Know Your Numbers

Why Your Employees Need to Understand Their Numbers

Know Your Numbers

As we approach February’s Heart Healthy Awareness Month, many workplaces and clinics will be offering the opportunity to get your heart healthy numbers checked. This can be done as part of your Employee Wellness Program offering with an onsite health screen or encouraging annual physical well check visits where the physician can explain what the numbers and results mean and how your employees can get their numbers to a healthy level.

All too often, organizations that conduct employee health screens and are provided the helpful data and aggregate reporting to help improve their employee’s health (and the health of their bottom line) but nothing is ever done with the data, or the numbers aren’t explained so employees can understand what their health risks really mean and how to make changes to improve health and well-being. Measured annually, employers can see aggregate health improvements.

We know that 8 health risks and behaviors drive 15 of the most chronic and preventable conditions that impact an average of 75% of healthcare costs. Studies show that if employers can target just 3 of the 8 population health risks, they can save up to $700/year.

It’s no surprise that oftentimes, modifications in lifestyle including regular exercise and a healthier, cleaner diet can help and improve biometric markers to a heart healthy level, thus helping to prevent heart disease risks down the road, or in the immediate future!

Companies today are finding the benefits of incorporating Health Coaching along with screen results as part of employee wellness program strategy to help employees understand their numbers, what it all means and learn the “How To’s” of prevention and how to make behavior changes and lifestyle modifications.

Helping employees know their numbers is just the first step to health improvement. Helping employees actually UNDERSTAND their numbers is the second critical step. This is where the true value a well-designed employee wellness program can create change, help save lives and make a difference, both in the health of your workforce, and to your company’s financial bottom line.

Here’s a quick reference of the health markers that indicate the health of an employee population. The American Heart Association recommends that individuals keep these critical health numbers within the following ranges:

  • Blood Pressure: 120/80 or lower
  • Total Cholesterol: less than 200 mg/dl
  • LDL (Bad) Cholesterol: less than 100 mg/dl
  • HDL (Good) Cholesterol: 50 mg/dl or higher
  • Triglycerides: less than 150 mg/dl
  • Fasting Blood Sugar: less than 100 mg/dl
  • Body Mass Index (BMI): less than 25 (can calculate by: Weight/Height x Height in inches x 703 – i.e. 150/68″ x 68″ x 703 = BMI)
  • Waist Circumference: 35″ For Women, 45″ For Men

Remember, medication (thus higher claims and health insurance costs) is NOT the first answer. Understanding how to make healthy lifestyle changes and annual health screens are what is prescribed by the AHA.

We can help you provide employees with onsite health screens and education to understand results. Contact us at wellness@cairnstone.com to learn more.

Wellness & Healthcare Tops New SHRM CEO Agenda

New SHRM CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.

New SHRM CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.

“Top of the mind is healthcare costs.”

“We’re looking at this theme for the future on the importance of wellness programs.”

“Employers don’t see it as just a perk anymore, wellness is all the buzz right now.”

“It’s innovation broadly – the idea of not just offering stuff (wellness) but looking at it and figuring out how to make it most useful. You want it to work for employees, but you also want to ask why it’s good for employers.”

“And in addition to physical wealth, financial wellness is worth talking about. It’s not just about offering a financial literacy class anymore….when you take what $10 means today and what it means in 10 years from now, it really begins to put a stress on that person’s post-work experience.”

These are just a few quotes from new SHRM CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. in the article published by Nick Otto, Jan. 15, 2018 Employee Benefit News, “Healthcare, workforce flexibility top agenda of new SHRM CEO.

Check out this refreshing insight from the new SHRM CEO’s on his vision and outlook and how a new HR approach and retooling for it is critical in going forward:

New SHRM CEO Shares Vision & Top Agenda

To learn more about strategies to manage your healthcare costs or innovative wellness program initiatives, contact us at wellness@cairnstone.com.

Cervical Cancer_badge_Jan

Cervical Health Awareness Month – Wellness Toolkit

Cervical Health Awareness Month is a chance to raise awareness about how women can protect themselves from HPV (human papillomavirus) and cervical cancer. HPV is a very common infection that spreads through sexual activity and causes almost all cases of cervical cancer.

How can Cervical Health Awareness Month make a difference?

