Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Resolve to Do Corporate Wellness Better in 2016

The debate in corporate wellness:

Last year I spent a lot of time reading about current debates in corporate wellness. There are two vocal camps (albeit vocal in very different ways):

  • The camp that publicly proclaims we must soldier on with the health risk assessments, the biometric screenings, the weight-loss challenges, and the “cost sharing” of health insurance with employees. That camp is mostly plugging their ears at (and not responding to) the questions from the other camp.
  • The camp that keeps asking that pesky “why” question. But they’re not asking “why” like a toddler who presses on, and on, an on without purpose. Those in that second camp are asking why we must persist with corporate wellness practices that don’t work.

Some in the industry rise above the fighting to offer their long-held positions that are alternatives to more traditional corporate wellness. Check out the work being done by Rosie Ward and Jon Robinson at Salveo Partners, or Bob Merberg’s Health Shifting blog for some insights.

An alternative view:

I admire their work and their passion. I offer my own considerations here based on a blog I read focused on well-being for caregivers of the elderly. (Half of my work life is spent focused on health and fitness services in senior living communities.) The blog is about how The Eden Alternative assesses well-being, the dimensions they use, and how they apply them to their employees and those they serve.

Traditional wellness uses areas like physical, intellectual, and occupational wellness to map out how an individual is experiencing well-being in their lives. The Eden Alternative instead looks at identity, connectedness, autonomy, security, meaning, growth, and joy.

How does the worksite look if we build a corporate wellness strategy around optimizing those elements for employees? Here are three areas to consider.

What are the ways we cultivate and sustain connectedness for staff?dv1180018.jpg

This is about more than your break room, or your subsidized healthy foods in the company cafeteria. This isn’t really related to your corporate IT policies for use of social media. But the answer(s) to this question could be about establishing policies that allow employees to provide family support in caregiving roles under reasonable circumstances. Or it could be about establishing a well-thought-out mentoring program at your company.

How are we communicating and following through on areas of autonomy for employees?

No one really likes to feel like they don’t have control over a particular area of their lives, and studies show that lacking autonomy at work can increase stress. If your micromanaging, timekeeping structure has employees taking bathroom breaks in shifts and feeling chained to their desks, it might be time to rethink how you can improve this area of your workplace culture. In a call-center environment, highly scheduled time on the phones is central to business success, and while you can’t change that paradigm, you can invite your team into building the schedule. They’re smart (or you wouldn’t have hired them, right?), so they might have productivity-increasing, autonomy-boosting ideas that you can actually put into practice.

Do we provide opportunities for our crew to engage in work that’s meaningful?

Not everyone has the good fortune to work day in, and day out, in a job they love. And there’s a decent chance that some of the people on your team are in that tough spot. Maybe you can restore a little meaning in their career by providing opportunities for them to engage in a passion through their work. The catch here is that you have to know your employees well enough to know what they’re passionate about. Start with that discussion and see where the ideas lead you. Establishing a day of service might spark enough enthusiasm for some (“I don’t LOVE my job, but the company I work for is solid”). Others might benefit from a mentoring experience to move into a new role with the organization.

You may have noticed that a lot of this alternative approach boils down to building relationships with colleagues. It’s a scary thing—getting to know your staff. But the rewards for individual well-being are far greater than we could get from any health assessment report or biometric screening. When we’re struggling (so much) with true employee engagement in corporate wellness, we need to step back and look at what we’re inviting them into. If it’s not meaningful, if it doesn’t add value (and I don’t mean money) to an employee’s life, why would they engage?

Change is hard—no one really likes change. But this might be a change your employees can get behind. So what do you think? Are you resolved to do better in 2016?

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Topics: corporate wellness stress productivity

Employee Wellness Programming Beyond the Corporate Fitness Center

I shared a few months ago about our staff following the KISS principle (that’s “keep it super simple” in our world!) on an exercise-based program with one of our clients. (You can find out more about the NIFS150 corporate fitness program here.) I wanted to update you on that program’s outcomes and talk about our latest challenge.

ASAP_blog_image.jpgOne of the outcomes we saw from that program was that a lot of the participants did not exercise in the corporate fitness center during the initiative, and frankly, that was by design. We were mostly interested in supporting and inspiring employees to achieve 150 minutes of activity each week, so we eliminated the “must be accomplished in the corporate fitness center” barrier by allowing participants to log any activity accomplished anywhere. After all, the primary job of our fitness center managers and health fitness specialists is to get employees moving. If it’s activity in the corporate fitness center, even better. But with today’s frantic schedules, we’ll take any movement, anywhere, anytime.

