About Wellness Corporate Solutions

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Stress Awareness Month and the Importance of Biometric Screenings

We talk a lot about employee engagement on this blog, and for good reason. It's in every employer's best interest to keep employees happy and healthy.

April is National Stress Awareness Month, and effective stress-management is key to maintaining a happy and productive workforce. But it's also a serious health concern. Stress can lead to overeating, excessive drinking, and smoking -- unhealthy habits that can cause high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and other serious health problems. Over time, stress can also damage the heart and increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, blood clots, and other cardiovascular problems.

Helping employees learn relaxation techniques can be a great first step to managing short-term stress, but don't stop there. Encourage your employees to participate in a biometric screening so they can understand their risks and take charge of their health.

We all know that elevated biometric values negatively impact productivity, absenteeism, and other health-related costs. Offering biometric screenings not only gives you a fuller picture of your employees' health -- it helps you to take actionable steps toward improving your company's culture of wellness.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Corporate Wellness Impacts Employee Recruitment and Retention

When we talk about the many benefits of wellness programs, it's important to remember recruitment and retention. For many successful companies, an effective employee wellness program is part of a larger strategy to find and retain top talent.

We created a free infographic to illustrate the positive impact of wellness on employee recruitment and retention. Here are a few highlights:
  • 51 percent of program participants feel wellness benefits encourage them to work harder and perform better.
  • 59 percent say they have more energy to be productive at work as a result of their participation in employer-sponsored wellness programs.
  • Organizations with highly-effective wellness programs report significantly lower voluntary attrition.
Click here or on the thumbnail below to download a full-sized PDF version. Feel free to share!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Aetna CEO Brings Employees Yoga, Meditation...and Higher Pay

If I asked you to name a company known for innovation and experimentation, what would you say? Apple? Google? Uber? Aetna?

That's not a typo -- I said Aetna.

The New York Times recently published a fascinating piece on Aetna's CEO and his commitment to wellness. The company's free yoga classes are consistently booked (more than 50,000 people have participated so far), and employees are reporting lower stress levels, better sleep quality, and increased productivity. Verifiable biometric markers of stress, such as heart rate variability and cortisol levels, have also decreased.

Mr. Bertolini also gave the company's lowest-paid employees a 33% raise last month.

As the article explains, Bertolini's belief in the power of wellness (specifically yoga and meditation) comes from a terrible injury he sustained while skiing. It left him in constant pain, and he says mindfulness training and yoga helped him cope. He convinced Aetna's Chief Medical Officer to offer yoga classes to employees and chart the results. Their efforts culminated in a study published by the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology in 2012.

Aetna's story is a powerful example of something we've said for years: wellness simply makes good business sense. It also shows the profound impact a single committed executive can make on employees' lives. Let's hope other corporate leaders take note and follow Aetna's lead.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Millennials and Employee Wellness

I feel sorry for "millennials" (those born from the early 1980s to around 2000). They're called every name in the book: lazy, narcissistic, apathetic, unemployable. But as the employer of more than my fair share of millennials, I'm happy to dispel this myth. Young people are some of our smartest, most dedicated employees.

A recent Aon Hewitt survey found that millennials share a particular set of attitudes about health. Many exercise and care about eating well, but they aren't necessarily attracted to traditional health management programs. They value healthy workplaces and are enthusiastic about wellness, but on their own terms.

As Dee Edington and others have said, keeping healthy people healthy is just as important as addressing those at risk. Wellness providers must work to engage participants of all ages. But employers should also take note: Young people are attracted to workplaces that support their health. If you want to recruit the best and the brightest, then nurturing a culture of health should be a top priority.

Now if you'll excuse me, my highest-performing employees are doing headstands and I'd like to watch.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Benefits of a Lunch-Hour Walk

A few years ago, when WCS was much smaller, our office was located near a residential neighborhood whose streets were perfect for a quick stroll. Our employees would often walk around the block to take a break, discuss work, or just get away from their desks. It was a great way to relieve stress and recharge.

A recent study, published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, found that walks improve mood and relieve stress almost immediately. "To combat afternoon slumps in enthusiasm and focus," the Times article says, "take a walk during the lunch hour."

The study's findings are positive but not particularly surprising. What did surprise me, though, was the comments section:
  • "Lunch hour? What is this concept?"
  • "Nobody has an hour for lunch any more, and in some fields, the lunch 'hour' is unpaid. Most people I know eat at their desks."
  • "A lunch hour would be nice. A lunch half hour would be nice."
It's a shame that some employers don't give their employees a chance to eat in peace, let alone take a break for a walk. But it's also extremely shortsighted. Your employees may sit at their desks all day, but are they truly productive? Are they really engaged? This is why we talk so much about nurturing a culture of health. Biometric screenings and health coaching are extremely powerful tools, but they must be part of a strategic plan to promote wellness in everything you do.

If your wellness program isn't fostering a culture of health, maybe it's time to reevaluate your strategy. And above all, make sure you're working with a wellness vendor who takes the long view.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Workplace Wellness Challenge Instructographic

Workplace wellness challenges are a great way to encourage employees to adopt healthier behaviors, both in the office and on their own time. Although many companies work with a wellness vendor to implement and manage health challenges, we've created a useful instructographic to help you run a simple, informal challenge on your own! (Click on the thumbnail below to view the full-size version).

If you like these suggestions, share with your colleagues and friends!

Place the above infographic on your site with the code below!