Kapnick and Walbridge Build a Healthier Workforce

Kapnick CrainsAd Walbridge22014rev1 300x253 Corporate Wellness Solutions   Kapnick and Walbridge Partner for a Healthier WorkplaceWhen Walbridge wanted to build a healthier workforce and provide a more robust benefit program for employees, they relied on Kapnick.

 

This ad appeared in Crain’s Detroit Business this year after Walbridge won Healthiest 100 Workplaces in America utilizing KAPNICK strive®. 

When Walbridge, one of America’s largest privately owned construction companies, wanted to build a program that provided employees with robust tools and education to live a healthier life at home and at work—they called Kapnick Insurance Group. Kapnick is a third generation, Michigan based professional service firm providing insurance solutions to a vast and diverse base of clients worldwide. In fact, the corporate wellness program Kapnick provided to Walbridge played an integral role in their being named one of the Healthiest 100 Workplaces in America 2014. Call us, and we’ll help you construct an award-winning wellness program too.

Corporate Wellness – Should You Ditch The Company Vending Machine?

How to make the healthiest choice from a vending machine VIDEO

An interesting new study being published in the journal Population Health Management shows that eating unhealthily is linked with a 66% increased risk of loss of productivity. As a comparison, physical inactivity is linked with a 50% increased risk of low productivity, and smoking is linked with a 28% increased risk of loss of productivity.

Your employees spend most of their waking hours at the workplace. Add in the time that they spend doing extracurricular activities, running errands and spending time with family. That leaves them with very little time to focus on nutrition, let alone plan nutritious lunches or snacks to bring to work. This causes many employees to surrender to the workplace vending machine when hunger hits. Because most vending machines offer primarily unhealthy options to eat, employees everywhere are putting their health at risk overtime. There is one way that employers can help: remove the vending machine!

However, you will want to think of an alternative to the vending machine for when employees become hungry during work hours. When hungry, employees start to lose focus and motivation. Instead of relying on unhealthy vending machine foods, you could designate a group of employees to create a healthy snack area in the break room.

Even with a minimal budget, here’s an example of what a corporate wellness option could look like:

  • Fresh fruit such as bananas and apples
  • Individual bags of pre-portioned raw nuts, such as almonds or walnuts
  • Popcorn
  • Individual snack bags of healthy trail mix
  • Healthy granola/energy bars
  • Fresh veggies and low-fat dip

There are also a host of healthy vending machine companies popping up all over the place – below are a few links to companies I found online.

http://www.healthyvending.com/aboutus/

http://try.healthyyouvending.com/step-1/?utm_keyword=%2Bhealthy%20%2Bvending%20%2Bmachines&gclid=CKzD0uuxncACFQwMaQodZQYAbA

Sarah Szul|wellness client manager

Kapnick Insurance Group|Strength. Knowledge. Direction.

333 Industrial Dr. |  Adrian, MI  49221 |www.kapnick.com

D 517.266.6453 | F 517.263.6658 | P 888.263.4656 x1196

Corporate Wellness Solutions – Kapnick and Walbridge Partner for a Healthier Workplace

corporate wellness adWhen Walbridge wanted to build a healthier workforce and provide a more robust benefit program for employees, they relied on Kapnick.

 

This ad appeared in Crain’s Detroit Business this year after Walbridge won Healthiest 100 Workplaces in America utilizing KAPNICK strive®. 

When Walbridge, one of America’s largest privately owned construction companies, wanted to build a program that provided employees with robust tools and education to live a healthier life at home and at work—they called Kapnick Insurance Group. Kapnick is a third generation, Michigan based professional service firm providing insurance solutions to a vast and diverse base of clients worldwide. In fact, the corporate wellness program Kapnick provided to Walbridge played an integral role in their being named one of the Healthiest 100 Workplaces in America 2014. Call us, and we’ll help you construct an award-winning wellness program too.

Why do some wellness programs work and others don’t?

Corporate Wellness_webAs an organization, you say promote wellness in the workplace. But does your organization actually practice wellness?   I still find it fascinating when I walk into an employer’s wellness meeting or lunchroom and there in the back of the room is a box of donuts. And while a doughnut every now and then isn’t the end of the world, what I am trying to convey is that many organizations contradict what they are trying to accomplish by asking their employees to do something when the company, the culture and the environment does not incentivize good behavior and healthier life choices. Many employers who implement wellness programs still have poor vending machine options, smoking break areas that are easily accessible and accommodating, and at the end of the day are not making it easy for their employees to choose a healthier lifestyle. Employers are making it easy to continue to do what they always have done but somehow expect a different outcome.