The Active Summer Adventure Program (ASAP)

In another creative effort designed to help employees make healthy choices across the spectrum of health (not just fitness), our staff created the Active Summer Adventure Program (ASAP) challenge. In this unique corporate wellness program built on a theme of exploration, participants have the following weekly challenges to complete:

  • Hydration Lagoon: Drink 64 ounces of water each day of the week.
  • Adventure Park: Try a new outdoor activity.
  • Meditation Meadow: Practice meditation, breathing exercises, or stretches on four days this week.
  • Fitness Fountain: Try a new group exercise class, DVD, or at-home workout.
  • Traveling Trail: Accumulate at least 7,000 to 10,000 steps one day this week.
  • Feel-Good Farm: Pack a healthy lunch three days during the week.
  • Progress Paradise: Complete two fitness center screenings (BMI, circumference, blood pressure, body composition, resting heart rate, or body weight) this week.
  • Journaling Jungle: Keep a food log for three days this week.

As was the case with the NIFS150 program, our goal with the ASAP program was to make it accessible for everyone. It was promoted to all employees, including those who work at home. We ran it over summer months when it can be particularly challenging to attract employees into the corporate fitness center. The online registration and website access for weekly challenges made it simple for all participants to have the information they needed to be successful.

And, in keeping with many of our programs, we offered prize drawings for employees who successfully completed all eight quests. Consistent with the “adventure” theme of the program, most prizes were experience-oriented (such as tickets to theme parks, state park passes, and surfing lessons) rather than stuff-oriented (such as wearable tech, shirts, and gym bags).

ASAP Employee Wellness Results

In a post-program survey we learned that almost 84% of responders believed they adopted a new healthy behavior by participating in ASAP. And that’s consistent with their rating of “accountability to try something new” as their favorite program feature. Participants also reported learning something new about health during this program. Although weight loss was not a focus for this program, 43% of survey respondents reported losing weight or inches during the eight-week offering. Almost 60% reported having more energy, and about one-quarter of participants indicated that they were sleeping better. Through the post-program survey, we also gained valuable insights on how we can improve the program if we offer it again next year.

Looking for more creative corporate fitness programming? Check out our best practice series by clicking the button below.

NIFS Best Practices Corporate

Topics: corporate wellness corporate fitness employee wellness corporate fitness centers participation program planning program evaluation CORP Programs and Services

Make Time for Micro Breaks from Sitting in the Office

Everyone has been told that a sedentary work environment will put you at an increased risk for a variety of health and ergonomic issues. However, it may not always be possible for you to leave your desk and go for an extended walk a few times a day due to the nature of your job. If this sounds like you or the majority of your employees, it’s time to introduce micro breaks to your workday routine.

A micro break is a short break that allows the mind and body to reset. It is important to understand that micro breaks do not replace your daily workout or having a workstation that has been set up to meet your ergonomic needs, but they should be incorporated if you have a desk job. There are more opportunities than you probably realize to take advantage of a time to squeeze a micro break into your day. 

Just Stand

You may be surprised by how often you can actually do your work from a standing position. A few ways that you can incorporate standing without disrupting your work are to take phone calls or read over documents. If you have the opportunity to have a sit-to-stand desk, you should definitely request to have one put into place. Standing all day is not good either, so being able to switch back and forth between sitting and standing is ideal in a desk environment. Make it a goal to stand up once every 30 minutes, even if it’s just for 30 seconds.

Yoga at workLook Away from the Computer Screen

Yes, computer vision syndrome is a real thing. It is critical to exercise your eyes if you stare at a screen all day. Techniques such as palming your eyes, moving your eyes in various directions, and taking time out to focus on items at varying distances are a few of the techniques that you can incorporate to give your eyes a beneficial rest from screen time. If your eyes have been locked to your screen for more than two hours, you are past due for one of these breaks.

Deskersize

If you perform repetitive actions (including sitting and typing) throughout your day, you need to be completing appropriate exercises that counteract your repetitive movement to prevent overuse injuries. The National Institutes of Health provides a great resource of exercises to meet your specific needs. If you feel a brain block coming on, take a few minutes to do a few exercises and you will likely find your brain block is gone when you return to your work.

