Half of Mature Workers Delaying or Giving Up on Retirement

Did you know that now more than ever Americans are giving up on their dreams of retirement? Find out about the somber facts facing the older generation of workers in the great article from Benefits Pro by Marlene Y. Satter.

It’s a grim picture for older workers: half either plan to postpone retirement till at least age 70, or else to forego retirement altogether.

That’s the depressing conclusion of a recent CareerBuilder survey, which finds that 30 percent of U.S. workers aged 60 or older don’t plan to retire until at least age 70—and possibly not then, either.

Another 20 percent don’t believe they will ever be able to retire.

Why? Well, money—or, rather, the lack of it—is the main reason for all these delays and postponements.

But that doesn’t mean that workers actually have a set financial goal in mind; they just have this sinking feeling that there’s not enough set aside to support them.

Thirty-four percent of survey respondents aged 60 and older say they aren’t sure how much they’ll need to save in order to retire.

And a stunning 24 percent think they’ll be able to get through retirement (and the potential for high medical expenses) on less than $500,000.

Others are estimating higher—some a lot higher—but that probably makes the goal of retirement seem even farther out of reach, with 25 percent believing that the magic number lies somewhere between $500,000–$1,000,000, 13 percent shooting for a figure between $1–2 million, 3 percent looking at $2 million to less than $3 million and (the) 1 percent aiming at $3 million or more.

And if that’s not bad enough, 26 percent of workers 55 and older say they don’t even participate in a 401(k), IRA or other retirement plan.

With 74 percent of respondents 55 and older saying they aren’t making their desired salary, that could play a pretty big part in lack of participation—but that doesn’t mean they’re standing still. Eight percent took on a second job in 2016, and 12 percent plan to change jobs this year.

Predictably, the situation is worse for women. While 54.8 percent of male respondents aged 60+ say they’re postponing retirement, 58.7 percent of women say so.

Asked at which age they think they can retire, the largest groups of both men and women say 65–69, but while 44.9 percent of men say so, just 39.6 percent of women say so.

In addition, 24.4 percent of women peg the 70–74 age range, compared with 21.1 percent of men, and 23.2 percent of women agree with the gloomy statement, “I don’t think I’ll be able to retire”—compared with 18 percent of men.

And no wonder, since while 21.7 percent of men say they’re “not sure” how much they’ll need to retire, 49.3 percent of women are in that category.

Women also don’t participate in retirement plans at the rate that men do, either; 28.3 percent of male respondents say they don’t participate in a 401(k), IRA or other retirement plan, but 35.4 percent of female respondents say they aren’t participating.

For workers in the Midwest, a shocking percentage say they’re delaying retirement: 61.6 percent overall, both men and women, of 60+ workers saying they’re doing so.

Those in the fields of transportation, retail, sales, leisure and hospitality make up the largest percentages of those putting off retirement, at 70.4 percent, 62.5 percent, 62.8 percent and 61.3 percent, respectively. And 46.7 percent overall agree with the statement, “I don’t think I’ll be able to retire.”

Incidentally, 53.2 percent of those in financial services—the largest professional industry group to say so—are not postponing retirement.

They’re followed closely by those in health care, at 50.9 percent—the only other field in which more than half of its workers are planning on retiring on schedule.

And when it comes to participating in retirement plans, some industries see some really outsized participation rates that other industries could only dream of. Among those who work in financial services, for instance, 96.5 percent of respondents say they participate in a 401(k), IRA or comparable retirement plan.

That’s followed by information technology (88.2 percent), energy (87.5 percent), large health care institutions (85.8 percent—smaller health care institutions participate at a rate of 51 percent, while overall in the industry the rate comes to 75.5 percent), government employees (83.6 percent) and manufacturing (80.2 percent).

