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Three Tips for a Healthier Workplace

Three Tips for a Healthier Workplace

Johnson & Johnson has one. So does Chick Fil-A. Indeed, practically every company in America has an employee wellness program in place, but how many actually measure the program’s effectiveness? Fewer than one quarter, according to a recent study by Buck Consultants. According to the study, 77% of employers in the U.S. offer at least one program to keep employees healthy (think free gym memberships and incentives to stop smoking), but only 23% actually measure the outcomes of those programs.


That’s a mistake, say health-care consultants. “By knowing what types of programs work best, you’ll be able to see how to move the needle in terms of health-care premiums and other benefits of corporate wellness, like reduced absenteeism and increased productivity,” says David Atkinson, vice president of corporate wellness for Cooper Corporate Solutions, a firm which helps companies design programs to keep employees healthy. Make no mistake: There are real benefits to be had by setting up an employee wellness program, and appropriately rewarding employees for their participation. Here are some tips to make sure you’re getting the most out of yours, and rewarding employees appropriately for participating.

Tip 1: Design a Program
Companies that are looking to wellness programs to reduce insurance premiums and absenteeism need to design programs that can be more specifically tied to those goals, Atkinson says.


As an example, when Redstone Presbyterian Care, a health-care facility with more than 400 employees, was hit with a 44% increase in health-insurance premiums, it realized it needed to do something – fast. “We weren’t paying attention to what was going on around us,” says Jim Hodge, vice president of human resources. Specifically, employee obesity, tobacco use, high blood pressure and other health risks were causing the company’s premiums to skyrocket.


Redstone initially responded with a variety of free fitness activities, like yoga and kickboxing classes, that employees could participate in. “We even offered ballroom dancing,” Hodge says. 


Employees received points for completing every activity, and those points were redeemable for cash or merchandise, like fitness equipment. “What we learned was that people didn’t necessarily equate the fact that they were doing these programs for wellness,” Hodge says. 


So Redstone adjusted its program; now, instead of simply participating in exercise classes, they also have to overcome several hurdles in order to participate in the company’s insurance program. Now, employees who want to be insured by Redstone must undergo a health-risk assessment, biometric screening and meet with a wellness coach three times annually. The result? “More of our employees are really paying attention to their wellness,” Hodge says. “Three employees have given up tobacco this year, and countless others have lost weight.” 


The upshot? The company has saved more than $440,000 in insurance premiums, and has managed to hold annual insurance-premium increases to single digits. “We found that really educating people about their health works much better than simply throwing a bunch of programs at them,” Hodge adds.


Tip 2: Offer Incentives
Most employees won’t be eager to stop smoking or lose weight without a little nudge, say wellness experts. Indeed, 56% of companies in the U.S. offer incentives like gifts, merchandise, or reduced insurance costs, for participating in wellness programs. How to find the right incentives for your group?


That depends on how big of a change you’re asking employees to make, says Rich Allen, vice president of group benefits and risk analysis for Cooper Corporate Solutions. “If you’re looking at wellness as a fun thing for employees to do, small incentives such as logoed pedometers, yoga mats, T-shirts and athletic gear will do the trick,” Allen says. “If your objective is to change costs and risk factors for employees, you have to be much more aggressive in the incentives you offer.” 


For example, companies covered by Cigna’s health plan can opt into a program that pays out bigger rewards, such as jewelry and electronics, for completing a series of health screenings or participating in a program to control their diabetes. Other companies reward employees for major lifestyle changes, such as a sustained drop in blood pressure, by reducing the amount they have to contribute to their health-care premiums. In a program Cooper created for NEI, a server company, employees who showed progress in health screenings would pay a discount on their health-care contributions. After participating in the program for four years, NEI had “almost completely eradicated high-risk blood pressure among its employees, and had a 50% reduction in employees with high-risk cholesterol,” Allen says. “That’s a pretty impressive result.”

Tip 3: Measure Results
Companies creating wellness programs to improve the work environment should be able to measure results by simply surveying the population. “Are employees having fun? Do they like what’s happening? Then good, you’re on the right track,” says Smytha Haley, a wellness consultant.


Those who want to track the effectiveness of the program on the bottom line should be prepared to wait about 18 months for a result, Haley says. For many firms, 18 months is the point at which workers’ bettering health begins to cancel out the cost of sponsoring and administering the corporate wellness program.


As a rule of thumb, the average cost to a business is about $3 to $5 per participating staff member per month. “Within three years of the launch you ought to be seeing meaningful savings,” Haley says.

Interested in setting up a Wellness Program?
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Elon Musks Branded Flamethrower: The Hottest Promotional Product In The World

Elon Musk is a lot of things: genius, billionaire, pioneering entrepreneur, cracker-jack hat salesman. Now, he can add another eye-opening entry to his ever-growing list of impressive epithets – purveyor of the most dangerous (but hella cool, some would say) promotional product in the world.

