Monday, February 20, 2017

12 Ways to Create a Healthy Workplace Environment

Setting your workplace environment up for health is one of the keys to delivering an impactful and meaningful wellness program. Doing so not only shows you support employees’ healthy choices, but it also helps makes it easier for employees to make better choices.

Think of it this way, employees are bombarded with choices every day, fast food or salad, couch or treadmill. If you have an environment where the automatic choice - the easiest choice - is the healthy one, employees will be more likely to pick it. And when employees are focused on healthier habits, it leads to all those benefits businesses are looking for – increased productivity, better retention rates and an overall better culture.

Here are 12 simple ways you can start building health into your employees’ everyday environment:

Revamp your break room

1. Offer healthy alternatives in vending machines

Does your workplace have vending machines? Work with your vendor to see what they have available for a healthier food strategy. KONOP, a food service and vending company offers vending machines to companies with a red light, green light, yellow light concept. This labels the food based off their nutritional value, helping educate employees on their choices.

2. Use an honor system box

A great budget friendly option is to use an honor system box to help buy the product. PAi, a retirement consulting firm, successfully uses this concept. Every week the person who manages the food shops for apples, oranges and other fruit assortments. Then it’s placed in the breakroom next to an honor system box, asking employees to throw in a few bucks, they usually breakeven, or are only a few dollars short to supplying the next weeks produce.

3. Work with a food delivery service

Festival foods- a Midwest local grocer, offers the option of delivering healthy food options right to your office. Talk with your local grocer to see what healthy initiatives they offer. There are also online delivery options that companies like Kimberly Clark use, including: Fruit Guys and The Fruit Cube.

4. Build a healthy pantry

A local architectural firm built their own healthy wooden pantry filled with fruit, granola bar, nuts, and a cooler filled with healthy drink choices like juice, Gatorade, vitamin water and more.

5. Use the farmers market

Buy fruit & veggies from the Farmers market to support your local community. Make a small sign to highlight that these treats were farmed from local farmers, and purchased at your nearby market.

6. Provide easy access to fresh, cold water

Make sure that there are multiple stations, even outside your breakroom when applicable. Isagenix, a health and wellness company, encouraged employees to drink more water by giving everyone a personalized, company branded, thermos water bottle to help keep water cold.

Make space conducive to getting active

7. Designate workout space

Create dedicate space for working out. It doesn’t need to be a full gym to be effective. One company we work with offers a space that includes a TV and mats. Employees can bring in their own DVD workout videos, or pick from the bodyweight, yoga library available.

8. Offer onsite classes

At myInertia, we brought in a yoga instructor once a week for a lunch & yoga series. We simply pushed the conference tables aside and offered everyone who attended a yoga mat. We’ve also offered boot camp classes that featured 12 bodyweight training stations centered around strength training and used a tabata timer app.

9. Mark out an indoor walking path

A great free option that encourages people to move. One hospital system made an indoor walking path in their basement hallways for the winter months. The signs posted every 1/10th of a mile and indicated how far each loop would take you. Another option would be to mark step counts, Fitbit offers a reminder every hour to move for 250 steps. Mark out a path in your employees can walk in the office to achieve that.

10. Make sure the stairwells accessible

When was the last time you give your stairs a refresh? A fresh coat of paint and new lighting can make it more inviting for employees to pick this healthier alternative.

Give them the tools to get active

11. Standing desk options

One company, makes a varidesk a new employee onboarding gift. If you don’t have the budget to get standing options for each employee, get creative. We dedicate two cubicles to standing options, using an old treadmill for a walking option. You could go a step further and provide a second monitor for employees to plug into, along with phone and laptop charging options.

12. Under desk cyclers

The under-desk cyclers are a more affordable option to add movement to your employees’ day. On a tight budget? Consider the library book concept, lending them out to employees.

Do you have any ideas you’ve implemented that aren’t listed above? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Healthy environment is just one of the ways you can deliver meaningful wellness to your population. Download our wellness program checklist to view the other 6 strategies you need in place to deliver a results-driven wellness program.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

5 Simple Appreciation Techniques to Show Employees You Care

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and although you may only be thinking about what dinner reservation to make, it’s also a great time to think about showing your employees some appreciation.

Recognition and appreciation go a long way to retaining talent, boosting engagement, and improving productivity.