When I meet with employers about worksite wellness programs, some say, “we have tried something like that in the past but it didn’t work.” I try to find out why it did not work which is followed up with a laundry list of questions. What we find is that there are three commonalities that destroy the wellness mission.

1-Tools & Resources vs. A Wellness Program

There is a big difference between an actual wellness program and a tool/resource. Many employers promote websites, mobile apps, and discounts on certain fitness memberships that can work initially to help jumpstart interest; however, after a couple of months the newness wears off and the interest diminishes. Solution – if you offer tools and discounts, they need to have back up power behind them. For example, an online site where someone logs in to search for recipes, log and track activities, analyze their own personal health progress, etc., needs to be constantly promoted and talked about at the workplace. You must also find out what makes each and every person respond in such a way that they want to and are excited to continue to click on that smart phone application, log into that site, track their activities, and then tell their co-workers how cool are the resource or resources provided. Otherwise, people will forget about the program, become disenchanted, and stop using the tools in which your company has invested.

2. “No Man on Deck” vs. An Army

Manpower – It can literally take a small army to design, implement, measure, track, motivate, educate, challenge, reward and then follow through to have an effective wellness program. Human Resource departments cannot handle all the duties necessary. Not because the HR staffs are not capable, but because they already have so many things on their plate. Just as most organizations outsource many things to help their organization run effectively, the right insurance broker and/or wellness vendor may be a good option to achieve optimal results.

3. The Tortoise vs. The Hare

Seeing results from a wellness program takes time. Many people create habits over time and habits are not broken over night. Multiply breaking habits and learning new habits by every person in an organization and you’ll realize that, for the entire culture to transform into a healthier organization, it will take perseverance, persistence, dedication and commitment to see the program through before any company can call it a true success. Ultimately, people will have to change their lifestyle in such a way as to stay on the right path. That path may be difficult, but it is not impossible with time. Do not expect results overnight. Remember, wellness is like running a marathon – before you get to the finish line, you would have had to run for hours and before that, you would have had to train months to prepare yourself for the big day.

Wellness programs do work! If you find a program that has eliminated the three reasons listed above of why a wellness programs fails, you will find a company running the most successful of wellness programs. They can work if they are designed, managed and measured properly. If you do not have dedicated staffs, then consider shopping around for an insurance broker and/or wellness vendor that can become an extension of your Human Resources department, or perhaps contract a company to share the responsibilities with your HR staff. There are many affordable ways that your company can implement a program that yields major results and savings.

Creating a “Culture” of Health

Although workplace wellness programs are becoming more and more popular, just because you implement one doesn’t mean your employee will participate or that your business will benefit.  In order to truly drive employee engagement and eventually realize a positive impact on your business, a more comprehensive approach must be taken. This includes trying to create the ultimate “culture” of health within your organization.

Individuals play the fundamental role in maintaining and/or improving their own health. Therefore, participation is the biggest factor in any health and wellness programming. This is true for both the individual and the organizational level. From the business case, this is evident in several studies that demonstrate a positive return on investment (ROI).  Research clearly shows that increased participation affects major outcomes in an ROI calculation. For example, as participation increases the program costs per member decrease and as incremental health risk reductions accumulate across the population healthcare costs should decrease.

A wide variety of interventions have been used to address the challenge of getting individuals to participate, including the use of incentives, social networking, gamification, and fitness devices.  However, there is still controversy on which of these interventions is the most effective.

Creating a culture of health is becoming a valued strategy to increasing and maintaining participation.  The importance of employee perception of the workplace culture and how that perception correlates with participation in health and wellness initiatives has become the focus of several new studies. When people are part of a culture, they are part of a system that fosters the learning and sharing of the group that has combined mission and values, which in turn ultimately shapes behavior.

No one can argue that work environments do not have a significant effect on people’s everyday lives.  As an employee, we spend most of our waking hours engaged at work.  Because of this, creating a culture of health in the workplace is a practical approach to influencing health-related behavior.  The President of the National Wellness Institute, William Baun, states, “In a culture of health, employee well-being and organizational success are inextricably linked. It aligns leadership, benefits, policies, incentives, programs and environmental supports to reduce barriers to active engagement and sustainability of healthy lifestyles across the healthcare continuum.”

