5 Ways to Live Healthier in the New Year

live healthier in the new year

Every January 1 in 3 Americans resolves to live healthier in the New Year. Within 6 months, less than half of those people are still on target with their resolutions. The easiest way to keep up with your resolutions is to pick the most worthy one and stick with it. It’s easier to make one change or several small changes than it is to make huge life changes.

Here are 5 resolutions to keep in mind this New Year:

  1. Weight Loss – Among the most popular resolutions, it can also be one of the most difficult to commit to. Make one small dietary change at a time; eat fewer calories, eat fewer carbohydrates, or add 15-30 minutes of walking to your daily routine. Keeping track of daily routines can also make a big difference. Having a food journal can help track what (and how much) you eat each day. Adding a wearable device, such as the popular Fitbit, can help get you moving and track of your daily steps.
  2. Keep in Touch – It’s good for your health to reconnect with family and friends. The lack of social bonds can damage your health as much as alcohol and smoking.
  3. Quit Smoking – Smoking is one of the hardest habits to quit. Fortunately, the fight against smoking has provided many smoking cessation resources. CVS Health pulled tobacco from their shelves last year and the results have been exceptional. They are also leading the pack in smoking cessation programs.
  4. Save Money – Healthy lifestyle changes (such as quitting smoking!) can also save you money. Also think about walking to work, carpooling, and cutting back on gym membership charges by exercising at home. Many video game systems have fitness programs, such as Wii Fit and Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect.
  5. Cut Your Stress – Chronic stress can cause insomnia, depression, obesity, heart disease, and more. Long work hours, little sleep, no exercise, poor diet, and not enough time with family can contribute to stress. Relaxation & meditation techniques, yoga, socializing, and vacationing are all great stress relievers.

What small changes will you be making this year for a happier, healthier you?

Jennifer DiPietro has been managing B2B gift card programs since 2010. A lover of social media, she has recently decided to get back into blogging as well as delve deeper into the world of marketing. Native to New England, she enjoys the beauty of the coast, but also loves the cold, snowy winters. She is obsessed with Boston sports and the Denver Broncos.

Employee Health Screenings: How Much Testing is Too Much?

Employee health screenings

As we enter the season of open enrollment employers are looking for ways to minimize health care costs and employees are already thinking about new years resolutions and how they can get healthy “after the holidays.” According to a Kaiser Family Foundation report, half of large employers in America require employees to submit to some time of biometric screening. However, it is important for employers to consider how required employee health screenings affect their relationship with employees.

So what’s the risk? Employees are all adults, and they ultimately can choose when to go to the doctor. Some go to the doctor regularly, others choose to go less often. Still others might be generally healthy but don’t check in at the doctor’s office as much as they should. So requiring biometric screening can feel invasive and create the illusion of “forcing” employees to go to the doctor, potentially against their general practice.

The other issue employers can run into is what tests they require employees to subject themselves to. Different health problems affect different age groups and demographics. Imagine having a bunch of 23 year olds getting cholesterol testing every year even if they aren’t at risk or the tests aren’t recommended by their doctors. These types of mandates do not make sense. So, if your employee health and wellness program is going to include some kind of biometric screening, either work through your insurance policy to track employee testing or use health care standard preventative testing guidelines to build age range specific requirements.

Biometric screening has arguably been the most sensitive piece of the employee health and wellness craze. Screenings are not a one-size-fits-all situation so take count of your employees and adjust your biometric screening requirements to suit your employees and their specific health needs and risks.

Want more information on employee health screenings? Check out this article from NPR Health.

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

Keep Hospital Readmission Rates Low Using Incentives

hospital readmission rates

The care that a patient receives directly after leaving the hospital is critical to keeping hospital readmission rates low. It is estimated that nearly 20% of patients are readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of being discharged and about 75% of those readmissions are preventhospital readmission ratesable.

There are various factors as to why hospital readmission occur. Most often patients are not seeing their Primary Care Physician while they are in the hospital and their PCP is only receiving a summary of treatment instead of a complete diagnosis with follow-up care recommendations.

