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Ten Reasons Companies Should Invest in Workplace Wellness

In the past, workplace wellness programs were referred to as corporate fitness programs and were touted as a perk in larger corporations. Today, companies of all sizes, across all industry lines, are realizing that there are many benefits of implementing wellness programs. In fact, they have become a staple benefit offered to employees at all levels. There’s no doubt that helping employees adopt healthy behaviors improves their health, which in turn ensures they’ll be productive and engaged. It also benefits their personal lives by helping them gain a better work-life balance and a more positive attitude in general.

There are also some other, not so obvious reasons organizations should consider implementing a wellness program for their workers. These types of benefits are a great way to attract attention, from new talent and customers, puts companies in a more competitive position and cultivates a positive corporate culture. There are financial benefits as well such as tax incentives, or credits, and lowered health care expenses. Plus, when people are feeling good, they’re more creative problem solvers who are willing to take on projects they otherwise would find overwhelming and stressful.

Attracting New Talent

The people who make up a company’s workforce are its most important asset, and attracting top talent is vital to ensure ongoing success. While high salaries and other financial benefits are certainly a draw, they are not always the top consideration for job seekers. In fact, many are more focused on a company’s culture and reputation. A company-sponsored wellness program is one of the benefits that is extremely attractive, especially for individuals just entering the workforce. In fact, more than 75% of job seekers say that benefits of this type are very important to them. They want to know that their health, safety, and well-being are a priority, and organizations that demonstrate that are more likely to draw them in.

Employee Retention

Employee turnover is a fact of life for every organization, although the rate of turnover varies by industry. For example, the hospitality industry experiences turnover rates ranging between 25 and 30 percent, whereas finance hovers around 9 percent. Some leave because they have reached retirement age, decide to start a family, or move to another part of the country. Regardless of the reason, turnover is expensive, disruptive and demoralizing. It can also be a sign that workers feel as though the company doesn’t really care about them. Wellness programs prove that the company they work for holds them in high regard and that they’re willing to help them become healthier, happier, more successful individuals.

Improved Performance

Let’s face it, companies are in business to make money, and the only way to do that is by out producing the competition. Simply demanding that employees work harder to meet the executive’s expectations, or face negative consequences, isn’t the best approach. Everyone wants to feel as though they are appreciated and important. When companies show their workers that they are invested in their health and well-being, they are more likely to reciprocate by increasing production. They’ll also be more willing to offer suggestions and help implement new ideas to improve the production capacity of the entire organization.

A Stronger Workforce

When everyone works together as a cohesive team, creativity spikes and goals are easier to attain. Often, companies are split into departments that are directly, or indirectly, competing. When this is the case, teamwork can be illusive and collaboration is unheard of. Incorporating group exercise programs, healthy cooking classes, team sports and other activities bring people together and encourages them to work more closely with one another. Not only will they encourage one another to do well in those activities, but they’ll also be more supportive of their co-workers, and more willing to contribute to projects that benefit the company.

Improved Mental Health

Although the main focus of many workplace wellness programs is on physical fitness and nutrition, they are not the only important aspects of health. Absenteeism rates, low productivity, and higher turnover are often directly linked to mental health issues. Addressing mental health concerns is as important as physical health and employers who offer their workers mental health benefits have a distinct advantage over those who do not. This can come in the form of referrals to mental health professionals, peer-to-peer support groups, or paid time off for a mental health day. These kinds of benefits help to lower burnout rates, decrease workplace injuries and help prevent aggressive behaviors and violence.

Better Work-Life Balance

It can be difficult to achieve a healthy balance between work, family, social activities and down time. For many workers, days are dominated by long commutes, heavy work loads, stressful deadlines and uncertainty about their future. Those factors all contribute to health issues, decreased production, high rates of absenteeism and dissatisfaction. By encouraging employees to eat healthier, get more exercise, eliminate unhealthy behaviors like smoking and alcohol use, employers can help them create a more balanced, happy life. In turn, they’ll reap the rewards of a healthier, more energetic workforce.

Lower Health Care Costs

According to a paper published by the Centers for Disease Control in 2016, inadequate physical activity increases the cost of health care for employees. Information from over 58,000 people was compared, and the results showed that adults who are sedentary spend an average of $1,313 more per year than their more active counterparts. The study also revealed that 11.1% of the total health care costs in the U.S. was directly attributed to inactivity. That’s roughly $333 billion that could be avoided if employees were more physically active. Companies that help their people adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles and behaviors can help ease the burden and reduce health care costs.

