Defining Wellness Is a Good Start For Your Wellness Program

How Do You Define “Wellness”?

how do you define wellnessAustin, Texas: There has been much debate on the true definition or meaning of the word “wellness” on LinkedIn and a few other sites I participate in recently.

Some define it as the absence of disease or sickness.  Others define it as a state of being–including physical, spiritual, mental, social, etc.

If there is no consensus on its meaning” – then perhaps that is why so many wellness programs are doomed to failure from the start.

In my opinion, wellness is a goal that encompasses habits and behaviors, mind set, fitness, diet, and disease and injury.

I think of it in terms of a spectrum encompassing many things – not just one aspect.

If your wellness program is focusing on just sickness or fitness- it is missing the bigger picture.

Total wellness can never be achieved–it can just be strived for.

Focusing on just physical well-being may also fall short–as mental disease and positive mental thoughts are crucial in one’s wellness.

Behavior modification is also crucial. Forcing employees to quit smoking or to lose weight–without incentives and support in encouraging behavioral changes over a period of time will be futile.

People are creatures of habit and cannot effectively change behavior cold-turkey. It needs time, patience, support, coaching and incentive to happen for the long haul.

How does your company define wellness?

How do you define it?

How do your employees define it?

Look at your wellness program from a “total well-being” frame of reference..and then think about what else you can add to it.

What should be taken away from your current program?

How are you adding support, coaching and incentives to your goals?

Keep re-working your program – as total well-being should be continuously strived for.

Here’s to a healthier workforce!

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Robert Piller is President of WellnessIncentivesPlus.com, a leading provider of custom-printed promotional items geared exclusively for wellness programs and wellness incentives. These branded gifts are ideal for wellness incentive rewards, wellness kickoff or announcement gifts or as wellness reminders.

Visit WellnessIncentivesPlus.com to view thousands of wellness rewards and reminders in all price points-including over 800 different promotional pedometer styles in all price ranges.

Follow @wellnessincent

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Case Study: City Worksite Wellness Program

Ideas to Improve Your Wellness Program

wellness -program-case-studyAustin, Texas: I read about a wellness program in my home city of Austin, Texas that the CDC had written up a while back, and I think it is well worth reading again.

The wellness program was called Steps to a Healthier Austin and was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to implement chronic disease prevention and health promotion activities for Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Capital Metro), Austin’s  transit authority.

This wellness program was effctive because it reached the employees in many ways:

1) Cash Incentives:  Cash incentives have also been a key part of the success of the employee wellness program. Cash incentives are provided if any of the following occurs:

  • Blood pressure drops to 120/80 mm Hg or lower.
  • Fasting plasma glucose drops to below 100 mg/dL (employees without diabetes) or 126 mg/dL (employees with diabetes).
  • Total cholesterol drops to below 200 mg/dL.
  • Body fat decreases by 3% or more in 6 months.
  • The employee loses 10% of his initial weight.
  • VO2 max increases by 5 mL/kg/min in 6 months.
  • Cash incenitves for joining weight-loss programs, for sustaining use of the on-site gym, and for achieving other health-related goals, such as participation in races and stopping smoking.

2) Improved access to healthy food: Capital Metro now provides what it calls its Healthy Options Cafe. Employees are given weekly discount coupons to purchase healthy cafeteria items; $5 worth of coupons are available each week for each Capital Metro employee and contractor. Capital Metro also instituted a healthy vending contract and stipulated that 60% of offerings had to be healthy choices, and healthy options are cheaper than less healthy options. No snacks can be “value sized,” and all snacks must contain less than 5 g fat (nuts and seeds exempt) and less than 30 g carbohydrate (fruit exempt). Beverage choices are 25% water or sports drinks, 25% fruit juices, 25% low-calorie soft drinks, and 25% regular soft drinks.

3) On-site Weight Watchers classes:  Employees are reimbursed up to $180 for the cost of the program if they lose 10% of their initial weight and if they attend 85% of meetings during a specified time period. In addition, employees earn $75 for losing 10% of their initial body weight, $125 for reaching their goal weight, $200 for maintaining their goal weight for 6 months, and an additional $200 each year the weight is maintained for up to 5 years.