Low-income readmissions can potentially lose hospitals money with the odds being higher that another hospital bill will go unpaid. In 2015, The Affordable Care Act has mandated a financial penalty of up to 3% for institutions that have not complied with standards for reducing readmission rates.

Incentives can play a huge role in reducing readmission rates. They allow you to reward patients for taking small steps that make a big difference between a healthy recovery and another trip to the ER, whether it be following up with their Primary Care Physicians or adhering to their prescription medication.

Download our free white paper Reducing Readmission Rates through Incentives and Education to learn more on how to use incentives to reduce that 20% readmissions rate.

Learn more about:

  • The factors that can cause readmission rates to soar
  • How to use incentives and education to control the number of hospital returns
  • The types of incentives to consider using
  • Ways to ensure long-term success

Download Now

 

Here are 10 more ways to reduce readmission rates courtesy of The Camden Group.

Jennifer DiPietro has been managing B2B gift card programs since 2010. A lover of social media, she has recently decided to get back into blogging as well as delve deeper into the world of marketing. Native to New England, she enjoys the beauty of the coast, but also loves the cold, snowy winters. She is obsessed with Boston sports and the Denver Broncos.

Using Incentives to Drive Change in Corporate Wellness- Upcoming Webinar!

drive change in corporate wellness

Upcoming Webinar! Using Incentives to Drive Change in Corporate Wellness Programs


Register for webinar

In our blog we’ve addressed how employee wellness is now company culture, the benefits of keeping your employees healthy and the ROI that a successful corporate wellness program can generate. Now we turn our focus on how to drive change in corporate wellness. Without changed behavior being constantly encouraged and healthy behaviors adopted by employees, that corporate wellness you put so much time and energy to develop, implement and foster is pointless.

When the GiftCard Partners team went to The Employer Healthcare and Benefits Congress back in September we saw the level of importance being placed on corporate wellness and the challenge with employee engagement in the programs. This is no small problem, after all, if employees are not engaged then they aren’t likely changing unhealthy behaviors, making all the work put into the program essentially wasted.

This is where incentives play such an essential role in the ability to drive change in corporate wellness. But incentives come in all shapes and sizes (not to mention price tags), so how do you determine which to use and how they are presented to your program participants. Being the gift card company that we are, we took this opportunity to answer the question,

Why are gift cards the right incentives and can they drive the change employers are looking for?

We commissioned our research partner, Shapiro+Raj to survey a nationally representative sample of 5,000 American consumers and a companion survey of corporate HR and C-Suite executives to help address this question and many more that we had.

Key findings from this research look into:

  • How employees really feel about changing behaviors
  • What works to keep the population and the individual engaged in changing their behaviors and gain compliance
  • The types of incentives that work to truly engage employees
  • Perceptions of changing behaviors; absenteeism, use of emergency facilities, morale, greater productivity etc. (rewards/incentives, gym memberships/onsite or offsite, screening and other wellness services)
  • How well healthcare providers and employers serve the needs of the company and the employees
  • How well employees are adapting to recent changes in healthcare delivery
  • The patient-centered initiatives currently/likely to have the greatest impact
  • The role and impact of incentive-centric programs and support; both currently and in the future.

Our upcoming webinar, Using Incentives to Drive Change in Corporate Wellness Programscompiles the research and discusses all of the findings.

Register for webinar

Register now to save your seat for this webinar.

Using Incentives to Drive Change in Corporate Wellness Programs

Friday, November 20, 2015  |  1:00 pm EST

 

Lauren is the Marketing Specialist here at GiftCard Partners. She enjoys all things marketing and design related. Learning about the newest trends and technologies in the b2b gift card world and seeing how we can use them to develop the best experience for our audience and reader base is our goal.

4 Reasons to Utilize Staff Wellness

 

staff wellness

Staff wellness is a concern in most office environments. Whether it’s preventing a flu outbreak this winter, or making sure that fitness is a priority in a culture where most employees are sitting forty hours a week, wellness is top of employers’ minds.

