2014 Guardian Workplace Benefits Study

Boiling Over?

“[Employers] have a workforce…trying to be productive and engaged [but] who is overwhelmed. To have more than two-thirds of their workforce say that work is a major source of stress for them, it’s clearly something that employers and employees alike need to deal with.” says Dr. David Ballard of American Psychological Association’s Center for Organizational Excellence, in an excellent article by Employee Benefits News that addresses stress levels among America’s workforce.

Stress Management

Does your company provide stress-management options?

How does your organization combat stress in the workplace? Is it, as Ballard addresses, a matter of encouraging employees to talk with health care providers about stress management? Does your company provide on-site yoga classes, massage or stress-management training?

Or, is it a matter of tackling organizational procedures and addressing over-stretched resources? Will relieving some of those concerns make for a happier, healthier workforce?

For example, overburdened employees will frequently feel stressed. Inefficient channels of communication, or lack of communication, can lead to stress. Issues like these keep employees from performing optimally. They suffer, and, consequently, the company suffers. In these instances, providing outlets for stress may help, but that won’t address some of the roots of the problem – stress will continue to rear its frustrated head, to the detriment of all.

At the same time, work stress will always be there. Yes, it can be mitigated. But do we really expect to float through our jobs with ease; no pressure, no deadlines, no mishaps?

To retain talent, to keep employees excited and engaged, and, ultimately, to thrive, a business must address stress at both individual and organizational levels. Employees can take walking breaks, try yoga or get massages, but if the same overwhelming organizational issues persist each time they walk back through the door, that frustration will be difficult to mitigate. But, even if organizational issues are resolved, the inherent pressures of work and life still remain. Giving employees options to release stress and gain perspective (it’s all relative, after all) will always be in an employer’s best interest.

We’d love to hear from you – how does your company address employee stress and anxiety? Has it implemented policies or practices that you think are effective at addressing individual or organizational stressors? If not, what are your ideas regarding how things could be improved?

The Big Picture

Happy Employees

“Employees become much more motivated and productive when they know that their employer cares about their total quality of life, which goes beyond traditional wellness and includes physical, emotional, financial and social health.” – Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin HealthMiles

As an athlete can have a major impact on a game without filling the stat sheet, the positive impact of wellness programs isn’t always seen in hard numbers. Boyce’s quote above comes from a fantastic article on employee wellness, morale and engagement on Forbes.com called “Challenge 2013: Linking Employee Wellness, Morale And The Bottom-Line”. A great read for any organization exploring the world of employee or member wellness.




Walking Works Part 2

Encouraging employees to walk more is the perfect way to help them improve their health. This is especially true if you have employees who must sit all day to do their jobs; more and more research is showing that sitting for hours at a time is incredibly detrimental to our health. You and your colleagues may all be at different fitness levels, but all of us can certainly benefit from taking more steps throughout the day.

How do you get your colleagues to step it up? Here are a few ideas:

  • Implement a company-wide walking challenge. All across the nation, companies large and small are implementing walking competitions for their teams. Why? Because walking challenges are incredibly effective. The combination of friendly competition, increased interactions between coworkers and an encouraging, supportive environment in the workplace is very powerful. Walking is easy enough that all staff members can participate without being intimidated by the office fitness buffs. You will be amazed at how well your employees respond, at how much fun they have together, and at how many of them continue healthy habits long after the challenge ends.
  • Get pedometers for your team. Whether or not you run a walking challenge, providing pedometers for your staff members can go a long way. A study from Stanford Medical School showed that people who use pedometers walk about 2000 steps (or about a mile) more per day than those who don’t. Putting a number on activity levels intrigues and motivates people. Just look at the rapidly growing success of FitBit, MyFitnessPal, BodyBugg, Nike’s Fuelband, and other products and devices that track physical activity.Can’t pay for your team’s pedometers out of pocket? Simply making them available for employees to purchase in the workplace is often enough. Just as Providence Health & Services, who in the last two years have sold more than 14,000 partially-subsidized LifeBalance pedometers to their employees, who continually ask for more. Employees are more likely to buy a pedometer if it’s on sale in the cafeteria and their colleagues are buying them than they are to make a separate trip to the store to pick one up on their own.
  • Organize voluntary group walks near the office. You can schedule these before work, after work or on employee breaks; the last option will be particularly appreciated by employees who have trouble squeezing in exercise before or after work. Make sure your colleagues know about these options by sending out email reminders or invites, posting information or sign ups in break rooms, or putting the information on the company intranet.These walks don’t have to be long treks; experts note that breaking walks up into smaller segments throughout the day is just as effective as doing it all at once. Round up a group for a 20 minute stroll before the lunch break is over. Take 10 minute walking breaks when the morning coffee starts to wear off or that mid-afternoon sluggishness sets in. Getting up and moving is all that matters. Bonus: exercise helps boost mental focus and productivity, so having colleagues take a quick stroll in the fresh air may be just what they needed to do their best work.