After that it drops off pretty sharply, and the industry with the lowest participation rate is the leisure and hospitality industry, at just 43.4 percent.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Satter M. (2017 March 31). Half of mature workers delaying or giving up on retirement [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.benefitspro.com/2017/03/31/half-of-mature-workers-delaying-or-giving-up-on-re?ref=mostpopular&page_all=1


Financial stress hurts emotional, physical well-being of workers

Did you know that your emotional and physical well-being can take a hit when you are under financial stress?  Here is an interesting article from Employee Benefits Advisors about the correlation between financial stress and mental and physical health by Amanda Eisenberg.

Americans aren’t able to save for their financial goals, and that stress is affecting their emotional and physical well-being.

A new study by Guardian Life Insurance found that financial outlook is the most significant driver of working Americans’ overall well-being, constituting 40% of the insurance company’s Workforce Well-Being Index, and money is cited as the No. 1 source of stress for a majority of workers.

“Even among people working full-time with benefits, many still do not have access to adequate insurance coverage or retirement plans,” says Dave Mahder, vice president and chief marketing officer of Guardian’s Group and Worksite Markets business. “And few take advantage of the health and wellness programs available through their employers, which often contain a much broader menu of resources than workers realize.”

Millennials are one of the subsets of employees who do participate in benefits that can help alleviate financial stress, the survey found.

“Millennials want marketing to them,” says Gene Lanzoni, assistant vice president of thought leadership for Guardian Life. “It’s not enough these days to say, “This is someone like you,” to do with your benefit selection. That’s what the challenge is for millennials. It’s not enough of an engaging process for them.”

Half of millennials surveyed in Guardian Life’s “Fourth Annual Guardian Workplace Benefits Study” said they don’t have disability insurance, while a third have yet to sign up for a retirement plan.

They are not the only group of employees struggling to purchase voluntary benefits like disability and life insurance; single working parents are also feeling the heat.

One in three single working parents does not have a retirement plan, compared to 20% of the 1,439 workers surveyed. Similarly, one in four workers doesn’t have life insurance, and one in three workers doesn’t have disability insurance, according to the survey.

“Many of those working parents are struggling to balance work and personal life, and they may not be able to afford some of the protection products,” says Lanzoni. “Some of that discretionary income might not go toward paying a voluntary disability plan.”

To offset expenses, Americans are increasingly turning to debt, whether through loans or credit cards, to temporarily relieve their financial burdens.

Four in 10 Americans have car loans, 32% of workers are carrying a mortgage, 17% have student loans and 12% have home improvement debt, according to the study. Overall, 75% of Americans are carrying debt.

Non-mortgage debt — particularly auto and education loans — contributes to lower financial wellness; those carrying the most total debt, including mortgages and rent, report considerably lower overall well-being, according to Guardian Life’s report.

Employers can also help alleviate the burden by providing education to employees, among other services, says Lanzoni.

The survey found that employer-sponsored voluntary insurance products and college tuition or loan repayment programs help with financial wellness, as well as employee assistance programs that can identify financial, emotional and physical issues that lead to stress.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Eisenberg A. (2017 March 13). Financial stress hurts emotional, physical well-being of workers [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address https://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/news/financial-stress-hurts-emotional-physical-well-being-of-workers?feed=00000152-1387-d1cc-a5fa-7fffaf8f0000


Employee financial health connects to physical health

Did you know that there is a direct corelation between financial and physical health? This article from Benefits Pro is a great read explaining the link between an employee’s financial and physical health by Caroline Marwitz

LAS VEGAS — Are poor physical health and poor financial health connected? The benefits industry is making the link, if you consider how many deals between health-related benefits companies and retirement providers have occurred lately.

Obviously, the poor, at least in America, have a more fragile state of health than the more affluent. And as we age, the potential for unplanned health events to hurt us financially increases — and that’s important for retirement advisors and plan sponsors to remember. But what about your typical employees who are neither poor nor elderly?

A study in the journal Psychological Science looked at worker attitudes and actions to find out whether poor physical health and poor financial health might be linked, and how.

The researchers studied employees who were given an employer-sponsored health exam and were told they needed to change certain behaviors to improve their health. Which employees made the changes and who blew them off?

