Does online assessing do its job?

Hiring managers need to make sure online application assessments act as an effective resource to finding qualified candidates as opposed to a barrier that eliminates potential talent.

Most people have had the experience of taking an online assessment or test as part of a job application. No matter the industry and position, the format is often familiar. The applicant is asked questions covering everything under the sun about how they would rate their work performance and ability to work well with others, and then they are asked those same questions again in different ways. The answers are usually multiple choice and the assessments can take as long as 20 minutes to complete or sometimes, take several hours and days to finish for the most intensive online screening tests.

A great majority of companies use assessments as key parts of their application. They’re designed to be an unbiased way to narrow down the applicant pool to a more manageable number.

But hiring managers who work for companies that utilise these assessments need to ask themselves a few questions: Do you know what questions are asked on that test? Have you taken it? Can you pass it?

Many hiring managers and talent acquisition staff have never seen some of the questions they ask job candidates, and in many cases, they would be the first to fail these tests. The reality is that online tests and assessments have become an out of sight, out of mind tool for HR teams. Hiring managers know these tests exist as part of their company’s application process but that might be the extent of their knowledge.

In the job market of years past, companies could get by with this type of practice. Unemployment was high post-recession, and there were plenty of applicants to every position. Companies had the upper hand and could be choosy and select the best person available.

With unemployment staying relatively low in 2018, jobseekers and employees are beginning to wield the power. They can be selective where they choose to apply and whom they want to work with. Meanwhile employers are struggling to find talent.

Employers and hiring managers need to scrutinise things they didn’t have to scrutinise before. They may need to take a hard look at the online pre-screening assessment tests, which may be inadvertently costing the company highly skilled and talented future employees.

How to Stay on Top

Companies lose otherwise qualified candidates for a variety of reasons in the application process, but they frequently lose them at the assessment stage. Jobseekers exit out of the process if they view the test as too lengthy or time consuming. They also bail on a company if the assessment content is not perceived as relevant or if that content startles them.

Think of a forklift operator applying for that job who takes an assessment with nothing but sales related questions, even if the job description did not mention sales at all. Believe it or not, this type of thing happens all the time. This jobseeker thinks they may be applying to the wrong position and leaves the application. Or even worse, they think the company may not have their act together thus damaging the company’s brand in the process.

So how can hiring managers and companies capture the talent they may be losing because of candidate drop-off in the online assessment process? A good start is by following these three best practices:

Know what is on the test. Many talent acquisition personnel have no idea what content or questions are on their current online assessment. The best companies have assessments that their personnel are familiar with and that relate to key characteristics that successful workers should have at that company.

Do not have a test just to have a test. Involve hiring managers and talent acquisition personnel in the design of this tool to make it more effective. Every individual responsible for hiring at a company should know what is being asked of applicants.

Keep the length of your test under control. Are you getting enough qualified candidates? If a company’s online assessment takes too long to complete, they could lose many great people.

A hiring manager may say, “Well for our company, if that jobseeker doesn’t want to invest the time to complete this, then we don’t want them.” But the job market is changing. Employers have had the upper hand for quite some time, but the unemployment rate is low and forecasted to get even lower

There is going to come a time where companies are going to need those qualified jobseekers who do not want to spend half a day completing an online quiz. There is a happy medium, but employers need to be vigilant so that top talent doesn’t take flight over something this trivial.

Do you really care? Are you sure?. What do I mean by that? As an example, I work with jobseekers with disabilities with applications, interview preparation, and everything in between. When applying online, nearly all the online tests list either a 1-800 number or an email address that people with disabilities can reach out to if they need assistance or help with the application/assessment.

Shockingly, though, a large percentage of these 1-800 numbers are either non-functional or they lead to an impersonal, confusing answering machine. After all of these missteps, the final insult is that oftentimes those messages left by jobseekers with disabilities are either not monitored by anybody or they are never returned.

I challenge you to test your company’s 1-800 numbers and email addresses. Individuals with disabilities are the largest untapped labor pool in the United States. If they were to apply to your company, have an issue that required assistance and get an impersonal response, they might exit out of the application and choose a company that really cares.

Online application assessments are here to stay. They can be valuable and helpful tool for all parties if given the attention that they deserve. As a hiring manager though, it’s your job to make sure they act as an effective resource to finding qualified candidates as opposed to a barrier that eliminates potential talent.

12 eating tips for the busy professional

Busy professionals cannot waste a single second of their day. Our bodies need energy to keep moving at that pace. If you often work through lunch and go hours without even breaking for a snack, you may have difficulty concentrating and getting results from the work you’re putting in.

There are a few things you can do to keep yourself healthy while you’re powering through your day. Just a few simple changes can make a big difference in your energy levels, as well as your overall health.

1. Don’t skip breakfast.
As you’re running out the door for your early-morning meeting, the last thing you’re thinking about is stopping for breakfast. But breakfast skipping has been linked with an increase in obesity and diabetes risks, as well as morning moodiness. Here are a few quick, healthy breakfast ideas you can put together at home or once you arrive at the office.

