Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Food Rules -- The first book for our wellness book club.

Last fall, I blogged about starting a wellness book club at work and I've finally selected our first book -- Food Rules by Michael Pollan. I read three books before I found one that met the criteria I established.
  1. Appeal to a broad number of people
  2. Thought provoking
  3. Easy read
  4. Available on Kindle
  5. Build on what people learned during our current weight loss program
  6. Provide information that we can apply at home with our families
  7. Receive at least 4 stars on Amazon
I'm hoping this will be the first of many books we will read and discuss. We have done a lot to support good nutrition and exercise as part of our wellness program, but we haven't incorporated mental health and spirituality to the extent we desire. I think a book club might be a way for us to accomplish this. If there is enough interest, I'll ask our wellness team to develop criteria for our next selection and choose the next book. Please leave any suggestions you have as a comment to this post. I received lots of great recommendations this go around. 

We'll meet on April 28th at 1:00 to discuss the book. I purchased ten copies of for our HR library, so staff can check them out if they wish. Food Rules can easily be read in one hour. Diana Levin, our intern from last summer, will facilitate our discussion. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Trying to Breath New Life Into LOST

Lifework Stategies recently completed the midpoint screenings in our 12 week weight loss program. We currently have 50 individuals participating and 42 completed the midpoint assessment. Participants lost a total of 95 pounds -- an average of 2.26 pounds per person or 1.27% of their body weight. Last year, the average weight loss at the 6 week point of our program was 4 pounds per participants. 

There is a fairly large degree of variability between the teams. Our leading team has lost 3.22% of their body weight and that's with only 4 of their 8 team members weighing in. The team currently at the bottom of the pack actually gained 4.6 pounds over the first 6 weeks with 7 of their 8 team members weighing in.

At the midpoint screenings, we also asked participants a few questions to get a sense of whether or not they had received the information we wanted them to have and were doing the things they pledged to do at the start of the program. Here's what we learned.

Q1. Have you contacted a wellness coach to create a personalized action plan? 14% Yes - 86% No
Q2. Have you maintained a daily food diary? 51% Yes - 49% No
Q3. Do you feel you are on track to meet your goal? 25% Yes - 75% No
Q4. Do you know how many calories you should eat daily? 83% Yes - 17% No

We also asked what changes they had made and what suggestions they had for how we could support them in reaching their goal. For the most part, people said they know what they need to do, but they just weren't motivated.

I met with the team leaders to discuss all this and develop some strategies that might help. We came up with the following.
  • Recognize the team that wins each week. I'd been notifying the winning team leaders by email and posting an announcement on our intranet and wellness Facebook page. Now I'm also putting a gold star on the team's chart where everyone reports their weight loss each week.
  • They suggested we have people show us their food diaries. So, we asked people to stop by and show them to us one Friday to earn a small prize. We gave everyone that came buy a tulip and a daffodil. About 10 participants showed us their food diaries.
  • The team leaders said people didn't know what to expect from the wellness coaching, so we had Lifework Strategies explain the process again at an educational session scheduled the following week on Portion Control, Triggers, and Food You Just Can't Live Without. We provided a flier with the handout again. I just put up a blog post about it too. 
  • At the educational program I just mentioned, the presenter, Cindy Mann, went through the steps to calculate how many calories you should eat daily again. Lifework Strategies had also done this for folks at the intake and midpoint screenings. 
  • Team leaders suggested that we encourage the use of the exercise room. I offered to pay for an hour with any of our trainers for any team that requested it. One team has decided to accept the offer to date.
  • Provide prizes. I asked each team to decide on a prize that the team members will receive if they win (not to exceed $50 per person in value.) They are going to let me know what they choose. The winning team will receive the prize they chose at the end of the program.
There are a few things I wish we would have done differently with this program. (1) We should have kept the name Biggest Loser. One participant said, "ASHA should bring back the Biggest Loser simply because most people watch it on TV and get motivated." (2) We should have planned at least two team challenges like we held last year. Some participants complained about them, but it was fun for most folks and a good team building experience. (3) We should have had people report their weight instead of changes in their weight. This proved too confusing and some people said they lost motivation right from the start because of it. (4) I should have planned to meet regularly with the team leaders, so that they could share what they are doing with each other and create a little healthy competition between the groups. I also think people would love it if they could meet one-on-one with a nutritionist on-site, but it was too costly for us to offer. 

