Resolutions & Regulations: Incentivizing Your Wellness Program

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Resolutions & Regulations: Incentivizing Your Wellness Program

The start of a New Year guarantees two things in the workplace: (1) lots of new regulations to learn about and comply with in HR and (2) lots of New Year’s resolutions to get healthy among your employees.

In 2014 these two certainties are closely intertwined as new rules for employer wellness programs are among several ACA related regulations now on the books as of January 1, 2014. So with many of your employees undoubtedly working hard on their New Year’s resolutions, and HR working hard to keep up with the regulations, now is a great time to take a look at what types of wellness related benefits organizations are offering in the region and how these programs need to be structured moving forward.
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Q&A: Holistic Wellness in the Workplace

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Holistic wellness approaches are gradually becoming more common in the workplace, with more organizations realizing that truly enhancing well-being requires a broader view of wellness. ERC continually sees employers gradually incorporating holistic approaches into their wellness and health care options, and citing very positive results.

Wellness is now recognized as much more complex than just physical well-being. Employees are "whole people" comprised of many aspects (physical, emotional, mental, etc.), and when one aspect is off-balance, the body and its health can be negatively impacted.
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3 Wellness Program Challenges and How to Fix Them

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As wellness programs have become a regular part of “the cost of doing business” (although ideally these programs will eventually yield a net reduction in the cost of doing business over time), it is still somewhat unclear what a “typical” wellness program should (or does) look like.

With over half of wellness programs set up and facilitated using internal staff, and no clear template to guide the way, developing, implementing and maintaining a wellness program is no easy task. Using data from the 2013 ERC Wellness Practices Survey, we outline some of the key pain points and take a closer look at what Northeast Ohio employers are doing to overcome these challenges.
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4 Important Workplace Wellness Trends You Need to Know

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Employee wellness continues to expand and change in the workplace as organizations use wellness programs to combat rising health care costs and support the development of healthy lifestyles in their workforce. Here's an overview of the state of employee wellness, and specifically 4 important wellness trends you need to know including an analysis of employer programs and practices, incentives, return on investment and drivers of effectiveness, and new things employers are doing in the area of wellness.

1. Programs & Practices

Health and wellness program offerings are expanding in the workplace, according to a few local and national surveys.

The Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) 2013 Employee Benefits Survey shows that when compared to 2009, more employers are offering health and lifestyle coaching and onsite fitness classes. In addition, the most common wellness options in which more than half of respondents offered were wellness resources and information, wellness programs, onsite seasonal flu vaccines, wellness publications, a 24-hour nurse line, and health screening programs.
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Getting in Your Fruits and Vegetables

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Americans are still not consuming the daily recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables needed for a healthy diet. In fact, according to a 2013 study by the Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Americans consume only 1.1 servings of fruits per day and 1.6 servings of vegetables per day.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends all Americans strive to eat more fruits and vegetables. Increasing your fruits and vegetables intake may be possible with some planning and effort. Try some of the following suggestions:
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8 Ways to Create a Culture of Wellness

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The workplace has a significant impact on employees' health, and likewise, employees' health has a great impact on the workplace. As employers increasingly realize that their actions in the workplace can positively affect the health and well-being of their employees, they are finding that improving well-being makes good business sense.

Many employers implement wellness programs, but fail to create a true culture of well-being in their workplace. As a result, they face many challenges in improving well-being in their workforce. Participation in initiatives may not be strong, employees may resist changes in their lifestyle behavior, and leaders may not be engaged in healthy lifestyles.
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5 Causes & Cures of Workplace Stress

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Do your employees seem stressed in the workplace? Are you challenged in understanding what is causing them stress and how to "cure" the situation? Here are five (5) leading causes and cures of stress in the workplace.


1. Job

The cause: The job itself is a leading source of stress for employees. While workload and overwork is a major cause, other sources of job related stress are working on unfulfilling and unchallenging work, lack of future career or advancement opportunities within the organization, low pay for the work they perform, unrealistic or unmanageable job expectations or goals, being unable to cope with the demands of their job, and having little control or autonomy over how they work.
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What Does a Wellness Program Look Like in Northeast Ohio?

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Perhaps not surprisingly, 2013's Workplace Practices Survey found that concerns about rising healthcare costs are becoming more prevalent among many organizations in Northeast Ohio. While organizations have very little control over many of the external factors that may be driving some of these concerns, such as the many unknowns associated with the upcoming implementation of provisions of the ACA, internally, many organizations are turning to wellness related programs for their employees as a method for managing these costs proactively.

As Pat Perry, ERC President, points out in the latest issue of Smart Business Magazine, “Investing in wellness initiatives is a great option- it helps manage costs and still allows you to provide the benefits that are most important to your workforce.”
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Local Wellness Programs and the ACA

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Based on the results of the 2013-2014 ERC Policies & Benefits survey, Northeast Ohio employers are well positioned to take advantage of the recently released Affordable Care Act (ACA) regulations increasing the maximum rewards employers may offer employees for participation in wellness programs. Local employers have consistently outpaced the national averages in terms of their wellness initiatives, with specific programs illustrated in Figure 1 below.