Make an Effort to Move Often

Send your print material to a printer across the floor, walk to an co-worker’s desk instead of sending them an email, fill your water bottle on another floor, and do anything that you can think of to have a legitimate reason to get up and sneak in a few extra steps around the office throughout the day. You will feel less stressed and your joints will appreciate the movement, even if you can only walk for a few minutes.

Next time you find yourself stuck at your desk for too long, try these tips for increased workplace wellness!

Interested in offering more wellness opportunities for your employees?  Download our ebook for a program that will help get your workforce moving.  Click Below!

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Topics: corporate wellness exercise at work sitting

What If: Your Corporate Fitness Center Was Free of Intimidation?

Throughout 2015, we’ll be blogging about our dreams for corporate wellness, fitness, and aging well. Some of the content will represent a gentle “poking fun” at the industry, but it’s all written to stimulate thought about what really could be if we put our heads together and started mapping out what’s really possible in the realm of individual wellbeing. We hope you’ll join the conversation by commenting on the blogs, giving us additional ideas about which to write, or by finding us out on Twitter at #wellnesswhatif.

To build this “What If” series of blogs, I polled our staff about their desires and dreams for their members and clients, and I have to admit, I was a little surprised that so many of our staff gave me feedback about building a corporate fitness center that their members could visit without guilt and intimidation. Apparently corporate shaming is still alive and well, and we as health and fitness professionals have a long way to go toward building member confidence in the fitness center.

So for this blog I’m going to run through the things that lead to perceptions of guilt as well as what we can do to build corporate environments that support the individual who takes care of his health. I’ll also be breaking down that intimidation factor to look at ways we can provide better support to our less confident members.

stern_bossManagement Doesn’t Support Staff Taking Their Break Time to Work Out

Somehow, we still have managers who think that butts in the seats all day long is the best way to get employees to be productive. Science would tell us otherwise, and I offered three different studies on this very topic in an earlier blog (3 Reasons to Add a Corporate Fitness Center to Your Wellness Program).

I understand there are quotas to be met, and I’m not saying companies should throw those to the wind. Absolutely, the business runs on meeting those goals, and no, the goals can’t be met when employees are working out and not working. But there’s a break point, for all of us (yes, even for you), where we start to lose focus and where we no longer do our best work. The managers who are still looking down their noses at employees who need an activity break should ask themselves which employee is a more effective partner in reaching the quota:

  • An employee who stays put and decreases in effectiveness throughout the course of the day, or
  • The employee who takes the company-allowed break to clear his head while lifting weights or walking on the treadmill and returns to his seat refreshed and ready to continue working?

Businesses have very little policy in place on how an employee uses a designated lunch or other break time, so why would management offer disdain for the employee who chooses to take a group fitness class at lunch?

And here’s the other consequence of unsupportive management: Not only do employees feel guilty for using their time (yes, it’s their time) that way, but they realize that maintaining good health is not important to their boss. Thus it becomes increasingly difficult for the employee to keep that as a personal and professional priority.

So how do we turn this cultural challenge around? I wish I had all the right answers. But I think the fixes for this situation are as unique as the client environment, and your ability to nudge this kind of change requires creativity and tremendous amounts of persistence. Cultural change is indeed slow, and very hard. But when an organization figures out its priorities for the business, and they include supporting wellbeing for the employees, you have a lot of opportunity to creatively help individuals move more.

We worked hard in one client setting with a high percentage of call-center employees to turn around middle management’s image that the employees absolutely and without exception HAD to be on the phones. Through a program that, ironically, was not based in their corporate fitness center, we were able to help employees get up and moving on a more regular basis. In fact, in the first four months of this program, 33 percent more participants reported walking at work at least five times per week. We had such fantastic results with this program, we wrote an eBook about it called The Cure for Sitting Disease.

Employees Who Most Need to Use the Corporate Fitness Center Are Often the Most Intimidated by It

This intimidation issue is at the heart of what NIFS does. We’re a fitness center management organization that specializes in placing amazing staff in our clients’ corporate fitness centers to run the operation. The first step to breaking down a barrier of intimidation is having the right people on board to assist any of your employees. Your fitness staff needs to possess a unique blend of compassion and desire to work with everyone, along with technical expertise for prescribing and teaching exercise.

