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.
Happy New Year! It’s time to prepare for a new journey for our well-being, both physically and mentally.
Well-being is encouraging myself and others to be remarkable, mindful, and live with a purpose. So, I’ll jump on my soap box and shout to the world: “Hey! Does your company support a wellness program for its employees?”
Well, if they don’t, I challenge you to stand on your soap box and get involved this year. Take ownership of your and your co-workers’ well-being. Create an employee wellness movement that drives change.
It’s time corporations listen and take interest not only in employees’ medical expenses, but in their whole person—productivity, engagement, loyalty, and job satisfaction.
Create a friendly, comfortable, open environment for your employees to develop a wellness movement. Your goal should be fostering a culture that is engaged, focused, and enthusiastic about living with a purpose.
Health care costs are going up every year. By incorporating robust wellness programs into your benefits plan, you encourage employees to take control of preventable diseases. Did you know that according to Health Affairs Magazine, workplace wellness programs support the prevention of cardiovascular disease?
It’s simple to create an employee wellness movement within your company. Remember listen . . . create . . . inspire . . . reward.
Develop a comprehensive survey to evaluate your employees’ understanding of how wellness affects every moment of their lives, at home and at work. Pose questions which are personal and caring. Ask how they would like to improve their health and professional development. Engage management to create a safe environment for your colleagues to get involved.
Your employees are hungry for health and wellness information. According to the Pew Trust Research Center, 35% of adults have gone online to find information on a medical condition.
Create employee wellness communications to educate, engage, and motivate. All communications should be targeted and multi-channeled with their frequency and placement.
Programs can start small, then grow into movements that drive behavioral change, enrich lives, and create productive, satisfied employees. Here is a case study on an insurance company that started a small wellness program and embraced the benefits of creating a culture of wellness.
Your employees work hard. Promote wellness by designing a work environment that drives behavioral change. A targeted, robust employee wellness program will inspire co-workers at every level. You will begin to hear chatter of wellness achievements and increases in behavioral change. These are the start of the benefits of a wellness movement.
Reward your colleagues for reaching their goals with caring and meaningful incentives. You will begin to see a community that recognizes success and celebrates each other. Your colleagues will come to work more productive, enthusiastic, engaged, and healthier. These are the benefits of educating and inspiring your colleagues into a culture of well-being. You did it! It’s an employee wellness movement.
The bottom line is, don’t just focus on the financial part of your benefits. Focus on the whole person. At Trion Communications, we have the tools to help create an employee wellness movement within your company. For more information please call or click to speak to one of our communication experts. We will help you get on your soap box and create a culture of well-being.
Remember to be remarkable, be well, be mindful, and live with a purpose.
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.
A few weeks ago, my colleague Andrew Clancy, blogged about how companies can keep Baby Boomers engaged at work. Now, I want to look at the other end of the age spectrum, the oft-discussed Millennials.
The Census Bureau categorizes Millennials as born between 1982-2000. This segment of the population makes up 40% percent of the American work force. By 2027, that percentage should grow to 75%. So, the chances are high you are either a Millennial yourself or you manage Millennials.
Companies need strong benefits to recruit and retain top talent across the generations. Affordable health care plans, paid time off, and employer-sponsored retirement matter to everyone. But what benefits are especially appealing to Millennial workers?
1.Tuition Reimbursement/Professional Development Budget
A Price Waterhouse Coopers survey of Millennial employees shows training and development is their most requested benefit.
Some fields need advanced degrees to climb the corporate ladder. Yet, the cost of graduate school can be out-of-reach to many Millennials who carry heavy debt from their undergrad years. In a Gallup Poll, 45% of Millennial workers would be willing to change companies if a new employer offered tuition reimbursement. That should be a wake-up call to HR professionals. Will a competitor poach your rising stars and provide them with the tools they need to do their jobs better?
Continuing education doesn’t always have to be part of a formal degree program. This generation values seminars and workshops that help them grow in their careers. 41% would change companies if given access to a professional development budget.
