Workplace Wellness 2017

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Workplace Wellness

Wellness in the workplace has become the focus of many, for employers and employees alike. Now that we know so much more about the importance of a healthy lifestyle, and one that’s well-rounded in every aspect of our lives, that it only makes sense to capitalize on the numerous benefits of anything contributing to that end goal.

If you’re interested in ideas to incorporate into your workday or to implement in your workplace, they can be found everywhere here in Lincoln. The diversity of resources covers the whole spectrum of wellness and accounts for the diversity of working environments and conditions that are present. By doing what works best for you, you’ll be at your very best at and outside of work; the same holds true for a workplace that values wellness.

Vitality…

Is defined as the state of being strong and active; energy. Something we all need at work, that’s for sure. As employees, we hope to be this unfailingly, and as employers, we hope to have this in every member of our team in order to perform at top levels.

This has everything to do with a person’s health and wellbeing. Key components are nutrition and exercise, but in truth, there are so many other things that can be utilized to achieve this feeling of zest and passion that guide our drive, productivity, and ultimately what we are able to achieve. We’ve gathered a few of the ideas we’ve found to be less prominent but well worth incorporating into the wellness offerings in the workplace.

B12 Shots

You may have heard the buzz about B12, and it’s well-founded. This is a vitamin that plays a key role in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system, the formation of red blood cells, and is involved in the metabolism of every cell in the human body. At levels only slightly lower than normal, a range of symptoms such as fatigue, depression, and poor memory may be experienced. Many of us aren’t getting our daily recommended intake of vitamins and minerals, so aside from taking a daily multivitamin, the option of B12 injections has become attractive to many.

Jethro Hopkins Physician's WEIGHT LOSS Centers - Headshot

Jethro Hopkins
Physician’s WEIGHT LOSS Centers

“Studies consistently indicate that approximately ¼ of the population here in the U.S. is B12 deficient,” says Jethro Hopkins of Physicians WEIGHT LOSS Centers Lincoln location. “We offer B12 injections as a part of our medically-guided weight loss programs or as a standalone service for our clients. For corporate clients, our team can administer these shots on location; once a week is recommended but we can schedule these visits at whatever time interval you like. For companies that host health fairs, it’s a great addition to the line-up as well. We’re insured to perform these injections outside of our clinic and trained in the proper procedures accordingly.

Since its benefits include reducing stress, boosting the immune system, and providing energy along with clarity, your employees will be happier, healthier, and more productive. You’ll see a reduction in sick days, higher morale, and stronger performance. It’s a very cost-effective approach that’s simple and takes a matter of minutes.”

As far as all of the other components of wellness that his team can help with, Hopkins explains, “If your employees don’t know what they should be doing, and there’s no one to help them figure it out or encourage them to do the things that support a healthy lifestyle, their habits won’t change.

Case in point, spending the whole day sitting will take a toll on one’s health. But so many people do just that without noticing, or understanding it’s a problem. So, simply encouraging employees to make sure to take a break at specific intervals, and during that time to incorporate some sort of moderate physical activity, will be a nudge in the right direction. Just getting up and going outdoors for a 10-15 minute walk does wonders. In addition to the exercise and a breath of fresh air to clear your mind, sunlight is a great source of vitamin D, another essential nutrient that provides great health benefits. That being said, no amount of exercise will counteract the negative effects of a poor diet. To help with that, we specialize in putting together customized meal plans as well as providing ongoing support through recommendations and counseling as needed. As a medically-guided facility, we’re uniquely situated to offer a host of services to individuals and at the company level, with the B12 injections and customized meal planning just two among the possibilities. Out team is able to come alongside a company and provide options for what would make the most sense and have the most impact, and to support the objectives they put in place.

Maintaining health and wellness is about making good choices. Employers can play a part in influencing their employees to make good choices, which in turn is beneficial to them. Offering benefits in the workplace that support health and wellness is important, and thinking outside the box will make you stand out. In a time when retention of the best and brightest employees is critical, you need to show your employees that you care about them as people.”

