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This site is an archive of our Well Written Blog posts until April 2020. For the most up-to-date content visit NWIJournal.com.

The opinions and thoughts expressed here those of the authors and do not necessarily correlate with those of the National Wellness Institute. Read more.


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Work-life Balance: Do Men Have the Upper Hand?

Posted By NWI, Monday, September 1, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A research paper released in August, 2014 suggests that men may have the upper hand when requesting work schedules and arrangements that support work-life balance.

The research found that men who requested flexible work arrangements (such as working from home a few days a week or the ability to work non-traditional hours) got more favorable responses than women who asked for similar arrangements.

The research also found that both men and women who made the requests to accommodate childcare needs were more successful than men and women who made similar requests when children were not a factor.

It is important to note that the research asked participants to read and react to a number of different scenarios and didn’t look at actual instances of requests. Participants read the scenarios and then reported on how likely they would be to grant the requested flexible work schedule.

In 69.7 percent of cases where the scenario had a man making the request, study participants said they would be likely to grant the requested schedule. This compares to only 56.7 percent of cases where a women was the focus of the scenario asking for a flexible schedule. Moreover, participants went on to rate the men making the request as “extremely likeable” 24.3 percent of the time, but only found requesting women to be “extremely likeable” three percent of the time.

As the author explained the results in an American Sociological Association press release, "Today, we think of women's responsibilities as including paid labor and domestic obligations, but we still regard breadwinning as men's primary responsibility and we feel grateful if men contribute in the realm of childcare or to other household tasks."

The author went on to explain that as more women earn as much if not more than their mates, this bias will only serve to increase the gender gap.

Individuals with childcare reasons were still seen as more favorable than individuals asking for flexible work schedules to reduce commute times and/or their carbon footprint.

The ability to balance work and life is an important ingredient in a well life. Bringing biases to the surface will only help individuals and organizations to evaluate their practices as we work towards a more well society.

Munsch, C. (August 2014). Flexible work, flexible penalties: The effect of gender, childcare, and type of request on the flexibility bias. Presented at the American Sociological Association's 109th Annual Meeting. 

Tags:  Balance  Intellectual  Occupational  September 2014  Social  Spir  Work 

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Inspiration at Work

Posted By NWI, Sunday, September 1, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Inspiration WorkRelax, nothing is under control. — Adi Da Samraj

Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again. — Og Mandino

Those that mind don't matter,Those that matter don't mind.— Dr. Suess

If you knew exactly what the future held, you still wouldn't know how much you would like it when you got there. We should have more trust in our own resilience and less confidence in our predictions about how we'll feel. We should be a bit more humble and a bit more brave.— Psychologist Daniel Gilbert

You are, at this moment, standing, right in the middle of your own acres of diamonds. — Russell Conwell

And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music. — Friedrich Nietzsche

Each moment in time we have it all, even when we think we don't. — Melody Beattie

Materialism is toxic for happiness. Even rich materialists aren't as happy as those who care less about getting and spending. — Ed Diener , University of Illinois psychologist

The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people recognize, that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation. — Neil deGrasse Tyson

Tags:  Inspiration  Intellectual  Occupational  September 2013  Social  Work 

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Time to Start Using your Workplace Wellness Program

Posted By NWI, Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A recent study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion (May 2013) found that individuals who regularly took advantage of their workplace wellness program reported an improvement in their overall quality-of-life, but non-regular users often reported no improvements in their physical quality-of-life and a decline in their mental quality-of-life.

The study, conducted by Matthew Clark, PhD, of the Mayo Clinic, focused on overall quality-of-life, not just nutrition and fitness. The study surveyed more than 1,100 employee wellness center members, whose average age was 39. Participants were split into low, below-average, above average, and high users. Low users attended less than once every two weeks and high users two or three times a week.

The percent of those in the above average user category reporting a high physical quality-of-life improved from 49.8 to 59.6 from baseline to follow-up one year later. Among high users, the percentage increased from 59.4 to 80.4 percent. There was no improvement in physical quality-of-life scores among the lowest use group, and the number of low users reporting a high mental quality of life decreased from 51.4 to 34.5 percent.

The authors suggest their findings (decline in mental quality associated with non-participation in workplace wellness programming) may be linked to the negative emotions associated with the beginning of a program being difficult and subsequent non-attendance of the program. Moreover, unrealistic expectations might play a role.