Here are 4 issues that can be addressed through staff wellness:

  1. Absenteeism- This one is a simple cause and effect. Employees who take better care of themselves get sick less. It’s a pretty open-and-shut case. Make sure your employees have time to
  2. Presenteeism- Employees showing up when they are sick is good for no one. They elongate their illness. They get other employees sick and they don’t really get much done while sick at work. Presenteeism is a new term, but it is an old practice. Employers should take active measures to address it and create environments where if an employee is sick they eel comfortable staying home and getting better before returning to the office.
  3. Engagement- Stress and sleep deprivation are a deadly combination that can take their toll on employees and their output. Trying to control/mitigate stress and ensure that employees have enough time to rest and recuperate is key to ensuring the remain engaged and effective during their time in the office. With research showing that only about one-third of large company employees are engaged, this is a growing problem that needs to be addressed.
  4. Healthcare costs: According to Wellness Program Benchmarks from SHRM, 72% of employers found staff wellness initiatives either somewhat or very effective in reducing healthcare costs.

Thinking you might need more reasons to get staff wellness on the priority list at your organization? Check out the article, Invest in staff wellness for big rewards, from IOL Beta.

 

 

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

7 Questions to Ask About Wellness Program Privacy

wellness program privacy

More and more employers are using wellness programs as a solution to rising health costs and even more are expecting to launch wellness programs in the coming year. But is our privacy at risk? Wellness program privacy is a hot topic and, with the slow development and implementation of standards to keep information confidential, it’s no surprise.

Wellness program data collected by employers is released to wellness providers and this non-confidential data could be abused for workplace discrimination, credit screenings, and even unwanted marketing. As more employers grasp wellness, they are pressuring employees to give unfamiliar 3rd party companies detailed data about one of the most sensitive parts of their lives. In many wellness programs simply taking the health risk assessment could mean you are waiving your privacy rights.

So, what are the best questions we should ask our employers to help retain our wellness program privacy and keep our sensitive information secure?

Here are 7 questions you should ask about your wellness program:

1. What information will my employer see?

Many employers will only receive anonymous group data, i.e. how many workers have high blood pressure or obesity. In some instances, your employer can see individual results. This can lead to discrimination due to disability or illness. Employees should ask exactly what information will be shared with their employer and if they would be identified.

2. Does the HIPAA privacy law cover your wellness program?

HIPAA restricts sharing of certain medical information; if your wellness program is covered by HIPAA that is a great judge of confidentiality. It’s beneficial to remember, even in HIPAA covered programs, designated managers can see health reports including identities, but they are obligated by law to keep them confidential.

3. Do I give up my HIPAA rights when I fill out my health assessment?

Wellness portals can often give a vendor permission to share personal data with 3rd parties. Read the privacy and terms of use disclosures and ask questions whenever you are unsure or uncomfortable with the information you are reading.

4. If my employer can only see group results, is my privacy guaranteed?

Ask how far group results will be broken down in manager reports.

5. Which other companies can see my wellness data?

Wellness programs often involve multiple firms gathering and sharing your information and each of those firms may have their own privacy policies. Employees deserve a clear explanation of how their information will be shared, how the data is used, and how well it will be protected.

6. What privacy policies do subcontractors and other 3rd parties have to follow?

The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) requires the primary wellness vendor and 3rd party partners to conform to HIPAA, but NCQA only recognizes a few dozen wellness companies and their standards are voluntary.

7. Can vendors try to identify individuals from group data?

Experts have suggested that data can be re-identified by combing them with public databases. Currently, wellness vendor Limeade and wearable device maker Fitbit prohibit 3rd party partners from attempting to re-identify any shared information. But many other vendors do not do the same.

Are there any questions that you suggest employees ask about their wellness program privacy policies? Let us know!

Jennifer DiPietro has been managing B2B gift card programs since 2010. A lover of social media, she has recently decided to get back into blogging as well as delve deeper into the world of marketing. Native to New England, she enjoys the beauty of the coast, but also loves the cold, snowy winters. She is obsessed with Boston sports and the Denver Broncos.

