About Wellness Corporate Solutions

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!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Outcomes-Based Wellness Programs and the Affordable Care Act

It's hard to believe that almost five years have passed since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law. The law was a game-changer for wellness because it allowed employers to base incentives on actual health outcomes, not just participation. Now, five years later, outcomes-based wellness programs are commonplace.

From the very beginning, regulatory agencies struggled to set up clear rules governing outcomes-based incentives. We blogged about the first attempt back in 2013, and even authored a free guide to help employers understand the new rules (still available for download as a PDF).

The regulatory process is still ongoing. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has sued several large companies, citing violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). And as recently as last week, Senator Pat Murray of Washington promised that clearer rules from the EEOC are coming soon.

It's so important to work with a wellness partner who stays current. Even large, well-heeled corporations have found themselves in hot water, so make sure your vendor is on top of the latest regulations. You really can't afford to go it alone!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Personalized Wellness is Gaining Steam

I've blogged often about the importance of flexibility in wellness. No employer wants cookie-cutter solutions, yet many wellness vendors continue to offer the same tired programming to every client. (Customization? Forget it! What you see is what you get.)

A recent article in Fast Company takes aim at one-size-fits all wellness initiatives, arguing that the future of wellness is in adapting to the individual participant. I couldn't agree more.

Imagine you're working with a nationwide hotel chain. Most employees don't have traditional desk jobs -- they work in housekeeping, or engineering, or in the hotel restaurant. How do you reach them?

WCS solved this problem by developing a unique strategy to select and train employee wellness champions. Because champions are employees themselves, they act as our "boots on the ground," educating fellow coworkers about the program and boosting engagement.

Imagine you're working with a construction company. The wellness program is moving from participation-based to outcomes-based, and biometric screenings are being introduced for the first time. How do you ease the transition?

Our fantastic health educators became the face of the program, present at every screening to guide at-risk participants toward telephonic health coaching and other resources. They helped employees understand the requirements of the program, as well as the many ways WCS would be there to help them reach their goals.

I welcome the trend toward more tailored, personalized wellness programming. Because let's face it: "one-size-fits-all" ends up fitting no one.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Health Coaching Successes

I've always believed that health coaching is one of the most powerful tools we have as wellness professionals. There's nothing like working one-on-one with a true expert.

We recently surveyed a large group of health coaching participants, and the results were amazing. More than 97% felt health coaching was beneficial to them, and similar numbers said their coaches had helped them set and achieve meaningful health goals.

Whenever we survey our wellness participants, I always play close attention to the written comments. You'll often find insights like this:

"I was resistant to the coaching session to begin with, but [my coach] was able to focus on my issues and provide very useful advice. I was really pleased and impressed with how well she not only handled my resistance, but gave me a few good things to think on."

Such an excellent point. Employees are sometimes hesitant to speak openly about their health, and it's our job to meet people where they are -- even if they're not yet ready to make changes. Over time, health coaches form a trusting relationship with the participant and help them move forward at their pace.

I have to thank Juliet Rodman, our co-founder and a registered dietitian herself, for our success in this area. WCS now has more than 1,200 trained and certified health coaches in our network nationwide, almost all of whom are registered dietitians. RDs possess a perfect blend of clinical expertise and real-world coaching experience, and that's what makes them so effective.

Way to go, Juliet and all our fabulous coaches!