Press Release: Wrkit certified as Healthy Place to Work

Wrkit recognised as trail blazer for their healthy workplace approach

Dublin Tuesday 11th September 2018: Wrkit employee engagement and retention specialists have been officially certified as a healthy place to work. The accreditation came following their participation in the Healthy Place to Work pilot programme in December 2017.

Formally launching later this year, the new global standard for healthy workplaces has a central focus of recognising organisations who are leading the way in creating healthy environments for their employees.

Speaking on the programme objectives, Healthy Place to Work Executive, Fania Stone has said “the healthy environment is measured through the levels of purpose, mental resilience, connections and the focus on physical health found in the workplace, as well as by looking at how health is embedded into the strategy of the business.’

Just five organisations from the pilot received the accreditation, among them were the IRFU and Leinster Rugby.

In response to receiving the certification, Wrkit CEO Katharina Callaghan has commented, “the Wrkit mission is to cultivate healthy habits in work and life. That commitment has always been to our workforce, and to our clients. We embrace collaboration and smart working practices, always striving to empower each employee to shape their own roles and use their skills. Participating in this programme has validated our own approach, we’ve gained some new insights and will leverage these in shaping our own long-term business strategy”.

For references:

Sara Glynn, Marketing and Client Engagement Manager

Email: Sara.glynn@wrkit.com Tel: +353 1 662 4170 (Dublin)

 

Alternative Ideas for National Workplace Wellbeing Day

How we work has changed dramatically over the last decade. The average worker now spends over 90,000 hours at work, doing jobs which are more sedentary than ever. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults aged 18 years and older were overweight. Of these, over 650 million adults were obese. Furthermore, the WHO estimates that globally over 300 million people are affected by depression, predicting that by 2021 occupational stress will be the leading cause of absenteeism and presenteeism at work.

Initiatives like the National Workplace Wellbeing Day, which takes place on Friday 13th of April 2018 are fundamental in raising awareness of these health challenges. Now in its fourth year running the Irish initiative is becoming increasingly well supported, promoting healthy workplaces and employee wellbeing in organisations of all sizes. Whether an organisation has a formal wellbeing strategy in place or not, this day should be a pillar event in the calendar.

Getting involved.

The core event which is driven by the organisers is the Lunchtime Mile – walk, run or cycle. This event has potential to become a regular fixture in every organisation, it is inclusive for people of all abilities and is aimed towards developing sustainable healthy behaviours and contribute to recommended daily exercise. While an organisation might offer other activities on the day, the Lunchtime Mile should be a standard inclusion for every business.

If you are looking for something outside the box here’s a few Wrkit tried and tested ideas.

  1. 11am desk work out: a five-minute fixture which accommodates everyone. Pick five exercises which take minimal space and use only body weight – desk triceps dips; desk push-ups; star jumps; lunges; squats; wall-sits; calf raises; knee lifts; punching etc. At 11am encourage everyone in the organisation to complete each exercise for a minute (allowing people to chose variations to suit their own abilities). It’s important to identify “leaders” to drive participation and give exercise examples.
  2. On the hour exercise challenge: studies have shown that sitting for extended periods of time can have a negative impact on over-all health, contributing to obesity and related disease. The Start Active, Stay Active report published by the British Department of Health, Physical Activity, Health Improvement and Protection, suggests breaking up long periods of sitting with short bouts of activity for just one or two minutes. Get the team moving with wall sits, planks, sit-ups or an exercise of their choice for 1 minute every hour.
  3. Health food bake off: when it comes to weight loss, diet accounts for 75% while exercise 25%. Have a healthy bake off on April 13th and use it is an opportunity to educate people about food. Request participants to share details of ingredients, why they are healthy and provide recipes to share with everyone. Consider a prize for the best and healthiest dish to encourage more people to get involved.

There are hundreds of things an organisation can do, you’ll find other suggestions here on the official website where you can also register your organisation to participate.