One key program that is particularly relevant to Northeast Ohio employers within the context of the ACA regulations is smoking cessation classes. More and more local organizations are placing restrictions on tobacco use as part of their hiring policy and 31.1% of local employers do not allow smoking anywhere on the premises of their organization. In comparison, the national average is 10% lower at 23.1%.
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The Ultimate Summer Workplace Checklist

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Sweet summertime is right around the corner. Bring on the company picnics, vacation schedules, and little league games!

The HR department is presented with plenty of opportunities and challenges when it comes to the summertime workplace. It can be hard at times to keep employees attention and focus when the sunshine is calling their name.

Here’s the ultimate summer workplace list for organizations working to make their workplace great:

1. Solidify Holiday Schedule

There are 3 national holidays U.S. employers recognize during the summer, Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day. Make sure your employees know what days they will have off due to the holidays, especially the 4th of July. If the 4th of July falls on a weekend, be sure to clarify and communicate to employees what day the office will be closed. Also be sure to communicate that to customers as well.

2. Manage Vacation Schedules

Summer is the ideal time for many people to take a vacation. Unfortunately for the HR department and management team, that means many employees wanting to schedule time off at the same time. This can lead to a shortage of workers or disappointed employees if not handled properly. Require employees to schedule time off in advance, receive approval for time off, coordinate with the their coworkers and implement a fair system specifying criteria of the process and spell out whatever limits your organization may have around taking vacation.

3. Implement a Summer Dress Code

With the weather being warmer, it may be beneficial to implement and communicate a summer dress code throughout the organization.

Be sure to effectively communicate the new summer dress code, preferably in writing. Clarify what summer attire is and what it isn’t. Determine what is allowed in terms of apparel and shoes while providing examples (i.e. sleeveless tops, open-toed shoes, flip flops, shorts, capris, etc.) It may also be beneficial to let employees know to be mindful of their daily agendas and not dress inappropriately when meeting with customers or pitching an idea to corporate, depending on policy.

Also apply your dress code uniformly to all employees, and not to a specific gender or demographic.

4. Plan a Company Outing

Summer is an ideal time to organize a company outing or picnic to show appreciation. Hosting a company outing not only shows appreciation for employees but recognizes their efforts and gives them a time to interact and bond with one another outside of the office.

Many organizations host outings at a local attraction, golf course or park.

If the budget is right, it may be nice to include spouses, significant others, or children too.

5. Wellness Program

The summertime weather also allows for more creative outdoor activities and programs to support and promote wellness throughout the organization. Try setting up a bike-to-work program, walking program, fitness activity, or pick-up game.

In addition, the summer is a great time to emphasize nutrition and healthy eating habits with the increased availability of fruits and vegetables. Several organizations have begun to provide fresh produce whenever possible to their workforce.

6. Flexible Scheduling

Many families tend to need more flexibility in the summer. Kids are out of school with little league games and sick babysitters.

Great workplaces tend to provide a bit more flexibility, such as opportunities to leave early on Fridays, revised or shorter work schedules, compressed work weeks, and longer holiday weekends.

Flexibility options allow employees extra time with their families and help them achieve better work/life balance over the summer.

7. Address Attendance Issues

Having a more flexible schedule may lead to a few bad apples spoiling the bunch. Attendance can become more of an issue in the summertime when employees may call off, take unapproved time off, or be tardy/leave work early more often.

Make sure to have an attendance policy that is clearly communicated to employees and enforce the policy consistently.

Being flexible to employees’ needs to keep attendance issues to a minimum and keep in mind that results are what counts the most at work.

8. Take Advantage of Slow-Time Opportunities

Depending on the industry, summer time can be less busy and employees have a more relaxed workload. This is the perfect time to implement development initiatives that may have been pushed to the side the rest of the year in preference of other obligations.

Training, development, programs, and other HR projects are perfect opportunities to take advantage of in the summer months.

9. Have More Fun

The summer is a great time to have more fun at work, relax, build relationships between team members, and focus on collaboration and team-building.

Team-building activities, contests, socials, and philanthropic events help employees build camaraderie and foster open communication.

Consider setting up a volunteering day in which employees spend the morning or afternoon, as a team, helping out at a local nonprofit organization.

Planting and tending to a garden throughout the summer is another fun (and delicious) activity for the workplace.

10. Mid-Year Meeting

Encourage management to have a mid-year meeting with each of their employees to talk about their progress towards their goals and their performance thus far into the year.

Employees should not be surprised by the feedback they receive or the results of their end of year performance review.

Take steps to change performance now with employees who are not performing up to standard. Conversely, with great performers, let them know they are doing a great job and encourage them to keep up the good work.

It may also be beneficial to hold a company-wide mid-year staff meeting to bring everyone up-to-date on the year’s progress, where things are thriving, where things are falling short, and to boost morale.