#NationalPuppyDay

Dogs, we love them.  And now research is telling us that when we get to spend the day with them at work, these animals make us happier and help lower our stress levels.  Today on National Puppy Day, we want to talk about why allowing dogs in the workplace is a great benefit to your work environment and employees.

Virginia Commonwealth University professors Sandra and Randolph Barker conducted a study that measured the stress levels of employees who worked for a company that allowed dogs in the workplace.  They found that having dogs around, in general, made people happier, lowered stress levels, and made workers more productive.

The most surprising result was that the dogs actually helped to break down communication barriers employees were having between them.  People without dogs would stop by to pet the dogs or ask to take them on walks.  Social interaction is not just a benefit for the dogs themselves, getting to interact with people and other pets, but also creates great opportunities for employees to connect with each other, establishing an atmosphere for better communication and teamwork.

Having a policy that allows dogs in the workplace is an attractive benefit for future hires.  Millennials are quickly replacing the baby boomers as the largest pet-owning generation.  These young, potential employees consistently rate being able to bring their dog or other pet into their office as one of their favorite benefits.  It’s also a great and low cost wellness benefit that is a natural stress reliever and team building activity.

Here at Babb, we get the occasional surprise of having our Group Benefits mascot, Machado the English bulldog spend the day with us.  It allows us to come together and laugh, take a break, and talk to each other.  Not to mention, that on Fridays, when he normally comes in, we are all ready for the weekend and have a build up of stress from the previous days.  When Machado is here, that stress seems to melt away and lightens the atmosphere.  We also get visitors from the other departments to come say hi, coworkers that we don’t always get to interact with on a daily basis.

Let’s face it, there is nothing better than getting to have a midday cuddle with a cute dog.  Check to see what your employer’s stance is on dogs in the workplace or how your employees would react to initiating such a policy.

 


(Photo by Sami Mel Photography)
http://www.aaha.org/blog/petsmatter/post/2016/05/10/317030/The-many-benefits-of-pets-in-the-workplace.aspx
http://www.humanesociety.org/news/magazines/2016/05-06/dogs-at-work.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/
http://www.cio.com/article/3000115/staff-management/14-rules-for-creating-a-bring-your-dog-to-work-policy.html
http://www.cnbc.com/2015/10/15/more-firms-allowing-dogs-and-other-pets-in-the-office.html

 

Health Coaching

By: Bree Leyer, M.S., EP-C

At Babb, Inc., we recently announced our new health and wellness program for employees. Although some elements are remaining the same, we are excited about adding a brand new element to our program. Along with gaining awareness of their current health status through a robust biometric screening and a preventive exam with their physician, we are now offering the ability to meet with a health coach one-on-one to discuss individual health and well being goals.

Our previous program offered a healthy incentive for completing a biometric screening, a health risk assessment, and for seeing a physician for a preventive exam. Even though we had high participation rates (over 75% each year), we realized that we were creating awareness for our employees but were not offering enough support to help sustain any health behavioral changes. By going back to the drawing boards, we came up with a plan to offer individualized plans that would encourage sustained change, rather than offering a once a year snapshot of their health. Our employees have the opportunity to meet with a health coach at least twice during the 2017 year, with the option to meet additional times if interested. (I’m sure you’re thinking “ok, this sounds great for you but why should I do it?”)

Why Health Coaching? Below are some quick reasons as to why you should consider health coaching.

  • More and more studies are showing that health coaching is becoming one of the most effective strategies to help reduce overall costs and improve health outcomes. [1]
  • Individualized health coaching sessions offer the opportunity to discuss and design improvement plans that are specific to the individual, rather than a broad approach that may or may not apply to all.
  • Studies have shown that health coaching has both immediate improvements in health and reaching goals as well as continual improvements even after one year of the health coaching sessions ending.[2]
  • Health coaching can help employees improve their perception of their ability to perform their work, avoid burnout caused by exhaustion, improve how they feel about themselves and their work, and to become more resilient.[3]
  • Health coaches can help an individual reach a goal in as little as one month with higher adherence to maintaining the changes for at least one year after the initial consultation.[4]

Interested in learning more about health coaching and the benefits it can provide for you or your company? Contact Bree Leyer at bkl@babbins.com for more information.