Get involved and get on twitter using the official hashtag #workwell18. Share your outside the box ideas with us @WrkitTweets

 

8 Step Wellbeing Strategy

According to research conducted by Mercer in 2017, 53% of employees want their company to focus more on their health and wellness. For those companies who are stepping up and implementing wellbeing strategies, they are likely to see several business benefits including improved employee retention. Research conducted in conjunction with Ireland’s 2017 National Workplace Wellbeing Day found that six out of ten employees are more likely to stay long term with an employer that shows concern for their wellbeing.

While every organisation is different there are two fundamental drivers which will make or break the success of a wellbeing strategy. The first is board level backing. Whether your organisation is 20 or 20,000 people a wellbeing strategy will need to be backed by top level directors and integrated within an organisation’s overall business strategy. The second, which is overlooked by many organisations, is having a defined owner responsible for delivering the strategy. Often wellbeing is amalgamated within the traditional HR role but is frequently not defined as an aspect of the job specification or contract. Without ownership or accountability, a wellbeing strategy is destined to fail. That’s not to say their needs to be role created to manage workplace wellbeing as depending on the size of an organisation that may not be necessary. But by simply formalising responsibility within an existing role – ideally with someone who is passionate about wellbeing, this will yield greater success.

Assuming you have board level backing and an eager owner, now how do you create a high impact wellbeing strategy?

  1. Define a Healthy Workplace – for every organisation the definition of what a healthy workplace is will vary. Defining this for your organisation at the start provides a reference point for future programs or ideas – will implementing X help us achieve Y
  2. Ask Your Workforce – Use a survey to gather feedback before acting. Anecdotal feedback is great but to gain a true insight into employee perception and needs leverage a survey
  3. Outline Measurements – A reoccurring theme surrounding wellbeing strategies is how best to measure them. Do you measure impact or engagement? Engagement is a key metric as it highlights several things including awareness of programs. Impact can be more challenging to measure. Monitoring retention figures and absenteeism over a long period of time can provide some insights but in general impact can be hard to quantify
  4. Set Objectives or Goals – Once you have outlined your measurement metric set targets, whether they are usage numbers, survey scores or certification (such as great place to work). Defining a goal will give your wellbeing driver something to work towards
  5. A Multi-Tiered Approach – human health is not merely physical, it is also emotional and mental. To have the most positive impact a workplace wellbeing strategy needs to address all three areas and account for everyone in an organisation. Healthy eating, getting active, manager and peer feedback, social events, learning, and mental health support should all feature as part of a wellbeing strategy
  6. Plan Long-term – even the most comprehensive wellbeing strategies won’t have an impact in the short-term. Invest in long-term programs and allocate sufficient resources to drive them
  7. Tie it All Together – use every event, challenge or tool to link back to other initiatives. For example, a guest speaker could refer attendees to an upcoming company charity drive or the running club etc. Layering strategies will ensure each program or initiative compliments the next
  8. Communicate New & Old – there are lots of tips out there for launching a new wellbeing program or tool but it’s equally important to keep existing initiatives in people’s sights.

The overarching objective for a healthy workplace strategy should be to cultivate an environment which facilitates positive behaviour change. It is important to take into consideration any unique challenges your workforce or environment might present. Is your workforce of a specific age demographic, are they remote or mobile? Plan for these challenges and strive to meet the needs of those most in-need.

Author: Sara Glynn, Marketing Manager – Wrkit

Sources:

https://www.mercer.com/content/dam/mercer/attachments/global/webcasts/global-talent-trends-2017-europe.pdf

https://www.irishtimes.com/business/work/employers-must-actively-promote-staff-wellbeing-1.3028969

https://blog.wrkit.com/2018/01/18/surveys-understand-and-improve/

https://blog.wrkit.com/2017/06/02/8-actions-to-successfully-launch-a-wellness-tool/

 

There’s No Better Benefit Than Health

The way in which we receive healthcare hasn’t changed significantly over the past 100 years. With the average waiting time for patients to see a GP on the rise, and with our increasingly “on-demand” society, it is little wonder that patients and employers are turning to online doctor alternatives.

New research commissioned by VideoDoc, revealed that almost 45% of employees said they do not receive any healthcare benefits from their employer. Of those who do, as many as 43% state this is insufficient to cover the cost of their private health insurance.  Furthermore, over half (52%) of people questioned had delayed seeking medical advice as they were worried about taking time off work. The research also found that more than a quarter of people (27%) admitted that the most likely reason for having to take a day off work would be for a GP appointment – with one in five going on to say they had actually used a full day of annual leave in order to see their GP.