2. Make it convenient.
You likely find you have little time to stop by the grocery store, especially during the workweek. Bring or have fresh food from local farmers directly to home or office. Create snack pouches on hand when you want a snack.

3. Prepare in advance.
One of the best things you can do is prepare snacks and meals for your day before you leave in the morning, especially if you’ll be working through lunch. But what if there is rarely time to put a meal together in the morning? You can solve this problem by setting time aside over the weekend to prepare snacks and meals for the week. Purchase plastic containers/tupperwares that can be refrigerated or frozen and picked up each morning on the way out the door.

4. Invest in grab-and-go snacks.
Look around your office. If there’s nothing to snack on, you may find yourself shrugging off your hunger for hours or—worse—heading down the hall to the vending machine. Purchase healthy snack-size foods like boxes of raisins or healthy granola bars. Blue Diamond 100-calorie Almond Packs are a great way to get the many health benefits of almonds without eating an entire bag.

5. Don’t eat and work.
Multitasking has been proven to be disastrous to the waistline. Instead of distractedly munching on a salad while you’re working on a proposal, set your work aside and focus completely on your meal. Better yet, take your lunch outside on a nice day and combine the benefits of fresh air with savouring your food. You’ll have a more pleasurable eating experience and return to your desk feeling refreshed.

6. Eat and meet.
While distracted eating may be bad, socialising has its health benefits. Schedule lunch meetings as often as possible to make sure you get a good midday meal in. You could use the opportunity to take team members offsite to get their ideas, meet with clients, or network with local colleagues.

7. Stay hydrated.
Whether you like the taste of it or not, water is an important part of good health. Consider having an in-office water cooler to make it easy for you and your team members to stay hydrated throughout the day. If this isn’t a possibility, keep a small refrigerator in your office to hold bottled water.

8. Choose healthy options at restaurants.
Eating out is inevitable for a busy professional, but you don’t have to settle for greasy fast food options. Almost all restaurant chains have healthy dining options to attract health-conscious customers. To play it safe, stick with grilled instead of fried and choose sides like fruits, soups, and salads over fries or onion rings.

9. Make family dinners a priority.
Evening meals are an important time for families. Make sure you’re home every evening in time to share a leisurely meal with your spouse or your family. If you’re single, schedule regular get-togethers with friends where you enjoy a healthy meal. This will help you maintain a healthy work-life balance.

10. Grocery shop wisely.
Experts recommend spending most of your time in the outer sections of the grocery store when shopping for food. Produce, dairy, meats, poultry, and eggs should make up the majority of your shopping time, keeping you away from the packaged, preservative-filled foods in the centre aisles.

11. Choose quality.
Make sure most of your diet includes nutrient-dense foods that let you accomplish more with less. Avoid sugar and empty calories and instead focus on making sure each snack and meal packs as much punch as possible. Remember, you’re going for fuelling your body and mind so you can accomplish more.

12. Limit alcohol.
As tempting as it can be to indulge in a happy hour drink after work, it’s one of the worst ways to add calories to your diet. While the occasional drink or two won’t hurt, it’s important to moderate your alcohol consumption, especially if the rest of your diet is severely lacking.

If you take care of your mind and body, you’ll find you’re more productive and have more energy throughout the day. You’ll also keep yourself healthy, which will allow you to avoid visits to the doctor and ongoing illnesses. When you take care of yourself, it is not just your health that benefits — your business will to.

Burned out, engaged or disengaged. Can you see the difference?

With the year ticking on, we do tend to get into that familiar cycle of working and dedicating ourselves to our jobs. Fair enough I say. It is after all a large part of our day and keeps us surviving.

But can we be doing this too much and becoming overzealous and not realising that our work is suffering from “the law of diminishing returns”? Where does the line for the engaged worker end and the burned out worker begin? Or where does the disengaged worker fit into all of this?

Engaged employees drive real business results. Engaged employees are energised, enthusiastic
and focused. They enjoy their work, help boost productivity, performance and growth.
Ultimately, engagement is good for people and for business.



Engagement isn’t reserved for specialty jobs with mind-blowing benefits and an
exceptional pay check. It’s totally possible to be engaged in any role, at any level. Anyone
can love what they do and be truly excited about their work.

But can there be too much of a good thing?



Engaged employees feel a deep connection and sense of purpose at work that creates extra
energy and commitment. It’s obvious why employers want to foster engagement, but it’s a
challenge to know exactly how to do this. After all, employee engagement is currently hovering
around 32 percent and has remained low for the past two decades.


Employee well-being drives engagement, and vice versa. When employees are engaged in their
work, they feel good and live with a sense of purpose.

Employees with higher well-being are twice as likely to be engaged in their jobs.
These employees enjoy their teams more, are more loyal and recommend their company as
a great place to work.

When employees have high well-being AND feel supported by their organisation, it’s a win for everyone.


Well-being and engagement are statistically related, but exactly why is unknown. Do people with higher well-being handle stress better? Or do they have a stronger sense of purpose at work?


The best way to foster employee engagement and well-being is to support employees. The best way to support employees is to focus on managers. Managers are the most important way employees feel supported by their organisation.

