Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Tips for a Healthier Work Environment, Part I - Food Check

Are you seeking ways to introduce healthier elements into your work environment and meetings? It’s a great idea and one that makes employees feel appreciated and valued by their organization. In surveys where employees are asked if they are supported by their company or manager, too many times I’ve seen that they do not respond with positive feedback. What I DO see is a plea for better options and support from their managers as they try to implement a healthier lifestyle. I also don’t think they are looking for a grandiose gesture, but just sincere thoughtfulness that makes them feel like their employer CARES for them and their well-being. If you’d like to raise the bar on how your employees feel you’re supporting their health, follow our 3-part blog series on designing a healthy workplace.

Let’s start with the elephant in the room. FOOD.

Hit the bar – Don’t get too excited, I’m not talking the place you go for happy hour. I’m talking about hosting a healthy food bar at work. The all too familiar donuts, cookies, and cakes that are served as rewards and celebrations is getting to be too sweet of a deal. It’s a nice thought but what your employees may rather have is something that they can indulge in and not get off track with their nutrition goals.

Rather than rewarding with sweets, try offering something that communicates your commitment to helping employees live well. Consider hosting a healthy bagel bar (buy the mini bagels) with low-fat cream cheese options, smoked salmon, PB&J, avocado, almond butter, hard boiled eggs and bananas as toppings. Try a yogurt bar that you can fill with fruits, nuts, seeds and honey. You can also go vegan, and avoid lactose with some non-traditional varieties of yogurt. If you’re looking for something to top that, why not bring in a smoothie vendor to offer several of their most popular varieties? These can have ingredients that include your favorite fruits but also vegetables, wheat grass, green tea, vitamins, and protein powder. Can I get an AMEN for sneaking in veggies and other healthy ingredients?

Food Truck Open GettyImages-645575706.jpg

Truck it – I’m talking about Food Trucks of course! These days, there are a variety of choices for bringing healthy options TO your employees. Yes, there are plenty of unhealthy options in this area but I’d like to focus on something modern, different and possibly out of the ordinary for rewarding your employees. I suggest you to take some time to research local, healthy food trucks. You’ll find varieties that include smoothie trucks, fresh organic salads and sandwiches, locally raised and hormone free options, vegan trucks and changing menus depending on what’s in season. Not only is this a trendy idea but it supports your local businesses and it also gets your employees up and moving toward fresh air.

If this event goes over well, you could line up several healthy options in the future (for example, first Friday of the month is “Food Truck Friday”). Some trucks might need a guarantee so they know the trip is worth their time, but if you can provide a certain amount of free sample items for your employees, most likely they will purchase more when they get to the front of the line. That’s a win for the employees and for the truck owner. If your culture supports an eat-at-your-desk mentality, you may have to get creative to encourage your employees to truly use their lunch break. (Side note – it also supports your local economy, so this is truly a win-win.)

Demo-day – You’ve probably tried something like lunch and learns, health professionals coming in to do presentations, and different health screenings. I don’t think these are a bad idea in their traditional form, but how about considering something more light-hearted, that smells delicious and is also educational. See what you can cook up for a chef or a registered dietitian offering a healthy cooking demonstration for your employees. Not only do the employees get some delicious taste tests at work, but their families may also benefit from new and delicious recipes as well.

The reward system – It’s common to see food as a reward for a job well done.  But I’d like to turn that on its head. Providing access to healthier choices for your employees creates a whole environment and workplace experience that’s rewarding. There are several ways you can do this and I’m sure at least one will be doable at your organization. If you have a cafeteria, try a reward or discount program for the healthy items. Here are some examples on how to offer this. If employees choose the salad bar, sandwich station, fresh fruit or soup, they get a certain discount on their total bill. If the system is set up where the cost of a healthier choice is lower than the unhealthy options, employees are more likely to grab some greens for lunch.

If that sounds like something you’d like to dip your toes in, but either don’t have a cafeteria or it seems like a big jump, you can start with your vending machines. Talk to your vending machine provider and ask for healthier options, label them and give a discount on these items. You can also consider completely revamping your vending machine offerings for a healthy, fresh version. You might see items in these machines like apples, hard boiled eggs, veggie and hummus dip, bake potato chips, and organically made items. Don’t forget to consider your vending beverages too! Skip the soda and offer naturally flavored water, teas, Kombucha, almond milk and coconut water.