Why You Might Be Wrong About Outsourcing Fitness Center Management

 

And then, with the right motivated fitness specialists in your fitness center, you can start to build programs that work. Personal Fitness Quest is a positive example of such a program opportunity geared toward individual members who need the most support. We call it our alternative to personal training, and it continues to be one of the most popular offerings we have across our client sites. Skeletone is another successful program, though unlike Personal Fitness Quest, it’s geared more toward the whole membership audience as we set up stepwise inspiration for them to be more active in the fitness center. For the duration of this program, we increased monthly visits by 23 percent over the previous month and saw a whopping 40 percent increase in active members who attended the fitness center at least eight times or more compared with the preceding month.

Another strategy for overcoming the intimidation issue is to understand it better, and surveys can be a helpful information-gathering tool for this purpose. Sometimes, members will simply offer their feedback, but you probably have a whole crew of employees who haven’t come through the doors in a while (some of whom stay away because they feel intimidated) and who aren’t likely to walk right in offering why they’ve stayed clear of the fitness center. Surveys—when used carefully—can be a great tool for continuous feedback about areas for improvement.

Guilt and intimidation aren’t easy issues to tackle, but they clearly get in the way of employees’ success with exercising regularly at work. What have you tried with success at your office to break down these typical barriers? I’d love to hear about your experiences with these concepts (personally and professionally) because we can all learn and do better with dialog that is truthful and solution-based.

Topics: corporate wellness corporate fitness centers productivity what if

What If: We Did Corporate Wellness FOR Our Employees, Not TO Them?

Throughout 2015, we’ll be blogging about our dreams for corporate wellness, fitness, and aging well. Some of the content will represent a gentle “poking fun” at the industry, but it’s all written to stimulate thought about what really could be if we put our heads together and started mapping out what’s possible in the realm of individual wellbeing. We hope you’ll join the conversation by commenting on the blogs, giving us additional ideas about what to write about, or by finding us on Twitter at #wellnesswhatif.

There is a growing swell of chatter online these days about where corporate wellness is headed. Outcomes-based programs seem to be the flavor of the day regardless of the profound lack of data about their effectiveness. Similarly, the battle of numbers continues between those who promote data about the effectiveness of wellness that is, at best, questionable, and those who strongly object to that potentially flawed data.

Underneath all of the banter is a concept, originally put forward by Al Lewis in his book, Cracking Health Care Costs, that wellness should be something done FOR employees, not TO them. I’m not going to be coy about this—we sit squarely on the side of doing wellness FOR employees. What follows are (1) my observations about common corporate wellness program elements done TO employees, along with (2) what if ideas that speak to our continued quest toward wellness that is FOR employees.

Health Risk Assessments

I have never been a fan of the much-praised Health Risk Assessment (HRA) for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that the survey tool is one of many done TO the employee. There is very little personal and intrinsic value for the employee when he fills out an intrusive online survey. Sure, employers tack on financial incentives for the employee who follows their rules—and sometimes the incentive is substantial. But there isn’t really any answer for the employee’s question, “How will this help me change my health?” because an online survey (and the results) don’t move any health needle for any sustained amount of time.

What’s worse is that in some cases, flawed HRA recommendations are pointing employees toward unnecessary follow-up medical care that is in direct conflict with U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations. And let’s not discount the harmful effects of employers hacking off their employees by doing what feels like invasive questioning about personal issues, only to leave employees with yet another reminder about their likely substandard health.

Does an employer really need aggregate HRA data to learn that their employees are representative of the adult U.S. population with high rates of overweight and obesity, risk for diabetes, and heart disease, and lack of physical activity? How much did it cost the employer to administer an HRA that provided an employee health profile that was already understood?

Biometric Screenings

And then there’s the bloodletting (oops, I mean screenings). I won’t belabor the issue here because the challenges with finger stick/venipuncture screenings are much the same as what I outlined with the HRA above. When was the last time employees walked away from their screening session feeling enhanced loyalty to the employer—as if the employer was genuinely interested in their health and had their back on taking whatever steps were necessary to improve their health? (If you have that warm-and-fuzzy story, I’d love to hear it.)

The Carrot (or the Stick, Depending on Your Perspective)

carrotstick

Incentives come in carrot and stick varieties, and really, it’s just two sides of the same coin. Whether the employer is offering an incentive or a disincentive is a matter of which side of the message you’re standing on. Frankly, there is little evidence to indicate that financially prodding employees leads to any sustained behavior change. But you don’t have to take my word on this; check out this joint position paper published as a partnership among the American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Association, and the American Heart Association. And yet, employers put piles of cash into these financial offerings.