Chair Massages

Massage is another technique that can be performed in the workplace and has numerous health benefits.

Erin Lange 5 Elements Massage - headshot

Erin Lange
5 Elements Massage

“A quick 15-minute massage gets the blood flowing, which is a natural way to mimic the effects of caffeine,” says Erin Lange of 5 Elements Massage. “It can be easily targeted to each individual’s specific needs and is refreshing and rejuvenating, similar to taking a quick nap. Comparable to naps, keep in mind that the amount of time of a massage will determine its effectiveness. While 10-15 minutes is ideal for workplace massages, 20 minutes or more will relax you more than you’d want in that particular environment.

In short, massage calms the nervous system for a period of time, so afterward you’ll feel energized, a lift in your mood, sharper brain function, more focused, and a release of all of that tension and stress that tends to build up as the day goes by.

I challenge any employer to give chair massage a try. It’s an employee benefit that’s fun, enjoyable, and has real health benefits that will positively impact your team and your business. We can find a quiet area that won’t interrupt operations, and make it into an inviting oasis with dim lights and calming music. That’s all there is to it!

As for employees, when it’s chair massage day, be prepared to tell the massage therapist where you need help! It takes time to develop a relationship with a client and understand their needs and preferences, but that will help to target problem areas right away so you’ll get the most out of your down time.”

Drinking Water

Eric Schnakenberg Aqua Systems headshot

Eric Schnakenberg
Aqua Systems

Gathering around the water cooler dates way back, that’s for sure. That history alone suggests the importance of providing your employees with a clean source of drinking water is significant. “Savvy employers know they need to provide great tasting h2o, keeping their team hydrated and performing to full potential,” says Eric Schnakenberg of Aqua Systems of Nebraska. “New automatic water and ice dispensers are the way to go. You’ve probably used a typewriter in the past, but are you still using one? Chances are you’ve upgraded your technology. Those old machines still work, but there are much more efficient ways to get a message out. Water coolers are no different. Eliminate the antiquated method of using bottles, set up an automatic dispenser, and remove the water cooler from your to-do list. You can still gather around the cooler, just without the hassles of managing it.”

Ergonomics…

Is the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment. Sounds important, right? It’s a way to design what we use in the workplace taking human factors into consideration, such as a sit/stand desk for those who are working at a desk for extended periods of time. If any number of items we use to do our job on a daily basis are poorly designed or improperly adjusted for human use, the user may suffer unnecessary stress, fatigue, health complications, body deterioration, and even serious injury as a result of constant exposure over time. So yes, it is quite important.

Simply focusing on what you can do to improve your work environment will go a long way. As an employee, be conscientious of the things you are in control of that can positively affect your wellbeing while you’re at work. As an employer, you may want to bring a professional in for an evaluation, leaving you with recommendations and a course of action moving forward.

For employees, Dr. Tara Mohl of Green Chiropractic advises, “Whether you sit for long

Dr. Tara Mohl Green Chiropractic - headshot

Dr. Tara Mohl
Green Chiropractic

periods of time or stand and are active in your job, proper ergonomics are very important. We all fall into typical patterns of movement at work, particularly when the nature of the work is more repetitive. For example, sitting at a computer all day creates posture stress because our bodies aren’t designed to sit for 8 hours a day.

At Green Chiropractic, we evaluate regular habits and movement patterns of each individual’s typical day, recommending strategies that will help them become more mindful of the necessary and positive changes that will improve their spine and posture – thus their overall health!

If you work at a computer, make sure the monitor screen is at eye level and ensure the chair has lumbar support. Make it a point to get up and move at least once every hour. Set an alarm as a reminder if needed. If your job involves physical labor, make sure to bend at the hip joints and use your legs to lift, focusing on keeping the back flat instead of rounded to take stress off of the lower back. Our team at Green Chiropractic can share exercises with you to stretch muscles and move your spine after work to counter stress created through your typical work habits.

