How to make your 2020 Employee Wellbeing Program Fun, Engaging and Rewarding

Given that we are spending our days talking with organisations about their wellbeing plans for 2020, now is an opportune time to share some expert insights that we have gained from planning and delivering wellness calendars for the many organisations and buildings that we consult. More to the point, insights into how to actually make these programmes exciting, motivating and effective to ensure your staff or tenants want to participate and improve the wellness culture in your workplace.

 

1. TIMING & CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING

One of the most sought-after and rewarding health initiatives that we deliver are skin cancer checks for employees and tenants in a range of settings – and the upsides to detecting a serious melanoma or skin lesion are literally life-changing for the people involved. However, engagement of participants in skin cancer checks can vary significantly for a range of reasons, and a seemingly-obvious variable to get right is delivering skin checks at a time of the year when employees actually see the sun. The same goes for any part of a wellness calendar – matching your wellness initiative with the appropriate time of the year will increase participation, and creating monthly or quarterly wellbeing themes can keep the message relevant and in context for your employees.

 

2. FUN FACTOR!

Wellness Calendars will often involve a mix of staple health initiatives such as flu vaccinations and health checks, and some more stimulating and educational items such as wellness seminars, exercise or meditation classes and expos. Throwing in some fun and innovative ideas is crucial in getting the attention of your staff or tenants to consider participating in the first place. Consider balancing or prefixing the “standard fixtures” of your programme with some ideas from left field – such as pedal-powered smoothie makers, foyer Zumba classes, tai-chi (like the picture, overlooking the Sydney Harbour Bridge from Ernst & Young’s Sydney HQ adds a unique backdrop!), health skill tester challenges, employee manicures, table tennis competitions and anything you can think of that gets people involved!

 

3. TECH FACTOR

Along the same lines as the above – is there anyone these days that doesn’t like to know how many steps they have taken, kilometres they have cycled, hours they have slept, calories they have consumed, etc etc? Probably – but increasingly so, the average employee’s thirst for knowledge these days is a big motivator for them to engage in healthy activities in the first place. Technology can be used for “wow” factor in health initiatives, and also appeal to the data analyst in all of us – we have engaged innovations such as Heath ATMs (health score and key metrics in a few minutes), online platforms and apps that generate curiosity and interest from a wide population. Even the wellness calendar itself can be accessed by an interactive app with notifications that entice employees.

 

4. ACTIVATE WORK SPACES

Nothing shows a company or building’s commitment to encouraging a healthy and well culture, like physically living and breathing wellness in full view of the workplace. Foyer pilates classes, seated massage, meditation meeting rooms, roaming healthy snack suppliers – there are so many ways to deliver aspects of your health programme that showcase various parts of your building (from break-out areas to end-of-trip facilities). Activating these spaces is essentially marketing for your wellness programme and building layout, but also showing the workplace that you expect a positive attitude towards being healthy.

 

5. LINK WITH NATIONAL OR INTERNATIONAL INITIATIVES

Finally – it’s a good idea to mirror at least a few of your wellness calendar initiatives with the corresponding “Health Week” or relate your workplace focus areas to those of the broader Australian or global population. Examples of these can be Nutritional & Diet Assessments in Heart Health Month, Mental Health Initiatives in Mental Health Week, and fun events such as National Ride2Work Day that already have large reach, marketing material and awareness campaigns that can help promote and engage.

Try a few of these ideas to spice up your plans, and get your employees raving about their workplace!

Beautiful spaces improve wellbeing

Beautiful spaces can make us feel great.

They can also make us healthier – and design features such as air flow, light quality and thermal comfort are acknowledged to optimise our health in the WELL Building Standards, from the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI).

We make a point of creating beautiful, natural #wellnesscentres in sanctuary-style spaces, that actually make it easier for our team to improve the wellbeing of our clients.

And after 10 years and 11 Wellness Centres, our client surveys have told us that the look and feel of our Wellness Centres (colour palette, lighting, finishes – even the quality of our welcome area magazines!) are nearly as highly valued as the convenience factor.

What does “wellness” look and feel like to you?

Lesson no. 5 from 10 years of Wellness Centres – value > price.