Most employees say their immediate managers matter more than C-suite leadership when it comes to well-being support. But often, managers don’t understand how to talk with their employees
about well-being.

And it’s not just about well-being. Managers play a big role in employee engagement. In fact, they account for up to 70 percent of variance in employee engagement. Employees who rate their manager as excellent are five times more engaged than employees who rate their manager as poor.


Managers play a critical role in ensuring employees have a great experience. They’re not only responsible for the career path of the employee, they’re responsible for bringing the company values and culture to life.

Now that we know managers help foster employee engagement and well-being, the next step is to help managers understand how to do this.

A great place to start is with an understanding of the strongest drivers of engagement,

• I like my work and have challenging
but achievable goals
• I give my work my all and have a
reasonable number of hours
• I’m realising my potential and
learning new things
• I’m able to use my greatest strengths
and my abilities fit well with my role
• I feel valued and respected
• I feel like I’m making an impact
• I work a reasonable number of hours
and spend my time wisely
• My manager and organisation support me

Managers who strive to create these conditions for their employees will be more likely to have employees with high well-being and who are truly engaged.


With a great culture, a supportive manager and a job that provides meaning and purpose,
employees are more likely to feel engaged at work. This is when employees really thrive.
But it’s a fine line. Highly engaged employees are at risk for burnout because its not
possible to sustain high levels of engagement over time.
Burnout is a prolonged exposure to chronic emotional and interpersonal stressors on
the job.

It’s defined by:

INEFFICACY: I’m not making a difference
CYNICISM: I’m so fed up, I just don’t care anymore
EXHAUSTION:I’m so tired

Burnout results in low productivity and high turnover — especially turnover of the most
talented and productive employees.


In order to be burned out at work, an employee has to be highly engaged. The employee has to be all in and care deeply to get to the point of feeling burned out. This means that top
performing, highly engaged employees are at the highest risk for burnout. And these are the
employees that employers can’t afford to lose.

Burnout happens when a highly engaged employee begins to have low well-being without
any support from their manager or organisation or they aren’t able to resolve it for themselves.

Sadly, this is a result of the pressure and lack of support from the employer.

Most companies think of burnout as a personal issue because it shows up so differently for each person who is experiencing the cycle of exhaustion, cynicism and inefficacy. The reality is that burnout is really an organisational issue.

• Overload — workload and time
• Pressure
• Role conflict and ambiguity
• Lack of support from managers
• Lack of feedback
• Lack of participation in decision making
• Lack of fairness and equity
• Values disconnect
• A “broken” psychology contract

Burnout is associated with absenteeism, intention to leave the job and actual turnover. But for people who stay on the job, burnout leads to lower productivity and a negative impact on team members.

Often times, burnout is “contagious.” It can spread toxicity across a team or spillover into people’s home life.

• Lower productivity
• Stress-related health issues
• Increased substance abuse
• Can precipitate anxiety, depression and
decreases in self-esteem

• Reduced organisational commitment
• Absenteeism
• Intention to leave
• Actual turnover


While both disengaged and burned out employees are at high risk for turnover, burnout is not the same as disengagement.

Disengaged employees don’t care about the work and the organisation. They’re not committed. They see work as just a job.

Prolonged burnout can result in an employee who is disengaged.


“I have cared so deeply for so long without a break from stress, that I have become depleted
and cynical.”

“I have given everything to this job.”
“I am past the point of caring or I have never cared at all.”
“This is just a job.”

“I am energiSed by and connected to this job, so much so that I get purpose from it.”
“This is way more than a job.”


The good news is that burnout is preventable. With strong managers and an understanding of what causes burnout, employers can more readily prevent their top talent from burning out. Here are four ways to help prevent burnout today:

Everyone needs a break to recover. People rest their bodies after a workout but continue to push themselves to the limits at work. This is not only unproductive, it leads to burnout.

Managers should adjust workloads and be aware when someone has been going full throttle in overdrive for too long. That said, recovery time or breaks just help deal with the
symptoms of burnout but they don’t provide a real solution. Make sure managers focus on the root causes too.

How people think about situations has an impact on their ability to handle and recover from them. What’s stressful to one person can be energising to another — it’s subjective. For some, stress is enhancing and exhilarating, while for others who have more negative association with stress, it’s debilitating. When you know how people think about stress, you can help them cope with it and prevent burnout. Have managers remind people to keep a positive outlook and ensure
employees are taking time to take care of themselves.

People are wired to be social. The more we can rely on each other for support, the better off we are. In fact, social support positively relates to important factors that impact stress, health, well-being and engagement. Employers have the unique opportunity to foster community among employees by boosting team support and social networks. These social connections will
help employees get the support they need and help guard against burnout.

Helping employees connect to their purpose is key for burnout prevention. When people have a real emotional connection to their work, they’re more connected to the company and their purpose. This helps put things into perspective when work gets hectic. One way to do this is to emphasise the ways in which an employee’s work makes other people’s lives a little bit better or easier. Communicate how an employee’s work is connected to the company’s mission and have clear goals to support employees in finding and staying connected to their purpose.

