Holiday Wellness 101

Holidays are approaching and that means your employees will have less time for exercise, have increase stress levels, and will be attending lots of holiday parties.  According to the US New and World Reports, Americans will have an average weight gain of 1-5 pounds during the holiday season. If you multiply that by the number of employees in your organization the number can be staggering.

One fun and engaging way to combat holiday weight gain is to promote a “Maintain Don’t Gain” competition in your organization.  A Maintain Don’t Gain competition is simply a friendly competition that can incite a fresh new perspective on healthy holiday behaviors and get employees more motivated to help each other.

The Florida Department of Health is offering a Maintain Don’t Gain competition through an alliance with North Carolina State University. It is a FREE seven-week challenge that provides participants with support, education, recipes, and weekly emails throughout the holiday season. This is a free community resource available to your employees. For more information visit the website below:

http://www.healthiestweightflorida.com/activities/holiday.html

There are other options for employees wellness that you can promote during the holidays, such as lunch and learns, host a healthy “cook-off”, “holiday chair massages” , or offer healthy snacks in the break room.  Even simple programs to target holiday stress and weight management could make it a healthier, happier holiday season for your workplace. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or would like assistance with a holiday, tblocker@w3ins.com.

National Dental Hygiene Month

Want to prevent heart disease in your workplace? It starts with a healthy smile. Studies have shown that gum disease can lead to increased risk of heart disease.* Dental hygiene, which includes flossing, brushing, and rinsing on a daily basis are essential. Semi-annual cleanings at your dentist’s office are also vitally important in the prevention of gum disease to reduce plaque that can build up on the gums and get into the blood stream. Once in the bloodstream the germs can travel to the heart and increase the risk of heart disease.

October is National Dental Hygiene Month. This is a great time to promote your dental benefits that are available to your workforce. Preventive cleanings are usually covered at 100% for most carriers and your employees should be using this benefit.

Promoting dental hygiene to your employees is important. There is a great free poster available for downloading from the American Dental Hygienists Association. You can access this at the link below:

http://www.adha.org/resources-docs/2017_daily4_poster.pdf

If you have any questions or would like assistance in promoting the importance of dental hygiene, please feel free to contact me, tblocker@w3ins.com.

*American Academy of Periodontology. Gum Disease and Heart Disease.

Flu Season

September starts the season of flu vaccines. In preparation to prevent this year’s flu epidemic from affecting your workplace, now is the time to start promoting the flu vaccine. Whether your company decides to host an on-site flu clinic or to educate employees on where they can find participating retail pharmacies to get their vaccines, now is the time to start planning.

Many insurance carriers will authorize on-site clinics with a few regulations. You use their participating on-site provider and you must meet specific minimum participation requirements for the event. For workplaces that have multiple locations or remote employees, it may be difficult to plan an on-site clinic but you can still be instrumental in promoting the importance of prevention. Other simple strategies should be communicated to your employees to help them stay healthy and minimize the risk of spreading the flu.

Please feel free to contact me for assistance during this flu season (Trish Blocker, 727-522-7777 ext. 173 tblocker@w3ins.com). Together we can fight the flu one shot at a time.

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month

mental-1831391_960_720Mental health issues are often overlooked by coworkers or swept under the rug by employers. That means many workers are battling these issues alone. One of the most memorable stories I heard during my years in worksite wellness starts with a training class. The instructor was training their employees on a new computer system for a week. She noticed one employee kept to herself, seemed withdrawn and would always be late coming back from lunches and breaks. Normally your first reaction would be to reprimand the employee, but this instructor went above and beyond. She found the employee in the restroom crying and when she approached her and offered to help, the employee said she was fine. After spending a little time with her it was revealed that she was having some family trouble. The stress of the crisis affected her and her work. They found a counselor for her through their EAP and this helped her work through this stress before it became a bigger issue.