Value>Price

We know this because clients consistently tell us, and without fail each year our surveys show that “convenience” is ranked as the first consideration when seeking health and wellbeing services, and “price” is usually last or second-to-last behind “opening hours”.

One caveat to these results is that our services at corporate Wellness Centres are discounted for employees/tenants anyway – but the main lesson that we have learnt over this time is to focus on the convenient, sanctuary-style wellness environment with premium quality services.

The “value” that is interpreted by our clients is not necessarily the saving of a few dollars – but how easily they can access the Wellness Centre, their trust and relationship with the health service provider, and how they feel during and after the consultation/studio class.

Understanding our clients helps us continually refine our #clientexperience and keep #inspiringhealthychange for individuals and workplaces.

3 Simple Tips for a Successful Flu Vaccination Program

by Josh Lambert

Here’s 3 simple tips for a successful #flu vaccination program this flu season….or what we like to call “vax hacks”!

1. Have a broad #promotion plan – don’t just send a booking link and basic email out to all staff, but use some creative content ideas in the lead up to the campaign – eg sharing facts about flu and other preventative measures, sharing healthy recipes that boost the immune system, even a desk drop of fruit or healthy drinks on the day(s) of vaccinations to limit ‘no-shows’

2. Link online bookings confirmations to the employees calendar – this sounds simple and obvious, but it’s so effective for engagement and rarely done!

3. Feature Flu Vaccinations as part of your annual #wellbeing calendar – unfortunately many organisations tick the box of flu vaccinations and don’t consider how it adds/forms a huge pillar of the overall wellbeing program for employees. Branding your company’s wellbeing program (check out Ocean Software snazzy bottles in this pic) and sharing the initiatives across the year is very powerful – and links flu Vax to other wellbeing themes throughout the year.

Reach out to any of our #Workplace Wellness Consultants at Pinnacle Health Group for a complimentary flu program quote and/or wellbeing strategy session for your workplace!

The 3 benefits of using a standing desk at work

By Tom Bosna – Managing Director

 

When the phrase “sitting is the new smoking” was first referenced in the media it created absolute pandemonium in our Corporate Wellness Centres!

I remember many of our clients attending their Physiotherapy or Myotherapy appointments with sore necks and lower backs wanting quick answers. Our staff were inundated with requests for ergonomic advice, and opinions on the latest craze of the year – standing desks!

“Tom, I watched the news and apparently sitting is the new smoking. My work colleague has a sore back and ordered a standing desk – do you think I need one?” This conversation was had on repeat and continues today.

With influence by reputable employers like Apple endorsing standing desks they really could be onto something. The CEO of Apple Tim Cook has recently commented in an interview about Apple Park “We have given all of our employees, 100%, standing desks. If you can stand for a while, then sit, and so on and so forth, it’s much better for your lifestyle.” Before we take Mr Cook’s word for it – let’s analyse the facts.

The facts

In 2016, Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) ranked 7th on the list of top drivers of global disability. Among those aged 15–49, the top contributors to MSDs included occupational injuries and ergonomic issues (HME, 2015).

The impact of these MSDs on productivity, presenteeism and lost time are well documented in occupational health.

With increased demand for knowledge workers influencing workplaces across the world – it is essential that the health of employees is prioritised.

Why is sitting so bad?

Contrary to the alarmists in the media, and health professionals who have enjoyed their time in the sun on this topic – let me say one thing: there is nothing wrong with sitting.

We sit to enjoy a cup of tea with friends, we sit and watch our children run at the park, we sit down at a nice restaurant and enjoy a glass of wine. Sitting is part of everyday life.

Two words I want you to understand and be aware of: Ischaemic. Pain.

Ischaemic. If I was a gambling man, I bet five dollars that you have heard the word ischaemic heart disease. Ischaemic by definition refers to the deficiency of blood supply to a body part due to obstruction of inflow of arterial blood. A practical example of this is when you sit at your desk for too long during the day and you feel your lower back tensing and becoming sore. This can be a restriction in blood flow to that area of your body. You stand up, go for a walk and the tension is relieved, and goes away.

Pain. By cognitive association you are no doubt thinking about the last time you hurt a body part. Say the word pain ten times and it sounds like it hurts. The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) defines pain as an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience, associated with actual or potential tissue damage.

