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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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Promotional Products Part of Historic TrumpKim Summit

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean "Supreme Leader" Kim Jong-un are set to engage in historic face-to-face talks regarding possible nuclear disarmament of North Korea in Singapore. While the potential geopolitical implications are beyond our humble scope, we thought we'd mention this: There are promotional products tied to the summit – perhaps not a surprise given the global interest in the event.

The Straits Times, an English language broadsheet newspaper based in Singapore, had the below prefilled, single-use water bottle on offer:

At least some folks were eager to get their hands on summit swag:

Others disparaged The Straits Times summit-branded merchandise:

Additionally, Los Angeles Times reported that, on the ground in Singapore, there were cardboard fans and coffee cups that showed depictions of Trump and Kim. BBC Asia Bureau Chief Imelda Flattery noted that the summit's media center had summit-branded coffee cups:

Back in May, in anticipation of an earlier round of proposed talks between Trump and Kim that were cancelled, the White House Communications Agency was selling a coin – or medallion since it has no currency value. It was to commemorate the meeting:

It appears there will be more coins/medallions. The White House Gift Shop was making new commemorative coins available for pre-order as of Monday. The gift shop website said images of the first coin – apparently there will be another as well for a series of three -- would be released on Tuesday June 12th. Coins were expected to begin shipping Aug. 1.

Beyond the merch, there's a bit of a surreal atmosphere surrounding the summit between two of the world's most controversial leaders. For example, people were lining up in Singapore to take pictures with Kim and Trump impersonators. Pics reportedly cost $11.

Another element kicking the "What the heck?" factor of the summit into overdrive was the fact that Dennis Rodman, the eccentric former NBA star, was traveling to Singapore. Rodman says he is a friend of Trump and Kim. He was going to Singapore as part of a promotional push for a digital currency for the cannabis industry. While certainly not expected to figure in the talks, Rodman was offering to be a facilitator for Trump and Kim:

Los Angeles Times reported that about 2,500 members of the media have registered for the summit. That's the largest contingent ever hosted in Singapore, according to The Straits Times.

Promotional Products Were Everywhere At Wizard World Comic Con

From free swag to swanky branded merchandise, Wizard World Comic Con Philadelphia abounded with promotional products. There was everything from official logoed event gear for purchase, to giveaways from a variety of vendors and exhibitors, including household name brands like Xfinity and 5-hour Energy.

Held Thursday through Sunday at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, the pop culture event featured talented comic book artists, unique toys and comics for sale, in-person autograph signings from celebrities such as Sebastian Stan, Elijah Wood, Jason Momoa, Sean Astin, and Henry Winkler, and much more. I swung by to check out the merch on offer (tough gig, I know). Here's what I found…and a saber fight…keep scrolling...

First up, official Wizard World Comic Con branded merchandise! As you can see in these first four photos, wearables, totes, drawstring backpacks and lanyards were part of the mix.

DKMS is a nonprofit that helps blood cancer patients find matching donors. To get Comic Con attendees engaged with its mission, the group came up with what the best giveaway I spotted from an exhibitor: This branded cape. It's a perfect product to connect with the superhero-loving Comic Con crowd. DKMS was also giving out the below earbuds in a branded clear plastic slide-open pouch.

Xfinity was promoting HBO GO with the above hat, which attendees were snapping up. Xfinity, which offers cable, internet, telephone and wireless services, also co-branded with Wizard World on the below freebie tote. Neat aside: Xfinity had screenprinters creating totes on the spot.

You could get these 5-hour Energy sunglasses by participating in a basketball shootout game at 5-hour's tent booth, which had a real-world game set similar to this for the hoops fun.

A super friendly woman at The Lasik Vision Institute table asked me if I was interested in Lasik surgery. I felt bad telling her not really, but she was still nice enough to give me this credit card holder to slap on the back of my phone.

Lots of parents attend Wizard World Comic Con with their kids. It makes sense then for a charter school like Commonwealth Charter Academy to promote at the event. As part of the effort, Commonwealth was handing out free pens, drawstring totes, dog-shaped stress toys, and info cards with a friendly dog mascot.

Army recruiters had a table at the event, too. The guys were very friendly and insisted I take this water bottle and keychain. I was happy to oblige.

A fair share of movie promoting was going on, and there were various types of swag to support the hype-push. I scored these Teen Titans buttons at a booth after playing a little game. To get the buttons – or potentially other movie-themed freebies – you spun a game wheel. You got whatever swag item the wheel fell still upon.

TV station PHL17 was promoting itself. By liking the station on Facebook, you were entered for a chance to win one of these fun show shirts, I was told.

Well, T-Mobile wasn't about to let itself be missed, was it?

Dudes from The Saber Legion, an international saber combat organization as it were, had quite the duel. I didn't record to the end because it went on a bit (sorry), but the fellow in all black emerged victorious (I'm pretty sure).

Trend Alert: Clear Tote Bags

Clear tote bags are the rage of the runways – which means the trend could soon be sweeping the promotional products industry too.

While the roots of clear tote bags might be utilitarian, some high fashion labels have suddenly fell in love with them, creating astoundingly expensive offerings in the category. The Prada tote below is a great example of the trend. It was retailing online at Nordstrom recently for $1,040 before selling out.

Made in Italy from PVC, the transparent tote features Prada's black logo print across the front and a white canvas trim. In a little nod to privacy, the push-stud top closure reveals a detachable zip-fastening pouch for storing essentials out of sight.

Meanwhile, this transparent Kara PVC Pinch Tote is another example of transparency couture. It retails for $325 at ssense.com – hardly even the cost of a lunchtime appetizer for your average Manhattan billionaire.

For those of us sitting in the proletarian seats, though, there's good news. You can still get in on the namebrand clear tote trend for a relatively reasonable price. Urban Outfitters offers this tote for $25.

Interestingly, the high-fashion transparent trend extends beyond totes into other bag categories, including reusable shopping bags. The bag below is an exclusive collaboration between Voo Store and Belgian fashion designer Raf Simons. Available for about $180, the bag includes a dustbag that can also be used as an inner compartment.

Given the popularity of clear bags in fashion circles, promotional product distributors should anticipate that demand from clients in the promo space will increase, too. And who knows – the trend could proliferate well beyond bags altogether, if this tweet from Prada is a clue.

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