Time Out for Office Yoga!

yoga_atdeskI was talking to my colleague earlier today about exercise at the office, and she showed me a nifty device she is wearing called “Fitbit.” This is a tiny device you can clip on your belt, or wear like a watch. During the day, it tracks your steps, distance, calories burned, and stairs climbed. At night, it measures your sleep quality, helps you learn how to sleep better, and wakes you in the morning. The cost is anywhere from $55 – $129.

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Wellness Programs Benefit Employees and Employers

FitnessAt my workplace, we have the opportunity to earn incentive dollars for completing different activities related to wellness through our health insurance program.  The activities include completing an online health assessment, completing an online wellness program, walking 1200 minutes per year and finally completing one task recommended by the program.  Now I realize this is not an overly new concept.  In fact, in speaking with professionals working in various industries, I find that there are all kinds of incentives out there to motivate employees to mind their health and in turn their health insurance premiums.  A few other incentive examples include cash for going to the dentist twice per year, annual mammograms as well as cardiac screenings.  I also found that discounts on gym memberships are common practice across many organizations.

One of the main reasons our companies want to promote the overall well-being of its employees is that actuarial and probability measures show that these activities reduce costs which in turn financially benefits both employer and employee.  Improved health means lower absenteeism and higher productivity.  However, I also believe that most companies truly want their employees to be well and prosper at work and at home, and a wellness program is a great way to support this.

What are some of the activities that your company has implemented around employee wellness, and how do your employees feel about them?

Gamification for Engagement

In the recent popularity of more involved wellness programs for employees, there have been may more creative ways to get employees more engaged with these programs, and ultimately, more engaged with their work. One trend that has experienced some success in organizations is that of gamification, or turning wellness engagement into a competitive game. Whether employees are encouraged to spur friendly competition with coworkers or with one’s own wellness progress, it seems as though gamification helps employees to finally view healthy behaviors as fun. Continue Reading →

The Affordable Care Act’s Impact on Engagement

The impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is without a doubt at the forefront of many employers’ minds with an impending implementation date of January 1st, 2014. Whether or not you believe the ACA is a good thing (as I personally feel that there are definitely pros and cons!), healthcare reform is well underway and HR professionals are scrambling to find guidance on what to do to remain compliant. While many employers have the best of intentions when it comes to providing health benefits to employees, there are many unfortunate consequences of insufficient funding to support the increased benefits. Combined with the uncertainty and unease of what healthcare reform really means, employees are left feeling frustrated and disengaged from work. Continue Reading →

Wellness Programs: What is the Value?

Healthcare is on all organizations minds right now. There are going to be a large amount of changes coming our way and it is not only for organizations to think about how the healthcare reform will impact their structure, it also brings to light the cost of healthcare. One of the easiest and most effective ways to help cut benefit costs may be utilizing wellness programs. Continue Reading →

How Does a Night Owl Survive Corporate Workdays?

I have always been a night owl by nature.  Early mornings can seem unbearable at times and my mood is definitely not at the highest.  College certainly worked to my advantage as a night owl.  I had no problem being awake for a 10am class, however, my 8am classes were very challenging.  I only took one 8am course in college because I actually felt I was not awake enough to learn. Continue Reading →

The Way to an Employee’s Heart – Food?

Guest blog author: Maggie Coffey, marketing intern for Hireology

Inc. magazine recently published an article about improving employee morale. The author, Suzanne Lucas, suggests feeding your employees does just that – by boosting morale and making them happy. Continue Reading →

Engagement: What Happens at Home after Work?

When we think employee engagement, we typically think about work life. While employee engagement is important while at work and on the job, our lives outside of work are also important to consider. How do the two worlds help or hinder each other? Continue Reading →

Demands-control Model for Work Stress

The demand-control model is focused on the balance of job requirements and autonomy. This model, developed by Karasek (1979), states that those who experience high demands at work with little control are more likely than other employees to feel stressed. According to this model, those who experience low demands with high amount of control should be those who are the least stressed. For example, someone who works in a busy coffee shop would have high demands in that they must make coffee in the correct way every time and within a very small time frame. This person would also have low control because he or she would not have the freedom to make choices about how or when the coffee is made. Those who adhere to the demands-control model would expect this person to be much more stressed than someone with more control or fewer demands. Continue Reading →

Sick Leave Banks

Does your company make use of what is known as a sick leave bank? A sick leave bank is a policy that some companies adopt in which employees are permitted to “donate” their excess sick time to a organization-wide bank. This bank is made available to other employees who may need additional sick leave above and beyond what he or she may normally accrue due to serious illness.

Sick leave banks are actually not a new concept. However, more and more organizations are beginning to put similar policies into effect in order to better support employees with serious illness. As a student of Industrial and Organizational Psychology and someone who has had her fair share of jobs in different types of organizations, I was surprised to only just now learn of this concept when apparently it has been at work in organizations for decades. A quick internet search will reveal a myriad of personnel handbook policies from  numerous companies that use this benefit.

While this seems like a perfectly logical policy for organizations to better support certain employees, there is a small risk in that some employees may feel inclined to abuse this benefit. Some companies require employees who draw from the bank to have a long-term condition documented, while other companies do not. If your company has a sick leave bank, do you find that anyone abuses the benefit or is it truly as good as it sounds?

Our recent panel data revealed that only 55% of all employees surveyed felt that their supervisor cared about them as an individual, leaving much room for improvement. In theory, a benefit such as a sick leave bank would help employees with serious illnesses to understand that the organization cares about them and wants to help them through any difficulties that illness can cause, particularly for one’s work life. This feeling of compassion would likely translate to a greater connection and commitment to the employer. The question is: does it really work?