A practical example of pain is when you sit at the desk for over 2 hours. You feel your lower back tense and it becomes sore. You feel frustrated, worried and angry that your back is sore. You get up to move but you are still sore. You are ‘so busy’ and take nurofen to make it better. You return to your desk, and in sitting the pain cycle continues.

If you marry Ischemic and Pain together you are probably sitting on the problem!

Have a look at your colleagues sitting at their desk. Are they stooped forward at their head and neck? Are they hunched over at their mid spine and look tired?

These positions not only look emotionally sad, but they are problematic – especially when held for a prolonged period of time. Blood flow is restricted, movement is stagnant and you not only feel pain, but you can feel trapped in a vicious cycle of inactivity, and struggle to get comfortable.

The rise of the standing desk

I’m sure you have that colleague that plays up and down with the sit stand desk all day. I bet they even count steps on their fitbit, do crossfit and are always up for a chat about how many mindful moments they have completed this week.  

They are so ridiculously happy with themselves aren’t they?

Cutting through this though – in my opinion – the main benefits of using a standing desk or active workstations are very logical.

Productivity  Standing up demands a happier, and more engaged posture. Increased alertness and engagement nets greater productivity than sitting. Simple.

Increased energy levels Standing up will cumulatively improve mood, and will result in greater energy output over time.

Reduce Cardiovascular risk One of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease is circumference of the waist. Standing up results in greater oxygen uptake of the employee and more incidental movement. These factors combined can reduce your cardiovascular risk profile.

So should you get a standing desk?

With small and large organisations making significant investment into active workstations, break out spaces and ergonomic furnishings – this is the time to ‘stand up’, and invest in you.

Tom is the Director of Pinnacle Health Group Australia & Movement Concept Advisor for the International WELL Building standards Institute.

References

Hedge A, Puleio J, Wang V. Evaluating the Impact of an Office Ergonomics Program. Proc Hum Factors Ergon Soc Annu Meet. 2011;55(1):594-598. doi:10.1177/1071181311551121

Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). GBD Compare. 2015. http://vizhub.healthdata.org/gbd-compare.

Founder well-being: Check your health, before you wreck yourself!

This is a public service announcement for founders and the startup community.

Let’s be real about the treacherous lifestyle you have chosen. It is a roller coaster, one with many big dips, ups and loop the loop moments. Your friends and family think you are insane but you secretly love it. You know the startup grind requires courage, decisiveness and endurance.

Are you ready for the physicality of the startup grind?

Let me elaborate with a story about my mate Joe, an amazing entrepreneur from Melbourne.

Joe is a larger than life personality by nature, very likable and an extremely confident net-worker. Over the period of twelve months he successfully launched a health technology platform to the market and as any entrepreneur would do, he drove sales and joint ventures quickly.

Joe set the pace of the business and in year two his team grew very rapidly. Running on enthusiasm, adrenaline and excitement Joe started to find it a little difficult to switch off and get enough sleep. But there was no time for rest, exercise or time zone adjustments as he expanded into Singapore where he spent three months raising funds, networking and leading product expansion.

Joe’s friends and family were so happy for him, he was an overnight success until one night the fast paced lifestyle had caught up with him. After an intensive asian banquet for dinner and a few beers, he suddenly felt dizzy, had severe chest pain, headache and serious stomach pain.  Joe was instantly scared and worried.

Was it the dumplings, beers or a heart attack?

Let’s talk about three key components of well-being that Joe has neglected.

Fuel to the Fire

An internal fire burns inside the heart of an entrepreneur like Joe.

It burns, it burns and then it runs out. I failed to mention was that Joe was living on a diet of long macchiato and espresso during business meetings (at least four a day). For dinner, uber eats was too convenient not to mention pizza deliveries and coke zero for all nighters with the team!

With so much caffeine and fast food options in his lifestyle, Joe was literally running on empty and the stomach pain was the symptom of a greater issue, his diet.

To the start up community I highly recommend consuming at least three glasses of water for every coffee you consume. Coffee in any shape or form is a stimulant, anti-diuretic and acts on the central nervous system to increase alertness.  Combining high stress work with caffeine and foods high in sodium, carbohydrates and fat will result in weight gain, sluggishness and decrease your performance. If you are a go-getter and want to excel like Joe you want to consume foods rich in protein and low glycaemic index (GI).

