Are your employee so healthy

images-34Is the 9-to-5 grind slowly destroying workers‘ health? Despite the growing trend toward sedentary lifestyles, Americans in the workforce are actually healthier than you might think, according to a new report by TotalWellness, a company that offers biometric screenings and assistance with corporate wellness programs. But more steps can be taken toward achieving better health — and employers can play a significant role in that.

For the study, TotalWellness performed screenings on 85,000 employees in various occupations to determine the health of working people across the country. The screenings looked at five key health metrics: cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, waist circumference and BMI.

The majority of employees screened fell into the optimal range for total cholesterol (77 percent), blood sugar or glucose levels (85 percent), and waist circumference (64 percent). However, only 36 percent of participants were within the normal blood pressure range: Half showed pre-hypertension, and 11 percent showed stage 1 hypertension, which can damage blood vessels over time.

BMI measurements also varied, with just under 30 percent of screened employees falling within the “normal” range. The rest of the study participants has BMIs within the “overweight” range (34 percent), the “obese” range (29 percent) and the “extremely obese” range (7 percent). This means that more than 70 percent of the people surveyed were above the healthy weight range for their height, and may have an increased risk of related health issues, such as hypertension and diabetes, the study’s authors said.

In light of other studies showing a decline in overall American health, TotalWellness researchers were a little surprised at how well employees scored across the board. They believe the positive tilt could have occurred because people who are comfortable with their health are more likely to attend a screening in the first place.

Encouraging wellness at work

Employer-sponsored wellness programs can go a long way toward encouraging workers to lead a healthy lifestyle. According to a study by researchers at Cornell University, successful programs start at the top, and manager buy-in can lead to greater employee participation.

Based on the screening results, TotalWellness advised employers to focus their wellness initiatives on the following areas:

  1. Preventive care. This includes seeing their doctor regularly, managing health conditions, and staying up-to-date on vaccinations.
  2. Healthy eating. Employers should talk about the importance of a balanced diet, and also encourage employees to eat healthy not only at work but all the time.
  3. Physical activity. Use your wellness program to get people moving by implementing walking workstations or standing desks. However, if those are not within your budget, you can educate employees on the importance of getting physical activity throughout the day.
  4. Rounded healthy lifestyles. Health goes beyond diet and exercise. Mental and emotional health, financial wellness and social support are all part of a healthy lifestyle. Make this part of your workplace’s wellness program, or provide your employees with information on those topics.

Spaces That Will Give You Office

download-15A well-designed work space holds many benefits for both the workers and the company. It can increase engagement and productivity while encouraging employees to do their best work. These office spaces are not your typical stodgy cube-farms. Here are six interesting and intriguing locations that have transformed what it means to spend the day in the office.

1. DXAgency

The DXAgency office was designed to invoke the feeling of a close-knit community or a team, said Sandy Rubinstein, the CEO.

“There are a limited number of offices, and those offices rarely close the doors,” Rubinstein said. “There are slippers given to each employee so they can kick their shoes off and [brainstorm].”

There are several kitchens stocked with snacks and sodas, “as you would see in a friend’s house.”

The employees love the company’s game room located in the basement of the building surrounded by bluestone rock and lit by black iron chandeliers, Rubinstein said.

“There is also a kitchen and long wooden picnic table with long benches for seating. This is the room where people can let off steam and play pinball or video games, as well as the location for our potluck lunches and our Free Foodie Fridays catered by different local restaurants,” she added.

2. Framebridge

Susan Tynan, the CEO and founder of custom framing company Framebridge, said the office has been modernized into a comfortable, functioning corporate office.

Framebridge’s in-house creative team designed the office space, highlighting the team’s custom frames and in-house photography along with their collective work, Tynan said.

“Employees love how warm, welcoming and Instagram-ready the office space is. From plush couches and office nooks to long wooden tables used for boardroom meetings, Framebridge embraces the office’s former Georgetown home identity,” Tynan said.

3. The Yard

The floor-to-ceiling, 22-foot windows of The Yard’s 34th Street location reveal the area’s surroundings and are meant to convey the feeling of an oasis above the bustle of Herald Square.

“We loved the high ceilings and ample natural light throughout this location and wanted to make sure our members would be able to really take advantage of it,” said Morris Levy, the co-founder and CEO of the company.

Communication and Involvement On Promoting

download-16Having an inclusive workplace is more than hiring diverse staff members. To promote inclusivity, small business owners can get involved with business development in their surrounding communities and improve their overall communication strategies.

Entrepreneurs from marginalized backgrounds — including but not limited to race, socioeconomic class and gender — face more difficulties even when starting their own business, before they can afford to hire employees. This is especially true in less diverse areas of the country like the Midwest.