Food will ALWAYS be a hot topic and it’s a good place to consider some welcome changes at your workplace. Give your employees some natural energy through healthy food and drinks so they can keep their eyes open during the 2 o’clock slump. They will thank you for it, and maybe you’ll see some positive changes in productivity, and how your employees feel about the way are you are supporting them.

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Topics: corporate wellness Wellness in the Workplace corporate wellness programs wellness programming workplace wellness happy employees healthy work environment

Employee Health: What is in your diet... Food or Supplements?

 Food Supplements

Do you like what you see?  NIFS Monthly Bulletin Boards are available for purchase to utilize in your corporate fitness center or active aging community, contact us for more information.
Topics: Food for Thought Wellness in the Workplace NIFS employee wellness

Corporate Fitness: FREE Workout Friday

Free Workout Fridays

Did you know the number one killer of women is heart disease?

Today is National Wear Red Day, encouraging you to show support against heart disease. Too many women are unaware of the deadly disease and how it can be prevented. So, grab a friend, put on your favorite red shirt and hit the treadmill for a good cardiovascular workout.

Cardiovascular exercise (example – treadmill workout) is very important for several reasons, including the prevention of heart disease. Not only will the treadmill help you to lose weight, but it can be a great heart pumping workout. The stronger the heart, the less work it has to do to pump blood throughout your body. Cardiovascular exercise will also help to reduce stress levels and increase confidence. Who doesn’t love leaving the house feeling confident?? Give this treadmill workout a try!

  • 2.6 mph for 3 minutes (warm up)
  • 3.0 mph / 3% incline for 2 minutes
  • 3.4 mph / 4% incline for 2 minutes
  • 3.6 mph / 5% incline for 2 minutes
  • 3.8 mph / 6% incline for 5 minutes
  • 4.0 mph / 8% incline for 8 minutes
  • 3.8 mph / 6% incline for 5 minutes
  • 3.0 mph / 1% incline for 3 minutes (cool down)

This workout is designed to push walkers by adding some incline work to burn more calories and strengthen the lower body. If you feel you are ready to take it up a notch increase the speed so you are jogging rather than walking.

If you feel you are not ready for this workout, take it down a notch and work your way up to 4.0 mph / 8% incline over time. Find a challenging speed you can maintain for at least 10 minutes and increase the incline 1% every two minutes until you can complete the workout above.

What is your favorite treadmill workout?

Topics: exercise at work exercise walking Wellness in the Workplace worksite wellness exercise at home NIFS employee wellness Free Workout Friday

Avoiding Chemicals and Germs for Workplace Wellness

hand sanitizerCould your office be to blame for making you sick? This article refers to a recent study that found certain types of furniture, carpet and paint can contain harmful chemicals called PFCs, or polyfluorinated compounds. These chemicals are so widespread that 95 percent of Americans have been found to carry at least some level in their blood. The workplace, however, was the environment found to have the highest amount of PFCs in the air.

Interestingly enough, the study found that employees working in the buildings with the newest carpet, paint, and furniture showed more exposure to PFCs than employees working in buildings with older office surroundings. If you find yourself in the position of purchasing new carpet, paint, or furniture for your workspace, it could be worth asking the manufacturer whether there are any known substances in the materials that could be harmful in high level of exposure.

Chemical exposure isn't the only risk of working in an office environment. Offices are also breeding grounds for viruses and bacteria. Here are some things you can do to avoid catching germs in the workplace:

  • Keep a bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer at your desk and use it periodically throughout the day.
  • If you use a shared computer or phone, wipe down items like the computer mouse and phone receiver regularly with an antibacterial wipe.
  • In restrooms, use automatic flush, sinks, soap dispensers, and paper towel dispensers where available. The less contact your skin has with these items, the better.
  • In the office kitchenette, appoint one person per week to clean surfaces such as countertops, sink faucets, and handles on the refrigerator, microwave and coffeepot. General housekeeping may not be cleaning these items.
  • In your corporate fitness center, clean all machines and other equipment before and after use.
  • Exercise and eat a healthy, balanced diet to boost your immune system no matter where you go!

 

Topics: corporate wellness employee health healthy workforce Wellness in the Workplace worksite wellness common cold allergies disease prevention healthy habits

Top 3 reasons to outsource fitness center management

Emily works with member.jpgOf course, it’s horribly self-serving for us to say that staffing your onsite fitness center and wellness initiatives isn’t a DIY (do it yourself) project.  We’re not above shameless self-promotion, but the truth is, the consequences of making fitness center management a DIY initiative can be costly.  Read on to learn NIFS top three reasons to outsource fitness center management of your retirement community or worksite fitness center. 