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Strategically Planning for Millennials in your Wellness Program

Planning for Millennials in your Wellness ProgramMillennials are those born in the early 1980s up to the early 2000s. According to the US Census Bureau Population Estimate in April 2016, millennials are fast becoming the biggest percentage of the workforce and a leading influence on the employers’ health plans and employee wellness programs.  Nine out of ten millennials have health insurance and 85% of them are employed. *

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Is Your Workplace Wellness Program Compliant in 2017?

Workplace wellness programs are constantly evolving, not only from the planning and strategy of the programs but also from the compliance aspect. Last year was an active year in for the EEOC. They had two new regulations passed in regards to employee wellness program that refer to the guidelines from the ADA and GINA.  Both of these regulations passed last year and became effective for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2017.

The first rule provides guidance around the employer-sponsored wellness programs as they pertain to employees with health restrictions and disabilities (ADA) and non-employee/spouses health information (GINA).  It states that programs must be voluntary and an employer cannot deny access to the health plan if an employee refuses to participate. Reasonable accommodations must be available to employees with disabilities that are unable to participate or complete the program.

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Gaps in Care

It’s the beginning of a new year and you and your Wellness Committee have strategized your company’s health improvement plan. You are feeling confident that you will address the main health risks in your employee demographics. Of course, we know it is impossible to hit all the topics needed within a wellness program, but are you covering some topics that could be very detrimental to their health and your claims? I am referring to gaps in care for preventative, age appropriate, screenings such as mammograms, colonoscopies, PSA screenings, skin cancer screenings, dental and vision exams.

Some employers have gone above and beyond to address this situation, such as giving employees a chance to “call in well”.  This program gave the employee 4 hours PTO to use for a preventative visit (with verification required).  Another program would incentivize the employee with points or gift cards when they show proof of screenings and immunizations completed.

As the workforce is showing a significant number of older workers, are they being proactive about their health? One of the best programs that I ran across in my years in workplace wellness was at a local school system. They started a “Mention Prevention” Campaign and reminded the employees about the services available to them for free and celebrated success stories. Not only did they post the educational materials on their intranet, they send out postcards with the information. They had pictures of breast cancer survivors holding a very large number, that number represented the number of years they have been a survivor and told their story of early detection and the importance of screenings. They invested in posters and worked with their carrier to make it easy for the employees to find what screenings they should be doing and what was covered and the in-network providers.

To give another example of closing the gap on prevention, I was at a client’s biometric event. After a few years of the biometric screenings they decided, because they had an older workforce population, to offer PSA screenings and thyroid screenings to employees over 50. (This is an option with most on-site biometrics vendors.) The next year a gentleman came up to us and thanked us. He said he was 57 and never went to the doctor because he thought he was healthy. Last year at the biometrics event he took advantage of the free PSA screenings and the results showed an elevated PSA. He followed up with a doctor and was told he had early stage prostate cancer. It was caught it in time to be treatable and he was grateful to his employer for offering this service.

It is stories like these that make employee wellness such an important part of today’s workplace culture.

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New Year, New Logo

I know what you are thinking; we don’t need a new logo. Our company has had the same logo for generations and we have built a reputation around it and our customers relate to our logo. And yes you would be correct, but that is not the logo I was referring to in the title. I was referring to a branded logo for your wellness program.

Related imageImagine if you had a Wellness Logo that your employees could identify with and know that your company is committed to their health improvement. A logo that shows what you are trying to accomplish through the wellness program and to create a sustainable culture of healthy lifestyles and healthy employees. The employees will relate more to future communications branded with the logo and it will help distinguish your wellness program communications from the multiple emails and flyers they receive regarding benefit, compliance, payroll, etc.

To take it one step further, you can order branded merchandise that the employees can use on a daily basis and as an additional benefit this will add exposure to your wellness program. Examples of these branded items could be shirts, hats, water bottles, lunch bags, resistance bands, etc. You can either distribute these items to each employee, give to employees when they participate in an activity, or use as prizes for wellness champs. The more they see the wellness logo, the more they will accept the new healthy culture that you are working towards.