Possible Tax Benefits

In some cases, your business can receive tax benefits by offering employees a wellness program. North Carolina and Indiana, for example, offer tax credits to businesses that implement an approved wellness program. Rather than acting as a deduction, however, these credits actually reduce the amount of taxes due, which is more beneficial in most cases. Employees can also benefit when the employer contributes toward the coverage, or when it is paid for on a pre-tax basis. In these cases, the program is considered to be an employer-provided benefit and does not result in taxes due for the employee.

High Return on Investment

Every business owner, manager, and executive considering an investment of any kind wants to know what kind of ROI they can expect. Investing in worker’s health and wellness is no exception. Those financially minded individuals may be surprised to learn that wellness programs are, in fact, a solid investment. According to multiple studies that compared wellness programs and employee health care costs, companies that invest in their employees’ health achieve a significant return on investment. In fact, the average return is 3.27. In other words, for every dollar that is spent, the organizations studied saved $3.27 in health care costs.

Competitive Advantage

Increasingly, organizations are being held to a higher standard when it comes to the way that they treat their workforce. Those that demonstrate that they sincerely care about their employees are thought of as socially conscious, and in turn, are rewarded for their efforts. Consumers want to associate with brands that show compassion for everyone from the newest members of the team to the top executives. They have no problem shunning companies who appear to put profits over people, even if the product or service is of a higher quality or lower price. This is especially true for millennials who make up a large portion of the workforce. They have a strong sense of what is right and wrong and will not settle.

It’s a competitive world and investing in a well-rounded workplace wellness program gives a company an important advantage. That means focusing on things like physical fitness, and good nutrition. It also means encouraging workers to abandon bad habits like smoking, drinking alcohol, and drug use. To be comprehensive, however, it cannot simply look at the physical aspects of health. It’s also important to address mental health issues like excess stress, depression, and anxiety. When organizations take this kind of holistic approach to a wellness program, it affects every aspect, and individual positively.

Not only will a good workplace wellness program help attract the kind of talent a business needs, but it will also help them retain all of the wonderful employees that have helped build the business. Health care costs go down, and productivity goes up, teamwork improves and profits soar. There is a substantial return on investment, and it’s immediately measurable. More importantly, however, is how it will impact them, physically, mentally and emotionally. Healthy, happy employees carry those good feelings outside of the workplace, impacting the community at large. When that happens, the brand becomes the more desirable option when compared to those who do not, ensuring that they’ll remain at the forefront of customer’s minds long into the future.

 

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How Artificial Intelligence Can Help Your Business

Artificial Intelligence (AI), often dubbed a part of radical technological developments such as robotics and space science, is past the days of growth solely for these futuristic purposes. In fact, AI has gradually been permeating many businesses in varying industries. From construction, medicine, and public relations, the capabilities offered by AI-powered systems are seemingly endless.

The Power of Artificial Intelligence in Business

  • Two main characteristics make AI powerful in making businesses profitable.
    Machine Learning — machine learning is the process where an AI-powered system can gather data from previous patterns and recreate the same process over again along different variables. A simple example of this is the photo-tagging picture found on websites such as Facebook. The AI-powered system can detect facial features by gathering patterns found in previously tagged photos. Once it compiles this data, the system will automatically suggest tagging the same person with the given facial features.
  • Automation of Processes — another power of AI systems is the automation micro-tasks. These include sending e-mail newsletters, having a 24/7 customer support, and other software applications that would otherwise be inefficient when given to human counterparts. Automated processes have minimal to zero downtime, highly efficient and responsive.

There are several ways to incorporate artificial intelligence into your business.