A worldwide study conducted by Towers Watson revealed the single highest driver of engagement was whether or not workers felt their managers were genuinely interested in their wellbeing.
Another study by online career site Glassdoor, further highlights the benefits, by showing that more than 80% of employees say they are motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work.

So, what’s the best (and easiest) way you can begin to show support and appreciation to your entire population?

1. Give personal words of affirmation

Look for opportunities to give sincere appreciation to each individual employee. This can include things as simple as saying, Sally, you did a great job handling that client question, she went away feeling like you truly cared about her, and would do whatever was necessary to fix them.”

For the upcoming Valentine’s Day, consider giving each employee on your team a hand-written card, giving a specific reason why you are appreciative of them.

2. Order lunch for everyone

It’s a tangible gift that benefits everyone, not just the high performers. Consider making it healthy, to further enforce wellbeing and health as a cornerstone of your culture. Also be sure to include a sentence in the email, or speak at the beginning of the lunch, thanking employees for their continued hard work and support of the company.

3. Schedule one on one meetings/informal sit-downs

Though not applicable in every business setting, leadership should strive to have a support meeting with each individual employee. It can be as simple as walking into their office and asking them what’s going on in their life. The key is to actively listen and empathize.

4. Offer your help

Do you notice a stressed employee? Is there a deadline fast approaching? Simply offering to help in whatever way possible will go far in boosting appreciation levels.

5. Give high fives

There’s a reason almost every coach on the planet gives high-fives. They’re a quick effective, nonverbal way to show you care and you are proud of their accomplishments.

It’s important to note, each employees’ appreciation levels will rise differently based off their own personal beliefs and values. That’s why it’s important to implement a variety of the methods listed above, vs. doing just one.

It’s also important to evaluate your efforts, making sure to take note when Sally doesn’t seem to respond to the verbal affirmation, but loves when you offer to help. The more you can understand what makes employees feel their best, the better.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Benefits of a Wearables Integrated Wellness Program

The activity tracker market has drastically evolved over the years, from the early days of cheap pedometers sold in cereal boxes, to today, a multi-billion dollar industry featuring high-tech smart watches worn 24/7.

The market has been able to advance so rapidly because of the growing support for activity trackers as a powerful tool in personal behavior change.

This is highlighted by healthcare innovators like Cleveland Clinic integrating devices into population health programs, where participants earn rewards based on activity levels.

So why are these innovators looking to devices to be a key piece of their population health solutions?

It comes down to a few key benefits:

Wearables build awareness

Awareness is the starting point for behavior change, and activity trackers make it easy for users to begin to understand their actual physical activity levels. Many users simply become motivated to move more once they see that their baseline level is significantly lower than they perceived.

The data from wearables then support user’s skill development, and ultimately mastery, by continuing to show a real-time profile of daily movement. For instance, an office worker may internalize that from 8.30 AM to 5.30 PM they typically don’t move at all.

This data driven awareness allows them to make healthier decisions, such as adding a walking meeting to their day, or being active at lunchtime.

Wearables support social interaction

Numerous studies have established the clear link between positive social relationships and positive health outcomes. Activity trackers support this link by creating new ways for users to engage in healthy social interaction.

The simple presence of the device on an individual's wrist allows conversations about activity to flow more easily.

The leaderboards and challenges included in many of the devices apps also continue to foster healthy interaction and competition throughout a users social circle. The devices allow users to celebrate achievements and push each other to work harder.

Wearables allow employers to get a clear picture of their population's health

Ultimately, if employers can collect and analyze aggregate data, they can then evaluate the overall impact of activity trackers on their employee population.

myInertia has many clients that not only see significant individual improvements, (weight loss, reduction in prescription drug use) but have been able to show a link between daily activity levels and population health risk reduction, and in some cases actual claims cost avoidance.

Given these key benefits and our past 9 years experience delivering wearables integrated programs, we believe wearables will continue to drive positive results within populations across the nation.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

CES 2017: 4 Noteworthy Topics about Wearables

This year’s Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas, brought together 177,393 attendees from all over the world focused on the latest and greatest in technology innovation. We were excited to be a part of the buzz, navigating the aisles to stay on top of the latest fitness technology trends and contributing to the industry dialog by being a part of a Garmin panel discussion. Here are four of the many great innovations happening within the world of wearables.

