The Changing Definition of Wellness

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After decades of preaching to workers about the importance of staying fit and physically healthy, the term worksite wellness is beginning to mean much more to employers and employees alike. Leading companies are expanding their workplace wellness initiatives to address mental health and financial security – key components of their employee’s overall well-being that go way beyond physical health.

The National Business Group on Health shows that a majority of employers are addressing emotional and mental health as well as financial security as part of their overall well-being strategy. Other initiatives, such as support for community involvement and social interaction, are pointing to a growing trend of focusing on the entire person and not just physical health or fitness. Research is showing that addressing physical health is only one way to improve the workplace experience and reduce employee turnover.

More Choice Means Greater Satisfaction

While traditional wellness programs have been more “one size fits all” and lacking in personal appeal, some employers are encouraging employees to do the things they like to do by giving employees a flat dollar amount to spend on a gym or pool membership, personal trainer or other self-defined activity they find rewarding. Volunteering to help with community causes or enrolling in educational classes are not out of the realm of possibilities, since these activities can do a lot to help an employee gain a healthier perspective on work and life.

When choices are made by individuals and not for them, better decisions often result. As people share their experiences with others, the impact on a company’s culture can be extremely positive. Better well-being becomes an important priority for everyone and not just those who like spending time on treadmills or yoga mats. From the employer’s perspective, objectives can expand beyond healthcare cost savings and increased productivity. As an example, offering health coaching is a great way to focus on the needs of individuals rather than the group as a whole. It can help companies address emotional and mental needs as well as physical needs.

If worksite wellness is a priority for your organization, this might be a good time to review the goals of your program and then to make sure the activities you are offering are in line with those objectives. There is a lot more to be gained from worksite wellness than lower medical claim costs and redefining wellness may be just what your organization needs.

Soda Tax Moves Ahead

In a prior newsletter, we reported on the City of Philadelphia’s intentions to tax sugary and sweetened drinks. While the beverage industry and retailers sued saying the tax is unconstitutional, a judge recently dismissed the legal effort, clearing the way for the 15 cent per ounce tax to take effect January 1, 2017.

While Philadelphia will become the first major U.S. city to pass such a tax, several other governmental entities, including the City of San Francisco and Cook County, Illinois, are taking similar action. In Cook County, which includes the City of Chicago, the tax will go into effect on July 1, 2017 and will add 68 cents to the cost of a 2-liter bottle of soda and a penny per ounce to all sugary fountain drinks.

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Overtime Rules Tough on Small Business

overtimeNew rules mandated by the Department of Labor could affect many small businesses, driving up labor costs and creating more red tape. These rules, effective on December 1, 2016, raise the salary threshold for eligible workers from $23,660 to $47,476 and to $134,004 for highly compensated employees. This means that salaried workers earning less than $47,476 will now be eligible for time-and-a-half for every hour they work beyond 40 hours per week. While the rules were intended to help millions of workers, they assume that every business will absorb the increased costs and pay overtime, rather than limiting hours for salaried employees.

Research by the National Federation of Independent Business shows that nearly half of all small businesses will be affected by the mandate. NFIB foresees a slowdown in productivity if salaried employees are forbidden from exceeding 40 hours per week. Another concern is that some employees may be converted from salaried to hourly, effectively receiving a demotion.

The rules also include a mechanism to automatically update the salary and compensation levels every three years in order to ensure that they continue to provide useful and effective tests for exemption.

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Zika Virus and Summer Travel

zikaVSummer is upon us and with it comes more outdoor activities, more sunscreen and, for some, more travel. What you may not expect summer to bring is the risk of the Zika virus. But, U.S. health officials warn that mosquitos carrying the virus could hit the mainland’s southern borders, starting with Florida and the Gulf Coast, in a few weeks.

Whether you’re traveling this summer or you’re staying put, the CDC says the best way to reduce your risk is to avoid bug bites by using repellent and covering your skin. If possible while traveling, choose hotels with screens or air-conditioning. While using both sunscreen and repellent, apply the sunscreen first, let it dry and then apply the repellent. However, you do not want to use products that contain both sunscreen and repellent and you should not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.

Pregnant women, especially those in their first trimester, are most at risk for the virus and should take every possible precaution and are advised to avoid affected areas. A current list of countries where Zika is active can be found on the CDC’s main site – http://www.cdc.gov.

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Game Show Education

quizzifyHealthcare education is rarely all fun and games, but a new approach might be succeeding at making it just that! They’re being called online education programs – offered to employees as both mobile and online applications.

One popular program called “Quizzify” promises to save money, boost morale, improve health and engage employees by making learning about medical care fun and interesting. And, it promises to do this all without requiring any medical data from participants. Using a game-show contest format, the program asks participants to click through questions as they compete with co-workers for prizes. Not only do people get the chance to receive wellness information, but they also learn about taking care of themselves and even avoiding costly treatment when it may not be needed at all.

And, while this particular service is not free, it may offer a fun, refreshing approach to traditional wellness communication.

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Drugs Drive Rising Costs

medicalWhile all treatment costs have risen consistently in the past 2 decades, the pharmaceutical sector has put up some amazing numbers. In 2011 alone, Americans spent an average of $985 per person, approximately twice the amount spent in other developed countries for the same benefit. In 2015, aggregate prescription drug sales in the U.S. totaled $374 billion – $190 billion more than other industrialized countries would have spent for a similar population.

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Corporate Fitness & Health Offers Summer Screening Special – Call Today!

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For a limited time only, Corporate Fitness & Health (CF&H) is offering discounted onsite health screenings! Schedule your screening for anytime from now until August 31, 2016 and receive 20% off per person.

965aab05-0823-4c6a-b9a6-b8f590b2351dScreening Includes:

  • A Non-Fasting Finger Stick Test which includes:
    • Total Cholesterol
    • HDL
    • Cholesterol Risk Ratio
    • Glucose
  • Blood Pressure Check
  • Height
  • Weight
  • BMI
  • Body Fat Percentage
  • Estimated Level of Hydration

Contact Corporate Fitness & Health today for more information via email at info@cfandh.com or call toll-free (800) 423-5591.

To be eligible for this discounted rate, you must be a first time Corporate Fitness & Health client and schedule your onsite health screening for the months of July or August 2016.  Travel costs may apply for locations outside of Connecticut.

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