Here are five of them:
1. Auto-suggestions in e-commerce — If you have an online store and sales have been dismal, you can incorporate AI in the form of auto-suggestions. The system will work when a user types in some information on your website search bar or other search engines, after which some suggestions of products or services can pop up on the user’s screen. This use is also applicable when a customer already bought something in your e-commerce store. It can appear as a section called “People also bought” or “Other useful products” on your website.
2. Responsive customer support — Some businesses have a high demand for customer support. These include SaaS, applications, and online consultations. Due to the increasing need to respond to customers efficiently, businesses must sift through people with fundamental questions and attend to those with complex problems. The AI-powered system can help sort inquiries by showing an up-front helpdesk bot that appears like a human. This bot can answer some common questions, and other difficult ones can be forwarded later on to a human representative during regular working hours.
3. Email marketing — Most emails intended for marketing end up in the junk folder, especially when given a general format. These e-mails are impersonal and would often fail to catch the attention of the reader. With artificial intelligence, the content of emailed newsletters can be more personal. Using data such as GPS settings, search engine terms placed, and demographics, your business can send personalized newsletters that will engage your target market.
4. Data analysis — A lot of businesses are already incorporating AI in their data analysis. Data analysis can involve gathering information on customer trends, employee feedback, and other industry-specific insight that can prove to be useful to business growth. A strong example of this is the robot advisors who are available in online investment companies. These AI-powered advisors are analyzing trends on investments and give sound advice to customers on when to place their assets.
5. Administrative assistance — Administrative work can be pretty overwhelming when you are trying to scale your business growth. Administrators oversee duties in database management, marketing, and other internal tasks. Getting more clients means doing more of these administrative responsibilities and hiring more assistants. An AI-powered system can help lessen the extra cost of hiring more staff by filling in more work under the same amount of time and effort.

A lot of business owners have been considering integrating artificial intelligence to boost their growth. To gain a competitive edge, an entrepreneur must be highly adaptable to advances in technology.

 

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Telework as a Recruitment Tool

Employers in the US, Europe, Japan and numerous other countries are finding that one of most valuable tools for recruitment and retention is offering work options – compressed workweeks, flextime and telecommuting. More and more employees are working 9 day 80 hour 2 week schedules, changing their start or finish times from the usual rush-hour 7-9 am and 4-6 pm commute times, and working from home or satellite office locations.

Telecommuting is increasing exponentially, with an estimated 32 million US employees now teleworking, at least on a part time basis.
Why the popularity of telework? Employers consistently list retention as their number one reason, with recruitment a close second. There are a number of reasons why telework is a benefit for employer, employee and society as a whole. Let’s take a look at some of them:

  • Ecological advantages such as reduction of air pollution and gas consumption
  • Reduction in governmental expenses for infrastructure and road maintenance
  • Competitive advantage in attraction of employees, especially high-tech
  • Increases in employee satisfaction, resulting in increased employee retention
  • Reduction in facility costs for expansion and new real estate
  • Reduced parking requirements
  • Expansion of the labor pool
  • Reduction of non-productive (water cooler) office time
  • Expansion of service hours
  • Improved productivity
  • Improved work quality through faster processing, fewer errors, and shorter response time for communications
  • Reduction of absenteeism and tardiness
  • Enhanced peak performance due to telecommuters working during their most productive hours
  • Maximizing potential by broadening responsibilities
  • Work accomplished with fewer interruptions
  • Assistance in compliance with clean air, ADA and other statutes
  • Reduction in traffic congestion
  • Increased electronic communication with decrease of paper consumption
  • Reduced business disruptions due to natural disaster, bad weather, power outages, transit strikes and other unforeseen events
  • Reduction in traffic accidents
  • Reduction in health insurance costs due to reduction in traffic and stress
  • Safer communities due to more people at home during the day
  • Enhanced rural development
  • Better balance of economic activity between rural and urban areas, bringing economic revival, employment and population stability to remote and rural communities, including to tribal areas
  • Economically struggling former manufacturing areas such as the Mid-Atlantic United States or seasonal/resort areas might be able to retain or attract numerous year round residents and some of their tax base formerly lost to high-tech or service industry areas
  • Reduction of juvenile crime

 

While telework is not for everyone – many employers affirming that those who are continually tardy, not sufficiently self-motivated, or needing the constant interaction of their peers are not well suited for this option – job seekers and employees continually mention that a firm offering this and other work/family options goes to the ‘head of the line’ when they are job searching. Telework can also be a great tool for widening your pool of candidates, not only geographically, but also by being able to include the homebound disabled.

As one employer put it, “This is the way the world is going. If you’re not offering telework, you are losing candidates to me.”

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4 Killer Ways to Kick Toxic People Out of Your Life

Toxic attitudes in the workplace are contagious and can affect company morale in a negative way. Here are a few steps on dealing with toxic attitudes in the workplace.

1. Don’t Engage
Negative people feed off of an audience. If you find yourself on the receiving end of a negative tirade in the break room, don’t add fuel to their fire by engaging their negative ideas (even if you agree with them). Simply nod your head, say “that’s interesting” when they’ve finished and then go back to eating your sandwich. Your toxic coworker will sense that you’re not going to give them the attention that they want and they’ll move onto someone who will.