Where there was a fear of having to admit the need to see a GP during ‘office hours’, the national poll showed that excuses started to creep into the workplace with ‘lies about train delays’ or ‘having to work from home to look after a sick child’. The NHS themselves say that 60% of everything during an in-surgery visit in general practice can be dealt with over the telephone and this is before you add the benefit of a secure video consultation platform and specially trained doctors.

Online doctor services such as VideoDoc are bringing the doctor’s house call into the 21st century, offering timely, safe and effective online healthcare services. There are huge advantages for people who work within conventional office hours in a location that is often some distance from home. This smart solution means people will no longer have to take time off for GP appointments. They can access the service 8am – 10pm, 7 days a week.

So-called “sick days” are resulting in millions of lost working days each year, costing the UK economy £100billion a year (CIPD) and the Irish economy €1.5billion a year (IBEC). On average, employees are absent for six-and-a-half days every year with the main cause of a sick day being ‘minor’ illness. Providing on-demand access to an online GP for immediate diagnosis, and swift prescribing of necessary medication could play an important and innovative role in bringing these figures down.

For Wrkit clients and their employees this on-demand service is readily available. Within the Wrkit Lifestyle Savings module employees can avail of VideoDoc services for up to six months free of charge.

“This is a great service for us to be providing within the platform and we are delighted to be working with VideoDoc. The service compliments our other wellbeing resources, helping our clients nurture a healthier and more engaged workforce.” – Peter Jenkinson, Business Development Director, Wrkit 

For more information about Wrkit and VideoDoc get in touch at info@wrkit.com

Author: Nicki Labram, Head of Communications, VideoDoc

 

Keeping Employees Engaged This Summer

For many organisations employee engagement and productivity can decrease at this time of year. Summer months mean summer holidays, erratic working hours and a distracted work force. Here’s a few ideas to help keep your team engaged when there’s so much distraction:

  1. First Day of Summer Freedom – A common moral boosting benefit is to give employees the freedom to leave work the first day of the year that it reaches 20 degrees. This is a cost-effective way of lifting everyone’s spirits.
  2. Free Summer Fridays –In a recent article, USA Today said that of 200 employers surveyed in the USA, 42% were offering Summer Fridays this year. That being either Friday’s off or half days. If you notice your team lacking focus on Friday afternoons this could be something worth considering.
  3. Offer Flexitime – Make life easier for your employees by offering flexible hours and the ability to work from home one or two days a week. A May survey by staffing firm OfficeTeam found that 39% of workers are looking for flexible schedules at this time of year. Allowing employees to create their own work schedule facilitates all important family time and supports a better work life balance.
  4. Sports Day/Summer party – Remember sports day in school and how excited everyone got? Try this out within the company. Hire a local sports ground and arrange mini tournaments – three-legged race, potato sack races, five aside etc. Include food and drinks to make it a full-blown Summer party.
  5. Surprise them with Ice-cream: It’s an easy thing to do, in a small company just grab an ice-cream for everyone and surprise them during their working day. Larger companies, book an ice-cream van to visit the offices. It’s a clever way to bring a little joy to the workplace.
  6. Summer Dress Code – This won’t be suitable for every industry but if possible relax the usual dress code to allow for more casual and comfortable attire. Tried and tested by global leading tech companies this is a cost free Summer per that could make a real difference to employee attitudes.

No matter what you choose to do, be sure to take the company pulse so you know what your team are thinking. Meet for performance check-ups or use pulse surveys which provide invaluable feed-back and offer managers a great opportunity to stay ‘in-the-loop’.

Author: Sara Glynn, Marketing Executive, Wrkit

Exploring The Benefits Of Yoga At Work

In recent years yoga has become increasingly popular in the western-world. It’s an ancient physical and spiritual discipline (and branch of philosophy) which originated in India almost 5,000 years ago. So, what is drawing westerners towards this practice?