1. The power houses of device manufacturers continue to shine; the smaller players have started to dwindle.

Although wearables continue to be a good portion of technology innovation, there were less exhibitors with new wearables this year compared to years past. The two big players with a strong presence at CES were Fitbit and Garmin. Fitbit continues to offer strong consumer brand recognition. Garmin displayed a wide range of solutions from a simple, inexpensive device, great for population health, all the way to high end devices, offering a broad range of features. Garmin also released a new series of Fenix devices with the Fenix 5S receiving a CES Innovation Award.

2. Wearables are getting a facelift.

As consumers seek to incorporate wearables into their everyday lifestyle, instead of just their workouts, many companies are taking note.  Several device manufacturers in attendance highlighted devices that are beginning to look more like a high-end fashionable watch, rather than a rubber bracelet.

3. Wearables continue to be used new & noteworthy venues, including clinical use.

During the show, myInertia’s CEO, Michael Troup, participated in a panel discussion sponsored by Garmin on the current state of wearables. There were interesting examples of wearables for both workplace wellness and clinical use. Some innovative uses of wearables in clinical practice included predicting hospitalizations based on significant step count decreases and documented improvements in outcomes for cancer patients who had activity goals with devices. When asked where he saw wearables going in the next 5 years, Michael stated “I see the wellness and the clinical markets coming together as we have the same goal of creating healthier population and can work together on achieving this.”

4. Creating employee population engagement with wearables comes down to simplicity.

The panel also addressed the challenges typically faced with wearable programs and protocols. When asked specifically on the challenge of engagement in wellness programs, Michael shared “It is important that we take out the complexity of wellness programs and simplify to drive better engagement. Wearables can create that simplicity while also creating a buzz that drives interest in wellness programs.”

Overall, despite the decrease in number of wearable manufacturers, it is clear the use for the devices continues to grow in interesting ways. We’re excited to see where the future of wearables will take us in the next year and beyond.

Friday, December 30, 2016

myInertia's Year in Review: 2016 Highlights

We want to start off by giving a big thank you from everyone here at myInertia for supporting us this year. From introducing the Wellness Outlet, to getting entire companies more focused on health, we wanted to highlight what you've helped us achieve this year. Thank you for an amazing 2016, and cheers to the new year!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

8 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Launching Your Next Wellness Program

With January here, many of us are in prime planning season for our next wellness program. While you are working on all those last-minute details, it’s also important to stop and evaluate. By asking yourself these eight insightful questions you can guarantee this will be your best wellness program yet:

1. Am I collecting the right data?

Are you struggling to get a clear picture of your wellness program ROI and overall results? It might be because you aren’t collecting the right data. As a baseline, it’s important to collect employee interest surveys, total participation in your program and participation percentage rates of each element.

Better yet, you could include behaviors such as physical activity data from wearable activity trackers and health status via biometrics. This will provide you with the insightful data needed to properly analyze and adjust your wellness program.

2. Is my incentive strategy on point?

Incentives are best used when they are tied to healthy employee actions. For instance, simply completing an on line HRA doesn’t help provide you with the insightful data your program needs. By using a points based structure you can spread incentives across a number of different target behaviors such as physical activity, an annual PCP visit and registering for telemedicine services.

To make the biggest impact, the incentive you give needs to be align with the effort you are asking employees to give. In other words, the employee effort vs. payoff needs to be in balance. If you give a $5 gift card, for a year’s worth of work, employees might not see the value in re-aligning their day to focus on health and wellbeing.

3. Is the wellness committee functioning properly?

Your wellness committee should be functioning as champions of the program, not designers of the program. It’s important to focus on expert advice when designing the program. Although the committee can give feedback and input, it’s a more important job for the committee to be champions, or cheerleaders of the plan. They need to be visible supporters, promoting and encouraging employees to participate.

4. Do my employees know the benefits of participating?

Not only do employees need to know the how, who and what, but they need to know the WHY. Do they know the health benefits associated with the program? The energy boosting benefits of a 30-minute walk? Or how social connection and teamwork can create more happiness? It’s important to show employees the true value of participating. (you can read more about ways to show employees the true value here >)

One easy way to communicate the benefit is by using employee testimonials. This provides recognition to the employee who has already seen success and helps their peers gain a sense that they can achieve similar outcomes.