4) Smoking and Tobacco-cessation component:  Employees receive up to $100 in reimbursement for over-the-counter nicotine replacement products, and they can earn $250 for every year they remain tobacco-free for up to 5 years.

5) Wellness Reminder-such as a wellness calendar and newsletter: The monthly calendar details health-related events and highlights health topics related to the national health calendar, with an emphasis on disease prevention. Additional promotions (educational programs, awareness campaigns, newsletters) are planned throughout the year relevant to diseases that are prevalent among the employee population.

6) Health Promotion Events: Cap Metro offered on-site include health screenings, educational programs, cooking demonstrations with the Sustainable Food Center (Steps to a Healthier Austin’s partner), chair massages, and stretching sessions. Employee health screenings are held throughout the year and include ultrasound stroke screening, vision and hearing screenings, mammograms, and glucose, cholesterol, and blood pressure testing. Screenings are offered at no charge.

These steps showed the commitment that CapMetro put into their wellness program–which is why the program was so successful

Education.

Rewards.

Repetiton.

It’s as simple as that to run a successful wellness program.

What can you do to enhance and improve your wellness program?

Here’s to a healthier workforce!

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Robert Piller is President of WellnessIncentivesPlus.com, a leading provider of custom-printed promotional items geared exclusively for wellness programs and wellness incentives. These branded gifts are ideal for wellness incentive rewards, wellness kickoff or announcement gifts or as wellness reminders. Visit WellnessIncentivesPlus.com to view thousands of wellness rewards and reminders in all price points-including over 800 different promotional pedometer styles in all price ranges.

Follow @wellnessincent

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Limit Your Wellness Program Topics to One Per Meeting for Best Results

Too Many Wellness Program Topics Can Harm Your Wellness Program Very Quickly

limit your wellness program to one topic per meetingAustin, TX:  Is your wellness program themes scatter-shot like a shotgun – -or laser-focused on a wellness topic of the month?

Are you focusing on five wellness issues each meeting – and covering them all poorly?

Too many companies seem to go from one health care or wellness topic at a time and their employees tend to give up or ignore the discussions completely.

What works better is to have a monthly wellness meeting and discuss one wellness/health care topic–such as smoking cessation, exercise, diet and nutrition, etc.

Only one.

That’s right– just one wellness topic per meeting.  

That’s all!

Meet monthly and educate, leave behind information and suggestions, such as wellness info guides, booklets, etc.

Cover that topic in depth.

Let your employees know what topic will be discussed that month — and have prizes for best question, attendance, etc.

Keep it fun.

Keep it interesting.

Keep it short.

Keep it on target.

You will find these discussions and meetings to yield better results for your wellness program.

Keep the information overload to a minimum.

Here’s to a healthier workforce!

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Robert Piller is President of WellnessIncentivesPlus.com, a leading provider of custom-printed promotional items geared exclusively for wellness programs and wellness incentives. These branded gifts are ideal for wellness incentive rewards, wellness kickoff or announcement gifts or as wellness reminders. Visit WellnessIncentivesPlus.com to view thousands of wellness rewards and reminders in all price points-including over 800 different promotional pedometer styles in all price ranges.

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Keep Your Wellness Program Simple, Stupid.

Don't over-complicate your wellness programDon’t Over-Complicate Your Wellness Program

Austin, TX: Each day I get calls from wellness progfessionals asking for help on their wellness incentive programs.

It usually boils down to the same 8-10 questions.

After analyzing the calls for the past six weeks, I have determined that the biggest culprit and common denominator in wellness programs is over-complication.

That would include:

  • Trying to do too much with their wellness program.
  • Ramming too many items down the throats of their employees
  • Starting off in one direction and doing a complete 180.
  • Changing the goals too frequently.
  • Having a rule sheet more than a few bullet points. (I’ve seen some over 8 pages!!)
  • Having too many individuals responsible for points or awards.

Slow down.

Keep your wellness program simple, stupid to paraphrase the  popular expression.

Focus on a few core goals and emphasize only those.

They can include:

  • Weight Reduction.
  • Smoking Cessation.
  • Exercise Regularity.
  • Diet and/or Behavior Modification.

That’s it.

Stop!

No more!

Then:

1) Educate.

2) Put into practice.

3) Review.

4) Then “rinse and repeat”.