We can use this opportunity to spread the word about important steps women can take to stay healthy.

Here are just a few ideas:

  • Encourage women to get their well-woman visit this year.
  • Let women know that most insurance plans must cover well-woman visits and cervical cancer screening. This means that, depending on their insurance, women can get these services at no cost to them.
  • Talk to parents about how important it is for their pre-teens to get the HPV vaccine. Both boys and girls need the vaccine.

The good news? The HPV vaccine can prevent HPV, and regular screening tests can help prevent cervical cancer.

With this and other National Health Observance toolkits offered on healthfinder.gov, we’ve made it easier for you to make a difference. The toolkits provide resources for organizations like schools, health care providers, health departments, and more to raise awareness about critical public health issues, like cervical cancer.

This toolkit is full of ideas to help you take action today. For example:

By raising awareness about cervical health, we can all work together to help women protect themselves from cervical cancer.

DOL Proposal Encourages Creation of Association Health Plans

Special News Updates

DOL Proposal Encourages Creation of Association Health Plans

Rule Would Permit Associations Based on Industry or Geography

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has issued a proposed rule which would allow employers to join together as a single group to offer group health insurance coverage to current employees, former employees, working owners, and their family members as part of an “association health plan.” If finalized, the rule would allow association health plans to be formed on the basis of industry or geography, such as by state, city, county, or metropolitan area.

Notably, the proposed rule would subject association health plans to the nondiscrimination rules currently applicable to large group coverage under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), as amended by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). These rules prohibit discrimination based on a health factor or within groups of similarly situated individuals, but do generally permit plans to impose different eligibility provisions and costs based on bona-fide employment-based classifications, such as full-time versus part-time status.

Click here to read the proposed rule in its entirety.

stressed money guy

How Improving Financial Wellness Can Boost Productivity

stressed money guy

A recent article by SHRM shows Higher absenteeism and lower engagement are found among workers with money angst.

Financial worries not only keep employees awake at night, they also can spill over into the workplace and create significant costs for the employer.

“When employees are suffering financial hardship, they bring that hardship into work,” said Ray Johnson, vice president of consumer wholesale banking for BofI Federal Bank in San Diego. “It shows up in their work and in their own health, increasing health care costs and driving down productivity.”

A 2017 study of 1,600 workers conducted by consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers found that nearly half of employees who are worried about their financial health miss work occasionally and are less productive when they are at work, spending at least three hours of work time dealing with personal financial issues. In a company with 10,000 employees, this translates into $3.3 million in lost productivity per year, with another $166,000 per year due to financial-related absenteeism.

Lost productivity may be even greater among younger employees. A Bank of America/Merrill Lynch survey of 1,242 employees in the Millennial generation found that 60 percent of Millennials spend more than three work hours a week dealing with personal financial issues. If poor financial management—and using work time to deal with the repercussions of that—becomes an ingrained habit, employers could face an even greater productivity drain as these workers start families, buy homes and meet many other financial milestones.

The problem may be getting worse. A 2017 survey by consultancy Willis Towers Watson found that 34 percent of U.S. workers believe their current financial concerns are negatively affecting their lives, compared with just 21 percent two years ago. A total of 4,983 U.S. workers participated in the survey, which was conducted in July and August 2017.

“More than half of all workers have experienced a major financial event in the past two years, such as divorce, a significant medical experience, borrowing money from a friend or family member, or taking out a payday loan”—where workers borrow small amounts at high interest rates until their next payday—said Vincent Antonelli, senior consultant at Willis Towers Watson in New York City. “These factors, combined with growing debt and low wage growth, are leading to heightened worker angst.”

Where to Begin?

Most people have little to no access to formal financial education in their communities, which leaves employers as the best, and often only, candidate to fill this gap. “If employers don’t help their employees to deal with this, no one else will,” said Meghan Murphy, a director with Fidelity Investments in Boston.

If employees’ finances are in poor shape, simply urging them to save more will have little impact on their situations. For that reason, Murphy suggests offering a program that can help employees no matter where they are financially. For instance:

  • Employees who are spending more than they earn could begin with education about budgeting and how to manage their day-to-day spending.
  • Once they are able to budget effectively, they can tackle managing and paying down their debt and creating a savings plan.
  • Employees who have accumulated assets can focus on investing and protecting their financial wellbeing with appropriate insurance coverage.