Low GI foods can improve your ability to concentrate, sustain energy and make you feel fuller for longer – curbing the carbohydrate cravings such as pizza. Pick the right fuel for your engine.

No rest for the wicked

Founders are not immune to sleepless nights, feeling worried and working long hours. As travel schedules demand early morning starts and late night finishes, sleep becomes a liability.

In the case of Joe, his sleeping patterns become erratic. Over time, his sleeping pattern become so disrupted that four hours a night was considered the norm and the feelings of dizziness was a symptom of exhaustion.

Sleep can affect every part of your life. Your mood, energy, weight can all be influenced by the amount of sleep you achieve.

For founders, committing to healthy sleeping habits such as going to bed and waking at a consistent time is essential. Seven to nine hours minimum a night for healthy adults is required to perform well. Stay wicked but make sure rest!

High intensity lifestyles require physical resilience

With less than ideal amounts of sleep and terrible food habits – Joe did not feel up for exercise. Prior to launching his business he was an F45 member and attended six times a week., it was cult-like! His preference for fitness was high intensity and variety was important.

With the success of the business and travel requirements, getting out for a short run even become difficult.

Founders, please know one thing, the more physically active you are the greater your ability to think and create. If time is your excuse then do a short burst of high intensity exercise for fifteen minutes daily.

Being a brilliant entrepreneur requires creativity and resilient. Physical fitness will aid and improve these two areas dramatically.

Summary

Founders you have chosen a difficult and challenging lifestyle. Fueling, resting and staying fit will enhance your performance and help you achieve your dreams. Don’t be like Joe and burn out over dumplings and beers you are better than that!

Are you an active couch potato?

Active couch potato

By Tom Bosna – Managing Director

It is no secret, sitting for prolonged periods is NOT good for us.

With phrases like “sitting is the new smoking” being used in the media of late it is important to really understand the key issues and be able to make informed decisions about how to look after ourselves in the workplace.

In 2015, I wrote a small article 3 easy ways to create movement opportunities at work. At that point in time the research from the University of Queensland showed that even when Adults met the recommended physical activity guidelines, the effects of this have been negated by the amount of time sitting per day. In other words, if you enjoy a High Intensity Training (HIT)  session three times a week at the gym but go back to work and sit like a desk jockey for the remaining 40 hours of the week you are potentially sitting in the active couch potato seat and are not capitalising on incidental movement opportunities in the workplace.

In 2018, the research continues to show sedentary behaviours are strongly linked to negative health outcomes such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular, metabolic risks and premature death. The fact that all of the above are preventable is what is really concerning to me!

Based on my research and key learnings from the WELL Building standards study & Movement concept advisory I recommend three easy solutions to avoiding becoming an active couch potato.

Workplace Design

The future of work, is technology enabled, hyper connected and agile in design. Gone are the days where you sit in the same desk every day and sit in meetings all day.

Modern workplaces are designed for movement. Please assess your workplace now with four check-points.

  1. Is your locker, printer & meeting rooms all a walk from where you spend the majority of the day?
  2. Does the workplace have a wellness or fitness centre with exclusive deals for staff?
  3. Are standing desks or active workstations available in break out areas?

If you said yes to all of the above – you are in a well workplace. The key question is are you making the most of the design?

Plan your work, work your plan

As an astute observer of human behaviour and neuroscience enthusiast, it really bothers me when I see people walking with their phones glued to their hand in the early morning. I can see the phone lighting up like a Christmas tree with rapid push notifications jumping out of the screen. When you observe this happening it really looks like a wave of anxiety and I worry for the person’s brain and performance.

To address getting past this roadblock I believe planning your work, working your plan is essential.

The modern workplace is structured to work agile and leveraging technology apps such as slack and yammer. Being disciplined with your time and day is essential and blocking time for movement and exercise  is critical.

Movement is great for your performance, mental health and resilience. If it was a pill everyone would be doing it!

At Pinnacle Health Group, our teams utilise the walking meeting, pilates hour or exercise club to keep performance and morale high. This type of team activity is planned and organised to get the teams together once a week.