Reason #1: Your actual dollar cost is only part of the cost/benefit picture

If you’re reading this thinking, “Outsourcing is expensive – way more expensive than hiring my own personnel”, you’re right.  Of course, costs come in two types: direct and indirect.  So don’t stunt your thinking about this by looking only at the invoice from the outsourcing partner against your compensation profile for your own employee.

Reason #2: Outsourcing fitness center management provides expertise you can't build on your own

We would never lean toward such exaggerations as to say that health promotion, fitness, wellness (insert your favorite name for it here) is akin to rocket science.  It’s not hard, like organic chemistry hard.  But it’s challenging in that call center, customer service kind of way.  Let’s face it, anyone one who works in customer service knows that the hardest, and most rewarding, part of their job is working with the customer.  NIFS staff are in that same customer service spot.

To that end, there is a benefit to having a pool of like-minded peers who are doing the same type of work, sharing in successes, problem-solving through challenges, and brainstorming new ideas together.  When you hire an outsourcing organization to provide your staffing, they have that built in peer support.  When you hire your own wellness professional – they’re essentially on their own to build a peer network of support.

In NIFS case, the support network extends well beyond peer support.  Our staff-built intranet provides program creation ideas, internal form links, peer-to-peer continuing education and more.  All of these staff resources are a benefit to our clients. When they hire NIFS, they not only get their own manager, they get indirect access to our other 70+ like-minded professional peers.


Reason #3: Outsourced partners are experts in fitness so that you don't have to be.

Risk management related to both the physical spaces and the programming connected to those spaces is an important consideration for our clients.  They don’t lose sleep over their liability exposure in our programs though.  Maybe that’s because we’ve been managing corporate and CCRC fitness centers and wellness programs for more than 20 years.  Maybe it’s because all of our staff -- administrators, managers, and specialists – are all fitness and wellness experts.  We know the industry standards for waiver language, pre-activity screening, industry-appropriate certifications, subcontractor liability management, etc.  Speaking of which, when was the last time you checked the status of the liability insurance for your contracted group fitness instructors?

For more on assessing liability in a corporate fitness program, download our white paper here.

To read about managing liability in a retirement community fitness center, download this white paper.

If you’re the “I’ll fix my own brakes” or, “I’ll build my own home addition” type, then you’re more adventurous then I and perhaps you should hire your own wellness professional.  If you’re looking for an outsourcing solution that is more trustworthy and reliable than your mechanic, and less expensive than your home addition, consider checking NIFS out. 

Read our case studies (Sagewood | Marquette | NextGear) to see how we’ve provided scalable and cutting edge solutions for our clients.

Learn how we find the best staff in the business.

Topics: corporate fitness program corporate fitness Wellness in the Workplace employee wellness senior center solutions corporate fitness centers senior fitness fitness success Fitness Center

Corporate Wellness, Employee Engagement, ROI, oh my

Pardon me while I use our blog to rant.  It doesn't happen often, but apparently there was no amount of pounding the pavement (aka running) that was going to get this out of my head.  Lacking other healthy tools to cope with very bad corporate wellness practice, I'm turning to the blog to pound it out on the keyboard.  You should stop reading if you don't care about employee engagement, human capital, and ROI in corporate wellness.  Shamelessly, this blog is more for me than it is for you. 

Ok - disclaimer provided.  Here we go.

There's so much buzz around corporate wellness, it's dizzying.  Who can keep track of all the apps, gadgets, providers, platforms, and statistics in employee health promotion?!  We're too busy helping people make better choices to keep track of this stuff.  Thus, I join other organizations who provide me with updates in the industry periodically; it takes the burden off me feeling like I always have to be search, search, searching for what's up and coming.

It all started with an email.

So the other day I got an email, much like many other emails, in which a promotion around employee engagement was being peddled.  You get these emails, I know you do.  This one, in particular, was from a well-known clearinghouse of resources for corporate wellness professionals, and my hunch is that they have a HUGE reach across the US.  Provider organizations pay to be promoted by via email to the membership list for this "clearinghouse organization". 

Let me be clear - I'm not begrudging the organization who sent me the email, or the provider company who paid to reach my inbox. (Though I do feel a little sorry for both who may not know the painful truth about outbound marketing.) The marketing message in that email, however, is at best suspect, and at worst, completely misleading and disingenuous to the hard fought, small gain work that is employee health promotion. 