The researchers accounted for external factors such as different levels of income and physical health, and differences in demographics. Yet the results were still startling:

“Employees who saved for the future by contributing to a 401(k) showed improvements in their abnormal blood-test results and health behaviors approximately 27% more often than noncontributors did,” the researchers concluded in Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Retirement Planning Predicts Employee Health Improvements.

The employees who made the behavior changes to better their physical health were also the ones who were taking action to better their financial health.

Employee attitudes about the future and how much control they have over it affect whether they take care of their physical health and their financial health. That sense of control, or conversely, that feeling of no control, and thus, no investment in long-term results, is one reason why some employees might not participate in retirement plans, and, maybe, wellness and well-being programs.

What if, along with the retirement health-care cost calculators many retirement plan providers offer, there was a fatalism calculator too? That way you could see right away each person’s sense of control or feelings of inevitability about their future and help them more efficiently.

Because if someone is more fatalistic, telling them about their 401(k) match or pension options isn’t going to make them enroll in a retirement plan. Scaring them with statistics about the high costs of health care in retirement isn’t going to do the trick either. Instead, consider the following points for such employees:

  • They can be helped to see that the future is a lot more unpredictable (and complex) than they realize, both negatively and positively.
  • They can be helped to realize that even the smallest actions they undertake can have a big impact in the long term.
  • They can be helped to understand that seemingly unobtainable goals can be broken down into steps and tackled bit by bit.

Look behind employee behavior for the unexamined biases and long-held assumptions that are causing it. If they can see that it’s not who they are that determines their future but what they do, it’s a start.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Marwitz C. (2017 March 19). Employee financial health connects to physical health [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.benefitspro.com/2017/03/19/employee-financial-health-connects-to-physical-hea?ref=hp-top-stories


5 reasons why auto accidents are on the rise

Have you noticed more auto accidents lately? Then check out this interesting article from Property Casualty 360 about the reasons why auto accidents are on the rise by Denny Jacob

According to the National Safety Council, traffic deaths increased 6 percent to 40,200 — the first time since 2007 that more than 40,000 have died in motor vehicle crashes in a single year.

The 2016 total follows a 7 percent rise in 2015. Much of this is attributed to continued lower gasoline prices and an improving economy which has increased motor-vehicle mileage.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s early estimates show the motor vehicle traffic fatalities for the first nine months of 2016 increased about 8 percent as compared to the motor vehicle traffic fatalities for the first nine months of 2015. Preliminary data reported by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) shows that vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in the first nine months of 2016 increased about 3 percent.

All 10 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regions experienced increases during the first nine months of 2016. In particular, the South, Southeast and Northeast saw motor vehicle traffic fatalities spike between 11 and 20 percent alone.

Here are 5 factors contributing to the increase in auto accident rates:

More cars on the road and miles driven today

Cheap gas and diesel, plus a stronger economy, has caused high road density with more cars on the road. The Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration shows that driving jumped 3.5 percent over 2015, the largest uptick in more than a decade. Americans drove more than 3.15 trillion miles, equivalent to around 337 round trips from Earth to Pluto. The previous record, around 3 trillion miles, was set in 2007.

More distractions

Beyond texting and driving, from Bluetooth to Snapchat, approximately 660,000 drivers are attempting to use their phones while behind the wheel of an automobile. On top of that, we now have sensors and technologies that respond to our every move in vehicles. We have apps that connect to center consoles and more touch-screen technology in vehicles than ever before

Younger, more inexperienced drivers

A new study from AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety show that millennial drivers (more 19- to 39-year-old drivers) are texting, speeding and running red lights. They also think it’s OK to speed in school zones. While the statistics improve for older drivers, it’s not by much. From a commercial driver standpoint, the experience (or inexperience) of drivers can lead to more auto accidents overall.

Cost of car repair more expensive

Think about your grandfather’s car. If the engine blew, you went to a mechanic who fixed the problem. Now, everything in a car is connected by a computer. If one fuse blows, it will likely have an impact on other parts of the vehicle. Yes, computers make it easier and quicker to fix, but overall costs tend to be higher, especially because cars on the road are much newer.