A friend shared an interesting incentive they are using in a Biggest Loser program in her workplace. Each participant weighs in each week and pays $2.00. One dollar is set aside for the grand prize for the person with the greatest percentage weight loss at the end of the program. The other dollar goes to the weekly winner. She was highly motivated by it. I wonder how that would work for us. Thoughts?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What to Expect from Our Wellness Coaching

ASHA provides a FREE wellness coaching service for staff and their families through LifeWork Strategies (LWS), an affiliate of Shady Grove Adventist Hospital. Coaching is one-on-one and confidential. Coaches are available to help people with many challenges including:
  • Nutrition strategies to lose weight
  • Beginning a fitness program
  • Reducing stress
  • Understanding health risks
  • Planning questions to ask a doctor
  • Managing specific diseases with diet
  • Having a healthy pregnancy
  • Preparing quick and healthy family dinners
  • Quiting smoking

To speak to a wellness coach, simply call 877-252-8550. Your initial call will be received by a LWS counselor, who will do a brief intake to gather your contact information and the reason you are seeking wellness coaching, so they can match you with a Coach. This initial call takes about 5 minutes. It is best to make this call during normal business hours.

A Wellness Coach will follow-up with you within 48 hours. You can schedule a specific time to talk. The initial session is typically the longest phone call (~45 minutes)-- and can be done at any time (weekday, weekends, evening, etc). Your coach will help you develop an action plan to meet your goals. Over the next two months, your coach will check in to discuss your porgress and suggest modfications to your plan as necessary.

Ten Workplace Trends that Will Impact Our Work in 2011

As part of our annual goal setting process for our human resources team, we brainstorm trends and observations that may impact our work. This year we came up with a particular interesting mind map. I’ll summarize what we discussed.

  1. Candidate Selection & Facilitated Learning -- Many sources are reporting that there will be fewer workers with the necessary skills and education for today’s jobs. We’ve seen an increase in candidates misrepresenting their qualifications which we catch during background investigations. We’re using more employment tests during our interview process and looking into doing anonymous reference checks. During tough economic times, spending on training and development always seems to wane. We predict a shift back to facilitating employee learning to fill in gaps in necessary skills and to help people keep their skills current in quickly evolving marketplace. 
  2. Caregivers -- More people caring for elders and children while working full-time increases the demand for flexibility. 
  3. Communication -- We’ve noticed a trend for information to be presented more visually like the infograph resume. We’ll probably do more to build on what we learned in Slide:ology last year. There are more and more avenues of communication. We used to simply email staff. Now we also use our intranet, Facebook, Twitter, text messages, etc... There is also a trend toward and even an expectation of more personalized communication. For example, there has been a lot of interest in United Healthcare’s personalized online tools from our staff. 
  4. Data Security -- Greater emphasis is being placed on protecting employee, member, and customer data from identity theft. There may also be more support offered to help employees deal with identity theft when it occurs. Organizations are also investing more in services to protect data in the event of a disaster or cyber attack and setting higher security expectations for the vendors used. 
  5. Disabilities -- More employees with disabilities in the workplace increases the need for accommodations. 
  6. Green -- Employee, customer and member expectations for sustainable and green business practices are growing. 
  7. Healthcare -- With healthcare reform, the changes are too numerous to list, but a couple of key things we expect to see include provider shortages and an increased sensitivity to cost. Services like Health Advocate that help people identify providers may become more valuable to employees. Cost shifting may result in employee backlash and lead some employees and their family members to put off medical intervention and eliminate or underuse prescription drugs. People also need help screening information for reliable sources. There’s an interesting post about this on our ASHAsphere
  8. Retirements -- Baby boomers are retiring, so there is an increased need for succession planning and a process for transferring knowledge. On the flip side, many people are also working beyond when they expected to retire because their retirement savings is insufficient. 
  9. Technology -- People are developing meaningful virtual relationships and using technology for social learning. Information comes at people quickly and from so many different sources that they may need help developing systems to review, store and retrieve it. Employees are increasingly expected to be available in the evenings and over weekends to respond to work issues. Smart phones have led to an expectation that responses will be almost instantaneous. And, people expect information to be formatted for Smart phones. Many people feel they have no “off” time since they’re always connected. Work often occurs in short bursts. Text messages and other alerts increase the number of interruptions people receive and make it harder for people to fully engage in what they’re doing. More metrics on usage allow us to know how many people we reach, reveal knowledge and experience gaps, and many other trends. 
  10. Wellness -- Everyone seems to be predicting an increased focus on employee wellness and it is becoming more common to take an approach that includes family members in wellness initiatives. We expect to see an increase in chronic health conditions in the workplace including depression. We are interested in focusing on more targeted wellness initiatives and looking into using our claim data for predictive modeling, so that someone can intervene before serious problems occur.