Don’t over-think your wellness program.

Don’t keep adding elements to your program.

Don’t continuously add, modify, subtract, etc.

Stick with a few core goals and push only those.

  • Don’t get sidetracked.
  • Reinforce your goals..
  • Set good examples.
  • And keep educating your employees.

It’s as simple as that.

Follow these simple rules and your wellness program can be success

Over-complicate your wellness program – and it will be doomed for failure.

Here’s to a healthier workforce!
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Robert Piller is President of WellnessIncentivesPlus.com, a leading provider of custom-printed promotional items geared exclusively for wellness programs and wellness incentives. These branded gifts are ideal for wellness incentive rewards, wellness kickoff or announcement gifts or as wellness reminders. Visit WellnessIncentivesPlus.com to view thousands of wellness rewards and reminders in all price points-including over 800 different promotional pedometer styles in all price ranges.

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Is Subway’s Food Less Healthy Than McDonalds?

Perception of Food Can be Tricky When Watching Your Calories

halo effect of eating at SubwayAustin, TX: I read this intriguing article in Medical Daily online that states that “researchers found no statistically significant difference between the two restaurants’ menus, and that participants ate too many calories at both.”

People apparently go into Subway shops and think they are getting a low-calorie and healthy meal– but many come away with more calories and sodium than they would have from a Big Mac.

Perception makes all the difference – and people continue to order less healthy menu selections at Subway–which can have more sodium than a McDonald’s menu item – and just as many calories.

There is certainly a “halo effect” that people think every item at Subway must be fresh and healthy–when, in reality, you still need to be careful with your meal selection– and snacks and beverage.

I am often shocked by the number of meatball subs and cold cut meals ordered when I go to Subway.

There is nothing “fresh and healthy” with a cold cut sub that gets extra salt and just a little bit of lettuce.

Subway does a good job of promoting calorie content– but not so good a job explaining the sodium levels in their meats.

The only cure for this perception distortion is education.

Be sure your wellness program stresses education and questioning long-standing food myths.

Be sure to constantly explain calories and sodium to your employees.

Give them guides and charts to help keep track of these things.

Teach them to ask questions or do further research into what they are putting into their mouths.

“Calories consumed” is not the only magic number.

Hidden sugar, sodium and other killers are prevalent and people cannot just hide behind the “fresh” seal of approval.

How do you educate your employees on the dangers of sodium and sugary snacks and drinks?

Please share so I can include these ideas in upcoming blog posts.

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Robert Piller is President of WellnessIncentivesPlus.com, a leading provider of custom-printed promotional items geared exclusively for wellness programs and wellness incentives. These branded gifts are ideal for wellness incentive rewards, wellness kickoff or announcement gifts or as wellness reminders.

Visit WellnessIncentivesPlus.com to view thousands of wellness rewards and reminders in all price points-including over 800 different promotional pedometer styles in all price ranges.

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The Perfect Wellness Incentive Reward is Right in Front of You

finding the perfect wellness rewards or giftsDon’t Over-think Your Wellness Rewards!

Austin, Texas: I get many calls per week asking for ideas to help find the perfect gift or reward for a corporate wellness program.

So…what is the perfect wellness reward?

Well, it is simple.

The perfect wellness reward is a simple pat on the back.

That’s right!

It is a simple AND genuine pat on the back and acknowledgement from someone in management that they are doing a good job.

Preferably, this pat on the back will be made in front of a group of peers– making that recognition even more meaningful.

That’s it!

A simple  “atta boy”!

“Way to go!”

“We’re proud of you!”

“Great job!”

Don’t over-think it.

You can have the greatest wellness rewards – and if there is no acknowledgement from senior members, the program will fade fast.

Let your employees know that you are proud of their initiative on their wellness goals.

Ask them how they achieved such success- and share it with others.

Be genuine.

Be empathetic.

Keep your wellness rewards simple and your wellness program will be extremely successful.

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Robert Piller is President of WellnessIncentivesPlus.com, a leading provider of custom-printed promotional items geared exclusively for wellness programs and wellness incentives. These branded gifts are ideal for wellness incentive rewards, wellness kickoff or announcement gifts or as wellness reminders. Visit WellnessIncentivesPlus.com to view thousands of wellness rewards and reminders in all price points-including over 800 different promotional pedometer styles in all price ranges.