Ultimately, we pay for the technology (computers, advancements in bodywork, HVAC, etc.). To diagnose many computer issues and the dozens of sensors requires a scan tool that is capable of accessing the thousands of manufacturer-specific trouble codes and data streams. A good one can cost $7,000 alone.

Injury costs from accidents on the rise

No surprise, the cost of medical care has increased, most of which are spinal and soft tissue injuries. According to the Mayo Clinic, more than 35 percent of spinal cord injuries are caused by vehicle accidents (truck, automobile, or motorcycle). Think about this — medical spending for spinal care per patient increased by 95 percent from $487 to $950 between 1999 to 2008, accounting for inflation.

But think about the full picture, which compounds the issue. You get whiplash (direct medical cost), have to stay home for a few weeks (loss of income) and get physical therapy (cost of post-injury medical care — according to one estimate, about 25 percent of whiplash injury patients end up suffering chronic pain). The costs can triple from an economic and quality-of-life perspective, costing the U.S. $2.7 billion per year.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Jacob Denny (2017 March 02). 5 reason why auto accidents are on the rise [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.propertycasualty360.com/2017/03/02/5-reasons-why-auto-accidents-are-on-the-rise?page_all=1


Why wellness needs to be personal

Great article from Employee Benefits News about the importance of employee wellness by Brian M. Kalish,

There is no question that a healthier workforce is a more productive and more engaged workforce. With employers consistently looking to improve effectiveness of wellness programs, advisers agree that making the programs more personal provides a solid road toward increased engagement.

When a wellness program is personal, it is relevant. Employees will see something they are interested in and engage, says Erin Milliken, wellness consultant with EPIC Brokers in Houston.

The benefits of personalized wellness are abundant. Aetna recently ran a pilot program through its innovation lab, in cooperation with personalized health management startup Newtopia, which used a combination of behavioral science and limited genetic testing to build a highly personalized disease prevention and weight management program for Aetna employees at high risk for metabolic syndrome.

Through personalized information, nearly three-quarters of the more than 400 people in the program reported significant weight loss, with an average weight loss of 10 pounds. Additionally, Aetna employees in the programs improved in several of the risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome, including waist size, triglycerides and good cholesterol (HDL) levels.

As a cost savings, average healthcare costs were reduced $122 per program participant per month, according to Aetna.

Making information personal is important because clients and their employees are oversaturated with points of contacts, adds Archana Kansagra, director of health and wellness product and strategy at Aetna in Boston.

Kansagra, who previously worked as a consultant to large employers, says employers are focusing on making access to wellness programs easy for their employees. “It is such a transformational time,” she says. “These [wellness] programs are trying to get pointed to understand the member, what their needs are and how to best communicate with them … with information that is timely and relevant.”

Wellness is becoming personalized through technology, such as through smartwatches and different devices that employees keep with them 24 hours a day, Milliken says.

“Technology will really take wellness and the health management space to another level,” she adds. “We haven’t quite gotten there, but technology will cause this industry to boom and get … employees to engage.”

Working with clients
Although there is little question personalized health programs increase employee wellness and therefore productivity and engagement, it is a fine line for advisers to bring it up with their clients.

Milliken says advisers should be proactive about the conversation because most employers do not know what to do when it comes to wellness. “It is our job to engage them and engage their population,” she says.

But responses remain a mixed bag. “Some employers will come to me or come to my team and say, ‘We want wellness because our claims experience is outrageous,’” she explains. “But some clients don’t know anything about wellness and we [as advisers] have to … build the case.”

It is easier for brokers working with employers who already understand wellness. “For those employer groups who aren’t quite persuaded into believing wellness can work for them, that is a tougher conversation,” Milliken says. “But we can get there and once they understand how wellness can improve their business” they are onboard.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Kalish B. (2017 January 31). Why wellness needs to be personal [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://www.benefitnews.com/news/why-wellness-needs-to-be-personal?feed=00000152-18a4-d58e-ad5a-99fc032b0000


2014 Work-Related Illness & Injury Statistics

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently released statistics on work-related injuries and illnesses in 2014. According to the BLS, two key factors are used to measure the severity of these injuries and illnesses:

* Incidence rate: The number of cases, per 10,000 full-time employees, of injuries and illnesses that require time away from work.