3 Ways to Make Your Office Healthier

make your office healthier

Employee health and wellness is important. We know why it’s important, but we often don’t spend enough time talking about how we can make employee health and wellness a part of our office environment. It’s important to understand what easy steps you can take to make your office healthier. It doesn’t need to be complicated, but it does need to give employees what they need to be successful in their healthy pursuit.

Here are 3 ways to make your office healthier:

  1. Allow for Flexibility– Giving employees the flexibility to do what they need to do to take care of themselves is crucial. Whether it’s time off during the day to go to the dentist or doctor or encouraging them to stay home when they might be fighting a cold, flexibility is key to keeping employees healthy.
  2. Make Exercise Accessible– There are a few ways to do this. Some offices have on-site gyms, some make gym discounts part of their benefits package, while others organize team sports or lunchtime walking groups for employees. However you choose to do it, making it easy for employees to exercise will make it easy for them to stay energized and focused while at work.
  3. Make Sleep a Priority– Getting the recommended 6-8 hours of sleep every night is tough, if not impossible for some. We get up early, go to bed late, and constantly over-schedule ourselves. Making sleep acceptable for employees is key. Whether flexible work hours work for your team or a nap pod is acceptable, make sleep okay. There should be no stigma for treating your exhaustion the same way you treat your headache.

Need more inspiration and ideas? Check out, Developing a Healthy Strategy for Happier, More Productive Teams from Huffington Post Healthy Living, for plenty more ideas to make your office healthier with simple quick to implement options.

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

The CVS/pharmacy October eNewsletter is Out!

cvs/pharmacy newsletter

Top stories from the CVS/pharmacy October eNewsletter!

CVS Flu Shot eCard - Learn more

While the change of seasons brings us relief from the summer heat, we also start to see an increase in illness. October is the start of flu season, and on average, your employees will lose almost 3 days of work from the flu. Each flu season results in approximately $7 billion in lost productivity.

This edition of the CVS/pharmacy October eNewsletter is focused on combating flu season in your workplace. Whether you are an employer or an employee, we provide you with the best ways to keep your workforce healthy. In addition, we bring you all the latest CVS news.

CVS in the News

CVS Health launches ScriptSync™ for patients who have multiple prescriptions. The 24/7 services uses innovative online support tools to send patient reminders via phone or text and offers same day pickup.

The tobacco-free decision shows a positive impact. September marks the first anniversary of ending the sale of tobacco at more than 7,800 CVS/pharmacy locations across the U.S.

More on this section…


Health & Wellness News

Stopping the spread of germs at work. The Society for Human Resource Management has created a sample policy to help employees learn to stop the spread of germs at the office.

Interested in providing flu shots at work but not sure what to do next? Let us help!

Can corporate wellness be your competitive advantage? TotalWellness explains the advantages to having a successful corporate wellness program.

More on this section…


CVS/pharmacy Gift Card Product Suite

We can’t talk about flu season without bringing up the CVS/pharmacy Flu Shot eGift Card. This eGift card allows recipients to redeem for one flu shot at any of the more than 7,800 CVS/pharmacy locations across the U.S.

CVS Flu Shot eCard - Learn more

CVS/pharmacy has a range of gift cards available in bulk at discount pricing. Contact us today to learn more.

More on this section…

Jennifer DiPietro has been managing B2B gift card programs since 2010. A lover of social media, she has recently decided to get back into blogging as well as delve deeper into the world of marketing. Native to New England, she enjoys the beauty of the coast, but also loves the cold, snowy winters. She is obsessed with Boston sports and the Denver Broncos.

Incorporate Employee Wellness and Engagement in 2 Ways

Employee Wellness and engagementEmployee wellness and engagement are hot topics in HR departments across the country. How to keep healthcare costs low and how to keep employees happy, engaged and long tenured are at the forefront of Human Resources challenges.