Supporting business-oriented community organizations

Fortunately, there are organizations, like Omaha Small Business Network(OSBN), dedicated to underserved populations through business development.

In an interview with Business News Daily, Julia Parker, the executive director, explained how OSBN serves local small business owners, entrepreneurs and nonprofits by providing practical tools for success.

Her organization recognizes the importance of funding historically marginalized entrepreneurs in areas with a strong potential for business growth. OSBN provides commercial office space in the heart of north Omaha, technical support, microloans up to $50,000, and other business assistance services.

Small business owners outside of underserved communities can get involved by participating in events and donating to organizations like OSBN.

Changing the conversation in the workplace

As a small business owner, you can make a difference by starting small in your own office. Consider educating your employees on inclusive communication.

Using her background in marketing and advertising, Omaha entrepreneur and activist Morgann Freeman runs an inclusive communications consulting business to improve how companies interact with their employees and clients.

“I focus on changing the way we approach how we talk to and interact with, verbally and nonverbally, with one another in personal, organizational and global contexts,” Freeman said.

For instance, Fortune reports microaggressions — subtle and unintentional insults, such as asking an American person of color where they’re “really” from — can diminish the happiness of your human capital and drive away talent. Despite employees’ intentions, these comments can create a tense and exclusive environment not welcoming to those from marginalized backgrounds.

To reduce microaggressions in your business, you can invest in company education to discuss diversity in a productive atmosphere. Businesses like Freeman’s offer diversity and inclusion workshops and trainings, which help a company understand diversity through daily interactions. Rather than providing textbook definitions to complicated concepts, she helps business leaders understand better listening and speaking techniques.

Inclusive communication relates back to customer service, Freeman said, so businesses should also consider how they interact with audiences over social media. How will your business respond to comments on Facebook or mentions on Twitter?

Additionally, Forbes recommends some calls-to-action for inclusive communication strategies. For instance, employees should acknowledge their unconscious biases, refrain from speaking to genuinely listen, and remove preconceived notions. By understanding cultural biases and altering their language, employees can better understand and communicate with those from different backgrounds, especially for the benefit of the company and its services.

“Stripping away… the ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mentality allows your team to really build an empathetic understanding of diverse identities,” Freeman said on her website.

If you can improve your communications, your business has the potential to increase and expand audiences, while maintaining customer satisfaction from existing clients. These techniques can also improve employee happiness, boost office morale and improve the quality of staff relationships.

“True progress happens by changing the way you talk about things,” Freeman added. “You cannot be an inclusive organization when you use exclusionary language.”

Do You Know That Outdoors Improves Productivity

A little more sunlight, plant life or even pictures of the beach at your workstation can improve your mental health, which in turn can boost job happiness, according to a new Central Michigan University study.

The research revealed that more exposure to things like plants and flowers is associated with a lower depressed mood, as well as higher job satisfaction and organizational commitment.

“Workers are naturally [under] high amounts of stress, but changing the work environment to incorporate some elements of nature could help,” Mihyang An, the study’s lead author and a postdoctoral research fellow at Central Michigan University, said in a statement.

While past research has shown that when employees are unhappy in their job, it spills over into their mood, results from the current study indicate that the opposite may be true. An said a depressed mood might spill over into how employees experience their job.

“A low mood might actually lead to job dissatisfaction,” An said.

For the study, researchers analyzed data from 444 employees via an online panel from the United States and India. Results revealed a possible relationship between subtle elements, such as a potted plant or nature scene on a screensaver, and improved employee moods.

While adding plants and flowers around the office can be a big help, few things are better for an employee’s psyche than sunlight. The study found that that exposure to sunlight had a considerably stronger effect than natural elements on mental health and was also positively related to job satisfaction and organizational commitment.

“Much of the research on employee health, particularly mental health and other stress-related diseases, has focused on improved management practices and stress-reduction treatments,” said Stephen Colarelli, one of the study’s authors and an organizational/industrial psychologist at Central Michigan University. “It is important, however, to also consider the physical work environment as a causal and remedial factor in employee health.”

While many companies can’t afford a complete office redesign to add more sunlight, the study’s authors say the results show there are much easier steps organizations can take to give their employees for more exposure to natural elements.

“For example, organizations could allow employees to keep plants in their offices or hang photos of nature on office walls, and allow employees time for walks outside of the office,” the study’s authors wrote. “These small and inexpensive changes could result in noticeably better mental health and work attitudes.”