And for employers, she offers the following, “An appropriate workplace wellness program is most effectively developed when company leaders first take time to learn and clearly understand the true meaning of ‘wellness’ and ‘healthcare’ along with the power of health that comes from within our bodies. Doctors at Green Chiropractic can offer complimentary 30-minute talks to inform and expand on this topic. Investing in the wellness of employees is investing in the success of the company. In short, companies that do so have more engaged and productive employees who experience fewer days of absenteeism as do their dependents, translating to company benefits savings.”

She goes on to say, “Workplace and individual wellness offerings are available through Green Chiropractic. As part of an international organization called ‘The Wellness Champions,’ our goal is to reach out to the community – schools, businesses, and groups – and provide complimentary education on health and wellness topics including, but not limited to: Stress Less, Healthy to 100, The Corporate Athlete, Occupational Athlete, Heart Healthy Paleo, etc. Talk to us about our lunch and learn options – we’ll bring the lunch! We also offer free spinal screenings by appointment and welcome participating in company-sponsored health and benefit fairs. If your business or corporation would be interested in having us come speak, please contact Green Chiropractic at (402) 466-6454.”

Plan…

Is defined as a detailed formulation of a program of action; a method for achieving an end. To achieve your goal of having the healthiest, happiest, and most productive employees on your workforce, you’ll need to make sure there’s a plan in place because consistency is key. Wellness isn’t just a one-time thing; it’s an ongoing process of actively doing things that support that goal. The same applies at the individual level. Incorporating wellness programs and offerings of any kind in the work environment is a step in the right direction, but keep in mind that the right combination of variables is necessary for those efforts to be most effective.

Katie Tiedeman-Proactive Solutions, Inc.-Headshot

Katie Tiedeman
Proactive Solutions, Inc.

For employees, Katie Tiedeman of Proactive Solutions, Inc. offers a few of her top recommendations:

“Find a coworker who is also interested in improving or maintaining their own wellness. This person will not only be there to encourage you but also hold you accountable to keep going towards your goals. Use the technology you have available to remind you to take breaks and when it feels tempting to s

kip the break because you’re in the middle of something keep in mind movement and exercise boost brain function, reduce stress and increase your mental alertness. You’ll be able to return to your work with improved efficiency and productivity.”

She also directs a word of caution to employers, “More companies are acknowledging the need for workplace wellness but are falling short on the follow-up to assess the actual effectiveness of their programs. There is more than one aspect to assess starting with employee satisfaction. Many people ‘participate’ in a wellness program to earn a reduction in their insurance cost but if you actually stop to talk to them they will tell you they haven’t really changed anything with their personal wellness to improve their health. They are essentially going through the motions to meet the requirement. Setting metrics that are important to your employees and the success of your company and periodically checking your progress is a very important step in getting the true value out of your program. A successful program will produce lower out of pocket healthcare costs, lower workers compensation costs, improved productivity and most importantly improved employee satisfaction and longevity.

In total, she advises, “Proactive Solutions, Inc. is centered around improving the quality of workplace wellness. We understand the needs of each company are going to be different and we work directly with each company to customize the wellness components that will produce the best results for their employees and the company. We provide onsite expertise from a physical or occupational therapist for all realms of workplace wellness. Ongoing feedback is then produced via customized metrics to allow the company to assess the effectiveness of their program and justify their costs for the program.

We use a unique approach to the typical wellness offerings by providing onsite physical and occupational therapists who are licensed to assess and treat employees within their work setting to promote a preventative approach to health and wellness. We’re also available onsite to address ergonomic concerns, injury prevention, and meaningful wellness participation. When addressed early, these situations can be corrected quickly and employees can maintain their active and productive role within their company and avoid a more expensive situation as a condition worsens.”