Choose your wellness program with for a reason.

Being in the health and wellness game for a few years now you see all sorts of programs in place and I wander often if they are really that effective and gaining the benefit of running that chosen program or product.

When looking at your health and wellness program, there should be a reason behind it: Mental, physical, social, educational, spiritual or a combination of one or more of those factors.

Maximum participation would also be ideal. There will be naysayers and wall flowers, but with enough thought and reasoning behind your choice of program, you will see everyone participating and enjoying the benefits. Don’t be afraid to ask your employees what their interests are. After all, it is also about them.

In recent years, the standing desk has become a trendy workplace accessory — one that seems to breed inexplicably overnight.

One day Phil from the IT help desk has one … and then suddenly, the entire office is hopping from foot to foot while chatting on the phone to a client.
But do they really improve our health, or make us more productive? Some studies indicate they do have benefits, but others are more sceptical.

In Australian workplaces, wellness initiatives are becoming a commonplace phenomenon.
And while standing desks, office yoga classes and gym memberships are all nice things to have on offer at work, the jury is still out on whether they actually make us healthier, or better at our jobs.

A growing body of research actually suggests that without a targeted and well thought out approach, workplace wellness initiatives often fail to yield results.
But conversely, ignoring employee health costs money too.

The cost of absenteeism in Australia is estimated at $7 billion each year, while presenteeism — defined as not fully functioning at work because of a medical condition — was recently estimated to cost the economy more than $34 billion a year.

Studies have shown that properly designed wellness programs can deliver significant benefits, with an average rate of return of between 2:1 and 5:1 for every dollar spent.
Encouragingly, a 2014 report by Buck Consultants found that about 47 per cent of companies in Australia offered some kind of health promotion service to employees — but only about half of those had measured, specific outcomes.

Occupational physician Niki Ellis said the Australian approach to workplace wellness programs was somewhat “immature”.

Prolonged periods of stress can make going to work seem like a nightmare. So whose responsibility is workplace stress?

“There is scope for improvement here in the way investment in this area is being made,” Professor Ellis said.

Professor Ellis said while usually well-intentioned, often wellness programs both here and abroad were not very strategic.

She used an example from Harvard Professor Gloria Sorenson, a leading authority on workplace wellness programs, to illustrate her point.

“It’s my favourite story about why wellness bits and pieces, just introduced into a workplace without integrating them carefully into an overall strategy for health, is probably not going to work,” she said.

“She was running quit smoking programs in the workplace and she started to deliver those in foundries.

“And she could see the irony of her very earnestly encouraging workers to quit smoking, when all around them were these toxic fumes and heat.”

The health benefits the workers might have received from quitting smoking were negated by the very environment they were working in.

“You can’t really expect workers to be anything other than a bit sceptical when you’re doing that in a hazardous working environment,” she said.

In the United States, where health insurance for staff is often paid for by employers, the push to identify workplace wellness initiatives that deliver results is more established than in Australia.

A 2015 report by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that the best corporate wellness programs addressed both the individual risk factors affecting employees’ health, and the organisational factors that helped or hindered employees’ efforts to reduce those risks.

It found the strongest programs created a culture of health, intertwining individual health promotion efforts with the overall company goals and objectives.
The best programs were also created in consultation with staff.
Honest Tea, an organic drink company based in Bethesda, Maryland, was used as a case study in the report.

The company’s headquarters were deliberately placed next to biking and walking trails to encourage physical activity, and staff were given access to a wellness coach who gave advice on diet, weight management, and quitting smoking.
Initially the company also offered yoga and meditation classes at work, but participation was low.

By polling their staff, who were primarily quite young, the company found out that their employees wanted more intense activities. As a result, Honest Tea now offers boot camp workouts and rock climbing events, and participation exceeds 50 per cent.
For Honest Tea — a company founded on principles of health — these investments, among others, help maintain a corporate culture and keep employees healthy.

By all means I want to see all workplaces “fit for work” and have an ongoing health and wellness strategy in place. But I also want you all to reap the benefits from the program(s) as well.

Live by your vision and values: Your workplace will take care of itself.

If we look at our companies like a family, how would you like to see it run?

Are you an autocratic parent or a little softer and easy-going.

By no means am I judging or would I ever pass judgement on your parenting style, I just want you to look at your workplace from your employees(children’s) view and see what it might be like.

Creating a human touch and bringing in a positive, supportive culture can rarely go wrong, if at all. After all, it is a lot easier to keep your staff, than having to find new staff.

Here are three points which can really create such a positive, proactive environment that your employees will not want to leave.

1. Put Employees First. Organisations that succeed put their own people first because they recognise that their employees are the key to creating long-term value. It’s not just giving employees free food. It’s feeding their souls and creating an environment where they can have an impact.

Listen to your employees to inform your culture. As Pinterest’s Head of Culture Cat Lee told me, “We created Pinterest by collaborating with our Pinners, and similarly we create our culture by collaborating with the people who are at Pinterest.”