* Average days away from work: The average number of days an employee spends away from work to recover from an injury or illness. The BLS found that the overall incidence rate of nonfatal occupational injury and illness cases in 2014 was 107.1, down from a rate of 109.4 in 2013. The number of days away from work was approximately the same in both years. Additionally, the BLS detailed the most common workplace injuries and illnesses, as well as the most commonly affected parts of the body.

Common Injuries and Illnesses
Sprains, strains and tears were the most common workplace injury in 2014. The incidence rate for these injuries was approximately 38.9 cases per 10,000 full-time employees, which represents a decrease from 2013’s rate of 40.2 cases. However, these are still significant injuries; on average, workers with sprains, strains or tears needed 10 days away from work to recover.

The statistics also show that soreness and pain were common injuries, but generally required fewer days away from work.

Commonly Affected Parts of the Body
The upper extremities (e.g., hands, shoulders) were most affected by injuries and illnesses in 2014, with an incidence rate of 32. Hands accounted for 40 percent of those cases, the most among upper extremities. However, shoulder injuries and illnesses required an average of 26 days away from work to recover, more than any other part of the body.

Musculoskeletal Disorders
The BLS specifically noted that musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) accounted for 32 percent of all workplace-related injuries and illnesses in 2014. Although the incident rate of MSDs was lower than it had been in 2013, these injuries can affect employees in any industry.

For more information on preventing workplace injuries and illnesses, contact Hierl Insurance Inc. today.


Striving for a Culture Change in Your Wellness Program (Part 1)

Great article from our partner, United Benefit Advisors (UBA) by Heather Mills

Many of us have seen or heard about the various wellness programs referred to as “participation–based” programs. These participation-only programs continue to be the starting point for many organizations when they enter the world of workplace wellness. Participatory programs typically include a few individual and team-based activities, offer a level of electronic or onsite seminar education, and offer employees biometric screening and personal health risk assessments. Organizations may even award prizes, hold drawings, or offer giveaways.
These programs are typically created with the goals of promoting and encouraging healthier lifestyles for their employees and their families, reducing healthcare costs of the organization, or simply because ownership feels it is the right thing to do.Fast forward a few years, and the same program is being offered. In most cases, employees have received some education and had fun, but the organization has yet to meet its original goals or experience a real culture change. Employees still seem to be leading unhealthy lifestyles, productivity and morale seem lower than ever, and healthcare claims continue to skyrocket. So why do you even have this wellness program?In my eight years working as Wellness Program Manager for a mid-sized benefits consulting firm, I have been a part of and have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of the programs. I have learned from mistakes made early on, and I value sharing those experiences with those I have the opportunity to consult with. I share firsthand examples from my own company’s program, as well as the experiences of my clients and other business partners. A program set up successfully – with the right support, tools, partners, and initial incentives – will absolutely reap the reward, and your organization should recognize a true cultural change.These are the key factors that I believe contribute most to the success of a wellness program.1. Secure senior management commitment and participation.

It is easy for business owners to say they want a wellness program, but it is a different story when they actually embrace the concept, support the process, and engage in the program themselves. Owners of organizations have come to me for help in implementing a wellness program. They assign one person to be in charge of the program, typically someone whose time is already limited, and for one reason or another the program stalls. If the top leadership of the organization is not supportive or engaged, it could take anywhere from six months to five years trying to get a sustainable wellness program off the ground. The program may not even take off at all.

I have seen these programs fizzle for many reasons, including a shift in business objectives, lack of established goals, or lack of participation or role-modeling from management or ownership. It can be recognized early whether a program is going to succeed by the support it has from its leaders. Think of a successful program much like the game “follow the leader.” Good leaders and owners should not only sponsor the program, but should also be actively engaged and supporting it, leading by example. When employees see owners and employers participating and supporting the program, they too will “follow the leader.” Once you have backing from the people who invoke change within your organization, laying the groundwork for the program will become a smoother process.