5. Is there a clear communication plan in place?

Did you communicate frequently enough last year? Did employees understand the details? Employees are more apt to avoid the program if they don’t clearly understand the program details.

Not only do employees need to know the incentive strategy you have developed, they need a clear path to success. An “In order to earn the incentive follow these steps” documentation. By giving them a clear and detailed understanding you can allow them to feel more comfortable with stepping outside their comfort zone. Having this annual plan summary available in one central location aids in both the communication process (always pointing them to the same place) and employee understanding.

We advise developing a communication calendar which will help you better monitor the frequency of communications. Make sure to also consider multiple forms of communication throughout the year, including printed pieces, email campaigns and videos.

6. Could leadership be doing more to show their support?

Has the CEO, or other leadership team members, truly shown support this year? Ask them to visibly show their support by joining in initiatives, recognizing employee achievements and when applicable, having them say a quick positive health message before the initiative starts. Those simple adjustments can go a long way to program success.

For example, one client, Terry Albrecht, founder of Green Bay Packer Fastener, visibly shows his health and wellness support by personally engaging with each individual employee, shadowing everyone in the company at least once a year. During that time he makes sure to review health goals, supporting and encouraging employees’ journey throughout. (read more about Terry’s real-life culture of wellness here >)

7. Are my employees having fun?

It’s hard to make a true positive health impact on your population, if your wellness program has created a “I have to do this” mentality. Although we understand the importance of initiatives like flu shots, annual physical exams and biometric screenings, there also needs to be a focus on developing initiatives that employees enjoy doing.

So, if you’ve answered no to this question, consider adding fun initiatives like a physical activity challenge powered by activity trackers to see which team can rack up the most steps within a week, or hosting health & nutrition trivia lunch and learn.

Engaging events like these give employees a chance to not only do/learn something healthy, but also gives them the ability to develop deeper social connections with collogues, which is crucial to boosting productivity, long-term engagement rates and overall program satisfaction.

8. Is our program easy for employees to understand?

While it is true that more elements to your wellness program promote employee choice, there is also the danger of creating the “deer in headlights” syndrome. Where do I start? What should I do first? Bob said he was going to do that – is that what I should do? Do I have to do ALL of these things?

In most cases “more is less” when it comes to driving sustained engagement in wellness initiatives. This is particularly true if you are looking to start a program, or revamp a program that may have low participation. Focusing on a couple of elements in year one and adding more over time is the right multi-year strategy to promote engagement.

Friday, December 9, 2016

myInertia's Top 5 Blog Posts of 2016

From a real-life healthy culture example, to over 30 wellness program name ideas, here are myInertia's five most popular posts from 2016.

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35 Wellness Program Name Ideas

Branding your wellness program is a great way to increase awareness and gain participation from your employees’. A key part of your branding strategy is the name. We’ve complied a helpful list of wellness program names to get your creative juices pumping.

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When you think nuts & bolts, what do you think of next? I bet you didn’t guess wellness. But that’s a main focus at Packer Fastener, a fast moving, innovative company based out of Green Bay, WI. Competitive by nature, Terry Albrecht, the founder of the company, sets up a unique structure for employees to succeed, fostering and encouraging each employee to be the best. He does this through leveraging 15 core values, which includes health & wellbeing.

In honor of myInertia’s CEO, Michael Troup, winning one of the Digi Benefits Technology Innovator Awards we wanted to highlight his history with technology, and how it has continued to shape his companies’ purpose in the benefits world.

While intrinsic motivation should ultimately drive an individual’s healthy behavior, we work with many clients who use financial incentives as an extrinsic catalyst. Encouraging employees to take notice of a program and engage in wellness initiatives can help set them on a pathway to understanding what will ultimately keep them personally motivated long term. However, in order to kick-start a healthy culture and gain the most benefit there are key strategies employers should focus on:

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As the benefits landscape continues to evolve with narrower networks, higher deductibles and increasing pharma-costs there is one constant that will put companies in a stronger position to slow their potential pace of change – healthier populations. Whether it is avoiding medical visits altogether, negotiating with carriers or reducing the need for drugs, a healthier employee base will put your clients in a more proactive position when it comes to managing future benefit programs. Here are four reasons why working towards a healthier population truly matters in 2016.

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