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Is Fear of Change Stopping You from Implementing a Corporate Wellness Program?

tips for a successful wellness programWhat is Holding Back Your Company’s Wellness Program?

Austin, Texas: Is your wellness program still stuck in neutral?

Is management still delaying implementation of your wellness program for a variety of reasons?

Are you still doing a wait-and-see to see how the Affordable Care Act will affect your wellness program?

There is never a good time to implement a new wellness program if you worry about all the potential and imaginary problems.

But you will usually be satisfied that the program has been implemented once you look back.

People are creatures of habit and will fight hard for the status quo -rather than to spend the time and bite the bullet to step up to any new program-including wellness programs.

We have the same problem here at Wellness Incentives Plus.  I have been arguing for over a year for the need to buy and implement a totally new software program that will save us thousands of dollars in man-hours each year– easily off-setting the costs.

However, the fear of change and the worry about integration has been causing delays and excuses..with no end or resolution in sight.

So I just ordered the software this morning and we’re going for full implementation within 60 days. I brought in a temp to help with the integration and we will be up and running soon.

Is fear of change holding you back from implementing your wellness program?

If so, break down this fear into the smallest components–in order to get to the real problem.

Fear of change can be overcome if you look at the big picture.

Look past this fear and think about the positive health benefits that your employees will receive from your wellness program.

Look past this fear and picture how much money your organization will save by running a wellness program.

Look past this fear and envision a wellness program that grows over time to fit your needs – and the needs of your employees.

Look past this fear to imagine how much better your organization will be served with a wellness program.

Now, what is stopping you from kicking off your wellness program?

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Robert Piller is President of WellnessIncentivesPlus.com, a leading provider of custom-printed promotional items geared exclusively for wellness programs and wellness incentives. These branded gifts are ideal for wellness incentive rewards, wellness kickoff or announcement gifts or as wellness reminders. Visit WellnessIncentivesPlus.com to view thousands of wellness rewards and reminders in all price points-including over 800 different promotional pedometer styles in all price ranges.

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What is Stopping Your Company From Starting an Effective Wellness Program?

Steps to designing a wellness programAustin, Texas: I get calls each day from companies that have been considering starting or running a wellness program.

Many of them have been in the “considering” or “planning” stages for several years.

For many organizations, they just keep throwing band aids at their wellness program plans – and just do one-off events.

Some will sponsor a walk one year and never bring up the subject again.

Some will hand out imprinted pedometers.

Some will bring in a nurse or doctor for a presentation.

But very few kick off a full and complete wellness program that includes education, behavioral modification, incentives and coaching.

What’s keeping you from implementing your wellness program?

It is not difficult and it does not have to be perfect.

Get input from your staff.

Involve senior management.

Announce the program.

Educate your employees on why they should change some of their unhealthy behaviors.

Set measurable goals.

Create incentives.

Follow Up.

Listen to feedback.

Repeat.

It is that simple.

When are you going to announce the start of your wellness program?

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Robert Piller is President of WellnessIncentivesPlus.com, a leading provider of custom-printed promotional items geared exclusively for wellness programs and wellness incentives. These branded gifts are ideal for wellness incentive rewards, wellness kickoff or announcement gifts or as wellness reminders. Visit WellnessIncentivesPlus.com to view thousands of wellness rewards and reminders in all price points-including over 800 different promotional pedometer styles in all price ranges.

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5 Steps to Improve Your Wellness Incentive Reward Program

Tips to improving your wellness reward selectionsSimplicity is Key to Choosing The Right Wellness Incentive Rewards

Austin, TX: When talking with my clients, one of the biggest obstacles I hear is that a wellness reward and incentive program is often too complex to get off the ground.

Many wellness coordinators are held back — meeting after meeting — trying to come up with the perfect incentive reward or gift for their employees.

In fact, it has gotten to the point where too many are spending more time finding the right rewards compared to putting the wellness program together.

It shouldn’t be that way.

Keep your wellness incentive simple.

Here are five simple steps to help improve your wellness incentive program:

1.) Don’t Involve Too Many People in the Decision-Making Process.