*Stay tuned for future posts with testimonies from the health coach herself and our employees!


[1] David E. Wennberg, M.D., M.P.H., Amy Marr, Ph.D., Lance Lang, M.D., Stephen O’Malley, M.Sc., and George Bennett, Ph.D. A Randomized Trial of a Telephone Care-Management Strategy. New England Journal of Medicine. 2010; 363:1245-55.

[2] Sharma AE, Willard-Grace R, Hessler D, Bodenheimer T, Thom DH. What Happens After Health Coaching? Observational Study 1 Year Following a Randomized Controlled Trial. Annals of Family Medicine. 2016;14(3):200-207. doi:10.1370/afm.1924.

[3] Coaching for workers with chronic illness: Evaluating an intervention. McGonagle, Alyssa K.; Beatty, Joy E.; Joffe, Rosalind. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, Vol 19(3), Jul 2014, 385-398.http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0036601

[4] https://www.twinehealth.com/blog/consumer-survey-the-state-of-health-coaching-in-2016

 

Tobacco Cessation: Saving You Time and Money

By: Bree Leyer, M.S., EP-C

As I’m sure you’ve heard before, tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death today.[1] I bet you have also heard about the health and financial benefits that can occur once you quit smoking (as an individual). What you might not know is how a tobacco-free workplace can save your company, and your employees, time and money. How might this happen? Let’s look at some major impacts as to what happens when you do not have a tobacco-free policy at your workplace…

  • Lower Productivity Levels (and Higher Absenteeism Rates)
    • Employees who take four smoking breaks per day actually work one month less per year as compared to those who do not.[2] They also tend to take longer breaks than nonsmokers.
  • Higher Worker’s Compensation Payments
    • A study in 2001 found that businesses pay an average of $2,189 in worker’s compensation claims for smokers and only $176 for nonsmokers.[3]
  • Higher Health and Life Insurance Costs and Claims
    • Employees who smoke can face insurance premium surcharges up to 50% more than nonsmokers.[4]
    • Employees who smoke may have healthcare costs as high as 40% more than those who do not smoke.2
  • Higher Risk of Accidents, Fires, and Property Damage
    • In 2011, smoking-materials fires caused $621 million in direct property damage.[5]
    • You could receive a reduction of 30% on your fire insurance premiums if your business becomes a tobacco-free workplace.[6]

Hopefully some of these statistics caught your attention, but what can you do to help your employees and your company? We offer two suggestions:

  1. Create and implement a tobacco-free workplace policy
  • Some options of policies include:
    • Smoke-free campus (No smoking inside or outside of the building)
    • No smoking inside of the building and designated smoking areas outside
    • No smoking inside but unrestricted smoking outside
  1. Offer a Tobacco Cessation Program
    • Check in with your healthcare company to see what programs they may offer
    • Offer a premium discount on their health insurance for those who are tobacco-free
    • Offer self-help materials, counseling options, telephonic consultation programs, and information on nicotine replacement therapy and medications to support your employees
    • Offer additional incentives for becoming tobacco-free

Interested in learning more about how to successfully implement a tobacco-free workplace or a tobacco cessation program? We can help! Contact Bree Leyer at bkl@babbins.com for more information.

Tobacco Cessation Resources:

 


[1] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General.Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014.

[2] Action on Smoking and Health, March 1994.

[3] Musich, S.; Napier, D.: Edington, D.W.; “The Association of Health Risks With Workers’ Compensation Costs.” Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 43(6):534-541, June 2001.

[4] http://obamacarefacts.com/obamacare-smokers/

[5] Hall, Jr., J.R., “The Smoking-Material Fire Problem,” National Fire Protection Association, Fire Analysis and Research Division, July 2013.

[6] Center for Health Promotion and Publications. The Dollar (and sense) Benefits of Having a Smoke-Free Workplace. Lansing, Michigan: Michigan Tobacco Control Program; 2000

Stressed Out?