Last weekend, The Boring Co., of which Musk is CEO, began taking pre-orders for flamethrowers branded with the company name. You read that correctly: flamethrowers.

Through early afternoon Tuesday East Coast time, The Boring Company had reportedly pre-sold about 15,000 flamethrowers – a figure that amounts to approximately $7.5 million in sales.

In announcing the branded flamethrowers, Boring Co. pitched the items as "guaranteed to liven up any party." Indeed, Musk was having fun on Twitter promoting the fire-spewing device. Amid tweets that gave a running tally of the number of pre-orders, Musk inserted funny "pitches" that included "Great for roasting nuts" before adding later, "Obviously, a flamethrower is a super terrible idea. Definitely don't buy one...Unless you like fun."

After tweeting that flamethrowers would come in handy in the event of a zombie apocalypse, Musk felt the need to address some scuttlebutt that was making the rounds: "The rumor that I'm secretly creating a zombie apocalypse to generate demand for flamethrowers is completely false," he tweeted, with a chuckle no doubt.

While Musk and Boring Co. were hyping the flamethrower with jokes and humor, not everyone was laughing. Boring Co. is based in California, where rampant wildfires wreaked havoc in 2017, scorching vast tracts of land and claiming lives. In the wake of such tragedy, California Assemblyman Miguel Santiago of Los Angeles criticized the flamethrowers, saying they could be a public health hazard. "We've just gone through some catastrophic fires in California," he told The Los Angeles Times. "It's a bad joke."

Still, sales of the flamethrowers were continuing to climb. The same consumer frenzy flashed out during Musk's earlier venture into promotional products with The Boring Company (which incidentally is focused on infrastructure and tunnel construction). Late last year, Musk started selling Boring Co.-branded hats. By mid-December, Boring Co. had sold more than 35,000 of the ball caps, generating $700,000. The LA Times reported this week that Boring Co. has now sold about 50,000 hats.

One thing's for sure, if Musk ever is looking for another new field to enter, he certainly has a future in promotional product sales.

Grumpy Cat Wins Copyright Case

Internet sensation Grumpy Cat, the feline face that launched a thousand memes, just had his day in court – and won. The sour puss was awarded $710,000 in damages in a California copyright case, after a beverage company used the cat's likeness for unauthorized purposes.

Grumpy Cat, whose real name is Tardar Sauce, has millions of followers on social media, hobnobs with celebrities and even has an animatronic likeness at Madame Tussaud's wax museum in London. Owner Tabatha Bundesen created Grumpy Cat Limited to capitalize on her pet's popularity after her brother posted Tardar Sauce's pic on Reddit, back in 2012. The cat's famous frown is likely caused by feline dwarfism and an under bite.

In 2013, Grenade Beverage, owned by father and son Nick and Paul Sandford, struck a $150,000 deal to market iced "Grumppuccinos," bearing the cat's likeness on the packaging. However, Grenade also began using the Grumpy Cat image on its roasted coffee and on T-shirts, neither of which had been agreed upon, according to the lawsuit.

Grenade filed a countersuit, claiming Grumpy Cat didn't promote the brand as promised in the original deal. However, the jury ultimately sided with the cat.

Grumpy Cat's lawyer, David Jonelis of Lavely & Singer, told TheWrap that this was a precedent-setting case. "It's the first verdict ever rendered in favor of a viral meme," he added. "Memes have rights too."

Imprinted Tees Commemorate Missile Attack

What do you do in the wake of a missile attack scare?

Make cheeky T-shirts to commemorate the event, apparently.

Indeed, a day after Hawaii issued false alarms that a ballistic missile was rocketing toward the state in the Pacific Ocean, a shop in Honolulu began selling tees that ironically acknowledged the scare.

As you can see below, the shirts say, "I Survived the Hawaii Ballistic Missile." The image of the shirts in the shop is courtesy of Alastair Gale, The Wall Street Journal's Japan editor.

The Honolulu store was far from the only retail entity eager to capitalize on the false alarm with T-shirts. A quick Google search revealed similarly themed tees for sale on sites that included Amazon, Redbubble, and Etsy.

As you've probably heard, the missile attack was really no such thing. A worker at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency accidentally issued an alert that a missile was inbound. The message caused pervasive panic, fueled particularly by increased tensions between the U.S. and North Korea. Some 40 minutes after the alert went out, Hawaiian officials issued a second message saying that the first message was a false alarm.

Following the jolt, some islanders were clearly ready to dispel the excess nervous energy with a little humor – as evidenced by the T-shirts. It seems there really can be a T-shirt for every occasion these days.

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