Nick Reimers - Bryan Life Pointe

Nick Reimers
Bryan LifePointe

Bryan LifePointe is another resource in the community with wellness offerings specifically designed for companies. “The services we can provide include health screenings, fitness assessments, educational opportunities on exercise, nutrition, recovery, and group class offerings,” advises Nick Reimers of Bryan LifePointe. “Ideally, the offerings are dependent upon the needs of an organization.

The first recommendation I would offer is to build a relationship with a high-quality health professional or organization. The world of health and performance is less about fancy gimmicks and more about consistent, quality work. Building a relationship of trust and high standards will set the foundation for creating a wellness program that is meeting the needs of the company employees. Start with educational opportunities (i.e. lunch and learns) that give real-world applications for problems people encounter. Start to build in programs and classes that create context for the health behaviors all are trying to achieve. Yoga, meditation, group exercise, step challenges, and cooking demonstrations are great examples. The company and employees will see value. From there, the need for assessments, screenings, and data acquisition will establish consistency. Many times the programs need to be organic. They need to have freedom to change and grow as more information is acquired and the needs change. The culture will establish itself when the employees and company see the value they bring to each other.

When it comes to creating an environment or a culture that supports the individuals within an organization, a common challenge is finding ways to meet the specific needs of each of those individuals. Each employee has a unique environment they are asked to perform in each and every day. An employee’s relationships, financial situation, physical capabilities, and eating habits are all shaped by their current knowledge, skills, and abilities. A wellness program should be designed to help employees in multiple areas of their lives. This is where appropriate needs assessments are important. Find out what the biggest needs within the company from a health and wellness standpoint are, and create an environment where the employees have autonomy to improve in areas specific to them. Acquiring the help of skilled professionals enhances this process.

The evidence is consistent that high-quality companies are filled with high-quality individuals. Investing into employees improves employee engagement, job satisfaction, decreases employee turnover, and increases the skill of employees. Improving the health and fitness of employees will prevent illness and injury, improve productivity, and decrease insurance costs. All of these add to the bottom line.”

For employees, he emphasizes, “Without a doubt, sleep and stress management are two avenues that individuals can work on to improve mental and physical performance at work. Sleep and stress management play a key role in the recovery process to allostatic load. For example, when I have a client that is pushing too hard in the gym and not recovering appropriately, that person will start to experience mental and physical symptoms such as mood changes, sleep disturbances, changes in resting heart rate, blood pressure, and the onset of more body pain. The same thing occurs when subjected to long-term stress at work. Sleep and stress management can provide the necessary recovery to enhance performance with mental and physical tasks.”

Healthcare…

Is important to us all, and having access to it or being able to provide it as an employee benefit at a reasonable cost is a concern for many. While it seems that there’s no end in sight to the uncertainty surrounding the future of our health care system in the U.S., it’s encouraging to see many healthcare and insurance professionals take a proactive role in adapting to the current conditions. These are people right here among us who are at the forefront of change for the better. It all starts with knowing they are out there and then it’s just a matter of looking into what they have to offer and deciding if it makes sense for your specific situation and needs.

For example, there is now a clinic here in Lincoln that operates with a Direct Primary Care model, the first of its kind in the state.

Dr. Todd Johnson - Access Family Medicine

Tr. Todd Johnson
Access Family Medicine

Dr. Todd Johnson, owner and primary care provider at Access Family Medicine, offers the following overview of what his practice is able to offer employers here in Lincoln.

“Access Family Medicine and Direct Primary Care have small business owners in mind. We realize the value in having your employees at work working for you and the strain it puts on the company when your employees are out sick. We also realize how difficult or nearly impossible it is in today’s economy for small businesses to offer a health care benefits package to their employees due to the rising costs. Direct Primary Care was designed to help employers offer an extra benefit to their employee package without jeopardizing their business.