What to do? Start with realistic expectations. Know that beginning any program can be difficult not only because of the commitment it involves, but also due to time management and physical and mental demands. Go into the program with the understanding that it will get easier if you stick with it. Start with realistic expectations; remember, baby steps you can handle are much better than gigantic leaps that make you want to quit. And if you miss a wellness session, no big deal—just get to the next one!

Clark, M. Jenkins, S., Limoges, K., Hagen, P. Lackore, K., Harris, A., Werneburg, B., Warren, B., and Olsen, K.

(2013) Is Usage of a Wellness Center Associated With Improved Quality of Life?. American Journal of Health Promotion: May/June 2013, Vol. 27, No. 5, pp. 316-322.

Tags:  Emotional  Intellectual  June 2013  Occupational  Work 

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Gratitude in the Workplace

Posted By NWI, Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Gratitude can be very powerful for both the person expressing it, and the person receiving it, making it a wonderful skill to practice for a well workplace. The following are gratitude activities you can try with your coworkers, friends, and family.

  • Encourage hand-written "thank you” notes. For clients, for vendors, for co-workers…a little "thanks” goes a long way. Your friends and family will appreciate these too!
  • Does your company have an awards system in place? If not, it might be a good idea to champion. If a formal award system isn’t an option, think about an informal award system in your unit or department. Awards don’t always have to be serious (such as Top Sales). They can be just for fun and still have a great impact. Who in your organization is always willing to lend a hand? Who warms the workplace with great jokes or a fantastic smile? Who makes sure the coffee pot is full? There are so many un-sung heroes out there…can you find them?
  • Add gratitude to meetings. Meetings should be efficient and have purpose…but if you care about office morale, maybe a small part of your meetings should be dedicated to what is going really well. Give people time to share accomplishments as well.
  • Gratitude Stones. A simple idea…and it doesn’t have to be stones (light-colored, rounded rocks work well if personalizing the thanks with a permanent marker)…any small object will do. Place a jar filled with these objects in the break room or other common area. Explain that workers can give these to coworkers anonymously or in person as a way to say thank you. Stones could be left on an individual’s desk, at an individual’s locker, etc.
  • Consider an employee team-building workshop. Learning to work as a team promotes trust and can open paths to gratitude between individuals.
  • Some individuals fall into the trap of complaining at the office. It is an easy trap to fall into. Combat negative behavior with an understated positive campaign. The next time a co-worker complains, you might try acknowledging the frustration, but also countering it with positive insight. For example, if a co-worker complains about an overload of work…you might say, "It has been crazy lately, but thank goodness we have jobs.” Joel Osteen, in his book, Every Day a Friday, tells a story of a man who was down in the dumps and complaining. Joel, listening, expresses condolences on the sickness of the man’s wife, and the loss of the man’s job and house. The man looks at Joel with confusion…claiming all of those things are fine. The point, we often have so many things going for us when we complain. A slight change in perspective can change our outlook.

Osteen, J. Every Day a Friday: How to be happier 7 days a week. Faithworks. New York, NY, 2012.

Tags:  Emotional  Gratitude  June 2013  Social  Work 

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Be Yourself, Even at Work! (July 2012)

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Sunday, July 1, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Researchers from Rice University, the University of Houston, and George Mason Universitystudied how individuals who conceal their true identity (race/ethnicity, gender, age,religion, sexual orientation, or disability) have lower job satisfaction and higher turnover rates.

In the study, 211 adults participated in an online survey regarding questions about their identity, alleged discrimination from others, turnover rates, and their job fulfillment. Prior research has shown thatthose who believe they are or will be discriminated against are more likely to hide their true identity fromco-workers. The recent study shows that revealing one's identity continues to be a battle for individuals in theirworkplaces.

When an identity remains concealed when at work, the individual runs the risk of discrimination from co-workersbecause their fellow employees do not realize they are among a member of the group that is being discriminated against.When an individual embraces their identity at their workplace, it can positively affect their relationships with co-workers and help others to become more open-minded and accepting. With this in mind, sharing one's identityresults in greater job satisfaction, decreases company turnover, and increases profits.