Appreciation to Over Bonuses

Though getting a raise or a bonus is nice, it’s not the most important factor in employees’ happiness, according to a recent study.

Rather, employees are motivated more by bosses who let their staff members know when they’re doing a good job and who advocate on their employees’ behalf. Indeed, a recent study from Appirio, a provider of cloud-based worker and customer experience solutions, found that this appreciation was more important to employees than the prospect of getting a promotion or a cash bonus.

Specifically, 60 percent of the workers surveyed said that when they’re analyzing a job offer, the most important factor is knowing whether management appreciates employees, while only 4 percent said they were most concerned with knowing how often employees were evaluated for raises.

“While recruiters may think focusing on total compensation is the best way to win over a prized candidate, workers would rather assess the chemistry between their prospective manager and the team — and for good reason; a manager can make or break the employee experience,” the study’s authors wrote.

The research found that a greater percentage of those surveyed would rather work for a boss who always had their back than have a clearly defined career or have a results-driven bonus structure.

Why Employees Value Appreciation Over Bonuses

Credit: TijanaM/Shutterstock

Though getting a raise or a bonus is nice, it’s not the most important factor in employees’ happiness, according to a recent study.

Rather, employees are motivated more by bosses who let their staff members know when they’re doing a good job and who advocate on their employees’ behalf. Indeed, a recent study from Appirio, a provider of cloud-based worker and customer experience solutions, found that this appreciation was more important to employees than the prospect of getting a promotion or a cash bonus.

Specifically, 60 percent of the workers surveyed said that when they’re analyzing a job offer, the most important factor is knowing whether management appreciates employees, while only 4 percent said they were most concerned with knowing how often employees were evaluated for raises.

“While recruiters may think focusing on total compensation is the best way to win over a prized candidate, workers would rather assess the chemistry between their prospective manager and the team — and for good reason; a manager can make or break the employee experience,” the study’s authors wrote.

The research found that a greater percentage of those surveyed would rather work for a boss who always had their back than have a clearly defined career or have a results-driven bonus structure. [See Related Story: Want Happy Employees? Make Hiring Harder]

“While fair-market pay and benefits get the candidate to accept an offer, the dynamic of the manager-employee relationship may be a better indicator of employee satisfaction,” the researchers wrote.

Although the Appirio report only surveyed professionals in the tech industry, experts agree that employees in any field want to feel appreciated.

“Our survey found that appreciation, connectedness and emotional safety all outrank compensation as important factors in career decision making,” Harry West, head of worker experience solutions at Appirio, said in a statement. “Employee engagement can’t be solved by simply showering workers with raises and bonuses — companies must be dedicated to providing transparency, support and technologies that keep high-end tech talent happy.”

Sometimes, a simple “thank you” is all it takes to put a smile on an employee’s face. The research revealed that 55 percent of the workers surveyed value receiving a “thank you” from their managers for a project well done, while only 8 percent would feel disappointed if the same project didn’t result in a monetary reward.

“While managers might think their direct reports are disappointed when big projects don’t translate into equally big raises, the majority of workers again value a human expression of appreciation for a job well done,” the study’s authors wrote.

Give Employees Their Own Space

Company executives and their employees disagree on the type of office space that’s best for sparking creativity, new research finds.

A study from the staffing firm The Creative Group revealed that employees prefer secluded spaces when trying to come up with new ideas, whereas company leaders believe open spaces are best for innovation.

Specifically, 36 percent of employees said a private office is most conducive to encouraging creativity, compared with just 18 percent of executives. Conversely, 36 percent of executives think open-concept work environments are best for on-the job innovation, compared with only 26 percent of employees.

But company leaders and their employees do see eye to eye when it comes to the worst place for inspiring creativity: Just 4 percent of both groups believe working from outside the office is the best environment for encouraging innovation.

Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group, said that when designing office spaces, it is important to understand that different tasks call for different work environments.

“Office design should be closely tailored to an organization’s needs and a team’s primary duties,” Domeyer said in a statement. “The main goal for employers should be to create a space where staff members feel comfortable and engaged, and can perform at their best.”

The Creative Group offered four tips to help employers create a more stimulating work environment:

  1. Designate creativity areas. Employers should consider creating areas around the office designed specifically for brainstorming or spontaneous meetings. These spaces should include a dry-erase board that can be used to quickly jot down ideas and various industry-related publications.
  2. Offer private spaces. With more and more organizations turning to open-concept floor plans in an attempt to boost collaboration, it is important to also offer areas where employees have some alone time so that they can focus on their task at hand. Build a few stations where employees can work on their own without having to deal with distractions.
  3. Create a mood board. Mood boards, which are hung for everyone to see, are where employees can post content they find interesting and think will help others draw inspiration. In addition, employees should be encouraged to post photos of things they might want to reference for future projects.
  4. Get out of the office. Sometimes, getting outside the office can spark creativity. Consider taking your team to a park or a café; you might be surprised by how a change of scenery can spark new ideas.