There can be several associated mental and physical benefits to the individual which include;

  • Improved flexibility
  • Improved blood flow
  • Increased bone strength
  • Posture correction
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Reduced stress and better regulated adrenal glands
  • Improved balance
  • Better sleep quality
  • Boosted immune system
  • Increased fitness
  • Decreased headaches
  • Improved focus
  • Enhanced confidence

These benefits are increasingly recognised by medical professionals the world over. Since the 1970s, meditation and other stress-reduction techniques such as yoga, have been studied and applied as treatments for depression and anxiety.

According to the World Health Organisation by 2021 occupational stress will be the leading cause of absenteeism and presenteeism, overtaking lower back pain. When you take into consideration the above list of ‘yoga benefits’ there is a strong case for implementing yoga as part of a corporate wellness initiative.

Implementing Yoga at Work

For years, free or supplemented yoga classes have been a staple benefit in many organisations. However, often to avail of these classes employees are required to commit their own ‘free time’ which in itself limits potential attendees.

To maximise company-wide benefit, morning yoga or work day ‘desk yoga’ should be encourage. Like traditional employee stretching programs this routine time allocated yoga should form a mandatory part of the working day.

The stretching aspect of yoga will help reduce lower back pain, improve blood flow and correct the posture of employees. These physical benefits are important to people in all roles, be desk and field based. The added mental benefits; reduced stress, improved focus, enhanced creativity, and better sleep quality contribute towards tackling the ever increasing problem of employee stress.

Before putting office yoga to action make sure to do some research. Decide the best time, the best type (seated or standing) and be sure to consider any physical restrictions your team may have.

For some inspiration check this out:

Author – Sara Glynn, Marketing Executive, Wrkit.

10 Tips To Successfully Launch A Wellness Tool

Launching a new employee engagement tool or benefit can be challenging for organisation of all sizes. Wellness programs are no exception to the rule and often they can be more challenging when it comes to engaging employees

Having a well-defined strategy to; raise awareness, initiate company-wide engagement and maintain ongoing participation, is essential to ensure success. Here are some basic actions any company can take:

  1. Set Mile Stones – In an ideal world your wellbeing program will see 100% uptake in the first hour, however this is unlikely to be the case. Work with your service provider to determine achievable milestones. Be realistic and define what actions will be taken to ensure targets are met – regular competitions, site visits etc.
  2. Launch With A Bang– It takes some planning but having an onsite launch event makes a big difference. Use it as an opportunity to educate employees – what is the new tool, where do they find it, how will it benefit them etc. If you have a disparate workforce don’t be put-off, annual company conferences or gatherings also provide a great opportunity for a similar launch.
  3. Make It An Occasion – Balloons, a celebrity guest speaker, a health food cooking demo or a wellness festival; whatever you decide to go with, make sure it’s applicable to your entire workforce. The more memorable the event, the more memorable the wellbeing tool.
  4. Prizes and Incentives – Incentivising employees always works wonders. Keep it relevant to wellbeing and try to offer multiple prizes to keep interest peaked. If possible use the tool/program as a method of entering the competition. For example, registering before a certain date or participate in a set number of yoga classes.
  5. Communication, Communication, Communication – Once a decision has been made to implement a wellness program, be it an EAP or a jogging club, communication is key. Use a mix of printed collateral; posters, banners, fliers etc. distributed throughout your offices. Support offline comms with online comms – email, IM promotion, company social networks.
  6. Wellness Advocates –These super heroes are an invaluable asset when it comes to launching new health programs. Every company has employees who are passionate about health and wellbeing. Identify who your most avid supports are and set-up a health and wellbeing committee. Introduce your advocates to the idea of the wellness program before rolling it out and then encourage them to promote the program to their co-workers.
  7. Some Friendly Cross Department Competition – It’s important for managers and senior level executives to lead by example. Make it competitive, set a target which means the heads of department must promote the tool to their respective teams.
  8. Introduce A Quarterly Wellness Week –Plan a twelve-month strategy to maintain and reignite interest. Dedicate one week every quarter to promoting an area of wellbeing and get your advocates and department heads involved in these too.
  9. Introduce The Tool During On-boarding – When someone new joins your team it is important that they are made aware of and engage with the tools you have on offer. Creating the right habits around this from the start can make a big difference and ensure ongoing engagement.
  10. Make Your Managers Accountable – It is almost impossible for a HR manager to communicate in person with every employee. Making managers accountable for communicating with their own teams gives a direct route to share the message face to face without over stretching the HR department.