Walking Works

It doesn’t require a trip to the gym or a monthly payment. It doesn’t require expensive gear. It doesn’t require you to sweat profusely, twist yourself into a pretzel or learn complicated dance moves. You can do it before work, on your break, after dinner, 10 minutes at a time or for two hours straight. It’s the easiest, least intimidating, quickest approach to fitness, and the great majority of us are blessed enough to be able to do it on command: walking.

According to the Mayo Clinic, taking regular, brisk walks can help you achieve a number of important health benefits. Walking can help you:

• Lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol)
• Raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol)
• Lower your blood pressure
• Reduce your risk of or manage type 2 diabetes
• Manage your weight
• Improve your mood
• Stay strong and fit

In fact, the Mayo Clinic notes that regular walking can reduce the risk of heart attack by the same amount as more vigorous exercise, such as jogging! So if you are looking to improve your own health or that of your organizations, remember that it’s as simple as one foot in front of the other!

All Work and No Play Can Hurt Your Employees’ Health!

shutterstock_95343040Ok, you know how encouraging employee fitness and proper nutrition can help benefit your company’s bottom line. You know the importance of creating a fun and positive work environment, too.

But what about the benefits associated with helping them have fun? Well, as it turns out, engaging in leisure activities may literally be good for our health. A study done by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine on over 1400 participants showed that those who frequently engaged in leisure activities (defined as enjoyable activities individuals engage in when free from the demands of work) showed lower blood pressure, total cortisol, waist circumference, and body mass index, and perceptions of better physical function

You can’t necessarily allow your employees to engage in leisure activities at work, but how can you help them relax and recreate when off the clock? This is where you turn to LifeBalance, a company whose existence is dedicated to helping employees engage in more fun, stress-relieving (but still healthy) activities outside of work. We make it affordable for employees to find more relaxing and entertaining leisure activities with savings at thousands of recreational and wellness-related businesses all across the country. Learn more about how LifeBalance can help you achieve a happy, healthy workforce by contacting LifeBalance Sales Director Dave Miller at sales@LifeBalanceProgram.com.

Helping Employees with New Year’s Resolutions – Part 3

Managing Stress:

How many of us have resolved to keep stress under control in years past? Some of your employees have surely incorporated stress management into their resolutions this year. Helping out with this particular resolution can be tough as an employer, though, since all employees handle stress differently and have different methods for managing it.

There’s almost always going to be stress on the job for most workers, but how can you help employees manage it and not take it home with them?

This is one reason why LifeBalance strives to offer a wide variety of healthy, stress-relieving activities within the program’s vendor network. Perhaps your employees would benefit from discounts on massage and spa services, allowing them to get treatment more often. Maybe they’d leave stress behind by sweating it out in a yoga or dance class. Or maybe just taking their mind off of everyday troubles with discounts on performing arts events, sporting events, hotel reservations, ski lift tickets, whitewater rafting trips and other fun activities would do the trick.

There are, of course, additional measures for you to give employees outlets for stress during the work week. For example, can you offer more flexible work schedules so that your staff can sneak a stress-relieving workout in on their lunch break, fit in that morning yoga class before work or get home in time to take the kids to taekwondo? How about organizing lunchtime walks or working with a LifeBalance Vendor to offer on-site fitness, tai chi, yoga or meditation classes? LifeBalance massage therapists are always happy to come on-site and provide chair massage for a few hours, too. It may take a little thinking outside the box, but if you can give your employees outlets for their stress, you’ll be helping a number of them achieve their resolutions while improving the overall health of your company.

The next resolution we tackle: Saving money.

Helping Employees with New Year’s Resolutions

It’s about the time of year that we all start to ponder what our resolutions for the New Year will be. You know it’s tough for most of us to stick to our resolutions, so how can you, as an employer, help your employees stick to theirs? Over the next 5 business days, we will post 5 of the most common resolutions and ways that employers can help their team achieve them.

#1 – Get Fit:

This one is easy. January and February are the perfect time of year to run a physical activity challenge for employees and encourage healthy habits that can last all year. The LifeBalance Health Adventure Challenge, for example, provides employees with a fun, friendly competition that keeps them focused on their fitness goals long after many have let their resolutions fall by the wayside. In fact, many LifeBalance clients offer this challenge annually right after the New Year begins for their employees and have found that it yields great results! Employees appreciate the extra motivation and the accountability that the challenge provides, as you can read in a sampling of our member testimonials.

Implement an activity challenge and watch as your employees meet for walks on their breaks, hit the gym together, try new classes and encourage each other to make healthy choices. Combine the power of a fitness challenge with LifeBalance discounts on health club memberships and on physical activities like martial arts and dance and you will make great strides in helping your team get fit!

Up next: How to help employees who are resolving to eat right. In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about partnering with LifeBalance, contact Sales Director Dave Miller at sales@GetLifeBalanceToday.com.