For anyone interested in learning the neuroscience at work I’d highly recommend the book titled “Your brain at work” by David Rock. It is for those of you who are interested in surviving and thriving in the modern workplace.

You have to take the stairs

A wise person once said, there is no elevator to success – you have to take the stairs. You will see it every morning, there are people who take the escalator and those that take the stairs.

Choose the latter every time and this will improve your incidental movement output significantly.

In the modern workplace and cities of the future, active exterior design is critical to influencing physical engagement levels of the community. A nice practical resource on this topic is the walk score.

Summary

Movement is medicine for the mind and body with tangible returns on investment!

We spend 90% of our time indoors and one third of our lives at work. The great opportunity here is incidental movement. – make the most of your time by taking the stairs & working your plan.

3 reasons why the CEO should be the most physically active in the company

By Tom Bosna – Managing Director

Over the past year I have had the pleasure of working with some of the most inspiring CEO’s and senior leaders in progressive and innovative Australian businesses.

Firstly, the fact that senior leaders and CEO’s are investing time and energy into the wellbeing of their staff is inspiring. More than just a people strategy, it has been so encouraging to see leaders take a real interest in creating a culture that cares and creates healthier individuals.

One of the biggest trend I have noted in my experience is that when the CEO and senior leaders are physically active – they statistically have a more engaged workplace and healthier company profile.

While the benefits of being physically active are pretty clear as mentioned in my previously articles – reduced risk of stroke, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, obesity, depression and some forms of cancer. The benefits of having a physically fit and active CEO and senior leadership team are groundbreaking. In practical terms, the ripple effect on the entire organisation are positively linked with great performance and engagement.

So let’s summarise the three key reasons the CEO & senior leaders should be the most physically active in the organisation.

Performance Perks

The organisations that had physically active leaders (they exercised at least five times a week for over 30 mins at moderate exertion) were more satisfied with their own performance as a team. They worked smarter and had reduced rates of absenteeism compared to the less active teams. In my opinion, if the CEO is physically active and is able to discuss the benefits openly in conversation the entire performance of the organisation can thrive.

Physical activity can positively impact physical, social, purpose and psychological pillars of wellbeing. From a performance perspective, active CEO’s enjoy greater performance across the wider group with case studies revealing higher workforce resilience scores compared to inactive CEO cohorts.

Psychological Safety

One of the greatest tasks of the CEO is to create an environment where employees feel psychologically safe. Whilst, the usual focus here is on mental health, I’d like to divert to talk about creating a culture of individual empowerment.

In my dealings, the more physically active CEO’s and senior teams have significantly empowered their teams with the ability to self manage their workload with a focus on flexi-working. In other words, I trust that you will purposefully work towards our vision and your working style’s will be vary and that is OK.

Based on my consulting experience, the physically active CEO create a culture of psychological safety. We have seen this phenomenon in our corporate wellness centres where staff can access our wellness services whilst at work. Whether that be a Yoga class, a Physiotherapy appointment or a skin check – all is encouraged in a safe culture of wellbeing.

Wellbeing champions – the ripple effect

In my consulting work, I have seen CEO’s with teams ranging from small teams of 50 all the through to 5000 who have built physical activity into the culture. In one organisation, the core values were created with wellbeing being a key focus – and the subtext being – ‘be the change you want to see’ – how remarkable is that!

With physical fitness being a key pillar for this organisation, organically the CEO and senior leaders have created a culture of wellbeing champions.

One senior leader reported that in their team a team manager of 300 – organically created a running group for the Melbourne half marathon. The leader noticed his team drinking too much coffee and sitting for too long and was fed up! The team manager had lost a significant amount of weight in the companies group fitness challenge two years prior and had wanted the team to feel the benefits they had experienced themselves.

Creating wellbeing champions is the mecca of all wellbeing strategy and engagement. The CEO’s who are physically active create a ripple effect of influence and it is embedded into the company culture.

The take home!

Physically active CEO’s and leaders are high impact individuals, their teams perform better and they create a legacy of wellbeing champions. Get moving, lead from the front and enjoy the ripple effect.

3 reasons why wellness leave was introduced at Pinnacle Health Group (and why your business should too!)

