Tag Archives: corporate wellness

Google Ranks Health on Page One for its Employees

Even if CNN and Fortune hadn’t repeatedly named Google as one of the best places to work, they would certainly top of a list of most envied places to work. From the outside looking in Googlers have some of the coolest jobs around, and they get to do it at a place called the Googleplex. We thought our office was cool, but come on! Google has segways, hammocks, and free food!

It’s fairly well known that amongst the many, many perks that Googlers enjoy is free food. At the Googleplex and satellite offices, the company keeps its hard working staff well fed. Sometimes too well, with bowls of M&Ms suspended from ceilings and unlimited passes at cafeteria buffets, it’s like a cruise you get paid to attend.

Recently, Google made some changes in an effort to make the environment even healthier for its employees. If they’re gaming for a healthiest places to work award too, they might win. Google recently revealed some of the changes they’re rolling out.

“We’ve used some things in some offices but haven’t implemented them across the board,” Katelin Todhunter-Gerberg told us, a senior public affairs associate for Google. (more…)

Texas Hospital Restricts Hiring Based on BMI

A hospital in Victoria, Texas is catching some heat for their new hiring policy. The medical center recently announced that they’ll be limiting employment to people with a body mass index (BMI) of less than 35.

Citizens Medical Center will be turning overweight people away if they apply for work in their facilities. The Citizens Medical Center Chief, Dan Brown, explained this controversial decision in a statement.

“The majority of our patients are over 65 and they have expectations that cannot be ignored in terms of personal appearance.” Many argue the validity of Brown’s statement, including attorney John Griffin.

“Patients want people who help them who know what they are doing. They really care very little about their size, their national origin.” (more…)

Dr. Pamela Peeke Argues for Corporate Wellness Programs

A few years ago my husband worked for a large aircraft manufacturer. At the start of a new year, each employee was made to get a full physical to create a baseline for their health. At the same time the next year, each employee would have to do it again, and if they’d improved or at least maintained their insurance premiums would be reduced. This seemed like a no-brainer because he’s not overweight, doesn’t smoke and doesn’t have any diseases or risk factors for things like diabetes or high blood pressure. Throughout the year the company supported everyone’s efforts by sending a package once a month with a variety of things like a cutting board encouraging us to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, floss to maintain dental hygeine, and a book called The Culprit and the Cure.

The following year we got our insurance discount. I’m certain many others did, but also certain many did not. At the time, I couldn’t help but wonder — do companies have a right to do this?

“I absolutely think they do,” Dr. Pamela Peeke told me. She cited the interconnectedness of an employee’s health and a company’s bottom line, which can ultimately impact the local economy. “The only way to implement a corporate wellness program is also to provide ways for people to get off the ‘stuff.’ They need counseling, guidance, and discounts.” By stuff she means cigarettes, unhealthy eating habits, alcohol, or anything else that creates a barrier between staff and a healthy lifestyle.

Dr. Peeke and I spoke last week about the rising need for and popularity of corporate wellness programs. Dr. Peeke has an impressive resume that includes the Chief Medical Correspondent for Discovery Health, author of Fight Fat After Forty, and the founder of the The Peeke Performance Center for Healthy Living.

“It is absolutely growing,” Dr. Peeke said about the rise of corporate wellness programs. “There’s no question. People have no choice now.” She cited that for every one dollar a business spends on wellness for its employees, they get five dollars back in the way of productivity and less absenteeism. As well, costly insurance premiums are reduced when they aren’t carrying the burden of unhealthy employees. To companies that still balk at the idea of the added work or expense of a program, Dr. Peeke says, “For crying out loud, we’re investing in the health of these people.” (more…)

2012 Trends in Corporate Wellness Programs

Abra Pappa for Nutritious America

In recent years there has certainly been a shift toward a more holistic understanding of health, seen in the rise in alternative therapies and a deeper understanding and interest in food and its affect on ones health. In corporate America, this same “holistic” seed has been planted. With insurance premiums on the rise corporations are working hard to reduce healthcare cost and improve the health of their employees. Corporate wellness managers are focusing deeper on disease prevention, understanding that a true ROI (return on investment) comes not just from claims reduction but also from claims avoidance. As the Centers for Disease Control reports that chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity, hypertension and high cholesterol count for 75% of health care spending and 45% of Americans have at least one chronic disease, corporations know that prevention is key because disease management is expensive.

So what’s new for 2012 in the corporate health world? How are corporations looking to get in the disease prevention game?

Incentives, incentives, incentives. The biggest trend for 2012 is offering incentives for staying healthy. I am talking cold hard cash incentives. At a recent corporate wellness event I attended employees were signing up for a cash incentive program with the company gym; the more times they went to the gym, the more points they accumulated, the more points they accumulated the more cash they would receive at the end of the year. They could also accumulate points by reducing some core health numbers like BMI, cholesterol, and blood pressure. Many companies are also offering large incentives by way of reduced health care cost to the employee including lowered deductible. However, these incentive programs have been met with some controversy. Some feel that offering incentives naturally means that employees that do not reduce their health numbers or do not participate in “work related” health events are being penalized. Some report that incentive programs feel a bit too Big Brother and that it is an infringement on the employee’s personal and private life.


Google and Twitter Employees are Striving to Unplug

Hastily responding to every cell phone beep, email alert ding and news feed notification bing are the familiar ways a lot of us spend our waking hours every day, whether we are at work, or worse, at home spending some down time with family.