Here are two ways to incorporate employee wellness and engagement into your program or workplace to strengthen participation across teams and hierarchies.

Keep Employee Wellness Promotion Prominent.

Human resources should be controlling messages regarding benefits to employees. How you position benefits programs will impact how your employees receive them. If you keep your employee wellness program communication and promotion prominent in employee-wide communications, employees will understand it and internalize it.

Communicating the program and its benefits clearly is the best way to organically bolster both participation and enthusiasm, not only for the program but for your organization as a great place to work. Participation in voluntary programs is a sign of an engaged workforce in-tune with its management team.

Make Wellness Programs Easy to Understand.

Information sharing that comes from the top fosters an opportunity for organic and authentic conversation across a company. Make your employee wellness program is easy to understand.

Communicate it clearly, put it in layman’s terms, and make the information available as well as resources to support the information widely to every employee in your organization.

Keep it simple, both the goals of the program and the metrics for success. If employees understand they will engage in it and thus further engage themselves in your organization.

Looking for more ways to engage your employees with employee wellness? Check out the Forbes.com article, How You Can Use Your Company Health Benefits To Strengthen Employee Engagement.


Additional resources…

If you are looking to increase engagement in your existing wellness program you may also be interested in our upcoming webinar, Improving Outcomes in Health & Wellness Programs with the Use of Incentiveson November 11.

Register early to save your seat!

Register for webinar


corporate wellness program guide

Rachel Merkin is a digital marketing professional. She has been exploring the worlds of social media and B2B gift cards since 2006. When she is not blogging, tweeting, or finding ways to leverage Facebook as a marketing tool, she spends as much time at the beach as she can.

40 Healthy Snacks at Work

Healthy SnacksStaying healthy at work isn’t always easy. With anywhere from 8-10 hours in the office, healthy snacks at work are a must to keep employees energized and focused. So what are the best healthy snacks for the office? SnackNation reached out to 40 health experts, from nutritionists to dietitians, and asked them “What are your favorite healthy snacks to keep at the office (or wherever you work) and why?”

Here are top choices from the experts:

“My favorite snack to keep at work is a handful of nuts and string cheese. Keeping it low carbohydrate will not slow you down and the high protein will satisfy you until your next meal. Plus, the healthy fats in nuts will add an added dose of needed nutrition to your day.”

– Jessa Nowak, In Wealth and Health – follow Jessa on Twitter @HappynHealthyRD

“Greek Yogurt with blueberries and almonds! One of my favorites!”

– Dolcett Quince, Trainer on NBC’s The Biggest Loser – follow Dolcett on Twitter @dolvett

“The snack I’m hooked on right now is a couple of brown rice cakes topped with almond butter accompanied by Greek yogurt or cottage cheese topped with blueberries, raspberries, or other fruit and sprinkled with cinnamon. So good, filling, and keeps me satisfied till my next meal!”

– Krista Stryker, 12 Minute Athlete – Follow them on Twitter @12minuteathlete

“My favorite snack for my desk drawer is a Quest Nutrition Bar. They taste amazing and the macros are fantastic for my goals.”

– Heather Blackmon, FITaspire – Follow them on Twitter @fitaspire

“My favorite snack to have on hand is a small bag of raw nuts and a piece of fruit, like an apple. I like to have healthy fats and fruit with fiber to keep me feeling full for a long time. Plus it’s easy to carry around with me anywhere I go.”

– Jen Gacek, The Fit Housewife – Follow Jen on Twitter @thefithousewife

Click here to read 35 more healthy snack ideas from SnackNation. Be sure to follow SnackNation on twitter for healthy eating and more @snacknation

What are your favorite healthy snacks at work?

Comment below and let us know!

Jennifer DiPietro has been managing B2B gift card programs since 2010. A lover of social media, she has recently decided to get back into blogging as well as delve deeper into the world of marketing. Native to New England, she enjoys the beauty of the coast, but also loves the cold, snowy winters. She is obsessed with Boston sports and the Denver Broncos.