"Got Engagement" 

This was the focus of the marketing email - the vendor was offering their product/service and promoting that they had the key ingredient for employee engagement.  Maybe they do (it's kind of the silver bullet in corporate wellness...who knows, maybe this groupcorporate wellness recipe has it all figured out).  But to promote it in a way that engagement from employees is something you go "get", that it's algebraic or formulary, that there is something you simply add to your corporate wellness strategy recipe, is completely off the mark.  You don't add a vendor, a worksite fitness center, a health coach, or change a policy about flex time and BAM!  Engagement! (Cue triumphant music.)

No, ladies and gentlemen, absolutely not.  The battle for employee engagement in corporate health promotion is won in relationships and over time, and with the evolution of trust and loyalty in the workplace.  Offering biometric screenings and cool online HRA that gives you a personal wellness score isn't enough.  An onsite fitness center isn't enough. (Believe me... for NIFS business, I wish it was!)  And you can't buy your way into the hearts of your employees with trinkets and trips, and other incentives.

If you want engagement in your workforce around your corporate wellness initiatives, you start with relationships.  You have to work at it by working with your workforce to understand them, their needs, their fears, their hopes.  You have to give a little, learn a little, and step out on that relationship-building edge a little. 

(I feel a sappy song coming on, so I'll wrap it up here.)

You want your workforce to engage?  Treat them like people, get your head out of the corporate wellness ROI clouds, and for crying out loud, quit referring to your workforce as "Human Capital".

Want to confess...I mean comment on this post?  Have an entirely different point of view?  Share it below.  Maybe it'll be the start of a beautiful relationship!

 

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Topics: corporate wellness healthy workforce Wellness in the Workplace worksite wellness corporate fitness centers; return on investement control healthcare costs

Corporate Fitness Center Turns 20 Years Old!

This blog was written by Bethany Garrity. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.

A few weeks ago, I had the distinct pleasure of joining one of our long-time staff members at his corporate client’s fitness center for their 20th anniversary.  In the last 20 years, that location has relocated once, and evolved significantly; the offerings have changed as trends in the fitness industry have changed. 

Step aerobics has been replaced by indoor cycling offerings, and Zumba fills a spot once held by more “old school” group class formats.  They’ve gone through several treadmills, and other types of equipment.  (Though they still have a few original cardio pieces that are kickin’ it!)

Perhaps most importantly, we’re proud to say that the manager of the facility has NOT changed…and his members love him for it.  NIFS knows how important personal relationships are to successful corporate health initiatives, and Scott has helped more than his share of associates make positive lifestyle changes over the last several years. 

SW old  SW new 

The 20th anniversary celebration was marked with fun carnival-type games (great for ANY fitness level!), fun prizes (necessary for any celebration!), and brand new selectorized strength equipment from Cybex.  They've been a great partner for us with great equipment, and solid service.

Corporate Fitness Games Cybex strength

NIFS is proud to be a long standing provider of fitness center management services for this client, and we’re grateful to Scott for his long service to his members.

Topics: exercise at work corporate fitness program exercise corporate fitness Wellness in the Workplace worksite wellness employee wellness corporate fitness centers business fitness solutions

How does the Health of Dependents Impact Employers

sick kids, illness, insurance costsRecently, the cost of health care has risen to over $2.5 trillion and is projected to increase, on average, 6.1 percent per year until 2019.  These costs have also risen for employers who pay for their employees' health plans.

Rates are rising due to employees' family members also becoming ill.  This forces employees to use more money and potentially miss work when a family member is sick.  An ill child can take a toll not only on the parents, but the company they work for.

The Cost of Unscheduled Absenteeism

The average annual cost for a company due to unscheduled employee absenteeism is estimated to be over $760,000.  These unplanned absences include personal days, or days one must stay home to care for an ill child.

Loss of productivity and administrative costs are the main issues when it comes to these missed days.  The extra work is then taken on by other workers, or less-effective replacements, therefore causing a loss of efficiency in the company.  Also, these replacements cost the company extra money, or the company needs to pay another employee overtime for their service.  Unplanned absences are responsible for 21 percent of productivity loss per year versus 15 percent for those absences that were previously planned.

Sick Child Care Helps Avoid Unscheduled Absences

A possible solution for companies to avoid spending an overabundance of money on these absences, would be to offer sick child care.  These services are becoming more popular among businesses.  Placing a child care program in a business has an immense impact on the company's expenditure.  When a child care assistance program is in place, the company spends less money than if the parent were absent from work.  This type of program can have an enormous impact on a company and may be worth the investment. 

Topics: healthy workforce healthy mom healthy baby Wellness in the Workplace worksite wellness common cold