2. Turn the Tables
If you have a particularly attention hungry coworker who doesn’t go away after you show disinterest, turn the tables on them and be positive. Whatever situation your coworker is complaining about, find a positive aspect to it and interject that positivity into the conversation. Positivity is repellent to negative people. By turning their negative rant into a positive conversation, you’ll completely turn them off and they’ll leave you alone.

If you’re able to define yourself in your office as a positive person, negative attitudes will avoid you and you’ll be able to work in peace.

3. Give Them More Responsibility
If you have an attitude problem in your office and a few bad apples are spoiling the bunch, you may want to give them more responsibility. Now, no one is suggesting that you give them a promotion or make them department head. The goal here is to give them enough responsibility that they’ll have to produce productive ideas but not enough that they would be able to have power over anyone else.

Create a project for them that will make them accountable to everyone in the office. You could have them be the editor of the office newsletter, organize the next luncheon, select the snacks for the next meeting or decide how to organize the office supply closet.

By giving these toxic personalities a taste of accountability, you force them into a situation where they have to come up with ideas, implement them and others will judge their decisions. It’s a humbling process and in most cases will completely extinguish their negative tendencies.

4. Set Up Ground Rules
If you’re experiencing negativity in specific situations like in meetings, conference calls or brainstorming sessions, it’s important to set up ground rules before hand. Negative personalities will find roots wherever they can. Don’t create a situation where negative tendencies can go unchecked.

Make sure that before your meeting begins you lay out what rules you expect your team to follow. Typically, negative people don’t like breaking rules and by setting up positive parameters to your meeting, the toxic attendees will either stay silent or actually become product members of the group.

Toxic personalities don’t have to run rampant in your office. By understanding how to effectively manage the negative personalities on your team, you’ll be able to take back control of your work environment and your workforce’s morale.

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Three Ways an Employer Can Use Vision to Motivate Employees

Vision is a clear concept of a better and brighter tomorrow. An effective vision inspires passion and excites people. Steve Jobs of Apple Computer lured John Scully from Pepsi by asking, “Do you want to spend the rest of your life making sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?” (Abcnews.go.com/Technology/steve-jobs-death-20-best-quotes/story?id=14681795#18). Jobs was referring to the home computer revolution that was transforming the everyday lives of so many people. He definitely had an exciting vision.

Having an exhilarating vision can be a big advantage for an employer who is trying to motivate employees. Methods for motivating workers are potentially more effective if connected to a vision. Here are three ways that can be done.

  1. Cheerleading. A church pastor once said that people can easily lose a vision in 30 days. The leader must constantly reaffirm the vision. Therefore, cheerleading and rallying the troops are absolutely necessary. The employer is a far more effective cheerleader if he or she has a clear and compelling vision. If the vision is exciting the employer and the employees should be excited.
  2. Implement employee ideas. Often an effective idea is one that a worker suggested and the boss promoted. A good idea that contributes toward fulfilling the vision is extremely helpful. The employer should implement employee ideas that make a positive impact. When that happens workers will tend to feel like they are part of the vision and are helping to make it a reality.
  3. Affirm employees. Let them know when they have done a good job, or made a good suggestion, and explain the value of their work in light of the vision. A stimulating vision gives the basis for affirmation and shows why the employees’ contributions are important. Encouraging also helps create ownership. The workers are more inclined to buy into the vision and claim it as their own when their efforts are affirmed.

An employer with a thrilling view of the future is more likely to motivate employees. Workers tend to be excited if an exciting tomorrow awaits them. Cheerleading, implementing employee ideas, and affirming employees are more effective if related to a powerful vision.

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Top 5 Industries that offer you the best opportunities to grow

Most of us when we search for a job, we do so because of the stories that we have heard about people who started their career from nothing, but turned out to be something in their field in a very short span of time. Everyone who joins a job or applies for a job, before they think about anything else, they think about achieving something great in the field they are about to join. But most of the time, the reality turns out to be something different, because several months down the line you realize that there in not much scope for your own personal growth and moreover whatever great that could possibly be achieved with the available resources, more or less, already has been achieved. So once that castle of dreams comes crashing down to the ground, you start thinking about “is there something related to your area of interest, that provides you with a good income, and at the same time offers you an opportunity to grow?” Well realistically speaking, there might, and maybe you are still not familiar with those opportunity, because you didn’t do your research well. In any case, you are just several months down the line and you still have enough time to make a switch. So if you are at that point when you are about to make that switch, then you should know about some of the industries that offer you an opportunity to grow.

