5 Ways to Keep Your New Year’s Resolution (and Wellness Program) on Track

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5 Ways to Keep Your New Year’s Resolution (and Wellness Program) on Track

One week into a new year and you are probably already sick and tired of hearing about the latest diet trend or exercise regimen that is “guaranteed” to make your New Year’s resolution to “get healthy” stick this time around.

Most medical professionals will tell you that (unfortunately) there is no silver bullet to a “healthier you”, and as it turns out, a good old fashioned healthy diet and consistent exercise routine tends to be just what the doctor ordered.

So what does all this talk about New Year’s resolutions have to do with HR and building great workplaces here in Northeast Ohio?

Well according to ERC’s 2015 Wellness Practices Survey, at three-quarters of local organizations, the connection is their formal wellness program. Take the analogy one step further, and you’ll quickly discover that wellness programs often suffer from the same plight as New Year’s resolutions—the best of intentions, but lacking in follow-through when it comes time for implementation. Despite becoming an almost standard benefit at many employers over the last several years, some wellness programs and individual wellness focused activities are now suffering from a lack of participation and interest on the part of the employees.

In fact participants in both the 2013 and 2015 ERC Wellness Surveys cited “effectively educating and incentivizing employees to participate in wellness programs” as the most common barrier to creating a successful wellness program at their organization.

To help both employers and employees make the most of what can be and should be an important piece of overall employee wellbeing, participating organizations in ERC’s Wellness Surveys offered the following advice on creating (or reinvigorating) a successful wellness program.

1. Offer wellness activities/programs that employees find useful.

This particular struggle is most easily addressed if met head-on at the program’s inception and can be as simple as a survey of employee’s interests in a list of potential activities under consideration. Understanding the basic demographics of your workforce can also help inform what types of programs make the cut. Gender, age, shift work (who will actually be around if you are offering programs on-site during the day), etc. are all useful statistics to consider, but don’t get too overzealous and start trying to dig into specific health related needs—HIPPA can get messy quickly.

By starting out with wellness activities that employees want to take part in, you are already ahead of the curve.

But don’t worry if you already have a program in place, it’s not too late to start taking your employee’s interests into account. In fact, a quick survey of your employees every couple of years to make sure the programming is still relevant isn’t a bad idea either.

2. Make the programming accessible—both geographically and intellectually.

If your organization is on the larger side or draws employees from a diverse geographic footprint, make sure the activities are easily accessible to as many individual employees as possible. Your employees are probably juggling a family life, the stress of work, and any number of other time intensive activities.

In short, their time is valuable, so partnering with a gym with only one location far on one side of town may not see the best results. Instead, consider offering reimbursement for a gym of the employee’s choosing or make the investment in an on-site gym or fitness classes.

Online programming can be an easy option, but make sure it is providing useful information that isn’t too overwhelming or too basic. One the one hand if the online articles, tracking mechanism, or lectures are overly technical and scientific employees might be turned off, but by the same token presenting overly simplistic information won’t do your employees any good either.

3. Use the resources you already have.

Many health insurance packages include an array of free resources that you the employer can pass along to your employees. All you have to do as the employer is promote them. But that is sometimes easier said than done—now someone has to be tasked with sending out the email reminders or monthly newsletters to help get employees on board. If financial resources are not available to create a new position (e.g. Wellness Coordinator) delegation or committee work can be helpful in prevent overloading a single individual with wellness related administrative tasks. Of course if all else fails, and you are determined to create a robust, successful wellness program, just ask for help. You may find that you have a multi-talented staff that is more than willing to share their kick-boxing expertise or vegan baking skills with their co-workers.

4. Get full buy-in on all levels.

As with most new initiatives, it is critical to get the full support of the top management team. Buy-in from the top can definitely be helpful when budget season rolls around, but when it comes to wellness programs, a more visible buy-in can be hugely helpful as well. Having the CEO out there trying to get to his or her 10,000 steps during lunch can be a great motivator and even a fun way for employees to interact casually with other employees that they may not typically encounter on a day-to-day basis. And of course keep in mind that the importance of buy-in goes beyond these specific activities to the bigger picture of what you are trying to achieve with your wellness program. If your end goal is to fully indoctrinate your organization with a culture of wellness, engaging employees at all levels is particularly important.

5. Incentivize, when you can.

Even with all the struggles and barriers to participation discussed above, many organizations are running very successful wellness programs. If better health isn’t enough of a motivator, money is bound to do the trick. Keep in mind that there are specific limitations as to how much and how the monies are distributed for each individual and for different types of activities. Cost can also be a strong disincentive against certain behaviors, most notably tobacco usage. The Affordable Care Act provides a detailed breakdown of allowable incentives and disincentives should you choose to go down the path of incentivizing your wellness program. If you aren’t quite ready for the monetary commitment, remember that food or other small non-monetary incentives can help improve the effectiveness of your programming by bolstering attendance at lectures or participation in fitness challenges.