Define your company values and connect daily work back to the mission. For example, freedom is one of the five values at Grokker. Every week we have Work-From-Home-Wednesday, and the whole company participates. We give employees the freedom to take care of themselves and their families, and in response they commit to the company.

2. Prioritise Employee Well-being. The more effectively leadership supports employee well-being, the more likely employees are to experience engagement, loyalty, job satisfaction and positive energy at work. This in turn lowers stress and increases overall positive sentiment toward the company.

The cost of presenteeism — where employees show up for work but don’t perform at full capacity — is 10 times the cost of absenteeism, according to a Global Corporate Challenge report. Rather than focusing on how to keep employees from taking sick time, target productivity while employees are already at work by prioritising well-being.

Employees expect a wellness experience that is built into every work day, like nutrition awareness and exercise-friendly workplaces. You don’t even need to spend money to see impact. Employees who are able to take a break every 90 minutes report a 30 percent higher level of focus than those who get no breaks or only one. They also report a nearly 50 percent greater capacity to think creatively and a 46 percent higher level of health and wellbeing. Identify low-budget, high-impact ways to prioritise the wellness of your workforce. Companies can, for example, schedule 10-minute group stretch breaks at 10am and 2pm daily or stream a video to do together

3. Rethink the Employee Experience. IBM’s Employee Experience Index study found that employees with a sense of purpose and enthusiasm in their work are more likely to perform at higher levels and contribute “above and beyond” expectations for their performance — and are less likely to quit.

Move beyond perks and one-off engagement programs to create a seamless, holistic employee experience that inspires people to do their best work. Instead of thinking about how to solve specific problems, brainstorm ideas that focus on the greater goal: creating a powerful employee experience.

Here’s a very simple metric you can employ to measure your employee experience: Employee Net Promoter Score. Inspired by the gold-standard metric for consumer satisfaction, eNPS is used to understand employees’ overall engagement with the company. Have employees rate their feelings on the simple statement, “I would recommend my workplace to others” on a 10-point scale. Employees with 9+ ratings are generally considered promoters, while those with ratings ranging from 0-6 and 7-8 are labeled as detractors and passive, respectively. Use this formula: Employee net promoter score (eNPS) = % promoters – % detractors.

Research demonstrates that when we give our employees what they want — purpose, belonging and balance — the business sees success. Since 1998, the companies on the Fortune ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ list have consistently outperformed the S&P 500 stock index by a ratio of almost two to one. There’s a reason the same companies consistently make these lists. They recognise that listening to their employees, putting their needs first and promoting their strengths and capabilities promotes happiness and produces results.

IQ or EQ in the workplace. Which is best?

As business professionals, we pride ourselves on our technical skills, industry expertise, and innovation. These hard skills are what make our resumes stand out, but ultimately they’re only one part of the equation. According to Harvard Business Review, emotional intelligence (EQ) is “the key attribute that distinguishes outstanding performers,” and is the leading differentiator between employees whose IQ and technical skills are approximately the same. In fact, in a 2015 study, TalentSmart found that EQ is the strongest predictor of work performance, accounting for 58% of success in all fields.

In a business world increasingly dependent on negotiation, compromise, and collaboration, the importance of Emotional Intelligence cannot be understated. EQ can make or break client relationships, our work environment, and our ability to successfully communicate with our colleagues. Consider these 5 ways to grow your interpersonal skills.

1. Seek Self-Awareness: Being honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses is crucial to developing higher EQ. Do you tend to lose patience when team meetings get off track? Do your customer service skills need work? Take note of areas for improvement, and seek ways to improve your work relationships by practicing patience, empathy, and understanding. In doing so, you develop key soft skills that will boost your performance and increase the quality of your work life.

2. Eliminate Emotional Interference: Studies reveal that our brains process an emotional reaction before we can logically react to a provocation, and it takes up to 20 minutes to recover from an emotional stimulus. Before letting visceral reaction take over cerebral reason, acknowledge any stress or anxiety you’re feeling and resolve it before moving forward. Calm yourself with a short walk, meditation, or a cup of tea, and then revisit the situation without negative emotions influencing your actions.

3. Evaluate Objectively: Whether we’re dealing with a difficult client, or still smarting after an offhanded comment from a coworker, depersonalising the situation is key for maintaining healthy relationships. We tend to assume that people act or speak in relation to us personally; when in reality they do and say things because of themselves, not us. Don’t take everything personally, and strive to accept other’s actions as a reflection of them instead of you.

4. Proactive, Not Reactive: When issues arise, decide your next move based upon what will resolve the problem most effectively. Taking a reactionary approach by retaliating, going straight to your manager, or giving up on a client will only create more challenges down the line. Instead, seek solutions that address your counterpart’s concerns and prevent future conflict. Deciding to act proactively instead of reactively demonstrates the EQ skills of self-management, emotional intuition, and empathy.

5. Act with Empathy: One of the greatest indicators of Emotional Intelligence is empathy, or our ability to understand another’s feelings and perspective. Be sensitive to emotional signals such as tone of voice, body language, and eye contact to understand why your counterpart is feeling a certain way. Then, evaluate your course of action in relation to their viewpoint, so that you’re providing the best service for their situation.

