Top companies make adjustments for workers during tough times
Monday, 22 August 2011 16:00In a climate of rising healthcare costs and heavy responsibilities being put on workers due to the slow economy, small adjustments can help organizations strengthen employee performance while keeping employee health benefit costs low.
Principal Financial Group examined the aspects that make organizations successful during difficult times.
Top companies "understand the direct connection between well-rounded benefits, a healthier, happier workforce and a better bottom line. That's what sets them apart from other companies in both the best and worst economic times," said Luke Vandermillen, VP of Principal.
One shift that well-performing companies have been making is to help workers tailor their insurance packages to suit individual needs, as well as share in the cost of benefits. Additionally, engaging and educating staff members on how to best use their benefits may be a key factor in keeping costs relatively low.
Additionally, the company announced that successful organizations have been using employee wellness programs to get to the root of benefit costs: staff health. Improving workers' mental and physical well-being has been shown to be an effective way to reduce insurance expenditures.
Prolonged exposure to adrenaline may be cause of harmful effects of stress
Sunday, 21 August 2011 16:00Stress has the potential to do more than cause feelings of anxiousness or unease, it can also lead to a host of conditions and illnesses. Until now, the medical community has had only an idea of why stress affects the body.
Researchers at Duke University Medical Center believe that the elevated adrenaline levels that occur when a person is stressed may be the cause of stress' possible disease-causing effect.
In a mouse model, a team of scientists found that inducing stress in rodents through an infusion of a compound that is similar to adrenaline resulted in DNA damage by triggering certain biological pathways.
"This could give us a plausible explanation of how chronic stress may lead to a variety of human conditions and disorders, which range from merely cosmetic, like graying hair, to life-threatening disorders like malignancies," said senior author Robert Lefkowitz, M.D.
For many individuals, their job is a main source of stress. Results of this study suggest that staving off anxiety may be key in preventing disease.
Employee wellness programs that provide tools and resources for stress management have been shown to be effective in reducing workplace stress, improving employee performance and lowering costs stemming from health insurance.
Realistic expectations may reduce stress for working moms
Sunday, 21 August 2011 16:00The myth of the "supermom" - a woman who can juggle a successful career and full-time parenting - appears to put a lot of pressure on women who choose to have both a job and a family, sometimes even leading to depression.
A study that was conducted at the University of Washington reveals that mothers who expect to make minor sacrifices in work or home life, such as skipping a kid's soccer game or leaving work early for a recital, tend to be mentally healthier than their counterparts with high expectations of themselves.
"Women are sold a story that they can do it all, but most workplaces are still designed for employees without child-care responsibilities," said lead author Katrina Leupp. "You can happily combine child rearing and a career, if you're willing to let some things slide."
The study involved 1,600 working moms who were 40 years old and married.
It's likely that women who feel pressured to be "supermom" experience high levels of workplace stress. Results of this study suggest that employee wellness programs that provide tips for a balanced life and stress management may help working moms perform better both on the job and at home.
Organizations expecting a 7.2 percent hike in insurance costs next year
Thursday, 18 August 2011 16:00In light of expectations that employee health benefit costs will surpass the rate of inflation by double, administrators report that they plan to shift some of those expenses onto staff members, according to a report by the National Business Group on Health (NBGH).
A survey by the organization revealed that many employers expect a 7.2 percent increase in health insurance costs. This is 0.2 percent less than last year's hike, but still well above the growth expected in business profits.
Rising costs combined with a slow economy present some difficult challenges for organizations.
"Employers are being much more aggressive in their use of cost sharing techniques and cost control programs, and are making certain that employees have more reasons to be cost-sensitive health care consumers," said Helen Darling, president and CEO of NBGH.
A total of 53 percent of survey respondents said they plan to increase employee premiums on health insurance, and 39 percent revealed plans to increase deductibles.
Considering that higher costs and lower profits contribute greatly to workplace stress, and chronic anxiety is associated with a host of physical and mental conditions, these findings suggest that employee wellness programs may be able to help. Providing workers with the tools and resources to manage their stress has been shown to be an effective strategy in improving staff health, strengthening employee performance and reducing costs stemming from insurance benefits.
Small steps can vastly improve employee wellness
Thursday, 18 August 2011 16:00Various studies have shown that individuals who experience high levels of stress are more likely to smoke, have unhealthy eating habits, lead a sedentary lifestyle or drink excessive amounts of alcohol.
As a result, organizations are implementing employee wellness programs to help reduce workplace stress in an effort to boost staff health and cut back on costs stemming from health insurance benefits.
While it's well-known that getting plenty of exercise and nutritious foods, as well as avoiding alcohol and tobacco, can benefit physical wellness, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have discovered just how much of a difference these healthy lifestyle behaviors can make.
The scientists discovered that these four basic tenets of living well may result in a 63 percent reduction in an individual's risk of early death. Additionally, people with these healthy habits were shown to have a 65 percent lower chance of developing cardiovascular disease.
The research suggests that encouraging healthy methods of stress management may be an effective strategy to attain a well workplace, which may lead to stronger employee performance and lower costs from employee health benefits.
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