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Snapshot of the 2018 Skill Building Sessions

The 28th Annual Worksite Wellness Conference: Inspire. Explore. Create. Your Extraordinary Impact. featured talented experts who discussed a variety of the most thought-provoking, relevant topics and emerging ideas in the industry. Read below for a brief recap of each Skill Building Session.

$how Me the Money: The Value of Financial Health

Jessica Raddemann, CHES and Beth Stewart, MS, RD of Willis Towers Watson discussed the current state of employee’s financial wellbeing, methods to assess employee financial wellbeing and opportunities to support their employees in the workplace.
Session Takeaways:
  • Employees’ financial concerns are on the rise but few employers truly are addressing them (beyond a 401K). Employees bring financial worries to work affecting productivity and safety (i.e. presenteeism).
  • Employees with money worries are more likely to show high stress levels and poor health, in turn increase medical expenses for the employee and employer.
  • Employers can address financial wellbeing by: 
    • measuring and evaluating financial worries in the workplace, 
    • providing solutions that connect employees’ priorities
    • offering tools and services employees want
    • gauging the extent of a permissible active role in employees’ personal financial wellbeing 
  • WCWI Resource: Well Practice Tool: Employee Financial Wellness Survey

 Embracing the Human Experience to Create a Thriving Workforce

The nature of work is ever-changing and raises questions on how can we build for an unknown future, attract and retain tomorrow’s workforce, and figure out what ‘career success’ means for today’s employees?  Cheryl Mealey, BS, CHES of Mercer Employee Health and Benefits explored the intimate link between building a thriving organization, thriving workforce, and thriving employee.
Session Takeaways:
  • Over time, the value proposition has shifted and evolved:
    • Past: organizations fulfilled the employee’s basic needs through pay, benefits, and security
    • Today: organizations fulfill the employee’s psychological needs through achievement and equity, and employees are assets to be acquired and optimized
    • Future: employees want to work for organizations with a strong sense of purpose
  • Pattern of a thriving workforce shows shifting from Employee Value Proposition (EVP) (tangible benefits of working at your organization) to Individual Value Proposition (IVP), which focuses on personalizing, securing, and managing human capital.
  • A thriving workforce is growing and contributing [future oriented], empowered and connected at the human level, and healthy and energized with unique benefits and policies.
  • WELCOA Member Resource: Video: "The Relationship Comes First"

Champion Mental Health with Voice. Value. Vigilance.

Mettie Spiess, CWP, founder of A World Without Suicide, shared case studies, the Voice. Value. Vigiliance. Framework, and best practice support strategies at the individual and organizational levels to create a stigma-free work culture around mental health. 
Session Takeaways:
  • Mental health is considered “too personal” for the workplace. To shatter the silence stigma, one must get out of the comfort zone and reach out to employees by acknowledging concern and offering support.
  • No one will use support if they do not feel valued. Some of the top reasons employees do not ask for help are: perceived burdensomeness, fear of losing their job, and feeling alone/no one understands.
  • Incorporate steps in QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) Method when supporting an employee in crisis.
  • WELCOA Resource: Article “The 4 F’s of Identifying & Managing Mental Health Issues at Work” 

The Workplace of the Future: An Ideation Session

Michelle Spehr, MA, M.Ed., MCHES, CWWPC, CWF of The Benefits Services Group and Mari Ryan, MBA, MHP, CWP of Advancing Wellness lead this interactive session covering idea generation techniques to gather viewpoints on trends that impact the workforce and workplace.

Session Takeaways:
  • Ideation is a process where you generate ideas and solutions
  • Ideation sessions can:
    • help your team ask the right questions
    • bring your team’s perspectives and strengths together
    • help identify obvious solutions but also drive your team to think creatively beyond them
  • Through idea sharing, your team or organizations can help you explore and recognize trends in areas outside your professional expertise.

The Science and Art of Corporate Compassion

Aaron Hunnel, CWP, CIC of High Thrive Wellbeing discussed the neurobiological impact of compassion, empathy, and trust, and how they influence us at work, and how they impact employee’s health.