Much like the New Year’s resolution you made a week ago, setting your organization’s wellness program up for success can seem overwhelming. But with the help of the advice above and a little extra hard work and perseverance in 2016, you too can get to the gym 4 days a week and get your employees to show up for the nutritionist you’ve booked for that lunch-n-learn next month.

View ERC's Wellness Practices Survey Results

This report summarizes the results of ERC’s survey of organizations in Northeast Ohio, conducted in September of 2015, on practices related to health care and wellness.

View the Results

2016 Attendance Record and 2016 Vacation Planner (Free Downloads)

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Tracking employee attendance is important to ensure that you have a record of employee absence, tardiness, vacation time and more. Download the free Attendance Record below to help you track attendance for your employees.

2016 Attendance Record

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Vacation planners can make an employer’s vacation request and approval process a lot easier and more efficient. We've put together a free Vacation Planner for 2016 that you can download below.

2016 Vacation Planner

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Save the Date: NOHRC 2016

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NOHRC

Save the Date and register today for NOHRC 2016!  We’re celebrating our 50th birthday with a special “2-day Conference!”

The conference begins as a ½ day workshop on Thursday, March 10th 2016 with the distinguished Val Grubb. Val will lead an in-depth and outcome-focused workshop for HR professionals. Our confirmed Keynote speakers for Friday include Jay Kuhns and Cheryl Cran. Visit www.norhc.org today to review our talented line-up of speakers or explore potential sponsorship opportunities.

Tier 1 registration pricing ends today so hurry now to secure your spot!

March 10-11, 2016 • I-X Center • Cleveland

NOHRC 2016 • Celebrating 5 Decades of Excellence!

Visit www.nohrc.org or call the NOHRC hotline at 440-940-6534 with questions.

5 Essential Year-End HR Activities

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5 Essential Year-End HR Activities

1. Update Job Descriptions

Job descriptions should be "living documents" that are evaluated annually. It's not uncommon for job descriptions to grow outdated or need minor adjustments each year. Job descriptions are generally regarded as legal documents, and are necessary for maintaining compliance with ADA, FLSAFMLA and other employment laws.

They also help managers evaluate performance and set performance criteria or goals, determine compensation or grade level, and help to identify training needs.
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The 5 Ws of Your Company’s Holiday Party

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The 5 Ws of Your Company’s Holiday Party

Every fall ERC surveys Northeast Ohio organizations about a critical part of their workplace practices—their holiday party. Without fail this topic is hugely popular, typically garnering one the largest pools of responses we receive all year.

Whatever the reason may be (Really excited for the holidays? Looking for new creative ideas to implement this year? Tired of being surveyed about more serious issues like comp and benefits and ready for something lighter?) 2015 was no exception. So with the Thanksgiving holiday already in the books and the 24/7 Christmas music radio station playing over your office’s PA system, let’s take a look at what company holiday parties are looking like here in Northeast Ohio this holiday season.
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12 Tested Ways to Manage Time-Off Requests around the Holidays

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12 Tested Ways to Manage Time-Off Requests around the Holidays time off request policy request time off policy

For most HR practitioners, trying to coordinate a pile of time-off requests for the upcoming holiday season is hardly your favorite part of the job. No one really wants to be the one to tell employees that their request to spend time with their families during the holidays is being rejected, but depending on a whole slew of factors—industry, company size, production schedules, client demands, staffing levels, or even job specific duties—sometimes the reality is, the work has to get done.
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What Are Employers Doing to Manage Health Care Costs?

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What Are Employers Doing to Manage Health Care Costs managing healthcare costs health care cost management

According to the 2015 ERC Wellness Practices Survey both the average percent premium increase and the average annual spend on health insurance premiums have declined since the 2013 survey.

This slight downward trend is certainly not the case at every organization and did not occur without significant cost management efforts on the part of both employer and employees. Of course there are variables that no one can control, i.e. unexpected serious illness, aging employee population, etc., but this year’s survey results help illuminate which tactics employers are using (or not using) most effectively to help push the variables that are in their control in the right direction.
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Issue 3: How Would Marijuana Legalization Affect Employers?

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Issue 3: How Would Marijuana Legalization Affect Employers?

On November 3, 2015 Ohioans will make their way to the ballots and have the option to vote yes or no on Issue 3. If passed, Issue 3 would legalize the medical and recreational sale and use of marijuana in the state of Ohio. But what does it mean for employers?

We spoke with Jon Hyman, Partner at Meyers Roman Friedberg and Lewis, and ERC Partner, about what employers should be thinking about in case issue 3 does pass and how to prepare for its arrival.
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