Wellness Programs

December 20, 2017
Gratitude

Practicing Gratitude Benefits Your Health

Mahatma Gandhi once said that “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”  As I watched the CNN Heroes of the Year awards, I became inspired by the individuals who made selfless decisions to help others in need. Ten individual “heroes” were recognized for their selfless contribution, impacting their communities in immeasurable ways. Giving thanks has neurological and physiological effects on the body. National Institutes of Health (NIH) researchers examined blood flow in various brain regions while subjects summoned up feelings of gratitude and found that subjects who showed more gratitude overall had higher levels of activity in the hypothalamus region of the brain. This is important because the hypothalamus controls an array of essential bodily functions, including eating, drinking and sleeping. It also has a huge influence on your metabolism and stress levels. From this evidence on brain activity, it starts to become clear how improvements in gratitude could have such wide-ranging effects from increased exercise and improved sleep to decreased depression and fewer aches and pains. Furthermore, feelings of gratitude directly activated brain regions associated with the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine feels good to get, which is why it’s generally considered the “reward” neurotransmitter. But dopamine is also almost important in initiating action as you are more likely to do the thing you just did. It’s the brain saying, “Oh, do that again.” Like any other skill, gratitude takes practice. Gratitude can have such a powerful impact on your life because it engages your brain in a virtuous cycle. Your brain only has so much power to focus its attention. The CNN Hero of the Year awards were a good reminder of gratitude in practice, and recognition that it can be done. Amy Wright was awarded the 2017 CNN Hero of the Year Award and proclaimed to her two children with Down Syndrome: “I would not change you for the world but I will change the world for you” Do you practice gratitude in your daily life? Leave a comment below about the benefits you have found. Thanks, and Happy Holidays!
April 22, 2015
Wellness Programs

Wellness Guidance and EEOC – Breathing Easy

This month the Equal Employment Opportunity Commissions (EEOC) has issued guidelines for employer sponsored wellness plans which closely follows the lead of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). There has been much controversy around wellness, as last fall the EEOC began suing businesses offering incentives to employees who participate in wellness plans that could potentially discriminate against certain protected employees. These incentivized plans offered blood pressure measurement, cholesterol levels and other biometric screenings. The proposed rule endorses the 30 percent rule included in the PPACA and states that employers can offer incentives to wellness participants of up to 30 percent of their insurance premium. This guidance endorses penalties for those who refuse to participate of up to the same 30 percent level. This allows employers to include employee medical exams, health questionnaires and biometric screenings as part of their wellness programs as long as employers don’t overtly discriminate against any employee. If you have considered implementing a wellness program, but the threat of the EEOC held you back, now is a perfect time to discuss program ideas and options that would benefit your work environment. Wellness programs can be effective at changing behaviors, improving productivity and generating a healthy culture. For more information on Wellness Guidance and EEOC, reach out to Wharton Insurance via email or call 317.663.4138. Dawn Lang serves as the Wharton Insurance & Financial Services Team’s Wellness Associate. You can learn more about Dawn and her work by visiting prescriptivehealthsolutions.com.  
December 26, 2014
company wellness programs

Support New Year’s Resolutions with Company Wellness Programs

Many of us celebrate the New Year by adopting a resolution to live a healthier lifestyle. A supportive work environment can go a long way to successfully sticking to them! As an employer, there are many ways you can encourage your employees (and yourself) to achieve those goals: 1) Make it easy to choose healthy options. Fill vending machines with healthy selections. Instead of sodas, offer free bottled water to promote hydration. When planning food for company events, offer fruits and veggies instead of donuts and chips. 2) Offer an exercise program. Organize small group walking clubs, or install exercise equipment at the office. It is important to allow employees the time to participate. Offer a longer lunch break so workers have time to eat and exercise. Consider giving hourly employees an extra hour of pay to use for exercise. The key is to allow your employees to be healthy while being productive for your company. 3) Create incentive programs. Put together a company Wellness Committee and charge them with building creative challenges for your organization. For example, start a walking challenge, outfitting everyone with a pedometer and setting up a fun goal to achieve. How many steps would it take to walk from your office to Key West, FL? Break those steps down into a daily challenge or another metric. Hold a celebration and announce the prize-winners at the end. With these programs, all participants ultimately win because they feel better, which gives them incentive to continue the program after it is over. 4) Negotiate discounted rates with a local exercise center. Many gyms have corporate rates for businesses that will bring in a group of employees as members. You can pass these discounted rates on to your employees, or have your company pay the membership fee. 5) Educate your employees along the way. Little reminders can go a long way to promote a healthy lifestyle. Next to your free bottled water place a sign about the benefits of staying hydrated. Leverage lunch and learn talks offered by local associations like the American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association or the American Arthritis Association. Invite these organizations to come to your site and speak to your employees about managing their health issues. 6) Start a company Weight Watchers program. Hire Weight Watchers to hold weekly onsite group meetings specifically for your employees. The program does not have to be just about weight loss. Weight Watchers promotes healthy eating and nutrition, and could help employees maintain their already healthy weight. The organization also has a robust online solution that coincides with their face-to-face program. 7) Maximize your Employee Assistance Programs. If you offer EAPs, you can maximize your benefits by accessing stress management training. Stress is linked to various diseases, and promoting better stress management can lead to healthier life choices. Include topics that address major life changes like raising children or taking care of elder parents. Financial wellness is another universal subject. Finally, it is important to note that company-wide […]
August 26, 2014
Wharton Insurance Wellness Programs