All of these tools—if truly helpful to the employer such that they must stay in the corporate wellness toolkit—could be repackaged so as to be an actual benefit to the employee. The employer would need to send a message that clearly indicated a desire to help the individual employee improve his health, and then they would need to back that up by putting their money, policies, environment, and productivity expectations where their mouth is.

The Alternatives

In my opinion, the current wellness program pillars outlined above are flawed—very flawed. So how do we get back to this idea that wellness should be done FOR employees, not TO them? Our staff, largely practitioners through managing corporate fitness centers, took a moment to dream about the possibilities for shifting the current wellness paradigm to one that might actually support and inspire individual health. Here are some of our what ifs:

  • What if the five-minute walk break throughout the day was supported, encouraged, team-driven, even required? We’ve been beaten about the head with the research that shows the harmful effects of sitting. But now, new research from Indiana University has demonstrated that walking as little as five minutes on three different occasions during a three-hour sitting period can reverse some of the harmful effects of prolonged sitting.
  • What if there were no unhealthy options available in your vending machine or cafeteria? Is this the pendulum swinging too far in the other direction? Most of the clients we work with have shifted to healthful subsidized options with unhealthy choices at full cost. I can’t think of a client who has made a 100% change in their worksite food/snack option, though.
  • What if management at ALL levels in the organization supported employees working out during the day? There are a lot of corporate policies that keep employees in their seats, and even for those with more flexible schedules, there is a pervasive management message that work comes first and there is not time for a workout, a walk, a mental health break, etc.
  • What if paid-time-off policies provided bonus time off based on the number of minutes an employee spends exercising in the company fitness center? In a similar vein, what if employees who choose to spend their 30-minute lunch break exercising could be given another 30 minutes to still eat lunch, away from their desk? (Gasp…compensated workout time!)

None of these ideas is a complete pie-in-the-sky kind of concept. And just like outcomes-based wellness programs, none of these ideas has been tested for long-term effectiveness (or harm), validated, or assigned an ROI that means anything. They do, however, require a shift in workplace policy, and they require fresh thinking about how organizational wellness money is allocated. These what ifs fit squarely into the “doing FOR employees” camp, and I’m sure there are many more ideas like this out there. Comment below on your own “FOR employees” what ifs or share your successes with these and other ideas. 

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Topics: corporate wellness employee health corporate fitness employee wellness exercise in the workplace corporate wellness success what if

Adding group fitness classes to your corporate wellness menu

Lack of time and lack of access are two key reasons that adults report when asked why they don’t get enough exercise.  You can put a stop to those excuses when you offer group exercise classes at work. While this is a fairly simple service to get started, there are some important steps you want to take to ensure you have a successful and safe group class program for your workforce.  Ask yourself the questions below and you’ll be on your way to providing a valued and well-attended wellness offering.

What space do we have available?

NIFS corporate group fitness classes.jpgMost businesses have some kind of space available to host a group fitness class.  You don’t have to have dedicated group exercise space with a suspended hard wood floor to get started.   An open conference room can work at your site for both mid-day and after work classes.

Take a look at the space you have to run classes and make some choices based on what you have available. For example, a smaller space might better accommodate a mind/body class like pilates or yoga.  A larger room might make it possible to have a cardio-focused or high movement class like cardio kickboxing or bootcamp.  Keep in mind that many class formats can be done with little to no equipment.

What am I willing to spend?

While providing group exercise classes onsite won’t be your most expensive wellness initiative, it does require some financial resources.  How you spend those resources is up to you.  Consider the list below:

  • While many class formats can be taught with little to no equipment, you may want to invest in some basics to broaden the offerings available for your employees.   For less than $500, you can purchase some stability balls, exercise tubing, a small stereo, and a few exercise mats.  Remember that those supplies will occasionally need to be replaced, so plan for some annual supply costs.
  • Group exercise instructor fees also need to be considered.  We see these costs handled in one of three ways:  (1) the employees pay the instructor, (2) the employer and the participants share the cost, or (3) the employer pays the full cost of the instructor.  Wages will vary by class format and by geography. 

What do my employees want?

Finding out the most popular choices among your workforce can be as simple as offering a quick survey. Consider asking about the following:

  • Preferred time(s) of day
  • Preferred day(s) of the week
  • Preferred format(s)
  • Willingness to pay a small fee (and how much)

We also suggest that you start small by testing the waters with short sessions.  Popularity for specific instructors, formats, and times of day will give you a clear indication what will work for your site. Once you’ve determined a pattern, you can begin to grow your program. 