By:  Lynsey Bish

Have to stay late to make a deadline? Need that extra cup of coffee to stay focused on one task? Feeling pressured to meet expectations? Each of these questions is related to stressors in our workplace. The American Institute of Stress (AIS) conducted a study, concluding that “80% of workers feel stress on the job; nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress”.

We have all had stressful days and excessive stress can interfere with performance, productivity, and greatly impact our emotional and physical health. That doesn’t mean you’re powerless in controlling your environment and retaining mental well-being.

Here are a few tips to reduce stress in the workplace:

Reach Out – At times the best stress reducer can just be to talk it out. Face-to-face interactions can offer support, sympathy, or just an opportunity to “blow off some steam”. Having a support system at work and at home can change your environment. When you’re at work take a break.  Instead of directing your attention to your smartphone or tablet, engage your colleagues.  Additionally, talking it out at home with loved ones can give the feeling of lifting the stress off of your shoulders. You can get a fresh perspective while strengthening your connection.

Support Health with Exercise and Nutrition – When you’re focused on work it’s easy to forget about your health, but good nutrition will make you stronger and more resistant to stress. Just walking around for a few minutes or taking the stairs up and down a few flights can ease depression and anxiety by helping the brain release “feel-good” chemicals. This greatly improves your body’s ability to deal with stress. Food also impacts our stress levels throughout the day, and can make us feel sluggish. Changing your diet and eating small healthy meals will help maintain energy, keeping focus up, and avoiding mood swings.

Be Mindful About How You Sleep – You may not be aware, but if you lack sleep on a regular basis, it will interfere with you daytime productivity, creativity, problem-solving skills, and your ability to focus. The more rest you get, the better able you will be to tackle your job responsibilities and you will find it is much easier to keep your emotions balanced, one of the key factors in coping with stress at the workplace. It’s hard sometimes to break out of habits, but make an effort to get the recommended amount of sleep for adults: 8 hours. Also turn off screens! The light emitted from your smartphone, TV, and computers can suppress your body’s production of melatonin. It’s hard to break our routine before bed, but try soothing activities such as listening to ambient music, reading a book, and having the lights down low.

Turn It Up! –Everyone has a favorite artist, band, genre, etc. By creating a playlist of your favorite songs you can blow off some excess steam. Studies show that nature sounds and classical music can be particularly soothing, but if listening to a babbling brook isn’t for you, then you can listen to the music you enjoy; it’s just as effective.

Bring Your Pets to Work – This all depends on your workplace, but The International Journal of Workplace Health Management did a study and found employees who brought their dogs to work had reduced stress thought the day. Also, humans who petted a dog for 15–30 minutes experienced approximately a 10 percent drop in blood pressure, while the dogs’ blood pressure dropped as soon as the humans began petting them. A day at the office also provides more stimulation for a dog than a day spent home alone in a crate or the backyard. It’s a win-win situation for both pets and employees.

Bullet Journal – Bullet Journaling has gained a lot of press for its tendency to help adopters stay on task and organized. The Bullet Journal is a customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less. It has also shown that it will boost productivity, put your mind at ease, and add structure. To find out more info, check out The Bullet Journal Blog.

Wait, There’s an App for That? – With just a quick search of the app store, we are presented with a number of apps to reduce stress.

  • Apps like True Stress Management can target stressors and improve your mood.
  • Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock – As we learned previously, sleep affects how we are feeling in the morning and is a trigger on your emotions though the day. This alarm clock is designed to wake you up during your lightest stage of sleep. Usually we set an alarm to the time that we need to wake up; this could occur in the middle of an REM (deep sleep cycle) and leave us feeling groggy and disoriented. Available on Apple and Android.
  • Headspace – This is one of the most popular guided meditation apps on the market. Meditation has proven to reduce stress, but getting started could pose quite difficult if you have no clue what you are doing. Headspace changes the game by guiding you though a variety of meditations. Available on Apple and Android.
  • Pacifica – This app uses cognitive behavioral therapy, and helps to identify the actions triggering your stress and anxiety.  By finding the causes of your stress, you’ll be able to address, and hopefully, eliminate them. This app has loads of extra features to help set goals and focus on managing your stress. Available on Apple and Android.
  • Personal Zen – This app is clinically proven to reduce stress by playing a game! The Clinical Psychological Science Journal promised that it only takes 25 minutes to see positive benefits. How can they prove the promise? Science. It’s highly recommended that you check this one out. Sorry Android users, it’s only available through Apple.