2. Flexible Work Schedules
In corporate America, the days of 9-5 are going the way of fax machines and smoking in the office. Flexibility was the second most-requested benefit in the PWC Millennials poll. A flexible work schedule can take many forms. It can mean working from home or untraditional start and end times or compressed work weeks.
This benefit is of high importance to Millennial employees. The Gallup poll shows 63% would change jobs to get a flexible working schedule. Fifty percent would change jobs for the chance to telecommute some of the time. Forty-seven percent would change jobs for the chance to telecommute all the time.
Telecommuting has two big benefits for companies. It reduces employee turnover and improves productivity. Both help the bottom line. Flexible working hours allow employees to schedule work when they are at their peak, producing stronger results. Workers on flexible schedules reduce the need to use personal days for daytime appointments. Telecommuting saves employees money on gas or public transit.
3. Child Care Benefits
The Millennial generation is approaching work-life balance in a new way. And that is especially evident in their approach to raising children. Gallup shows 44% of Millennials would switch jobs if their new company offered paid maternity leave. Thirty-seven percent would leave for paid paternity leave. Thirty percent would leave for child care reimbursements.
Human resources professionals may think their employees are not concerned with these issues. But, Business Insider reports an estimated 60 million Millennials will become parents over the next decade. This is in addition to the millennials who already have young children. The Millennial generation may be delaying childbirth, but not forever.
Especially with older Millennials, companies need to meet the changing needs of parents. Having benefits that look after workers’ long-term needs will help with retention when they become parents. Childcare is a large financial burden and discounts would ease one stressor for employees, making them more focused. Backup childcare or even on-site daycare helps employees not to panic when their regular options fall through.
Some employers may think they need to offer trendy benefits, like game rooms or beer fridges, to recruit and retain Millennials. In reality, Millennials want benefits that help them achieve career and life success.
In a few weeks, another open enrollment season will be upon us. Benefits communications professionals here at Trion will brainstorm ways to persuade your employees to register for benefits.
Yet pushing out similar content each year is a drain to both the writers and the audience. Shaking up the content is necessary to make sure the message comes through loud and clear. But how to clear those mental cobwebs and spark that creativity? A change of scenery is just the thing!
Sitting is the new smoking
You may have heard siting is the new smoking. That phrase seems like an exaggeration, yet many studies show the connection between a sedentary lifestyle and health risks, like:
- Greater risk of colon cancer
- Greater risk of diabetes
- Greater risk of obesity
- Increased back and neck pain
Not good! Yet Americans self-report their activity levels are currently their lowest point.
Taking short breaks to stand and walk around the office is a good first step to get up and moving. Ideally, you should at least stand up and stretch every hour.
But there is a way to get the benefits of motion that will boost both your physical and mental well-being. All you need to do is step outside.
Take control of your health
Walking in nature is the ideal inverse to sitting in your cubicle for eight or more hours each day. It can lower those risks for cancer, obesity and diabetes. Besides the obvious physical perks, studies show waking outdoors brings mental health benefits, like:
- Less risk of anxiety
- Less risk of depression
- Less self-reported stress
No matter your industry, I know you’re busy . Time fills with deadlines, projects, meetings and the endless to-do list. But as little as five minutes of outdoor exercise produces positive effects on your mood and psychological health.
If that does not convince you, here’s the kicker: Being outside spurs creativity and decision-making ability. In other words, it can make you better at your job.
I came up with the idea for this blog post during a walk. Exposure to nature improves your ability to think expansively. It can be the perfect way to spark a new concept that revives those employee communications.
Being in a natural environment also replenishes our ability to problem-solve and multitask. It also boosts attention span. Writers and editors will be especially pleased to hear that exposure to nature can lead to improvements in proofreading. Sounds like what the doctor ordered during the chaos called open enrollment season!
Heading outside for a few minutes during the work day can also make you a better colleague. It boosts feelings of connectedness, making community and generosity priorities over personal advancement. Walking outside also helps us be less impulsive and more focused on the future. This technique is useful when we set long-term goals, like strategic plans for our organizations.