Meetings As Much as You Think

The dreaded business meeting may be painted as a pointless waste of time, but new research finds that most employees do see their value.

The study from ShoreTel, a provider of unified communications, revealed that 88 percent of employees think meetings are at least somewhat productive, with just 11 percent believing they are a complete waste.

Baby boomers, those born between 1943 and 1964, seem to get the most out of meetings: 47 percent of baby boomers think meetings are productive, compared with just 34 percent of younger employees born between 1980 and 2000. However, a similar percentage of baby boomers (9 percent) and millennials (11 percent) felt that meetings aren’t a good use of their time.

 “Our survey dispels many misperceptions about meetings and productivity by the generations currently in the workforce,” Mark Roberts, chief marketing officer of ShoreTel, said in a statement. “For instance, the results did not show that meetings are unproductive, or that certain generations find them a waste of time.”

In general, most workers don’t spend as much time in meetings as many may think.  The study discovered that 45 percent of employees spend less than 4 hours a week in meetings, with another 31 percent spending between 5 and 8 hours a week in meetings. Less than one-quarter of those surveyed spend at least 9 hours in meetings each week.

Most employees say they stay focused on the task at hand during meetings, with 67 percent of respondents saying they listen and take notes. Just 8 percent text or check personal email or social media.

Despite a rise in remote work, nearly 70 percent of employees still attend meetings in person. ShoreTel found that younger workers reported a preference for conference room attendance at about the same rate as other generations, but also had the highest preference for attending remotely via phone.

“Millennials often get a bad rap, but our data shows they participate in meetings in conference rooms with their peers at the same rate as other generations,” Roberts said.

The study was based on surveys of more than 1,000 employees (92 percent from North America) who work in a wide range of industries.

Happy Music in the Office

Playing a little music in the office can have a positive impact on employee teamwork, new research finds.

The Cornell University study found that listening to happy, upbeat music encourages employees to make decisions that contribute to the good of the team. Kevin Kniffin, the study’s lead author and a behavioral scientist at Cornell, said music is a pervasive part of much of our daily lives, whether we consciously notice it or not.

“Music might melt into the background in places like supermarkets or gyms and other times it’s very prominent like places of worship or presidential nominating conventions,” Kniffin said in a statement. “Our results show that people seem more likely to get into sync with each other if they’re listening to music that has a steady beat to it.”

For the study, researchers conducted two experiments to test the effect of music on the cooperative behavior of employees working in teams.

In the experiments, participants were grouped in teams of three and given tokens to either contribute to the team’s value or to keep for their personal use. During the experiment, the researchers played happy songs, such as “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison and “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves; music deemed unpleasant, which in this case included a variety of heavy metal songs; or no music at all.

The researchers found that participants contributed to the good of the team one-third more when happy, upbeat songs were played, compared with the unpleasant tunes or no music at all.

“We found significantly and persistently higher levels of cooperative behavior by participants who were played happy music when compared with the other two conditions,” the study’s authors wrote.

Kniffin said the results indicate that playing some music and putting some thought into the types of songs played could result in happier employees and better teamwork.

“Lots of employers spend significant sums of time and money on off-site teambuilding exercises to build cooperation among employees,” Kniffin said. “Our research points to the office sound system as a channel that has been underappreciated as a way to inspire cooperation among co-workers.”

Brian Wansink, one of the study’s authors and the director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, said the study is another example of the impact music can have on people.

“What’s great about these findings, other than having a scientific reason to blast tunes at work, is that happy music has the power to make the workplace more cooperative and supportive overall,” Wansink said.

The study was recently published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior. The research was also co-authored by William Schulze, a professor at Cornell University, and Jubo Yan, a professor at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

Know the Employees Are Less Productive

Employees who are jealous of how their co-workers are treated around the office spend too much time trying to understand the differential treatment, a new study shows. Those workers end up producing less each day than they otherwise could, the new research finds.

The University of Cincinnati Lindner College of Business study found that employees lose the personal resources needed to focus and complete daily tasks when they grow envious of peers they believe are treated better by their bosses.

Joel Koopman, the study’s author and a University of Cincinnati assistant professor of management, said workers who take those feeling of jealousy home with them often wake up the next morning still thinking about the issues.