Session Takeaways:
  • We are constructs of our emotions, and our emotions gauge our perceptions. To find the root cause of employee health, we need to ‘go down deep’ to create space for growth and connection.
  • In the Ladder of Inference, we need to disrupt the status quo of our thinking in order to be truly compassionate. We may realize we are jumping to conclusions (from having limited information or perception of a situation).
  • The best teams do not have less conflict or obstacles, but rather have the ability to overcome them. We must create a psychological ‘safe zone’.
  • WELCOA Resource: Certification Course: Designing Compassionate Cultures

A Culture of Kyndfulness to Enhance the Mental Wellbeing of Your Employees

Justin Kruger, founder of Project Helping, discussed the unique approach and impact of volunteerism for improving mental wellness in the workplace. 
Session Takeaways:
  • Kyndfulness is a daily practice of volunteerism, intentional acts of kindness, and gratitude.
  • Doing a simple act of Kyndness increases mental wellness by 26%.
  • Intentional acts of Kyndness increases the love hormone (oxytocin), energy, lifespan, and serotonin; and decreases pain, stress, and anxiety.
  • When putting volunteerism into action within an organization, connections matter. Fundraising is not enough- employees need to connect to the cause, connect with each other and with those they volunteer with. 
  • Click here for more information on Project Helping, Kynd Kits, and KyndHub

Navigating the Legal Landscape of Wellness Programs

Charles Stevens, JD, Michael Best & Friedrich, LLP, covered legislation, regulations, and court decisions that play a part in the current status of laws and compliance issues pertaining to wellness programs.
Session Takeaways:
  • When it comes to wellness programs, the common area between the conservative “what is legal” approach and the aggressive “what works” approach can be tricky to obtain.
  • The original 2016 court decision of AARP vs EEOC eliminated the wellness incentive maximums under the ADA and GINA by January 2019. However, in 12/2017 the Court vacated the 30% incentive limit with the remaining wellness regulations intact, and by 1/2018 the Court ordered that the EEOC does not have to schedule any rulemaking changes.
  • What does this mean for employers approaching open enrollment for 2019?
    • Stay the course – continue to follow the Tri-Agency rules and the EEOC rules still in effect
    • Scale back – lower incentive amounts and penalties, or suspend wellness programs altogether, or
    • Ignore the EEOC – modify wellness programs to observe only the Tri-Agency rules and ignore EEOC rules, which are about to be vacated, permitting programs to have better incentive arrangements
  • WELOCA post: EEOC Issues Notice Indicating It May Issue Proposed Revised ADA Rule in June 2019

Three Transformative Strategies for a Culture of Wellbeing

Colleen Reilly, MBA/MSM, of ThrivePass Services identified the three most significant trends that are changing the way we approach work and life, and shared the appropriate strategies to change lives and work cultures.
Session Takeaways:
  • The 3 trends highlighted were:
    • Employee experience is becoming a strategic priority
    • A holistic approach to wellbeing
    • Incentives and rewards that appeal to intrinsic motivation and drive
  • Optimize current wellbeing initiatives by fixing under-performing programs that are broken.
  • To truly soar, become an Influencer, not an Implementer: influence the change and innovation within your organization.

Weighty Issues in the Workplace

Dr. Christy Greenleaf and Alexandra Rodriguez, MS of UW-Milwuakee discussed the prevalence and consequence of weight stigma in the workplace and the alternative approaches to health.  
Session Takeaways:
  • Consequences of weight bias and discrimination include unhealthy coping, mental health issues (such as increased anxiety and depressive symptoms), stress-induced psychopathology (increased cortisol and stress reactivity), and affect health care utilization (avoidance and delay in seeking care).
  • The “Health at Every Size” approach is a sustainable, weight neutral, holistically focused, and socially just alternative paradigm to avoiding weight bias and stigma.
  • Information on the Health at Every Size Approach 

Reimagine the WorkPLACE to Inspire Wellbeing

Dan Kalkman, M.Arch, WELL AP, RInka Chung Architecture, covered how the built environment affects health, the influence of nature, and differentiated the tools and frameworks that can be used to evaluate the work environment.
Session Takeaways:
  • Workplace design affects where people go to work and stay at a workplace.
  • An environment devoid of nature can have a negative effect on health and wellbeing.
  • The top 5 elements most wanted in the office are natural light, indoor plants, quiet zones, view outside, and bright colors.
  • WELL Building Standard
  • Fitwel

Angeline Day, MPH, CHES
Program Manager
Learn more about me.

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