“The speed at which information is coming at us can get overwhelming,” says Google’s Gopi Kallayil, a marketing manager for Google+. Kallayil, also a yoga teacher, says she sees more people in Silicon Valley, the heart of the high-tech industry, turning toward yoga and meditation as a way to find a centering reprieve from the stressful blitz of the fast-paced digital world.

With the physical and mental health of these computer-habituated people at risk, many high-tech industries have adopted wellness programs that go beyond a gym membership and a monthly massage. Recognizing the hyperactive tendencies of those caught in the whirlpool of tweets, status posts and microblogs, companies such as Google and Twitter have incorporated “urban-wellness” programs that include yoga and meditation specifically designed to allow people the time to unwind, unclutter, and most importantly, unplug.

“Twitter is really into this,” says Deborah Burkman, meditation teacher for Twitter. “There is a whole mindfulness program they’re trying to build there. Like a lot of companies, they’re concerned about the well-being of their employees and they’re big believers in trying to have people be consciously connected.”


6 Reasons to be a Mover and Shaker at Work to Prevent Heart Disease

We should all have some kind of understanding by now that physical activity helps reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease in men and women. Leading a sedentary lifestyle is not healthy, and aside from putting you at risk for heart disease, sitting still all day can lead to other undesirable issues such as weight gain, stiff muscles, poor posture and low back pain. Many people heed this warning and hit the gym after work, but according to a new study, they are missing the point entirely.

In a study published in the European Heart Journal, physical activity was monitored in over 29,000 people in 52 countries both at work and during leisure time. Those who participated in light or moderate activity at work had up to 22% lower risk of heart disease compared with those whose jobs involve sitting at a desk in front of a computer.

Weekend fitness warriors and those who log a couple hours a week on the treadmill are chipping away at their risk of cardiovascular disease because all exercise lowers risk, but in order to get the maximum benefits, a lifestyle of frequent activity is recommended. Your good intentions at the gym are not going to cut it if your daily life involves sitting at your office desk all day.

If changing careers is not part of your 2012 agenda, at least make it a point to move your body more often while at work.

The following are some helpful tips to keep your heart healthy. (more…)

Yoga for School Teachers

Teachers are educators, leaders, pseudo parents, heroes, friends and mentors. Their jobs are often thankless, yet teachers are those amazing people that help shape the future of our world.

Being a teacher takes a tremendous amount of commitment, and commitment requires a tremendous amount of energy. Presenting concepts, math equations and scientific theories while continuing to be a positive influence in the classroom can be challenging for the tired and overworked educationalist.

Thankfully, the magic of yoga can come to the rescue to refresh, rejuvenate and inspire before burn out ensues.

Bank a second wind well before you might actually need it with these simple suggestions that can be practiced in the teacher’s lounge or in the classroom.


How To Become a Personal Trainer

If you are passionate about health and wellness, motivating others and of course, enjoy logging long hours inside your favorite gym or health club, you might be well suited for a career as a personal trainer. While getting into physical shape can be hard work, it’s even harder work to achieve and sustain a career as a personal trainer. Though it might be challenging, it’s more than just physical effort.

“The most challenging part about being a trainer is helping clients deal with their personal issues. Often, clients are working to lose weight and sometimes you need to cross the line into a person’s emotions to help them solve issues that might be affecting their weight problem,” said Tony Cress, NASM-CPT, of Tony Cress Personal Training. “It’s very hard and emotional, both as the trainer and the client.”

To become a personal trainer, there are a few things a person should accomplish before they begin looking for a job or planning to launch their own private consulting business.


How to Become a Yoga Instructor

Becoming a yoga instructor is one of the most burgeoning careers in the health and wellness industries. Unlike becoming a personal trainer, which is very regulated, becoming a yoga instructor doesn’t require the tests, certification and training that is mandated by the accredited personal training profession. There is both good and not-so-good in that.

First, because teaching yoga is a relatively new, albeit popular, profession, in essence, anyone who wants to become a yoga instructor can call herself a yoga teacher. This can easily lend way to unqualified teachers who take a few weekend yoga workshops and call themselves a teacher.

On the other hand, because of the lack of regulation, experienced yoga instructors who have been teaching yoga for years, maybe even decades, don’t need to go back and take hours of certification classes with a bunch of novices and learn information they already know.

It is this lack of regulation that has led to the Yoga Alliance, a national education and support organization for yoga in the United States that provides yoga certification for teachers. In September 1999, Yoga Alliance established a national Yoga Teachers’ Registry to recognize and promote teachers with training that meets their minimum standards. Teachers who meet these standards are eligible to register as Registered Yoga Teachers (RYT®s). (more…)

Ikea, Starbucks, Whole Foods, Boeing Lead Charge in Corporate Wellness Campaigns

Times are tough and a lot of companies are trying to cut back on costs. Less benefits, less hours, no healthcare, no bonuses, and more have become the norm, but that hasn’t stopped a large handful of companies from doing everything they can to provide corporate fitness benefits.

Ikea recently had 12,400 custom bicycles made as Christmas gifts for their U.S. employees. The bikes (which are silver with blue, yellow and white stripes- Ikea’s colors) served as a ‘thank you’ for a great year and also a reminder that an active lifestyle is key to a happy life. Employees were pleasantly surprised and it encouraged some who weren’t previously bicyclists to take up the healthy hobby. Ikea might be wow-ing us with their thoughtful and creative gifts, but they aren’t the only company to take ethical responsibility for the health crisis we are in.