Whatever workplace situations arise, handling them with Emotional Intelligence fosters healthy relationships and long-term professional success. Remember these five insights to boost performance, grow your soft skills, and create a positive work environment.

Where did we come from(corporate wellness)?

Wellness for workplaces has been around for quite some time now. But did you know that its history stretches back more than a century?

These early initiatives (think executive stretching and employee housing) aren’t necessarily what we think of when we think of wellness.

Corporate wellness began with an occupational health-focused program for executives — which paved the way for the programs we see today.


The roots of corporate wellness predate the first World War.Ford and other manufacturers invested in these early programs because they thought they’d see increased production out of healthier employees. These initiatives were the exception, not the rule — and they were crude by today’s standards. But they started a revolution. Companies saw the benefits of a vital workforce, and they began tapping into the programs long before the establishment of health insurance.
By World War II, major companies had introduced corporate health and
wellness benefits.

1879 Pullman Company establishes an athletic association in its employee-only housing
1880-1900 National Cash Register institutes twice-daily exercise breaks and builds an
employee gym
1926 Ford introduces the 40-hour work week
1930s Hershey Foods builds a recreation complex for its employees

1950s — 1970s
Post-World War II, companies started paying for employee healthcare coverage and offering employee assistance programs and other benefits.

In conjunction with the Surgeon General’s report of the dangers of cigarette smoking,
leaders began to understand that their employees’ behavioural decisions affected the
state of their health.

Even so, leaders were mostly concerned with illness prevention — only one small aspect of a person’s well-being. Their primary concern was to prevent absences and injuries in the workplace, rather than promoting healthy behaviours in their employees.

1950s-1960s Companies like Texas Instruments,Rockwell and Xerox all launch employee
fitness centres
1965 The U.S. Congress passes the Cigarette Labelling and Advertising Act
1970 The U.S. Dept. of Labor establishes Occupational Health and Safety Administration to prevent workplace accidents and injuries
The first smoking cessation programs launch

1980s — EARLY 2000s

In the late 20th century, programs like smoking cessation, stress management and
nutrition became commonplace. Focused on treating high-cost employees, companies created employee wellness programs that only targeted those with the highest risk for health issues. Leaders (especially in the ’90s) felt this was the most efficient use of their resources since these employees cost more to insure. But low participation rates and high failure rates made these programs unsuccessful.

By the early 2000s, research from Dee Edington overhauled this high-risk-only approach. Edington found that people naturally flow from high-risk to medium and to low-risk, and from low-risk to medium to high risk. So the best programs encourage healthy behaviours from everyone, in addition to helping the high-risk population reduce risks. This realisation shed light on a key component of wellness: the importance of the well-being
of all employees

EARLY 1980s Johnson & Johnson is the first company to release reports that tie the effectiveness of wellness programs to the productivity and profitability of the company
1982 The world’s first wireless wearable heart rate monitor becomes commercially
1984 Boeing is one of the first large companies to ban smoking in the workplace
1992 USDA publishes the Food Guide Pyramid
2001 Dee Edington introduces “Changing the Natural Flow” concept, revolutionising the
wellness industry


Some companies never got out of the healthcare-costs-only trap of wellness. As healthcare expenses continued to spiral upward, they depended on wellness providers to help them keep these costs in check. But punitive measures against unhealthy employees — such as increasing premium costs — became less and less effective as diminishing returns on these programs set in. This model drove employees away from the
program, which ultimately led to its failure.

Companies that spent so much time on the employees who were most expensive to insure missed the point. They ignored all the other employees who needed encouragement and a number of other factors that play a role in the well-being of their people — including
stress level, job satisfaction, fitness, nutrition and sleep.

2002 WebMD Health Services forms
2003 Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are established
2005-2007 Insurers add wellness components that primarily focus on disease management
2010 The Affordable Care Act passes
2011 NIOSH launches the Total Worker Health (TWH) Program
2012 A record number of employers controversially ban tobacco use, even at home, while obesity rates (and the costs associated with it) continue to rise
2013 Launch of healthcare exchanges

The Internet, along with social media sites,such as Facebook and Twitter, brought forth
and shared new ways of thinking and new fields of research. Around the same time, Daniel Pink wrote on motivation, BJ Fogg spoke on Tiny Habits, Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman researched positive psychology and Dr. Laura Hamill applied behavioural science to the workplace.

These thought leaders blazed the trail for the masses to adopt these philosophies and
behaviours for a more holistic, mindful lifestyle.

Fitness trackers from Fitbit, Jawbone and Nike bring everyday exercise monitoring mainstream
2011-PRESENT Studies show that the risk factors of sleep, stress and depression can be as high as traditional health-only markers (like high BMI and metabolic syndrome)
2014 Corporate wellness industry is worth more than $40 billion. 79% of U.S. companies offer a wellness program

Corporate wellness is about your people. Within the last decade, employers have started
taking a holistic approach that embraces the whole employee — not just their health risks. And there’s a lot of evidence that shows the value of creating an authentic program that focuses on, engages and challenges the whole employee.
More important, leaders now know they can’t tackle one area of health and well-being and hope for success in all areas. They have to take a whole employee approach
that respects an individual’s physical, mental, social and even financial health.