“By starting with a financial wellness assessment, employees can take steps to improve their score over time, such as by opening an emergency fund or paying down high-interest debt,” said Murphy.

Some employers create a closer link between physical and financial wellness by offering reduced health insurance premiums to employees who take certain steps to improve their financial wellness, such as taking a financial wellness assessment or enrolling in financial wellness programs, she noted.

Identifying At-Risk Employees

(*Not part of this SHRM article, but below is a link to 5 helpful indicators to identify at risk employees from benefitsPro article.)

5 Signs Your Employees Are Dealing With Financial Stress

To understand what problems employees may be facing, Murphy urged employers to look at relevant data. “Start by looking at the percentage of your employee population that has part of their pay garnished,” she said.

Another indicator of potential financial problems is the frequency and number of loans and hardship withdrawals taken out from 401(k) plan accounts.

When identifying who could benefit from financial wellness programs, remember that these problems are not limited to lower paid employees. Fidelity’s data shows that one-third of those earning more than $250,000 have credit card debt.

“It would be wrong to assume that financial wellness is not an issue for the highly compensated,” Murphy said.

Inspiring Behavior Change

As employers increasingly recognize that financial wellness can boost productivity, the next step is to design a successful program, said Carla Dearing, CEO of SUM180, an online financial wellness service based in Louisville, Ky.

She warned against assuming that simply teaching employees “financial literacy” will help them improve their personal financial situations. “When it comes to complex, emotionally-driven issues, such as money, often there is a disconnect between knowing what to do, understanding how to do it and actually doing it,” she said.

“Traditional financial plans are overwhelming in scope and packed with confusing financial jargon,” she explained. “To prompt behavioral change, financial advice needs be personalized. An employee should be able to recognize, ‘This feels right for me. I can do this.’ By giving employees only their few most important next steps, in manageable bites that can be accomplished in a period of months, they are empowered to focus and act.”

However, Shane Bartling, a senior consultant at Willis Towers Watson in San Francisco, cautioned about getting too personal. “While employees are eager for their employers to provide support and technology to help with financial management decisions, employees can be wary of personalized outreach,” he said.

What’s the nuance? “Workers are saying there is a distinct line between personalized tools where the interaction is controlled by the employee and personalized messages that can be unsettling,” he noted.

Source: www.shrm.org Dec. 6th 2017 by Joanne Sammer. 

 

 

 

 

eye-health

Top 7 Employee Eye Health Tips for January Glaucoma Month

eye-health

January is National Glaucoma Month, so let’s take a “look” at how we can help preserve your and your employee’s vision with proper diet and nutrition.

Are you surprised that vision health is just another reason to eat healthy & exercise?

Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in adults and is known as the silent eye disease since it happens over time and is painless until the permanent damage starts to occur.

Eye strain at the office (computers, mobile devices, tablets, etc.) causes stress, fatigue and productivity loss. As with most other serious health issues, such as heart disease, we often don’t know our eyes are “sick” until it’s too late.

Wellness Prevention for Glaucoma embodies many of the basics for overall health and wellness:

  • Exercise and Stress Reduction (from exercise)
  • Meditation – to relax the body and reduce stress
  • Green Tea – to help the retia ad aqueous humor absorb the antioxidants in green tea
  • Vitamins A, C, E (all high in antioxidants) and Vitamin B Complex which also helps protect the eyes (seeds, nuts, fresh fruits and veggies)
  • Carrots (Beta-Carotene) and Dark Green Leafy Veggies (spinach, kale, broccoli)
  • Low Caffeine Intake
  • Schedule Regular Comprehensive Eye Exams (prevention!)

Here are our Top 7 Eye Health Wellness Program Tips to incorporate in your employee health and wellness initiatives:

  1. Share this knowledgewith your employee population and encourage regular eye exams.
  2. Review your vision health program
  3. Encourage Computer Eye Strain Breaks
  4. Offer Relaxation Rooms for employees to unplug and recharge
  5. Provide Green Tea at coffee stations
  6. Offer Meditation Classes
  7. Offer Exercise and Stress Reduction Classes and Programs

Cheers to nourishing your and your employee’s vision and eye health and seeing the difference a healthy lifestyle and healthy organization can make!