Beginning in April of 2018, employers in Massachusetts will need to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees, including measures to prevent discrimination against those pregnant workers who request an accommodation. Some of these accommodations will include allowing more frequent or longer breaks, modifying seating or other work-related equipment, temporarily transferring pregnant employees to a less strenuous or hazardous position and providing private non-bathroom space for expressing breast milk. According to the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, employees must be notified of these rights, in writing, beginning January 1, 2018.
Worksite wellness programs are becoming more popular these days, as companies increase their efforts to attract and keep top talent. A recent article in Employee Benefit News discussed reasons why companies are even starting to take worksite wellness one step further by offering on-site fitness centers.
This is a perk that all of us here at Diversified are fortunate to be able to utilize and enjoy! Our offices include a fitness room that offers yoga, spin classes, toning classes and more to all of our employees. Why do we think this is such a necessary benefit? The Diversified Group family of companies includes Corporate Fitness & Health (CF&H), our wellness consulting and services company, who believes that employee health is an investment. And, they know that when a company crafts and offers the right wellness program it can truly improve the overall health and productivity of its workforce.
Learn more about CF&H here! And, to learn the reasons why on-site fitness centers are becoming increasingly popular, read the full Employee Benefit News article below.
3 reasons employers are offering on-site fitness centers
This article was published on January 31, 2018 on Employee Benefit News, written by Ann Wyatt.
It’s no secret that employers are in a constant struggle for top talent. And, it’s only going to get tougher in the future. Current government statistics tell us the U.S. employment rate was 4.2% in September. That’s down by more than half of its peak of 10.2% in October 2009. At the same time, a large portion of the workforce will be retiring in the next 15 years. By 2030, every baby boomer will be 65-plus, which means a full 18% of the U.S. population will be at retirement age. That’s a lot of retirees — and a lot of jobs left to fill.
Essentially, there just aren’t going to be enough good people to fill all the open roles in the next 10-15 years. And that’s a serious problem for today’s modern business — one companies need to address. That’s why many organizations are offering up a slew of unique and useful employee benefits to attract and retain the best employees.
Among those offerings are on-site fitness centers. Why are on-site fitness centers an increasingly popular employee perk? Three reasons come to mind.
1. Employees want a more personal touch. According to research, a vast majority of employees say a personal touch is important in their health, well-being and fitness program. That means employees are seeking access to “live experts” who are credible, engaging, easy to access and provide one-on-one support for their specific needs. Corporate fitness centers meet this need directly by offering up a physical space where employees can work with these coaches and fitness consultants to develop individualized plans to meet their unique health needs.
2. Convenience is everything. Nearly half of employees who are offered on-site fitness facility access chose to participate largely due to their convenience, inviting environment and low- or no-cost membership. After all, it’s a lot easier to get a workout in if you only have to travel two floors down on the elevator versus 10 miles in rush-hour traffic. Convenience counts for a lot with employees.
3. They help employees’ increasing need to manage stress. Employees are under more stress than ever before. The World Health Organization recently called stress the health epidemic of the 21st century. And, it’s costing employers significantly. One recent study found that work-related stress costs U.S. businesses $30 billion a year in lost workdays (some estimate it at $300 billion). On-site fitness centers can not only help employees better manage stress with a host of programs but they can also help employers make a dent in those lost productivity costs above.
The old saying “timing is everything” may even apply to when you eat your meals, according to Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food. Skipping breakfast or having an occasional late dinner is fine, but sticking to an earlier eating schedule may contribute to healthier living by helping you maintain a healthy weight. Findings were based on a small study implemented over an 8-week period in which adults had three meals and two snacks between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., followed by a two week break and eight weeks of a later schedule, which included three meals and two snacks eaten between noon and 11 p.m.
The later eating schedule resulted in weight gain and a negative impact on insulin levels, cholesterol and fat metabolism. The study also showed that when people ate earlier, they stayed satisfied longer, which helped them prevent overeating. Given our hectic schedules, eating later occasionally is hard to avoid. But it will help if you can make an effort to get back to an earlier schedule.
According to a Medscape survey of more than 19,000 physicians, the average patient spends between 13 and 16 minutes with their physician during an office visit. Given the short amount of time, it is probably best to focus on two or three things you want your doctor to address. It may also help to prepare a list of questions ahead of time. Here are a few you may want to consider.
1. Which health websites do you trust?
2. What is this medication I’m taking and why am I taking it?
3. If you’re a smoker, how can I get help to stop?
4. Are my screenings and vaccinations up to date?
5. What is a healthy weight for me and how can I get to that?
6. What do you do to stay in shape?
7. If you’re taking a prescribed opioid painkiller, ask if it’s really necessary and what else you might take?
8. What are some things I can do before my next appointment to make me healthier?
9. If a test is ordered, ask what it is for and what are you trying to learn from it.
10. When a specific treatment is recommended, don’t hesitate to ask about other alternatives.
According to the American Time Use Survey released recently by the Department of Labor, Americans spent more time working and less time sleeping in 2016 than in 2015. On average, men and women 15 years of age and older worked about 8 more minutes each weekday and slept for about 5 minutes less than they did in the previous year. Labor officials view this as an indication of a healthier job market. Millennials worked an average of nearly 5 hours per weekday in 2016, their highest level since 2011.
With estimates showing that one in five Americans suffer from a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety, it’s no wonder that more employers are expanding their traditional wellness programs to include an increased emphasis on behavioral health. This trend may seem surprising since traditional Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) have existed for decades, however research conducted by the National Behavior Consortium shows that a very small percentage of employees have taken advantage of EAPs in recent years.
Since healthy and happy employees typically spend less on healthcare services and are more productive in the workplace, it makes sense that larger employers are taking a far more holistic approach to employee well-being. Some are utilizing telephonic EAPs while others are bringing behavioral health resources on-site, so that a therapist can be accessed on a “walk-in” basis. Experts say that the advantages can go well beyond convenience, contributing to a more caring culture.
Some also say that services can be tweaked to resemble more of a “life coaching” resource, designed to help members enjoy more rewarding professional and personal lives. Wellness programs have always demonstrated the employer’s concern for the health and well-being of their workers. Greater attention to behavioral health can take that concern to an even higher level.
An analysis by FAIR Health, an independent nonprofit that reviews health and dental claims filed by individuals, shows that severe allergic reactions to foods like peanuts have increased five-fold in the past 10 years. Studies now show that as many as 8% of children have a food allergy, with nearly 40% reflecting a history of severe reactions. More than a fourth of all claims were linked to peanuts, while tree nuts such as walnuts, pistachios and seeds accounted for 18%. One interesting fact is that a third of all claims were in people over the age of 18.