By taking a different perspective and asking questions of employees about the current organizational environment, it can help sharpen the focus for any change management strategies. First, is there a need to move from the present state?  Find out if your employees feel that your organization currently promotes a culture of health.   Improve employee motivation and confidence by asking them the following questions: What are the barriers for employees to practice healthy behaviors at the workplace?   How does the larger culture help or hinder perceptions about the wellness program?  Do all the leaders see the value of a creating and supporting a culture of health?  Do they know their roles to support it?   Evaluating things clearly can make all the difference in establishing a strong culture of health, and it is evident that the benefits are worthwhile.

Workplace Wellness -The Cost of Stress at Your Workplace

It’s very rare to go a day without hearing the word “stress”.  It’s probably the most overused word in the English language.  Today, stress is a lot of things to a lot of people:

– It’s a noun – “I’m under a lot of stress.”
– It’s a verb – “You stress me out.”
– It’s an adjective – “I have a high stress job.”
– It’s a physical condition – “I have a high stress level”
– It’s a way of living – “She leads a stressful lifestyle.”

What’s scary is that the cost of stress hits both individuals and organizations in so many silent ways that neither knows they are under attack until the damage is done. The effects of chronic stress are not immediate and symptoms are few, which makes it much more challenging to identify the cause and come up with a solution. Statistics from the World Health Organization state that stress costs businesses in the U.S. approximately $300 billion every year.

To the individual, the cost of chronic stress is measured as a lack of happiness. ComSych, an Employee Assistance Program provider, found that 38% of employees can’t stop worrying about problems like emotional, health, financial, and work concerns.  Studies cited by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) indicate that 40% of all workers today feel overworked, pressured, and squeezed to the point where it affects their ability to do their job to their full potential.

With numbers and words as serious as those, organizations will naturally want to solve for the problem. But where should they start?  Since stress does not come from a single source, a single source solution will not solve the problem. Many attempts by organizations to assist their people are too narrow-minded to be effective because they only take into account some of the stressors that affect people. There is also the another challenge of engaging employees in a meaningful way. By “meaningful,” I am referring to positive change finding its way into that person’s everyday life.

“Now what do I do?” needs to be asked by the employer that seeks to assist their employees within the workplace. People require resources and practical information that they can learn to implement into their lives. The two biggest obstacles for a person seeking to make behavior change in their life are (1) knowing where to start and (2) how to keep momentum.  There are many resources available through insurance providers, employee assistance programs, wellness vendors, and even people within your organization that may enjoy sharing their knowledge and experiences.

Workplace Wellness – Don’t Forget to Include Dependents

Sarah Szul  Health Solutions Coordinator

Sarah Szul
Health Solutions Coordinator

Workplace Wellness – Don’t Forget to Include Dependents

As research has demonstrated, the workplace is an excellent place to promote health and wellness.  However, we need to remember that employees themselves are only a fraction of the equation. It’s important not to forget the dependents (spouses, partners, and children) whose health also impacts the company’s bottom line.

More and more companies are actively trying to include family members in wellness programs. Large corporations such as JPMorgan Chase, IBM, and Dell actually provide incentives for family members to participate in wellness. And doing so makes good business sense.

Every workplace has employees who are finding it increasingly difficult to make healthy choices at home. The social support of loved ones can go a long way towards helping an employee stay motivated and engaged in workplace wellness initiatives.

Healthier dependents also mean healthier and happier employees. Studies show that employees who partner with others in a healthy lifestyle will more likely continue their healthy behavior longer. Since employees won’t have their coworkers to motivate them after working hours, family participating in the same workout or nutrition plan will give these employees the continued motivation they need.  Even more, employees with healthier family members will use less sick time to take care of a sick dependent.

Conduct a family health risk assessment and interest survey – Include questions for the entire family. Through these types of assessments and surveys, many companies, like IBM, have been able to successfully implement childhood nutrition programs.

  • Set family goals – A great way to encourage family participation is to set achievable, yet challenging family goals.
  • Communicate often and directly to dependents – Encourage dependents to share their email addresses. Be sure to let them know that their email address will only be used to notify them of wellness program events and activities.
  • Offer multiple program options – Offer multiple program venues (i.e. stress management classes offered both online or in a classroom setting) to appeal to a greater range of dependents and their schedules.

Offer incentives directed to dependents and their schedules – Incentives are great tools for encouraging behavior. Offer your dependents incentives that are appropriate to the goal they’re meant to encourage, and directed

Does your workplace promote fitness?

Sarah Szul  Health Solutions Coordinator

Sarah Szul
Health Solutions Coordinator

More and more research is being conducted on the dangers of “sitting” too much.  A study of 6,300 people by Vanderbilt University published in the American Journal of Epidemiology estimated that the average American spends 55% of waking time (7.7 hours per day) in sedentary behaviors such as sitting.   According to Martha Grogan, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic, people who sit most of the day have the same risk of a heart attack as someone who smokes.  What’s the solution?  Get your employees to move more!