Not everyone works an office where green space is easily accessible. A task as simple as placing a few plants around your workspace can boost mental health. Yet the most benefits come with physical activity. So if there’s no walking trail or park near your office, take the time to find one close to home. Spending a few minutes there will spark your creativity.
As with everything now, there’s a new term that describes what I am: a foodie traveler – someone who travels for food. As such, I value (and take) every one of my vacation days. I have used my vacation days to taste crawfish in New Orleans, crab cakes in Maryland, smoked ribs in Texas, and pasta in Italy, with time for sight-seeing. Even at this moment, I’m researching top BBQ restaurants in North Carolina for an upcoming trip. But, I appear to be in the minority.
According to a study from Project: Time Off, 54 percent of Americans did not use all their vacation days in 2016. That left a total of 662 million unused days. Reasons employees gave related to concerns about their employer’s perception of them, including:
- Fear that taking vacation could make them appear less dedicated at work (26%)
- Do not want to be seen as replaceable (23%)
- Worried that they would lose consideration for a raise of promotion (21%)
However, the managers surveyed in this study agreed:
- Improves health and well-being (82%)
- Boosts morale (82%)
- Alleviates burnout (81%)
- Improves employees’ focus upon return (78%)
- Renews employees’ commitment to their job (70%)
Where’s the Disconnect?
The same study discovered that two-thirds (2/3) of American employees receive none, negative, or mixed messages from their company about taking time off. A majority of managers recognize the benefits of taking time off, but many do not engage with their employees about vacations. This lack of communication creates an unintentional “vacuum where negative perceptions thrive”. In fact, 76 percent of employees said if they felt fully supported and encouraged by their boss, they would be likely to take more time off.
Why Should This Matter to Employers?
“Why should I care if my employees don’t want to take any time off? It’s their decision.”
There are many reasons why employers should care that their employees take time off. There are benefits to both the well-being of the employee and the company’s bottom-line.
- Improved Productivity: Logic says employees are more productive when they’re in the office working and not on vacation. Yet working for long periods without time off hurts concentration, creativity and productivity
- Improved Health and Well-being: Taking a break lets employees recharge, reduce stress and lower the chance of developing depression or heart disease. This can help cut down on sick days and employee burnout
- Increased Job Satisfaction: Project: Time Off’s State of American Vacation 2016 found employees whose bosses supported vacation were more happy with their jobs.
- Reduced Liability on Company’s Balance Sheet: In 2016, there was a $272 billion vacation liability sitting on the balance sheets of American companies. With employees not taking vacation and rolling their unused paid time off to the following year(s), this liability continues to grow.
What Can Employers Do?
Employers and managers have a significant role to play in ensuring that their team members take time off. Here are some things you can do:
- Engage Your Employees About Vacation: Talk to your team. Ask them about upcoming vacations or plans. Discuss the value of taking some time off. Let them know that you are supportive of it.
- Take Time Off: There’s no better way to lead than by example. Start taking time off and your employees will follow.
- Limit Carry-Over of Paid Time Off: A hard deadline for using vacation days may encourage more employees to take vacation now instead of continuing to push it off.
- Reward Employees with a Day Off: After the completion of a huge project or a busy season, reward your hard-working employees with a day off so that they can recharge.
Go Big or Go Home
Some companies have implemented company-wide policies to ensure that their employees take time off. Here are examples of what some companies are doing:
- TED closes for two weeks every summer.
- Salesforce offers seven paid volunteer days a year to employees.
- HubSpot enforces a minimum two-week vacation for all employees. Salespeople are allowed to reduced their quotas twice a year so that they feel comfortable using their two-week vacations.
- SteelHouse offers $2,000 a year for their employees to use for travel expenses for vacation.
If you’re still eyeing that cruise to Bermuda, now might be the time to take it. For me at least, I know there are definitely some Las Vegas buffets in my future.