Top 5 List: Community Service and Wellness

Toni Sperlbaum, CWWPM, CHWC, Wellness Account Manager

January 18th was “King Day of Service”.  This got me thinking about the great opportunities organizations have to incorporate service into their wellness programs.  I believe there really is something to volunteering and the benefits that directly correlate to an employee and a health plan.

You’ll see a variety of programs that are considered “wellness”.  Flu shots, biggest loser challenges, biometric screenings, yoga classes, and countless additional programs can fall under this umbrella.  At HPA, we believe that a good program incorporates 3 major prongs; Nutrition, Exercise, and Mental Health.

According to Harvard Medical School, studies have shown that volunteering not only wards off feelings of loneliness and depression, but can also reach beyond mental health, affecting physical health as well.  This includes lowering blood pressure and having a longer life span.

The benefits are there, but how can companies be using community service as a tentacle of their wellness efforts?  Here are our top 5 options we have put together based on what we are seeing in the industry:

  1. Designate 2 non-profits or movements a year to focus on.  Focus less on making 1 huge donation as a company and focus more on how you can involve your employees to either fundraise or be directly involved with the mission in a hands-on manor.  Allowing paid time offsite or department trips to volunteer is an important piece to show your buy in to your efforts.  Visiting your local soup kitchen or children’s museum are great options and make great team building activities.
  2. Have a points program?  Make community service hours a part of it!
  3. Join a local effort such as Relay for Life or the American Heart Walk.  Employees can fundraise AND be physically active.  Events like this also help build a culture of giving-back and wellness.
  4. Partner with some local charities to allow your employees a mentorship opportunity, or host a kickball game or something similar with underprivileged kids in the community. One example: Big Brothers, Big Sisters has a corporate mentorship program.
  5. On a much lesser scale, some organizations will incorporate a donation method into their challenges.  For example, within a Hold it for the Holidays weight maintenance challenge, the winning employees will earn money for themselves and a company match of the winnings to the employee’s charity of choice.

Community service not only provides the aforementioned benefits to mental and physical health of your employees, it molds the culture of your workplace and improves the image of your company’s presence in its community.

Be well and VOLUNTEER!

New Year’s Resolutions, or New Year’s Goals?

  Kelly Murray, Wellness Coordinator

Every January, people are proud to announce their New Year’s resolutions. To lose weight, get in shape, spend less and save more money. The list goes on and on. But what happens come March? Or maybe even February for some? We forget about those resolutions that we made even though they were, or are still important to us. By definition, a resolution is “a firm decision to do or not to do something”. Maybe that’s why so many New Year’s resolutions never get accomplished. A resolution is merely a decision, or an agreement to do or be better.

A goal on the other hand, is defined as “the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.” I don’t know about you, but right there in that definition are two words right there that really jump out at me. Effort. Desire. If you really want to make changes and improvements for the new year ahead, set some goals! Don’t just make a decision that you want to be better or do better. You need to have the desire and put in the effort to make those changes and achieve the results.

Okay, you thought it over and you decided that you’re ready. You really want to make some changes. Now it’s time to set some goals. But if you’re going to do this right, they need to be SMART goals.

When creating your goals, make sure you are detailed. Just saying, “I’m going to work out more” is not good enough. When are you going to exercise? For how long? How many times a week? What days of the week? Doing what? Where at? Be specific. Make a specific plan and write it down.
“I will eat healthier” also will set you up to fail. How will you know that you ate healthier? What exactly is healthier? Instead, set a goal of “I will eat 3 servings of fruits and vegetables a day” or “I will exercise 3 days a week for 30 minutes”. That is measurable. With a measurable goal, you will be able to count it and you can track your progress.
“I’m going to lose 30 pounds by next month” or “I’m going to exercise every day”. Are those really achievable or healthy? If your goal seems a little too lofty, try breaking it down into smaller goals, so that you can ultimately reach you end goal. Try rating your confidence on a scale of 1-10. If you give yourself less than a 7, restructure your goal so it’s a 7 or higher.
As the New Year rolls around, we realize all at once all of the goals we want to accomplish. “I’m going to vacuum more often” is a great goal, but get your priorities straight and don’t pile on more than you can handle. Is vacuuming relevant to your most important goal?
Set a deadline to your goals to keep you on track. Having one huge goal for the entire year is a lot to grasp. Setting deadlines throughout your goal will help you maintain your progress, and allow for re-evaluation if needed. By setting mini deadlines and goals, you will be able to keep up with your goal, and not wait until the last minute to try and squeeze everything in.

Another tool to help you with your SMART goals is the goal pyramid below. Looking at your goals in a pyramid shape will help you break down, and really get detailed and specific with your goals.

Goal Pyramid

Putting in the time and effort to create and personalize your SMART goals will get you started off on the right path. By following these guidelines, you will be able to track your progress, meet, and maybe even exceed your goals to becoming an improved version of yourself for the New Year.