Rethink workspace design by integrating physical fitness into daily work activities to encourage workers to become healthier. A variety of office design options help encourage activity including a desk outfitted with an exercise ball instead of a chair, standing or treadmill workstations, anti-fatigue mats for employees to stand on while they work, ergonomic telephone headsets and keyboards and hand grippers, wobble boards and pedometers. Promote use of devices like the Jawbone Up and FitBit – these help integrate fitness all day by accurately tracking calories burned, steps taken, walking distance, etc.  Just promote standing more – standing a little more each day tones muscles, improves posture, increases blood flow, ramps up metabolism and burns extra calories.  Simple and small adjustments to the workspace help employees get in the mindset of fitness from the minute they arrive at their workstations until it becomes a natural part of their daily routine.

 

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Workplace Wellness: Sticking to your healthy resolution!

Workplace Wellness: Sticking to your healthy resolution – planning ahead

When the holidays come to an end we find our wallets empty and fridge full of holiday leftovers.  We also find ourselves at work after the holidays with an array of goodies and treats that your coworkers have brought in; only to lessen the load in their fridge.   However, we must remain focused on the promise we made to ourselves that this year will be different; this year I will live a healthier and more active lifestyle!  Once you have proclaimed your resolution the next step is follow through.

When at the workplace you must keep in mind that although it is offered you don’t have to accept.  Below is a list of tips that can be used to keep you on track and focused:

  1. Instead of reaching for the cake, bring a healthy snack option.
  2. Decrease the amount of time spent in the area where the leftovers are held.
  3. Planning your menu for the week is also beneficial when trying to avoid the temptation of the treat table.
  4. Display positive reminders around your workspace to help you remain focused and encouraged.
  5. Tell a friend at work and make it a team effort.
  6. Don’t skip physical activity! Yes, this can be done at your desk or workspace.
  7. Set small weekly and monthly goals that you can reward yourself for accomplishing.

Remember, a resolution is not meant to be broken but to be accomplished!  With everyday and every new year we have the opportunity to make a change toward a healthier lifestyle.  The benefits of those changes will do nothing less than make you a better you.  Keep in mind there will be speed bumps along the way but with a positive and persevering attitude you can excel and accomplish your goal.

What is a Wellness Program? Managing Stress in Your Workforce

Sarah Szul  Health Solutions Manager

Sarah Szul
Health Solutions Manager

It has been well documented that prolonged stress and its accompanying emotional strain compromises our immune system responsible for fighting off disease. A well-known researcher and authority on stress, Dr. Hans Selye, defined stress as “the rate of wear and tear on the body.” Over 1,200 hormones are released into the blood during a stress response, putting extra demands on our body. Psychological stress not only makes us feel tired and older, but there is now proof that stress ages us on a cellular level.
Recently, scientists have identified a direct link between stress and aging. In one study, researchers have shown that chronic stress speeds up the shriveling of the tips of the bundles of genes inside the cells. This shortens the life span of the cells and also deteriorates them. This process is associated with aging, cancer and dying at younger age.
Most of the stress we deal with today is self-generated by our mind in the form of worry, anger, fear of growing older, thoughts of negative experiences, relationship problems, financial issues, traffic and so on. By realizing and connecting the dots that much of the time our thoughts create the actual stress response, we can increase this awareness and learn not to be controlled by stress-producing thoughts. As an employer, you can encourage employees to make time each day to relax, let go of stress, center ourselves and create the balance they need to live healthy lives.
Therefore, the more times an individual experiences the stress response and the more prolonged it becomes, the faster a body will age. A recent study has demonstrated that there is no such thing as a separation of mind and body. Staying productive, healthy and mentally fit depends on how well employees manage their stress. The following are steps you can share with your employees to reduce stress.

Steps to manage stress:
1. Take at least 20 deep breaths a day to release stress.
2. Take breaks, relax or meditate daily to calm your mind.
3. Be proactive, not reactive, to stress-inducing situations.
4. Practice being in the moment and become the observer of your thoughts.
5. Be willing to forgive and release anger quickly.
6. Lighten up, let go, laugh and have fun.
7. Learn to ride the wave of change.
8. Recognize what causes you stress and develop coping strategies.
9. Follow your joy and that which excites you.
10. Know your limits and learn to say NO.
11. Turn off communication devices periodically.
12. Make time for yourself.
13. Exercise.
14. Develop a positive attitude.