Since there is evidence that revealing true identities at work have multiple benefits, companiesshould embrace diverse cultures and be accepting of those with various backgrounds.

Article by Kelli Oligney, Associate Editor

Reference:Madera, J. M., King, E. B., and Hebl, M. R. (2012). Bringing social identity to work: The influence of manifestation and suppression on perceived discrimination, job satisfaction, and turnover intentions. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology. Retrieved on June 4, 2012, from http://psycnet.apa.org/?&fa=main.doiLanding&doi=10.1037/a0027724

Tags:  July 2012  Occupational  Social  Work 

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The Runny Nose Season: Know When to Stay Home! (Dec. 2011)

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Monday, December 19, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Some employees feel pressure to work when ill, according to a study from Concordia University's John Molson School of Business

Do you think going to work when you are sick makes you a better worker? The truth is, according to a new study, presenteeism (i.e., attending work when ill) isn't always a productive option. The study, published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, found that depending on individuals and their roles within an organization, sick employees can be present in body and not in spirit, while others can be ill and fully functional.

So why do employees with acute, chronic, or episodic illness work rather than stay home? Caregivers and people working in early education, for example, report higher rates of presenteeism compared to people from other fields. The study reported that often a person might feel socially obligated to attend work despite illness, or employees may feel organizational pressure to attend work despite medical discomfort.

Individuals who partook in the study reported three presenteeism days and just under two absenteeism days in a six-month period. The study surveyed 444 individuals. Moreover, the study found presenteeism was elevated among workers engaged in interdependent projects or teamwork, and among workers who were insecure about their employment.

According to this and previous studies, presenteeism is more frequent when people face job insecurity and impermanent job status. Absenteeism, however, is more elevated in unionized work settings or when unemployment is low.

The study concluded that organizations, employers, and human resources departments have traditionally examined ways to curb absenteeism, but have paid little attention to presenteeism. Most likely this is because absenteeism is easier to measure. Yet, the study concludes: A worker's absence—or presence—during illness can have both costs and benefits for constituents.

For more information visitThe Journal of Occupational Health

Tags:  December 2011  Occupational  Physical  Sick  Work 

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31 Ways to Promote a Healthier Workplace: May is Employee Health & Fitness Month! (May 2011)

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Sunday, May 1, 2011
Updated: Thursday, December 27, 2012
  1. Walking to work
  2. Trying a new healthy recipe and bring it in to share with coworkers
  3. Sign up for an exercise class with a coworker
  4. Take time out of your busy day to schedule a physical exam
  5. Get together with coworkers for a lunchtime walk
  6. Rideshare, the environment, your pocketbook and your need for social interaction will thank you!
  7. Start a healthy meal pot-luck club
  8. Challenge another department in a sporting event
  9. Adopt a tobacco-free campus policy
  10. Have a brown-bag lunch healthy learning opportunity
  11. Have a bike to work day
  12. Use mapmyrun.com to map out fun routes for lunchtime activity
  13. Do some chair aerobics together
  14. Have a giant salad bowl lunch where office members all bring salad ingredients and low-fat dressing
  15. Have a healthy dish contest
  16. Stage a Wii Olympics
  17. Set up an area in the office for people to use for stretching throughout the year
  18. Take a Health Risk Assessment
  19. Schedule a dental visit
  20. Get involved in a community garden as a group
  21. Join a CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture) as a group to have fresh produce delivered
  22. Make a special effort to listen to and be supportive of other coworkers
  23. Look for ways to do your job better—set work goals for yourself
  24. If you are working long hours, remember a refreshed mind is a more productive mind
  25. Send "thank you" notes to those people who make a difference in your day
  26. Hold a board game break to relieve stress
  27. Learn something new
  28. Go above and beyond what you are asked to do
  29. Clean your workspace
  30. Start the day with an uplifting mantra
  31. Be thankful for employment

Tags:  Emotional  May 2011  Occupational  Physical  Social  Wellness  Work 

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Changing the IRS Codes to Account for Workplace Employee Wellness Incentives (April 2011)

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Friday, April 1, 2011
Updated: Thursday, December 27, 2012

Incentive Legislation Campaign (ILC), of Falls Church, VA, representatives held another round of meetings with targeted members of Congress and their advisors during a recent visit to Capitol Hill conducted as part of the ongoing campaign to promote wellness incentives that would encourage a healthier American work force and reduce health care costs.