Lastly, make sure you’ve covered all your legal bases with your risk/legal team before you begin.

NIFS does all this and more for our corporate clients.  We're providing group exercise classes for businesses of all types throughout Indianapolis, so if you want to work with a professional team who has more than two decades of experience and more than 100 instructors ready to teach, connect with us today to find out more.  

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Topics: corporate wellness

Corporate Fitness: How to engage employees in a manufacturing setting

hot_tired_employeeYou have established an employee wellness program for your employees, maybe you even have an onsite fitness center available free of cost to your workforce.  What you’re finding is that after a long shift of being on their feet, and a couple hours of over-time your workforce is exhausted.   It’s hot, some of their work areas do not have air conditioning and they feel they have sweat enough and now you want them to exercise?   They already feel like you control their lives, they are work 6 days a week and they don’t want to be required to do more.  They are ready to get home, spend some time with their families before waking up to do it all over again.  As the employer you are left feeling like your investment isn’t being utilized by employees.  It can be frustrating, it's free to them, you have provided top notch equipment, what else could they want?  Consider what has been implemented and survey your employees and find out what barriers keep them from utilizing your onsite corporate fitness center or participating in wellness offerings.

You might find there are a variety of reasons that prevent your employees’ ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  Whether it is work, family life that is jammed packed with their children’s activities, appointments, volunteer commitments, you can relate to needing to get home after a long day.  Consider the following ways to engage your workforce to be more involved in your onsite corporate wellness program.

1)      Engage them at work!  You can’t always expect employees to get involved on their own time.  Show that you support the use of the onsite fitness center, or involvement by offering time during their day to participate in wellness activities.  Consider how you can get employees moving during a 15 minute break with brief walking groups or stretch sessions. Showing employees that you can relate to them will go a long way. 

2)      Team collaboration.  It’s time to come together as a team.  Whether you out source your fitness center staff, or have an in-house team they can collaborate with HR by providing new hire presentations to initiate involvement in your fitness and wellness program.  If you have a health service department, your fitness team can work with them to offer lifestyle modification programming to target individuals with diabetes, high blood pressure, or weight management issues.

3)      Offer incentives.  Prizes go a long way and don’t always have to be expensive.  When budgeting for the year consider incentive prizes to pair with your programming such as fitness gear, it’s amazing what people will do for a new shirt, gym bag, medicine ball, etc.  Other items to consider would be pedometers, fit bits, polar watches, and gift cards.  Most employees need that little incentive to push them to participate.

4)      Involve families.  Your employee’s families also affect your company’s health care costs.  Create an event to draw in spouses and dependents to teach them about your wellness offerings.  Consider a weekend wellness fair or make it a component of your employee appreciation picnics. 

5)      Devote a day.  Whether it be once a month, or once a year dedicate a time which focuses on the health and wellbeing of your workforce.  Incorporate a monthly Wellness Wednesday event where your wellness staff can provide screenings such as blood pressure, flexibility, or body composition screenings.  These can be set up in a hallway, cafeteria, or break time gathering area to engage members with a hands’ on approach while they are off line. 

Employees don’t want to feel forced into participating, but having support from the top does encourage employees.  Check out this blog post about how CEO support can help drive your corporate wellness results. 

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Topics: corporate wellness

Making Fitness Fun in Corporate Wellness

Recess

Your employees may see your corporate wellness offerings as the same thing over and over.  They might even feel pressure to participate which can often lead to them not participating at all.  Consider what might engage employ

ees in a way that makes it fun, a break from work, or even stress relief.  Our corporate fitness staff take client employees back to the days of elementary school RECESS!!!  Recess

Whether it be a single day event, a scheduled group fitness class, or even one day a month throughout the summer consider creating physical activities for your employees that create a fun and welcoming environment for them to be active.  Our staff established recess workout events with a carefree kid-like mentality to engage employees in a full body workout.  Recess events were established to help increase strength and agility while releasing that inner child to get outside and have some fun.

Sample Recess Ideas:

·         Fitness Freeze Tag – a great way to warm up, just like when you were a kid get employees moving with a game of tag.

·         Staff Says – just like Simon says, but insert the leader’s name.  Participants do whatever this individual instructs employees to do, think exercises!  For example, Simon says, do 5 pushups and once a person is out they do a walk/run lap around the area.

·         Red Light, Green Light – get your heart rate up with a game of red light, green light! 