Healthy nutrition
By Tom Bosna – Managing Director

 

It all started with a big leadership question: How am I supporting the wellbeing of our people?

What led to this question was more interesting.

As a small business owner, a thick skin is required to deal with the magnitude of stress that is part of the deal when operating a growing business.

In 2015, our business Pinnacle Health Group doubled in staff, locations and launched interstate. The rhythm of business at this point in time can be best described as manic.

The cyclical nature of running on one cylinder, in start up mode for a number of years was starting to take its toll on my physical and mental health. Like most men, the way I would deal with it was to internalise the stress and put the head down and keep going.

It was clearly time for a breather and with my young family we booked in a one week holiday to Perth for some sun, relaxation and family time. With so much activity going on in the workplace, I really struggled to switch off mentally. When I stopped on holiday my body shut down and I was suffering from physical symptoms of exhaustion and burnout.

On this holiday, I spent an embarrassing four out of six days in and out of bed unwell with health issues relating to stress. The guilt of my family time being disrupted by work was real.

I realised at that point that I was really burning out and that I’d neglected my own health over the last two years.

I thought to myself, if I am feeling like this way, how do our people feel?

More confronting for me was the question I asked myself. What am I specifically doing to support the wellbeing of our people?

A few months later as we geared up for another year at Pinnacle Health Group, this leadership question led to our employee wellbeing program Pinnacle Life being revamped and re-positioned for our people.

Lead by our People and Operations Leader Emma Dwan, we took a methodical approach to influencing a positive change for our people.

We started by interviewing our people and collecting data. One of the most eye opening statistics was that 41% have felt stressed or overwhelmed at work in the previous 3 months. This statistic really bothered me.

So what is wellness leave?

Wellness leave is proactively encouraging our employees to take one day off per quarter to doing an activity that supports their wellbeing. We envisaged our team having a sleep in, reflecting, doing an exercise class, reading a book or socialising with friends. We trusted that our people choose there own adventure and would love the idea!

When I think about the reasons we introduced the leave, it can be best summarised in the following three categories.

Prevention

By sharing my personal story internally and hosting company wide meetings – we were able to introduce and encourage prevention. My personal story opened up dialogue internally about self care and mental health. This policy change really gave preventative personal wellbeing a structure.

The F word

Life is about enjoyment and sometimes we get lost in the busyness trap until that one dedicated holiday a year.

By encouraging extra time away from work, we are really encouraging our team members to do something fun for themselves.

One of our team members said “Wellbeing leave was my favourite day of the year so far! It is so nice to have a day off when the rest of the world is working. I went to a morning gym class, met my bestie for coffee to celebrate her bday. We talked for hours! The best part was being able to spend a lifetime in the shower and over lunch with no pressure to rush or be anywhere. In the early afternoon I took a drive down the Penninsula and went to a superb winery to finish off the day in style. This day was amazing, giving me the opportunity to relax, refresh and really unwind”

Another team member said “For my wellbeing leave I was able to get a light gym session done in the morning. Caught up on some admin and did some reading which is usually rare but seems more consistent since that day. The day also gave me time to think and reflect and I spoke to my uprise coach at the end of the day.The introduction of these days i’m sure has been welcomed company wide”

Inspire

Our core purpose at Pinnacle Health Group is to inspire health changes in people and the workplace. For health professionals sometimes we are listening and consulting over 60 people a week.

We love what we do 100%, but sometimes the sheer volume of clients can lead to empathy fatigue and burnout.

By creating wellness leave, we have created some time for our people to do something fun, inspiring and remembering their why. In short, to inspire others, it is important to be inspired.

Summary

In 12 months, we have successfully had 73% of our team members take wellness leave. Absenteeism figures have dropped by a whopping 51% compared to the prior year.

I’d highly encourage your workplace to review HR policies relating to employee wellbeing.

Ask yourself, can this be innovated to support your people?

Before you do that open up the dialogue with your people and assess and measure changes over a long range period.

Wellness leave has become part of our culture at Pinnacle Health Group and this is only one initiative of our integrated wellness program Pinnacle Life.

If you are interested in learning more about Pinnacle Life please get in touch with our HR team.