1. Khoury, A. (2014, January 29). The Evolution of Worksite Health. Corporate Wellness Magazine. Retrieved from wellness/the-evolution-of
2. Vesely, R. (2012, July 18). Shaping Up: Workplace Wellness in the ‘80s and Today. Workforce. Retrieved from
3. National Cancer Institute. (1991). Evolution of Smoking Control Strategies. Monograph 1: Strategies to Control Tobacco Use in the United States (pp. 35-61). Retrieved from
4. McLellan, C. (2014, June 2). The History of Wearable Technology: A timeline. ZDNet. Retrieved from
5. Global Wellness Institute, Global Spa & Wellness Economy Monitor, September 2014. Retrieved from
6. O’Donnell, M. P. (2001). Health promotion in the workplace.
7. National Business Group on Health,. (2015). Companies are Spending More on Corporate Wellness Programs but Employees are Leaving Millions on the Table. Retrieved from
8. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). (2015). Total worker health. Retrieved from
9. National Conference of State Legislatures. State actions on health savings accounts (HSAs) and consumer-directed health plans, 2004-2015. (2015). Retrieved from

Who controls the temperature?

One of the first world problems at work I often hear is the that it is too cold or too hot inside the office due to the air conditioning being set either too high or too low.

This of course depends on whether you are male or female. I am talking in stereotypes, but it is not too far from the truth.

Forget negotiations over who takes out the bin, new research suggests that the ideal home temperature is the vexed question most likely to split households down gender lines.

A study found that one third of couples dispute this issue and that four in 10 women covertly turn up the heating behind their partner’s back.

The research, which was sponsored by Corgi Homeplan, a company that installs and maintains boilers and thermostats, probably falls short of the rigours of peer-reviewed science. However, there is strong evidence to back up the idea that women are more sensitive to the cold. A 2015 study by Dutch scientists, for instance, found that women are comfortable at a temperature 2.5C warmer than men, typically between 24-25C.

Men and women have roughly the same core body temperature, at over 37C; in fact, some studies have found the female core body temperature is slightly higher. However, our perception of temperature depends more on skin temperature, which, for women, tends to be lower. One study reported that the average temperature of women’s hands exposed to cold was nearly 3C degrees lower than that observed in men.

The female hormone oestrogen contributes to this because it slightly thickens the blood, reducing the flow to capillaries that supply the body’s extremities. This means that, in women, blood flow to the tips of fingers and toes tends to shut off more readily when it is cold. Research has shown that women tend to feel colder around ovulation, when estrogen levels are high.

The body’s metabolism also plays a role, as this dictates how quickly heat energy is produced and on average, women have a lower metabolic rate than men. In simple terms, higher muscle mass tends to translate to higher resting metabolism, which is linked to burning more calories and higher blood flow, both of which help keep the extremities warm.

Recent research also shows there is a degree of subjectivity in how cold we feel, after demonstrating a phenomenon called “cold contagion”. For couples, perhaps this offers some hope that their temperature preferences will eventually fall into some sort of alignment.

So in conclusion, your comfort and dress at work might really depend on who(male or female) is in charge of the air conditioning.

Regular exercise does improve brain function.

There are plenty of good reasons to be physically active. Big ones include reducing the odds of developing heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Maybe you want to lose weight, lower your blood pressure, prevent depression, or just look better. Here’s another one, which especially applies to those of us (including me) experiencing the brain fog that comes with age: exercise changes the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills.

In a study done at the University of British Columbia, researchers found that regular aerobic exercise, the kind that gets your heart and your sweat glands pumping, appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning. Resistance training, balance and muscle toning exercises did not have the same results.

The finding comes at a critical time. Researchers say one new case of dementia is detected every four seconds globally. They estimate that by the year 2050, more than 115 million people will have dementia worldwide.

Exercise and the brain

Exercise helps memory and thinking through both direct and indirect means. The benefits of exercise come directly from its ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the release of growth factors—chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells.

Indirectly, exercise improves mood and sleep, and reduces stress and anxiety. Problems in these areas frequently cause or contribute to cognitive impairment.

Many studies have suggested that the parts of the brain that control thinking and memory (the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal cortex) have greater volume in people who exercise versus people who don’t. “Even more exciting is the finding that engaging in a program of regular exercise of moderate intensity over six months or a year is associated with an increase in the volume of selected brain regions,” says Dr. Scott McGinnis, a neurologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an instructor in neurology at Harvard Medical School.

Put it to the test

So what should you do? Start exercising! We don’t know exactly which exercise is best. Almost all of the research has looked at walking, including the latest study. “It’s likely that other forms of aerobic exercise that get your heart pumping might yield similar benefits,” says Dr. McGinnis.

How much exercise is required to improve memory? These study participants walked briskly for one hour, twice a week. That’s 120 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week. Standard recommendations advise half an hour of moderate physical activity most days of the week, or 150 minutes a week. If that seems daunting, start with a few minutes a day, and increase the amount you exercise by five or 10 minutes every week until you reach your goal.