·         RecessDuck, Duck, Goose – add a twist to the old school game, have participants hold a plank or perform sit-ups while one individual walks around deciding who will be goose. 

·         Kickball – get moving by setting up some bases and get a friendly game of kickball going at lunch time.  Nothing says recess like a game of kickball

·         Ultimate Frisbee – split into teams and take it out doors for some ultimate Frisbee.  Add a twist to the game and if they drop the Frisbee they have to complete a designated number of pushups. 

·         Hula hoop - competitions are another great way to take it back to the day of recess fun.  What a great core workout hula hooping can be.  Simply turn it into a contest for a little competition among co-workers.

Plan for Recess Success:

·         Budget and organize in advance – plan activities ahead of time to help outline what you need to purchase and incorporate into your budget.  An investment in hula hoops, a kick ball or Frisbees can be utilized again in the future.

·         Promote accordingly – spread the word to promote your recess event, send an email, post flyers, utilize CCTV if available, announce the event during other organized meetings, group fitness classes, etc.

·         Ask for feedback – connect with participants following the event whether verbally or via a survey.  Collecting feedback, both positive and negative, is one of the best ways to improve your programming in the future.

 

Not only did the employees like the change in their workout, they had a lot of fun.  Check out what participants had to say about the Recess Program:

“The staff keeps fitness fun and entertaining! ….The RECESS class was the perfect mix of childhood memories, fitness, and fun.  Kickball and musical resistance bands were my favorite!“ – Karen E.

“This was a great break from the routine. The games were creative, but the exercises still demanding.” – David C.

“Thanks for showing us corporate types that we can still have fun at work!” – Don H.

“Both of the Recess classes got me out of bed at 5:30! I was wonderfully surprised how effective and fun the workouts were…. The whole time though, everyone was smiling.” – Jennifer P.

“Absolutely loved it!  Felt good to just be goofy (duck, duck, goose, and tag) and enjoy a fun game of kickball.” – Donna K.

“It is hard to top a day that starts with chasing and throwing water balloons at your coworkers!”  - Irma T.

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Topics: corporate wellness employee health best practice

High-Touch Versus High-Tech in Corporate Wellness

fit techThere’s been a lot in the media lately about wearable technology having a strong presence in corporate wellness. Employee wellness programs have provided a whole new market for some wearable manufacturers, and one research firm indicates that upwards of 13 million wearables could become part of employee wellness initiatives in the next five years.

The Challenges with  High Tech Wellness

This specific high-tech phenomenon is fairly new and relatively unresearched in terms of long-term effectiveness at helping adults make sustainable health behavior change. But technology in corporate wellness has been around for years and it has evolved to keep up with perceived wants and needs. Years (and I mean years) ago, we used to take health risk assessments (HRA) on paper. Then those moved to this thing called the internet. Eventually, we got “smart” feedback on those HRAs and our fingerstick data was integrated with our self-report HRA responses to create a profile.

Now we have web capacity to integrate with pedometers and other higher-tech wearables like Up® by Jawbone® and various products by Fitbit. The data syncs up to a company site where we can compete with our peers, and it links with our own tracking tools on our phones. We have access to a lot of information about our movement. Still, I wonder if data is really king when it comes to health behavior change. Are high-tech solutions enough to help someone move their own needle?

You probably have anecdotes where someone’s health was profoundly changed with the help of a wearable, an app, or some combination. You, like me, may also know stories where a wearable began an obsession with data and quickly sucked all the fun out of measuring the movement. So effectiveness may very well be in the arm of the wearer (so to speak). Still, there are definite limits to today’s tech solutions. Maybe someone will solve them down the line, but right now, as I see it, there are barriers on tech that limit potential impact on improving health. There’s a great outline of these limits in this Forbes article.

There are other issues with a high-tech-only solution that have come to light recently, as well. For example, while more and more boomers (who are still in your workforce) are adopting technology solutions in various areas of their lives, they still lag behind Gen X and Millennials in their rate of adoption. This article makes the case that boomers may be the demographic most likely to benefit from, and most willing to pay for health-related technology, but the market isn’t designing for them.

And while the technology certainly supports what seems to be the unquenchable thirst for data, there is still the tricky math involved in determining whether your employee wellness device translates to actual company savings on health care.

How High Touch Wellness Helps

When you look at the challenges identified in the Forbes article, many (dare I say all) of them can be worked through or even remedied by a human being with a brain and some capacity for nuance. And here’s where high-touch in corporate wellness steps up.