At Access Family Medicine, we offer small business owners one low flat rate for their employees to receive Primary Care Services. We are finding that employees are thrilled with this benefit, as it is an expense that provides their employees with health care. It is not an expense coupled with premiums, deductibles or co-pays. Your small business and your employees will no longer have to worry about the rising cost of their health insurance due to submitting claims for primary care needs. Direct Primary Care is designed around basic finance principles; pay for what you can afford and insure what you cannot afford or predict.

Here are a few examples of the benefits your employees will have as members at Access Family Medicine:

  • Low flat rate for your employees; we will also extend this rate to their spouse and family if they would like to sign their families up as well.
  • Unlimited access to you physician.
  • Same-day and next-day appointments.
  • Full access virtual medicine: phone, email, text, webcam and more.
  • Wholesale labs, imaging, and medications; up to 90% off the retail price.

I’m happy to answer any and all of the questions you may have on the concept, because it is a new and exciting, but very different, way to approach healthcare and employee benefits.”

Nutrition…

Plays a major role in our health and wellbeing; arguably, it’s the most important part of leading a healthy lifestyle. It helps one to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, reduce the risk of chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, sustain energy and focus, and on from there.

A problem that arises within many workplaces is easy access to healthy food options. When you’re on a project deadline and the closest food item comes out of a vending machine, that’s probably what’s for lunch, dinner, or both.

As employees, we can do a variety of things like meal prepping or keeping healthy options within reach. As employers, being aware of the options available and simply making sure there are healthy ones in the mix at the very least is a great way to support the goals and continued wellbeing of your employees. Building on that idea, there are also excellent options available for catering healthy meals when you’re ordering in for your team.

Natasha Plooster Eat Fit Go - Headshot

Natasha Plooster
Eat Fit Go

Natasha Plooster of Eat Fit Go offers some helpful tips for employees, emphasizing the balance of good nutrition with several other key factors. “Sleep, drink water, move every 30 minutes, and plan your meals. Proper sleep gets people ready for the day ahead instead of waking up tired and cranky. Drinking water throughout the day will help keep energy levels up and keeps the body working properly. Dehydration can cause hunger, headaches, irritability, and keeps the brain from functioning to the best of its ability. Moving around even if it’s just a lap around the office or filling up your water bottle is a great way to get the blood moving which will help keep you awake and energized all day. Having a plan for food sets you up for success as opposed to having no plan and going with what everyone else is doing. Going out for lunch or happy hours add up at the end of the week!”

She also touches on why nutrition in the workplace is important for employers to keep in mind. “Nutrition is the most important thing. If you eat right, typically you sleep well, wake up feeling rested, your clothes fit better and your body has fewer aches and pains. Proper nutrition allows everything else to work the way it should. If you can get your team eating quality foods and moving throughout the day, as an employer, you will have a very healthy team. Create incentives for bringing lunch to work, or better yet cater a healthy lunch for all your team members! Create step challenges to motivate people to move around during the day, consider making teams so people will hold each other accountable.”

As for what Eat Fit Go has to offer in this area, she notes, “We can provide the perfect meal for any team member. Low carb, paleo, vegetarians, etc. it doesn’t matter what the diet is, we have you covered. We are able to feed teams 15-500 by providing individual meals, HOT for immediate consumption or COLD to allow flexibility in a busy workday – because let’s be honest, not everyone wants to eat their lunch between 12-1pm. We love to work with teams to deliver a plan that fits YOU and YOUR COMPANY’s needs.

Companies are getting active together – this push towards community wellness is so refreshing to see. We love the being a part of this healthy movement and are ecstatic to fuel this revolution!”

As the saying goes, health is wealth, and that rings true on both sides of the employer/employee coin. As you can see from the suggestions we’ve included, there are a wealth of different options out there that are well worth considering no matter what constraints are present. You may not be able to do a lot, but you can still do a little, because anything is better than nothing. Cheers to good health in all areas of our personal and professional lives in 2017!