Wellness Programs Benefit The Bottom Line of Your Business

Like most business owners facing rising premiums, you are looking for strategic ways to decrease your group health insurance costs. Implementing a company wellness program is one option to consider. Not only will your bottom line look healthier – your employees will too! Benefits of a Wellness Program for Your Business: Greater employee productivity – According to a 2010 study by Doctors Richard Milani and Carl Lavie, of the employees listed as a high risk at the beginning of a six-month wellness program, 57% were converted to low-risk status by the end of the program. This saved the company $1,421 per participant in medical claims costs. Healthy employees stay with the company – Software firm SAS Institute reported a 4% turnover rate thanks to their wellness program. Higher morale – Companies find employees who participate in a successful wellness program have a more positive outlook. Employees also feel their company is more committed to them. Workplace wellness helps curb costs – A 2010 study in the journal Health Affairs showed that wellness programs reduce medical cost by $3.27 and absenteeism by $2.73 for every dollar spent on the wellness program. Wellness programs provide obvious benefits to employees by helping them adopt a healthy lifestyle through programs like: Biometric screenings (blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose, etc.) Personal health coaching Group wellness classes Incentive-based health programs Implementing a Wellness Program You’ve decided to take advantage of the benefits outlined above, but where do you go from here? The following are some items to consider when implementing a wellness program: Be Budget Conscious – Research costs and be realistic about budget vs. value of service. Understand that, while biometric screenings comprise the majority of your budget, they provide two positives for program: Screenings provide quantitative information that helps you measure the program’s success, and employees use these screenings to let them know where to begin making positive changes or maintaining healthy behaviors. Gain Leadership Support – While building a wellness program requires input from everyone, it is important to gain buy-in from leadership first. Work with your middle management and corporate level leaders to set goals for creating a healthy work culture. Their support will help you create clear and realistic wellness program expectations for the first couple of years. Know Your Audience – A successful wellness program reflects the needs and desires of your employees. Send out a survey to your employees for feedback on what they would want from a wellness program. Sample questions could include: What incentives would motivate you to make healthy changes in your lifestyle? Would individual and/or group coaching help you? What activities would encourage you to participate? Plan Programs with Impact – When planning your wellness program, be reasonable about the time and complexity for employees. If the program is confusing or takes too much time, employees are less likely to participate. Form programs based off employee feedback, but focus them around the biometric screening information employees receive at the beginning of the program. Also, because […]
August 22, 2014

Infograph: American’s Views on Health Insurance & Employment

According to results from Gallup’s July 7-10 2014 Consumption Habits survey, fewer Americans support instituting higher health insurance rates based on an individual’s lifestyle habits than they did in 2003. While the majority still support this type of rate structure, the percentage has decreased. However, when it comes to hiring discrimination, the majority of Americans do not support allowing companies to make employment decisions based on an individual’s smoking habits or weight. The Affordable Care Act allows for higher premiums for smokers, and the Gallup report does recognize that higher insurance costs are associated with smoking and being overweight. Businesses concerned with minimizing their group health coverage costs can offer wellness programs that encourage healthy lifestyles. For more information on instituting a wellness program in your organization, send us an email or give us a call at 317.663.4138. LifeHealthPro.com recently published an infograph based on results of Gallup’s survey:  
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