There are lots of ways a company can internally promote its benefits but it takes a level of commitment and strategy from both the provider and the organisation to ensure successful engagement.

Our Customer Success Managers are experts at launching new employee benefits and over the last twelve months we have tested various strategies when launching our wellbeing tool – POWR Life. Our approach is to work with our clients, understand their workforces, and develop a plan that will deliver the highest impact with ongoing engagement.

To speak to our team about POWR Life or other Wrkit modules, contact us today – info@wrkit.com

Author – Sara Glynn, Marketing Executive, Wrkit.

Creating an environment for open discussion.

It’s a topic that most will avoid, especially in the context of work however, there is a reason mental health or more accurately, mental ill health is increasingly the subject of advertising campaigns, literature, and medical conferences the world over. According to the WHO, one in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. In Ireland, the HSE has identified that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men will seek treatment for depression at some point and, in the UK more than 21% of people surveyed had called in sick to avoid work due to feelings of stress. With over 32 million people employed in the UK and Ireland, these numbers reflect a staggering portion of the workforce.

Similarly, the economic cost of work-related stress and anxiety is a common theme in business media. Pick up a copy of any business or HR publication and it’s hard not to read about the cost of our busy work lives and the need for employee wellbeing programmes. There is a need, employee mental and physical health should be top of the priority list for HR professionals.

There are an increasing number of technologies available to support/improve the mental and physical health of employees. Everything from recognition software, to movement trackers all have measurable impact and are supported by ample research and literature. No doubt this is a key contributing factor to the rapid growth of the employee wellbeing industry. It’s reassuring to think that employers are acting in a responsible way towards the health and wellbeing of their employees. However, when we consider that 59 per cent of employees surveyed in the Republic of Ireland felt uncomfortable talking to their manager about their mental health and 14 per cent in the UK had resigned as a result of workplace stress, how effective can these programs really be?

Although mental health problems are generally treatable, the global stigma associated with depression and anxiety significantly reduces the likelihood of patients seeking help, and therefore receiving treatment. Findings from a UK ‘Time to Change’ survey showed that over 40 per cent of employees find it hard to talk to or open-up about their mental health to anyone.  The research also showed that 32 per cent of employees felt they were ‘treated differently’ by their line manager (after returning to work) following absence related to mental ill health. Even more concerning, 20 per cent of survey participants also felt their fellow colleagues’ attitudes towards them had changed!

It’s admirable to see corporate trail blazers implementing employee wellbeing programs and HR hero’s raising awareness of mental health in the workplace, but this progressive attitude isn’t seen on every corner of the high street. It’s most often “Great Place to Work” winners such as Propellernet in the UK or Global Enterprises like Google who will take progressive steps, allocate sufficient budget, and often appoint a dedicated employee engagement specialist, to ensure the success of programs. Most businesses however either don’t have the budget to allocate or (much worse), don’t believe allocating the budget will improve their bottom-line.

No matter the size of your company or how progressive the corporate culture, there are certain steps every HR team can take to raise awareness of metal health in work and reduce the stigma.

1.      Mental health training for managers: Just like having people certified in first aid it is equally important to educate managers about mental health. Training suitable people to notice the signals or symptoms that someone may demonstrate if they are going through a tough time can make all the difference to aiding recovery. Equally important is teaching team leaders/managers how to deal with issues as they arise and how to respond in a crisis. Get an expert in for a training day so people can ask questions.

2.      Educate your employees: A reoccurring theme I have found is that employees don’t know the “protocol” in work if they do experience a mental health problem. Make sure your team know who they can turn to, if you have an EAP, encourage the use of this service. Often managers worry that if employees are using the company EAP it’s a bad thing when in-fact it’s very positive. It means your staff know where to turn in time of personal crisis!