The right people powering your corporate wellness program should be

  • Both capable of and passionate about helping your employees establish healthy goals and effective plans to achieve those goals.
  • Compassionate motivators who have the right skills to nudge participants toward finding their own intrinsic motivation.
  • Nuanced enough to know when to step in to provide a course correction when your employees stop engaging or when their efforts aren’t achieving the carefully crafted goals.
  • Savvy at helping participants understand their data in a way that’s meaningful and impactful.

Using people in a high-touch capacity to bolster and back up your high-tech tools can be an effective way to help your employees achieve better health. 

CORP Initiatives

 

Topics: corporate wellness employee health technology corporate wellness staffing counting steps

3 Reasons to Add a Corporate Fitness Center to Your Wellness Program

Business man on ellipticalCosts for care, costs for absenteeism, vendor costs, the cost of doing nothing…there has been a lot of chatter and posturing online recently about this information as it relates to corporate wellness. In case you’re not quite up to speed on all the cost-related information, here’s an infographic that will give you some compelling, high-level numbers and information to digest. As corporate wellness goes, there’s a ton out there on ROI too. Whether it’s accurate is up for debate depending on who's doing the talking.

If you’ve read anything we’ve put out over the last several years, you know that NIFS falls into the “do for your employees, not to your employees” camp when it comes to workplace wellness. When you treat your employees well and you provide the right services and amenities for the right reasons, there will be value to the business.

While an onsite fitness center isn’t the right choice for every business, it is an amenity that falls squarely into our “for your employees” philosophy. If you have any heart for taking care of your employees like you take care of your business, here are three reasons you should be strongly considering adding a fitness center to your overall worksite wellness strategy.

#1: Taking Care of Your Talent

Your talented people are what make your business thrive. Technology matters, bricks and mortar play a role (most of the time), and other physical and cultural elements contribute to your success, but at the end of the day, it’s your people who make your business what it is. And you’re counting on them to perform at the top of their game.

Making it easy for your employees to exercise (through a corporate fitness center, for example) is one way to keep your smart and highly valuable employees using their talents for the benefit of your business. Compelling research has shown that adults who exercise reap more than just the physical benefits of movement.

  • This study shows that work-related benefits following a bout of exercise can include improved quality of work and better time management. The study also showed that exercise contributed positively toward an employee’s tolerance of his/her coworkers. And who couldn’t benefit from a more tolerant atmosphere?
  • This study shows that creativity is better following aerobic exercise and for at least a two-hour span after the exercise has been completed.
  • This article points out how we believe regular exercise can positively impact stress. And before you write off stress as a non-issue for the workplace, take a look at this data from an annual poll of American workers regarding workplace stress. (Bonus: you can take our own stress inventory at the end!)

[Related Content: 5 Tips to Help Your Employees Move More]

#2: Taking Care of Their Health

The physical health benefits of regular exercise are so well documented that I won’t bore you with study after study here. Let me instead take this opportunity to remind you of how easy it is to support your employees as they search for ways to get in the minimum recommended levels of exercise each day or 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each week.

What you may not realize is that the health benefits of exercise can still be achieved if the 150 minutes is broken up into very small increments throughout the day. Yes, 10 to 15 minutes of movement two to three times each day is enough. So you can start to see the math add up on allowing flexible schedules for walk breaks, or short group exercise class opportunities, as viable ways to help your crew move more.  

#3: Taking Care of Your Turnover

A corporate fitness center falls squarely under the “Employee Benefits” category, and the link between benefits and turnover has been well studied. Turnover, although regarded by some as a positive for business (fresh ideas, new energy, "lose the dead weight", etc.), is still expensive.

  • This Gallup report outlines how to predict employee turnover, and points to pay and benefits as one of the top five predictors for employee turnover.
  • This Forbes article puts the spotlight on how treating employees well by providing them with access to “resources that support well-being and performance” has a positive but difficult-to-quantify impact on employees. The article spotlights the Virgin Pulse Workforce survey, which showed that 87 percent of polled employees give consideration to employer-sponsored health and well-being offerings before they choose to commit to an offer.

If you’ve had enough of the statistics, reports, and research, perhaps you’re ready to dig in on the options for creating a corporate fitness center. Click below to access our Guide for Successful Fitness Centers for a better understanding about the fitness center footprint, staffing and programs you can expect for your employees.

Download Our Guide >

Topics: corporate wellness employee health benefits corporate fitness centers ROI productivity corporate wellness consulting