If you ask 10 people what they want to include for rewards, you will get 15 responses- everything from gym memberships, pedometers, restaurant certificates, T-shirts and everything in between.

All good ideas, but you need to start somewhere.

Limit it to 3 people max so you can kick the ideas around and make a decision.

2.) There is No Perfect Gift 

Stop looking for the one gift that will excite all your employees.

It just doesn’t exist– or I’d stock up our warehouses with just that one item.

Go with your gut decision and offer wellness incentive awards and prizes that you think will be appreciated by your employees.

3. ) Test, Get Feedback and Re-Test

Get feedback from your employees after the program has launched so that you can edit, tweak and make changes.

Do this a few months into the program or you will never get the program off the ground.

Momentum is crucial to getting results and you can always add incentive reward prizes to the mix.

 4.) Offer a Variety of Incentive Prizes

Rule #2 states that there is no one perfect gift.

Rule #4 builds on that premise by realizing that your employees will seek to reach different levels of achievement in the wellness program.

You need to reward and motivate those employees that need more of an initial push to get started — but not forget about those that are already fit, but want to improve even further.

Point programs are ideal for this structure – as they allow people to earn better rewards for achieving better results.

5.) Half the Reward is in the Presentation

Your employees want to feel recognized.

Pats on the back work great.

Mentions in the company newsletter are also a nice touch.

When awarding the incentive gifts or prizes, be sure to hand them out at team meetings so the employees can be recognized in front of their peers.

You’d be surprised at just how valuable recognition is to the feeling of accomplishment and achievement.

Recognition, coupled with incentive rewards are the foundation to a strong wellness program.

Here’s to a healthier workforce.

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Robert Piller is President of WellnessIncentivesPlus.com, a leading provider of custom-printed promotional items geared exclusively for wellness programs and wellness incentives. These branded gifts are ideal for wellness incentive rewards, wellness kickoff or announcement gifts or as wellness reminders. Visit WellnessIncentivesPlus.com to view thousands of wellness rewards and reminders in all price points.

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5 Tips for Getting C-Level Approval for Your Company’s Wellness Program

5 tips for getting your CEO to approve your corporate wellness programAustin, Texas: We have written extensively on the importance of getting yur CEO or other C-Level executives to buy into your wellness program in order to ensure its success.

Now, WELCOA, the Wellness Council of America,  has put together a free download that highlights five key ways to get your CEO involved:

1) Make The Business Case For Workplace Wellness Programs.

Provide data showing ROI from similar programs, get facts and figures from your insurance providers and discuss in simple math how a wellness program can lead to significant savings.  This program is not supposed to be a charity or handout.  If it makes economic sense, your executives should appreciate the program..and your efforts.

2)Enroll Your CEO In An Executive Health Program.

Once the executive has gone through the extensive testing, and has gotten the results back, he/she will be much better suited to understand the intricacies of the program..and its benefits to their employees. This process will show the executive that wellness is more than just numbers and charts.

3) Present Your CEO With Employee Testimonials.

By showing your CEO that your employees are enthused about a wellness program and explaining how a program can improve not just the fitness of the employees, but of their family, as well, your chances of persuasion for the program should increase exponentially.

4) Connect Your CEO With Other CEO’s Who Get It.

No CEO wants to fee that they “just don’t get it” when it comes to most issues – especially healthcare.  Once they see like-minded executives that have implemented wellness programs, they will be more likely to get behind the program– and endorse it with the strength of their convictions

5) Show Your CEO How Other Small Businesses Have Done It.

Executives love results — and if you can show them real world examples of success, the program becomes less abstract.  Instead of being a matter of “if”, it becomes a matter of “how soon”.

These ideas are simple ways to get the conversation rolling.  Other ideas are available online at WELCOA’s website–most of which are free with membership.

There is no excuse about putting off a wellness program for your employees.  These tips can provide the needed first step–management support.

Here’s to a more healthy workplace.

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Robert Piller is President of WellnessIncentivesPlus.com, a leading provider of custom-printed promotional items geared exclusively for wellness programs and wellness incentives. These branded gifts are ideal for wellness incentive rewards, wellness kickoff or announcement gifts or as wellness reminders. Visit WellnessIncentivesPlus.com to view thousands of wellness rewards and reminders in all price points.

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