSA. Likewise, those with only a dependent care FSA don’t need reminders about rollover funds.
Use the information from your post-enrollment survey to choose the right vehicle. How do employees prefer to get benefits messages—flyers mailed to their homes, emails sent to their work address, in-person events? Meet employees where they will be most receptive to your message.
You can pat yourself on the back for a successful open enrollment season. You can also assess where the path was smooth and where the road was bumpy. Take this time to assess the highs and lows of 2017’s open enrollment. And make a plan to drive towards something bigger and better in 2018.
It’s October. Haunted hayrides scare eager customers, pumpkin patches are filled with jack-o-lanterns waiting to be carved, and stores are stocked with sugary treats. Yes, October means Halloween is right around the corner!
It’s also time for your company to introduce open enrollment season. As a conscientious human resources professional, you put a lot of diligence into crafting your benefits offerings. Your company’s carefully written benefits guide might answer the questions: Is this an active or passive enrollment? Are there new insurance carriers? Will medical premiums increase next year?
Yet, the real question is: Which Halloween candy best represents your company’s benefits?
This candy is old-school chocolate goodness. No fancy add-ins; it has tasted the same for generations. A Hershey® bar represents basic employee benefits.
Maybe your company offers only one medical plan option. Maybe your company does not contribute money for workers’ health savings accounts if they elect a high deductible health plan. Maybe the long-term disability offering is 100% employee-paid instead of funded by the company. Maybe telecommuting is not an option for workers at your organization.
Hershey® style benefits take care of workers’ baseline needs. These employee benefits are all about simplicity. Smaller or newer companies may start out with simple benefits as they get off the ground. With Hershey® bar offerings, the key is in the presentation. Benefits communications should be dynamic and engaging. With streamlined benefits, your company can offer non-monetary perks, like casual dress or summer half-day Fridays, to show employees they are valued.
This candy has it all: Nougat, caramel, peanuts, and chocolate. A Snickers® bar represents the full suite of employee benefits.
Medical, dental and vision insurance at various price points? Check. Basic and supplemental life and long-term and short-term disability insurance? Of course. Accident coverage to help pay for trips to the emergency room? Definitely. Health care, dependent care and transportation flexible spending accounts? Certainly. Employee assistance program to offer work-life guidance? Sure. Company match for the 401(K) savings plan? Affirmative. Parental leave after the birth or adoption of a child? Absolutely.
Keeping pace with the competition matters in recruitment and retention. Snickers® style benefits offer something for the widest employee demographic. Not every worker will enroll in each benefit. Offering possibilities creates and maintains a satisfied workforce.
This candy’s chocolate and coconut combination is not for everyone’s sweet tooth. But it does have its loyal followers.
A Mounds® bar represents out-of-the-box employee benefits. Your company offers employees the chance to buy supplemental long-term care insurance. That benefit is attractive to the sandwich generation. Between caring for aging parents and raising children, they need to think about their own future. Your company has a student loan repayment program. Such a benefit is golden for recruiting and retaining Millennial and upcoming Gen Z employees. Members of the Class of 2016 graduated college with an average debt of $37,172, according to Student Loan Hero. Your company takes care of its workers’ furry friends by offering voluntary pet insurance. Vet bills can add up, so this coverage gives employees peace of mind. The organization could have a pet-friendly office, so instead of finding a pet daycare, employees work alongside dogs and cats.
Not every corporation offers benefits like these and they make yours stand out. Mounds® style benefits appeal to fringe groups of employees. Your company offers standard benefits too, but uncommon offerings make workers feel appreciated.
Hershey®, Snickers® or Mounds®? No matter the flavor of your employee benefit offerings, they should sweeten the deal to hire and keep the brightest workers.