Your logo should represent your goals for your company and for your employee wellness program. Putting a jpeg of an apple with your company name is not an effective wellness logo but a car dealership that uses “Driving to good health” would be a good example. If you need assistance with designing or ideas, please feel free to contact me at tblocker@w3ins.com.

Happy New Year and happy new logo!

Lighten Up Your Holiday Office Party

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With the holiday season approaching, you and your employees are probably going to consume extra calories, fat grams, and alcohol that your body doesn’t need or want. Many catered dishes served at Holiday Office Parties are loaded with fat, sodium, and preservatives that can add weight on quickly. Since you strive for a healthier employee population ten months of the year don’t give in to unhealthy options now.

Start new healthy holiday traditions for your office:

  1. If you want to take your employees out for a holiday dinner celebration, look for healthy restaurants that specialize in organic cooking or ask for a limited menu with healthy options. You can limit the alcohol consumption by giving limited drink tickets instead of an open bar.
  1. If you are planning the party during office hours, host a “Healthy Holidays” Pot-Luck instead. The employees can bring in healthy dishes along with their recipes to share. A prize incentive for the healthiest dish can always add a little competition.
  1. Instead of a formal party, host an event that involves more activity and less consumption of fatting foods and alcohol. Activities such as a team bowling night at a local bowling alley, or a family picnic with fun tailgating-like events (lawn darts, corn hole game, bocce ball, Cam Jam Frisbee game, scavenger hunt), or plan a coed kick ball tournament where all the teams dress festive for the event.
  1. In lieu of the traditional office Christmas party, plan a “Give Back to the Community” day and teams of employees can volunteer. Have healthy snacks for their breaks and celebrate their accomplishments. There are website that will help you locate corporate volunteer opportunities: Points of Light or Habitat for Humanity.

These options will help make wellness part of the culture twelve months a year.  On behalf of W3 Insurance, we hope you and your employees have a safe and happy holiday season. If you need assistance with ideas for a healthy holiday planning, please feel free to contact me at tblocker@w3ins.com.

Help your employees manage their holiday stress, Promote your EAP!

With the stress of the holidays, your employees may need some assistance with a variety of life challenges. This is a good time to promote your company’s Employee Assistance Program and let the employees know that they have an employer that cares for them. Most EAPs are designed to help with many facets of stress management, including mental health, substance abuse, work-life balance, marriage, family and relationship issues, and legal or financial concerns.

The services through your company’s EAP are confidential and the employees can access them in the comfort of their own home through a website or a phone call. It is a win, win for everyone. Once the employee reaches out for help managing their concerns it will mean they are not missing time away from work, their productivity will not decline due to stress, the chance of a possible workplace accident due lack of concentration will decrease, and the employee will be more likely to stay with your company and therefore decreasing turnover rates.

Since we can all agree that this service is vitally important to the health of your business, the next phase is to plan your marketing campaign. A multi-media approach is the best strategy which entails digital, print, and personal promotion. The personal promotion from a manager or fellow coworker, also known as word-of-mouth advertising, is the best promotion because they can explain the concept and handle the concerns and questions about the EAP’s offerings. I have listed several promotional examples below:


Digital

Print Personal Promotion

Email

Posters/flyers Promote at staff meetings, have managers promoting within their own departments.
Intranet promotion Table tents in breakrooms

Be aware of any changes in behavior in your employees and remind them of the services available.

Employee facebook page Payroll stuffers

Health Fairs- invite EAP representative

Webinars

Wallet cards

Share success stories
(Confidentially of course)

 

presentsAfter reviewing several studies of EAP utilization, statistics have shown that a very small percentage of employees and families are using this service. With education about EAPs and proper promotion you can increase awareness of the offerings and decrease the skeptic’s concerns about confidentiality and stigmas associated with mental health.

 
Let’s plan to make this a stress free holiday for your employees and your workplace. If you need assistance with your EAP promotion, please feel free to contact me, tblocker@w3ins.com. If your company does not offer an EAP your WWW representative can obtain plan details and cost for your review.