3.      Support a mental health charity: There are countless charities out there doing great work to raise awareness of mental health problems, offering bereavement counselling to families of suicide victims, educating youths – the list goes on and on. Choose one to support this year and get the company involved in at least two fundraising activities. You can participate in an event as a team, like the Darkness into Light run, collect on behalf of your charity around your local town or plan your own event. Whatever it is, use the occasions as an opportunity to work with the charity and talk about mental health.

4.      Get on board with World Mental Health week: WMHW is great opportunity to talk about mental health in the workplace. Choose a different topic every day; ‘eating for a happy mind’ or “mindfulness masterclass”. Whatever it is, encourage your team to talk openly and ask questions. If you have the budget, invite a guest speak. Celebrity advocates or medical professionals such as Dr Ian Gargan are a great way to create some hype.

5.      Technology as an intervention – eHealth is a growing industry and its application in mental health education is gaining great momentum. Create a directory to help your employees access information more easily. Include any apps your company provide – POWR or Sleepio, and a list of useful websites and resources. If you’re not currently offering an employee wellbeing app then try to include consumer apps which are free of charge.

Reducing stigma is about educating people and creating an environment of disclosure. There are countless tools and services you can offer to support mental health in work and at home, but the most important thing is to get people talking. So, whether you invest in; a mental health app, workshops, or host a fundraising event, always create as much buzz as possible to keep people talking long after the fact.

Author: Sara Glynn, Marketing Manager, Wrkit

Employee fitness – does it really affect your business?

On the build-up to Wellbeing Day 2017 there was an increased level of ‘fit’ and ‘food’ chat around our offices. It was a fantastic bi-product of this national initiative but left me wondering about the sustainable and ongoing wellbeing programs offered by employer organisations. Are we doing enough to encourage an active lifestyle? Does it really matter if we’re not?

According to the NHS, to stay healthy adults should be active daily and aim to achieve at least 150 minutes of physical activity over a week through a variety of activities – that’s approximately 22 minutes a day. With obesity and related chronic illness on the rise it seems people just aren’t finding the time to get active – it is our responsibility as employers to encourage our employees to be active.

Putting aside the ethics of caring about your employees, there are so many business reasons to encourage this behaviour as part of the working day. Exercise has a profound positive impact on individuals mental and physical health each with a knock-on effect to your business.

Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

  1. Reduced Stress – The economic cost of stress in the workplace is ever increasing – research shows that exercising with an elevated heart rate can reduce mental and physical stress. Getting active and breaking a sweat can increase concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress.
  2. Improved Self-Confidence – For the individual, physical exercise can boost self-esteem and improve positive self-image. Confidant sales people, customer service reps positive about the impact they make, developers and designers boldly innovating – Confident individuals contribute to a confident business.
  3. Boost BrainpowerStudies have shown that cardiovascular exercise can create new brain cells and improve overall brain performance. Physically active employees may be more efficient in their roles, performing at an enhanced mental capacity.
  4. Sharpened Memory – Regular physical activity boosts memory and improves our ability to learn new things. If you are investing in training your team, you should be investing in their physical activity also.
  5. Prevent Cognitive Decline – Working out, especially between age 25 and 45, boosts chemicals in the brain that support and prevent degeneration of the hippocampus, an important part of the brain for memory and learning. With an ever-aging workforce getting your team active now will pay off in the long run.
  6. Inspire Creativity – The Huffington Post sites research within the area of exercise, mood and creativity which found that working-out with an elevated heart rate can boost creativity for two hours post work-out. If you are looking across the table at a designer with ‘designers block’ it’s in your best interest to encourage them to take a break a go for a jog.

These mental benefits are just the tip of iceberg, combined with the positive impact on physical health your business could see improvements to:

  • productivity
  • business performance
  • staff morale
  • employee engagement

In addition to reducing:

  • accidents and work-related ill health;
  • absenteeism and sick pay
  • insurance costs

The negative physical effects of a sedentary lifestyle are well publicised but it’s important to realise as an individual and as an employer – if a person is not getting regular exercise it impacts cognitive ability as well as health.

Speak to our team today to find out how POWR Life can help maximise your employee performance – info@wrkit.com

Author: Jonathan O’Connell – Wrkit CEO