The group advocates adding a new section 274 (p) to the Internal Revenue Code that would extend employer deductions and employee tax exemptions for wellness incentives in much the same way that the current section 274(j) does for service and safety awards that have saved as much as $10 for every dollar invested.

Led by Incentive Federation Executive Director George Delta, 10 industry representatives met with the staffs of Senate Finance Committee members: Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), John Thune (R-SD), Ronald Wyden (D-OR) and Benjamin Cardin (D-MD). The group also met with Rep. Patrick Tiberi (R-OH), who sits on the House Ways & Means Committee.

About The Incentive Federation

Founded in 1984, the Incentive Federation is the umbrella legislative organization for the incentive field representing national trade associations, trade publications, and national trade shows. It is the only organization whose membership includes all of the industry's national trade associations and individual companies. The Incentive Marketing Association, the Promotional Products Association International, Recognition Professionals International, The Incentive Research Foundation, and SITE International Foundation are active members. More information can be found at: http://www.incentivefederation.org/

Tags:  April 2011  Incentives  Physical  Policy  Wellness  Work 

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National Employee Wellness Month (April 2011)

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Friday, April 1, 2011
Updated: Thursday, December 27, 2012

Virgin HealthMiles, STOP Obesity Alliance, Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, and Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation join forces to encourage American employers to join month-long campaign.

Forward-thinking organizations across the U.S. are taking action to control rising healthcare costs and are focusing on prevention as one of the best strategies to counter the trend. National Employee Wellness Month is an annual initiative that helps business leaders learn how companies have developed successful strategies around prevention and good health. It showcases how supportive social communities, such as the workplace, can help to improve employee health and productivity and lower healthcare costs, and how leveraging an individual's social connections helps create and sustain a workplace culture of health. Together, the supporting National Employee Wellness Month organizations and their employees understand that intelligent health decisions and supportive social communities can create a healthier, more productive workforce. What can you do in your workplace or community to spread the message of wellness and health? It is time to start planning for June!

Companies across the country can participate in National Employee Wellness Month by helping employees learn about the health and financial benefits of healthy lifestyle choices, by providing motivation and opportunities for employees to increase their daily physical activity, and by taking action to promote healthy lifestyles throughout their organizations. Information and resources about workplace wellness, along with suggested ideas for celebrating National Employee Wellness Month, can be found at www.nationalemployeewellnessmonth.com. For more information on how your organization can become actively involved in this year's National Employee Wellness Month or to pledge your company's support, contact Marian Hughes at mhughes@tieronepr.com or 708-246-0083.

Tags:  April 2011  Occupational  Physical  Social  Weight Loss  Work 

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What You Need to Know About Health Insurance from an Insider (March 2011)

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Updated: Thursday, December 27, 2012

A recent interview published in the New York Times conducted by Walecia Konrad with a 20-year health insurance veteran, Wendell Potter, left readers with the following advice:

  • Ignore marketing materials when looking for affordable insurance. Don’t be persuaded by slick messages; instead, make sure you understand the coverage.
  • Read everything carefully, even if you are covered by your employer.
  • Be wary of mini-med or limited benefits plans. Many have very low-lifetime caps and others do not pay for hospitalization. The health law eliminates these plans in 2014, when no lifetime or annual caps on coverage will be allowed, but in the meantime these policies trouble me a great deal. And the insurance industry will lobby heavily for more flexibility to offer limited benefits even after 2014. So, be on guard.
  • Visit healthcare.gov to get straightforward information on plans. The industry must comply by supplying accurate information for this site.
  • High deductible plans have good and bad points. Consumers should do their best to know exactly what they can afford. If the out-of-pocket costs are going to be impossible for you, it may well make sense to pay more in premiums for more extensive coverage. For the most part, high deductibles make sense only for the young and healthy or wealthy.
  • Consumers have a right to appeal when coverage is denied. With the new law, all consumers will have access to two layers of review. That’s a significant victory.Most important, if you feel you have been denied something you should have and that your doctor has prescribed and approved, don’t accept the denial as the last word. Insurers count on people just giving up.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/19/health/19patient.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&ref=health

Tags:  Emotional  Healthcare  Insurance  March 2011  Physical  Policy  Work 

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