  1. Technology

Even by 2017 estimates, technology is still the field which offers you the best opportunities to grow. The reason behind this is the new developments or innovations that keep happening in this field. With every new development there is one new area of service, under this one umbrella term, that opens up offering you a job that best suits your goals. So if you are a related to the field of technology, you should not be disheartened as there is still a lot unexplored avenues for you to grow in.

  1. Health Care

Health care is another industry which might never run of opportunities to grow. With the ever increasing rate of privatization of healthcare, new areas of services are opening up that are directly related to health care or that supports the health care needs of the people. Even if doesn’t involve you directly into the niche industry, there are still a lot of opportunities to be found when it comes to providing supporting services to health care, especially related to demand and supply of the products and tools related to the industry. Like technology, healthcare also provides you with an opportunity to continue your research in the various new areas that keep cropping up with the passage of time.

  1. Manufacturing

Though you might feel that this area of the job market is already very saturated, you will be very happy to know that, it’s still running short on talented individuals, who can provide companies with the much needed efficiency. Though most of the big wigs related to manufacturing have shifted to automated systems that has increased their productivity many times over. There is still a lot left in the industry that needs the presence of the human factor very much. Even if you are not interested in working for any particular industry, you can go ahead and think about investing your time and money in setting up your own little manufacturing venture which helps in aiding the larger industry.

  1. Tourism and Hospitality

This is one industry which is catching up the rage all of sudden, especially since last two decades. With the increase in the spending capacity of individuals, and countries welcoming such individuals to get a taste of their history and culture, the tourism and hospitality industry has some exciting opportunities to offer. Not only can you create new products out of thin air to provide a unique experience to the consumers. You can also be rest assured that you are going to find individuals willing to take an interest in what you have to offer. Even if you are not willing to start up something of your own, you can still get into the industry through traditional channels, in order to secure jobs for yourself that offer you amazing money, as well an opportunity to grow depending on your interests and skills.

  1. Media and Communication

This is one industry that encompasses all of the above. Since the growth of the internet, people and business, in order to beat their competition have been engaged in, increasing their brand presence as far as possible. With media and communications industry offering opportunities for digital marketing, journalism, advertising, promotions and research, among others, the opportunities of growth in the industry are endless. Not only can you get amazing job opportunities that promise you growth and income, but there’s a lot that you can do on your own if you are related to media and communication.

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Major Disadvantages of Using Popular Job Boards for Your Professional Search

The digital media has provided a wide range of opportunities to streamline and boost communications particularly in the job search sector. Professional job search is a major project to undertake specifically if you are not clear about the distinction between established job sites with real opportunities and the ones that are just fronts for unqualified or unacceptable offers.

What attracts visitors to Job sites

Major Job boards today have brought forth the modern concept of connecting potential employees with a variety of job opportunities. One of the key issues with this situation is that many job boards are designed to attract both job seekers and potential employers without truly understanding “The Connection” needed between the two.  Most hopeful job seekers fall prey to the elaborate marketing and appeal of the job boards mentioned below:

  • Job boards claiming to use modern predictive algorithms to match you to your perfect professional opportunity match.
  • The ease of seeking a new job from directly an interface that reduces having to make direct calls and applying resumes to different professional offices, the job sites promise to lower the usual stress of handling multiple professional discussions and applications right from a single platform.
  • The overwhelming competition in almost every professional sector makes it hard for potential job seekers to rely on simply their own struggles to get them through to major professional opportunities.

 

Potential pitfalls of using Job boards for your professional search

Lack of personal impressions

Professional networking is hugely co-dependent on personal impressions that you make on the job front. In absence of face-to-face networking, job sites often fail to display your true potential or persona to potential employers and often you lose out on great opportunities due to minor technicalities which would not have been a problem in conventional job interviews.

High level of competition

Job sites do not screen candidates applying for various professional positions. This results in every job offer on the site being inundated with high level of completion. While many of these competitors are not even from your field but employers find it tedious to screen through thousands of applicants and often end up choosing from the first few application in the pile. This reduces your chances of getting a truly deserving position because your applications get lost in the crowd of undeserving noise.

Absence of direct connections

Often Job boards pose a complete project in itself with the posting of regular job descriptions, screening candidates and conducting initial interviews. Therefore, many big firms outsource the project to recruiters and professional headhunters. This reduces your chances of building direct connections within a company and brings down your potential success rates for getting through to an actual experienced people in the field to impress for the position.

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