2.  Survey the organization and gather aggregate data to establish need and risk areas.

Once you have built the foundation, it is a good time to collect and gather data to determine need and evaluate aggregate risks in the organization. Of those organizations that created the participatory programs we discussed earlier, how many of them do you think actually asked their employees first what they wanted or needed in order to change unhealthy behaviors or lead a healthy lifestyle? What lifestyle-related claims is the organization experiencing that might be able to be controlled with interventions? What health risks exist within the organization? Organizations typically roll out the program before they gather the data, and then look back and wonder why their participation in their program was so low. Logically, it is because the employees didn’t want or need it or see the value.

When working with a benefits consulting firm, organizations ask for employees to be surveyed annually on their likes and dislikes in medical and dental coverage. It only makes sense that employees also be surveyed about their needs in a wellness program. The employee wellness survey may include questions about areas where they may want help, programs they would be willing to participate in, what would motivate them to engage in the program, and whether or not they are even looking to make any changes. Do not worry or be discouraged, as there is always five to ten percent of a population that is resistant to anything and will never participate regardless of what you provide.

Additional data is then obtained by analyzing your organization’s aggregate claims, if data is available. Along with claims data, organizations may also compile aggregate data through health screenings, biometrics, health and fitness diagnostics and assessments, blood work, and more.

3.  Utilize existing tools and resources, establish partnerships and seek guidance.

Many organizations may not be aware of the variety of wellness program tools and resources available to them. First, look to your benefits insurance consultant. Qualified, reputable benefit consulting firms now have credentialed wellness program managers or coordinators on staff to work alongside you and your team. Consultants can help navigate what is available to you from your insurance carrier or third party administrator and are likely tapped into local and national resources, wellness vendors, and other workplace wellness tools. One of the best parts of my role as a Wellness Program Manager is to share my passion for wellness with our clients and help them design a sustainable program. If you have a benefits consultant that is not providing this level of support or staff, it is worth inquiring.

Establish a partnership with a wellness vendor. This is one resource that is often overlooked because organizations try to do it themselves. Sustainable programs have vendors that can design programs based on need and risk, manage day-to-day program tasks, provide ongoing reporting, and recommend best practices for goal achievement.

Over the last few years, hundreds of new wellness vendors have entered the marketplace. I have worked with great vendors and vendors that I will not work with again. Employers should not settle for a “cookie cutter” program. Look for a partner that shares a similar view on wellness, one who will customize a program to satisfy your organization’s objectives. Ensure that you partner with a vendor that offers actual guidance and management of your program. CAUTION: Many vendors promote account management as a top service they provide, but few deliver. A great way to find the right vendor is through the partnerships your employee benefits consultant has established or from other business referrals and testimonials. When I place a client with a vendor, the most important thing I look for is the type of service my client will receive. Accept nothing but high quality and service.

Subscribe to the UBA blog for part 2 in this series, which will cover the final steps to successfully set up a program with the right support, tools, partners, and initial incentives.

For additional trends among wellness programs, download In UBA’s new whitepaper: “Wellness Programs — Good for You & Good for Your Organization”.

To understand legal requirements for wellness programs, request UBA’s ACA Advisor, “Understanding Wellness Programs and Their Legal Requirements,” which reviews the five most critical questions that wellness program sponsors should ask and work through to determine the obligations of their wellness program under the ACA, HIPAA, ADA, GINA, and ERISA, as well as considerations for wellness programs that involve tobacco use in any way. With over 20 pages of comprehensive guidance, examples and frequently asked questions, this is an invaluable employer resource.

For the latest statistics from the UBA survey examining wellness program design among 19,557 health plans and 11,524 employers, pre-order UBA’s 2016 Health Plan Survey Executive Summary which will be available to the public in late September.

See the original article Here.