Overall we hope that you can use these examples to reduce stress at work.

Painting Pros

Last summer, for our company’s summer picnic, all of our employees participated in a group painting activity with Paint Monkey. When it was all finished, we created 3 beautiful murals that depicted our company culture. One of the murals is a 20 piece painting of our beautiful William Penn Snyder building that stunningly depicts the old merging with the new.

We were lucky enough to be able to partner with WTAE for the second time to produce an innovative and creative commercial.  This commercial is meant to convey our commitment to teamwork and collaboration with our employees, our clients, and our community.

“Teamwork allows the individual to thrive and the pieces to come together for a collaborative effort to achieving a healthier business and community.  Babb WellAdvised, keeping you WellAdvised on, off, and after the job.”

You can catch our commercial airing now on WTAE.

Organize your Desk Today

A few months ago we talked about what your desk says about you.  Now, we want to provide you with some tips and tricks to get your desk under control before the holidays.  Maybe you thrive better with a little chaos on your desk and we respect that, but there are ways to contain and control that chaos to help you better get your work done.

Get rid of the junk.  Take a little bit of time to purge your desk and office area of anything you do not want or need anymore.  Anything you haven’t used in a while, trinkets and plants that are broken or you don’t really care about, anything covered in a layer of dust, get rid of it.  If you have anything that needs repaired, send it out to see if it can be fixed, if it can’t you can toss it and replace it. And remember, when in doubt, you should throw it out.  When it comes to those knick-knacks, ask yourself if you really need them at your desk.

Place your frequently used items close to you.  This seems very self-explanatory, but a lot of people use items everyday but they have to search for it when they need it.  If it is right next to you, you will be able to easily grab it to use.

Folders.  Create folders for all of the projects you are working on, papers you need to keep, documents for meetings, etc.  At least you will know that your papers are filed in a topic specific folder that you will be able to find easier.

Go through your desk drawers and clean house.  If you have things in your drawers that you don’t use, are old, contain food that has gone bad, you should get rid of it.  Once you have gotten rid of anything unneeded, you can begin to organize each drawer for specific storage purposes in whichever way you want.

At the end of the day, clear your desk.  This will allow you to get yourself straightened out for the next day of work so you do not have to come in to a mess and can have a clean start to the day.

Put your trash can near you.  By having a trash can near you can easily get rid of unwanted items any time you feel the need.  And remember, when in doubt, you should throw it out.

Use your scanner.  Most likely your department has a copier machine that has a scan to email option.  If you don’t want to keep hard copies of everything, you can scan your documents and save them on your computer for easy access and no desk clutter.

https://timemanagementninja.com/2014/02/10-tips-to-keep-your-desk-clean-organized-productive/
http://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/21-tips-to-organize-your-office-and-get-more-done.html

 

 

2016 Spark Pittsburgh Step Challenge Award Ceremony

Last night we celebrated the winners of the Spark Pittsburgh Company Step Challenge at WTAE Studios.  All participating companies and the top three steppers were invited to join us for an awards ceremony celebrating the many successes the step challenge provided.

Guests got to view the commercial ads that were in cycle throughout the campaign and were also able to view some of the raw commercial footage for the top 3 companies.  All of the companies that participated received a special certificate and the individual winners also won tickets to an upcoming Pens game.

After the ceremony, all were invited to tour the WTAE Studio.  Guests had the opportunity to view the control rooms where every bit of camera equipment and technology are controlled from and the studio where the anchors actually report the news.  Even better, all of the guests were invited to stand in front of the green screen and report the weather.

The 2016 Spark Pittsburgh Company Step Challenge, challenged companies to get their employees moving in an effort to see which company could tally up the most steps. During the six week challenge, over 30 companies completed over 200,000,000 steps. With the success of the 2016 Spark Pittsburgh Company Step Challenge, we can only hope to grow and expand the challenge in the upcoming year and to help make Pittsburgh one of the healthiest cities in America.