“This cycle can build to the point that tremendous time and energy is wasted on simply processing negative emotions, leaving critical work projects to flounder until resolutions are achieved,” Koopman said in a statement.

Envious feelings often take more of a toll on employees who are the most skilled at solving problems in a creative environment. Koopman said these problem-solvers tend to be the ones who have high levels of “epistemic motivation,” which is the desire to process information thoroughly and grasp the meaning behind a particular situation.

“Research has shown that most creative working environments — ones that require a strong ability to negotiate and attend to detail — value employees who have a high level of epistemic motivation,” Koopman said. “This is significant, because the workers who are valuable for problem-solving, skilled negotiating and finding timely solutions are also the ones who ruminate longer over processing the social injustice and envy they feel.”

Those employees end up producing less, because of the time they waste fretting over their envious feelings, the research found.

“This resulted in a higher degree of ego depletion and negatively affected their overall productivity,” Koopman said.

For the study, Koopman surveyed a group of participants twice a day for 15 days. The researchers asked participants how fairly they had been treated by their supervisors compared to their co-workers. The surveys were designed to measure immediate feelings of envy and whether those feelings carried over into the following day.

Those envious feelings not only negatively affected employees’ overall productivity, but also, if they persisted, reduced the likelihood that employees would help co-workers with their projects or listen to their personal problems, Koopman said.

“In a whirling spiral, the more energy they expend on processing the injustice, the less their resources are, and they become less likely to help others in the office,” he said.

Getting the Raises They Ask For

Women are often told not to be afraid of negotiating to get the salaries they deserve. Although women are in fact asking their bosses for raises, they’re not necessarily receiving the pay bumps.

According to recent research conducted by the University of Warwickin the United Kingdom and the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, women ask for pay increases as frequently as men do, but men are 25 percent more likely to actually get the raise.

“Having seen these findings, I think we have to accept that there is some element of pure discrimination against women,” Andrew Oswald, co-author of the study and professor of economics and behavioral science at the University of Warwick, said in a statement.

The research was based on data from the 2013-14 Australian Workplace Relations Survey, which included information on whether Australian employees have asked for a pay raise. When professionals at the same level were compared, the men were 25 percent more likely to be successful, obtaining a pay increase 20 percent of the time. Only 16 percent of women were successful when they asked for raises, the study said.

According to data from PayScale, a compensation analyzation company, there’s not a huge difference between the genders when it comes to asking for or receiving a raise, but when you drill down by education, industry, etc., “that’s where it gets interesting,” said Lydia Frank, senior director of editorial and marketing at PayScale.

“Women holding an MBA degree seem to be struggling most with potential gender bias when it comes to salary negotiation,” Frank said. “Of those who asked for a raise, only 48 percent of female MBA grads received the requested raise compared to 63 percent of male MBA grads. And 21 percent of female college grads received no raise at all after requesting one, compared to 10 percent of male grads.”

Frank noted that for workers who said they hadn’t asked for a raise, women were more likely than men to say they were uncomfortable negotiating (31 percent versus 23 percent). Men were more likely than women to say they received a raise before they had to ask for one (40 percent versus 36 percent).

Despite the overall findings, the authors discovered a positive sign in the data: Young Australian female employees get pay hikes just as often as young Australian men do.

“This study potentially has an upside: Young women [in Australia] today are negotiating their pay and conditions more successfully than older females,” Amanda Goodall, co-author of the new study and an associate professor at Cass Business School in London, said. “Perhaps that will continue as they become more senior.”

Tips choose the great gifts for your boss

Buying a gift for a boss can be precarious. You don’t want to spend too much and appear to be pining to be the favorite. You don’t want to spend too little and come off as cheap either.

“The best way is to get everyone in the office to buy a gift,” Patricia Rossi, a business etiquette coach, told Business News Daily. “It’s not always possible, but if you can, go in on a gift together.”

Rossi noted to remember not to purchase anything too personal, like perfume or lingerie. “It should go without saying, but I have seen multiple instances of this,” she said.

Thoughtfulness should always be in the forefront of your mind when purchasing gifts, she added.

“Always be kind. It will come back to you,” Rossi said.

We rounded up 30 of the best gifts for you to give to your boss this year:

Purchasing your boss’s gift as a team means giving your supervisor a more expensive item. Pool together to show you all care.

Do you know your boss well enough to know that he or she likes to binge-watch or catch up with favorite shows via Hulu or HBO Go but is devoid of the technology? Go in with your teammates to purchase an Amazon Fire Stick. The Fire Stick, which is about the size of a USB drive, connects to your TV’s HDMI port. The Fire Stick gives users the freedom to cut the cord if they so choose, or binge all of their favorites.