Source:

Mills, H. (2016 September 9). Striving for a culture change in your wellness program. [Web blog post]. Retrieved from address http://blog.ubabenefits.com/striving-for-a-culture-change-in-your-wellness-program-part-1


Why Employers Should Consider Mindfulness Training as an Employee Benefit

Original post benefitsnews.com

Resilience gained attention in the 1970s as psychologists and trauma researchers began to articulate the amazing ability of many people to bounce back following a devastating event, crisis or injury. Over time, researchers have identified the characteristics of resilient people, and have identified how to train people to develop skills to increase their resilience. Hence, resilience has evolved to reflect a coping style that allows someone to endure during difficult times and emerge more competent and skillful in dealing with challenges.

A growing body of evidence suggests that mindfulness is particularly important for developing resilience at work, through its effects on employee physical and psychological health, absenteeism, turnover, and in-role performance. Here are some of the findings:

  • In workplace samples, mindfulness has been linked to reduced levels of reported burnout, perceived stress, work-family conflict, and negative moods, along with better sleep quality.
  • In studies where employees were randomly assigned to a self-directed mindfulness intervention or a control group, those in the mindfulness intervention reported greater job satisfaction and less emotional exhaustion. Similar effects have been found in a range of occupations, including doctors, soldiers and teachers.
  • Mindfulness has been linked to increased psychological capital and resilience in managers and entrepreneurs.
  • Mindfulness training predicted employee engagement among employees at the Mayo Clinic. Additional studies have further shown that such engagement may be mediated by greater authenticity, positive emotions, hope and optimism.

Developing a formal mindfulness practice is thought to increase resilience in three ways:

1. Flexible cognition. Practicing mindfulness may actually rewire our brain circuitry, improving our ability to think flexibly, more easily perceiving different perspectives and generating novel solutions to problems. This same skill may allow one to observe potentially toxic workplace events while adopting a “decentered perspective,” making perceived stressors appear less threatening.

Imagine an employee witnesses verbal aggression directed at a fellow co-worker, which causes the employee to feel physiological reactivity and psychological stress. Experiencing the event with mindful attention could decouple this automatic link between the toxic experience and emotional reactivity, leaving them feeling less depleted. This reinterpretation of events actually starts to form new habits of thinking, which may involve perception of stressors as challenges that elicit growth, rather than as hindrances. In addition, application of mindfulness skills may elicit compassion for the fellow co-worker.

2. Growth in the face of adversity. Research shows that exposure to a threat without being overcome by that threat can result in higher levels of well-being than not experiencing the threat at all. In other words, experiencing but quickly recovering from workplace stress may indeed make an employee stronger.

So where does mindfulness fit in? Mindful individuals show an ability to perceive stressful and adverse situations from different angles, and demonstrate a willingness to behave more flexibly in response to them. As workers successfully experiment with new coping behaviors, they experience increased confidence and stronger self-efficacy, improving their ability to deal with many types of challenging situations and developing greater resilience.

3. Positive thinking. Positive emotions play a crucial role in one’s ability to recover physically from adverse events, as well to facilitate better emotion and behavior self-regulation. Mindfulness not only enhances regulation of negative emotions, but also cultivates positive emotions. It’s not that resilient people don’t experience negative emotions like anyone else; they do. Resilient people, however, do not dwell on them. Rather, they have learned how to use their attention and other internal resources to notice and amplify pleasant experiences and meaningful events as well.

To summarize, mindfulness may improve employee resilience by training the mind to reinterpret stressors as less personally threatening, empowering workers to take new perspectives and try new behaviors, which may actually result in growth in the face of challenges, and cultivating positive thinking, which is especially important during hardships. A new wave of resilience research is supporting the idea that mindfulness practice may lead to improved workplace outcomes like job satisfaction, retention, and employee health.


Moving from Employee Wellness to Employee Well-Being

Original post ubabenefits.com

The terms “wellness” and “well-being” are often used interchangeably; however, they mean very different things when applied to workplace health promotion. Traditionally speaking, employee “wellness” programs have primarily focused on just physical health. Whereas employee “well-being” programs emphasize emotional, mental, social, and financial health in addition to physical health.

