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.
Employers value emotionally intelligent workers
Wednesday, 17 August 2011 16:00A study conducted by CareerBuilder has revealed that employers may value emotional intelligence (EI) more than they do IQ scores, citing better stress management skills among these workers as a reason.
The survey included input from about 2,600 human resource administrators, with 71 percent reporting that they would look for or promote a worker that has an aptitude at controlling their emotions and understanding others over a person with learning or math skills.
"In a recovering economy, employers want people who can effectively make decisions in stressful situations and can empathize with the needs of their colleagues and clients to deliver the best results," said Rosemary Haefner, VP of human resources at CareerBuilder.
A total of 34 percent of the managers said that EI has become more important when considering the current economic climate. An additional 75 percent said that they would promote based on EI before they would according to IQ.
Survey respondents said they believed that emotionally intelligent employees would be likely to perform well under pressure and effectively resolve conflicts. Additionally, they reported that these workers are leaders who make thoughtful business decisions.
Negative emotions may stand in the way of employee wellness
Monday, 15 August 2011 16:00One of the challenges in determining whether an employee wellness program will be successful is figuring out the personal and work-related obstacles that stand in the way of a worker's desire to lead a healthier lifestyle.
It appears as though stress and anxiety are barriers for many staff members, in addition to feelings of depression and inadequate social support, according to a study conducted by ComPsych.
"To be effective, corporate wellness programs must focus on emotional as well as physical factors of the employee, and include a counseling component to address underlying issues," said Richard Chaifetz, the company's CEO.
The survey revealed that an estimated 40 percent of employees cite emotional or physical health issues as sources of distraction from normal daily activities, with 36 percent saying that their feelings of tension are present at most times. Moreover, 43 percent of survey respondents reported having little support from family and friends.
The study also provided some insight in to employees' eating and drinking habits. A total of 34 percent said they consume one serving or less of fresh produce daily, and 23 percent said they had recently engaged in binge drinking.
Study indicates standing may help employees stay focused and healthy
Tuesday, 09 August 2011 16:00A recent study by insurance provider Health Partners found that employees who were able to shift between sitting and standing throughout the day were more active and productive. Of those surveyed, 87 percent indicated they were more comfortable with the ability to stand, and the same percentage stated they felt more energized.
Participants used pedometers, and were found to stand 67 more minutes per day, as well as averaging more steps taken each day. These factors caused workers to burn more calories each day. The increased calorie use from standing and walking may decrease the risk of excess body fat, cardiovascular problems and other health-related issues.
Increased physical activity may improve employee wellness, attitudes and productivity in addition to, and because of, the health benefits. This study showed that over half of the participants noted increased feelings of well-being, focus, happiness and productivity.
Many workplace activities may require sitting, and employees frequently sit while commuting as well. To compensate for the difficulty, wellness programs may include devices like the HeartMath emWave2®, a handheld interactive stress relief device.
The emWave2® reads heart rhythms through a sensor on the finger or ear, and gives feedback that helps the user synchronize breathing to reduce the negative effects of stress
Investments in health shown to have priceless returns
Monday, 08 August 2011 16:00Researchers at the University of Kentucky recently added further support to the theory that putting money into interventions meant to improve health are effective, and that the return is often more than monetary.
The study revealed that governments that spend on health education and resources often boast a healthier population.
In fact, the researchers found that for every 10 percent increase in spending for public health, mortality rates in the region fell by 7 percent.
“Our findings suggest that a connection between spending and health outcomes does exist, although it’s important to note that resources must be successfully aimed at activities that target at-risk population groups to ensure that spending is resulting in positive outcomes,” said co-author Glen Mays.
Additionally, the team of scientists discovered that spending on health resulted in lower rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.
Results of this study suggest that investments in employee wellness programs may be an effective way to improve staff health. Workers who are physically and mentally well may exhibit stronger employee performance and less workplace stress, which may result in savings on employee health benefits.
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