If you don’t want to walk, consider other moderate-intensity exercises, such as swimming, stair climbing, tennis, squash, or dancing. Don’t forget that household activities can count as well, such as intense floor mopping, raking leaves, or anything that gets your heart pumping so much that you break out in a light sweat.

Don’t have the discipline to do it on your own let Corporate Health Results provide a program or two to keep your brain active and strong.

After all, they say that exercise is medicine, and that can go on the top of anyone’s list of reasons to work out.

Presenteeism!! Are you into it?

It’s silent, elusive and lurking right around the corner. It often goes undetected – sneaking through the halls, under the radar, all the while eating away at the wellbeing and productivity of your organisation.

It’s presenteeism – and it’s a whole lot scarier than we think. In fact, one estimate puts the loss of productivity due to presenteeism at 10 times costlier than absenteeism. And i has been revealed that employees admit to an average 45.5 unproductive days each year– nearly three months’ worth of time.

While presenteeism, or “working while sick” as it was originally defined, is still largely linked to loss of productivity due to employee health and medical issues, the definition has broadened in recent years.

New workplace distractions, the demands of a digitised, warp-speed life at both home and work, and stress and anxiety stemming from financial challenges and the needs of family are among the most prevalent, added causes of presenteeism today. We’re checked out, stressed out and more disengaged than ever before.

At the core of an anti-presenteeism strategy should be the benefits and policies that understand and support the health and medical needs of your employees – both in treatment and prevention. But, there are many other areas where we can help combat the productivity-draining culprits we face at work today. Here are seven to consider:

1.Encourage your employees to prioritise sleep

There’s a lot of new – and alarming – sleep-related research being published today. From Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global sleep initiatives (note: add phone bed charging stations to list of employee holiday gifts this year) to the 2017 Nobel Prize in Medicine going to American researchers’ work on the circadian rhythm, sleep talk is everywhere. We’re not sleeping enough, nor are we getting the quality of sleep our bodies and minds need to function – and live. Encourage employees to make use of sleep-related features on their wearables, and to check out the best new sleep apps.

2.Enable introspection

We run around crazy most days, multi-tasking at an unprecedented rate, and often prioritise the needs of everyone and everything else above our own. We’re not only short-circuiting our brains in the process, but losing sight of what really brings us fulfillment and joy. Consider asking employees to complete a simple, formal exercise at work to think introspectively about their purpose and what makes them feel rewarded at work and in life. Even if it’s a simple, 3-question quiz.

3.Put employee engagement at the top of the list

It’s all about employee engagement these days. And with good reason. Engaged employees make for happier, healthier individuals and more productive, profitable organisations. In fact, those with engaged employees bring in two and a half times the revenue vs. those with low engagement rates. Partner with leadership and other key stakeholders to devise a formal engagement strategy from the top down, focusing on company culture and brand, training and career development initiatives, job satisfaction and workplace wellness.

4. Train your managers about presenteeism – and prioritise their own wellbeing

Your managers are on the front lines. Not only do they need to be well – and engaged – to perform at their personal best, but also to have the mindset to identify presenteeism issues within their immediate teams. Add the health and wellbeing of your managers to your list of presenteeism priorities, and give them formal, regular training about its potential impact on individuals, their team and the company. Make sure they know what resources are available to them in facing the issue – and provide a clear process for managing and escalating – if needed – presenteeism issues.

5.Help employees boost their financial wellness
A 2016 PwC Employee Financial Wellness Survey revealed 52 percent of all workers are stressed about their finances and 46 percent spend three or more hours during the work week dealing with or thinking about financial issues. Those companies beginning to invest more in financial education and counselling for their employees are not only seeing higher productivity and engagement rates, but also greater employer loyalty.

6.Offer solutions for greater family wellbeing
The 2017 Cost of Care Survey revealed that 73 percent of working parents say their job has been affected because of child care plans falling through at the last minute, with 64 percent having to use sick days and 54 percent being late to work as a result. Eighty-five percent of respondents also said they wished their employer provided child care benefits. By providing family care benefits like backup care and senior care planning, employers can help ease worries, eliminate unnecessary distractions, and keep working parents not only physically present, but also productive.

7. Invite a little digital detox
With the support of leadership, create some company-wide recommendations for healthy phone etiquette at work. Maybe it’s instituting phone-free meetings or regular, fully unplugged social gatherings. Encourage employees to choose a regular, daily block of time in their work schedule where their phones aren’t just silenced, but out of sight in a desk drawer. Or, institute a formal, company-wide challenge: a 30-day digital detox,

While presenteeism is a scary issue for all employers, with the potential for serious productivity loss, there is hope. Unlike absenteeism, where employees aren’t even making it to work, presenteeism gives you a second chance to re-engage your present – though often times, drained and distracted – individuals. The number of programs and mechanisms your organisation can use to support and engage its employees only continues to grow. Find those that fit for your company – and start helping your employees out of the dark shadows of presenteeism.