With the addition of millennials in the workplace coupled with the aging working population, organizations are realizing that the traditional approach to workplace health promotion isn’t enough. Employers have begun to take a more holistic approach to employee health and are now beginning to focus on well-being. According to the 7th annual survey on corporate health & well-being employers are expanding programs to focus on improving employees’ emotional and financial well-being. This includes offering education and resources focused on stress management, work-life balance and financial health. There is also a social aspect in well-being programs which encourage team-building and boosting morale.

Generally speaking, employee well-being programs tend to be more inviting than traditional wellness programs. Well-being programs offer a larger variety of activities and resources which are based upon interest as well as need. These programs have a greater focus on the “fun factor” the program’s appeal to a broader employee population.

The motivation for employers to offer employee well-being programs has also increased. The desire to address soaring health care costs and increase productivity while reducing presenteeism and absenteeism remains a top priority. However, employers are now positioning their well-being programs to attract top talent and to encourage employee engagement. Employers seek to become an employer of choice by offering thoughtfully designed plans. This is especially valuable if you are looking to acquire millennial talent which tends to be enticed by such offerings.

How do you start an employee well-being program?

There are seven common elements in successful wellness programs, according to the Wellness Council of America. Common elements in successful wellness and well-being program development include the following:

  • Garner C-suite support
  • Develop a cohesive wellness team
  • Collect data to drive a results-oriented wellness initiative
  • Create an operating plan
  • Choose appropriate interventions
  • Create a supportive, health-promoting environment
  • Carefully evaluate outcomes

June 2016 will mark the 8th annual National Employee Wellbeing Month. If your organization has not yet implemented a well-being program, now is a great time to start. Well-being programs are significant additions to a fringe benefit program—for employees and employers.


Wellness: There’s Always Time for a Workout

Original post ubabenefits.com

An often heard excuse for people not exercising is that they don’t have time to do it. We all have time for something, it just depends on whether we want to make time for it. Consider this: If you think you’re too busy to work out, but then an activity comes up you want to do, I’m willing to bet that you’ll find a way to do that activity. But maybe you really are too busy to exercise either before or after work. Are there any options?

Enter the lunchtime workout. Nearly everyone who has a job will take time to eat lunch. Now, suppose you replace some of that time with exercise? See how easy it was to find those precious minutes? If you want to use your real excuse for not wanting to work out, now would be the moment to do it.

If, on the other hand, you’re intrigued with this newfound possibility for self-improvement, read on. An article on The Washington Post’swebsite titled, “How to Actually Get a Good Lunchtime Workout, Even If You Can’t Leave the Office” has some excellent tips on the ways to maximize your fitness routine in a short timeframe.

As with most things, those who fail to plan, plan to fail. Are you still going to eat? Are you able to take a shower afterward? Will you want a change of clothing? Make a checklist of everything you think you’ll need. This may include your workout clothes and shoes, a small lunch, fresh underwear or an entire outfit, deodorant, dry shampoo or baby wipes to help freshen up if you’re not able to take a shower, shower supplies if you are able to take one, and bottled water to keep hydrated. If this seems too much, then think about what items you’re able to keep at the office so that you can pack light the other times.

Before you begin your lunchtime workout, you need to consider how much to eat ahead of time. If you’re going to run, or do a high-intensity exercise, then a good breakfast might be the best course of action. If your exercise routine is at a more reasonable pace, then it’s perfectly okay to eat a small lunch or a piece of fruit before you start as long as your body can tolerate it. That way, you’ll have plenty of fuel to burn and maintain blood sugar levels during your workout. When you’re done exercising, a blend of both protein and carbohydrates is ideal.

Now you’re ready to work out! If your office is near a park or trail, then that’s an easy way to get in a quick run. If you’re not near one of those, or it’s too cold or raining outside, then see if there’s a nearby gym. Barring that, bring a small set of dumbbells into your office or go to the stairs and run up and down them for a few intervals. There are numerous free apps available online with a plethora of 30-minute strength, cardio, and other training routines. These will help you tailor your workout for whatever time and equipment is available. All you need is the motivation to start!