5 Ways to Build Physical Activity into Your Hybrid Workplace Culture

As employees settle into hybrid work-life, employers must consider how to support them in moving throughout the day. One of the 8 dimensions of wellbeing, physical wellness is not only about keeping the body in shape. We also know it plays a key role in employee mental health helping to ward off depression and anxiety, and generally supporting an elevated mood state.

Though hybrid work has its benefits, one of the negative impacts for many workers is that they move less throughout the day. In fact, a recent study revealed that 60% of employees have reduced their mobility by more than half since they began working remotely – all the more reason to build this essential into workplace culture and make it easy for employees to participate no matter where they’re working from.

Here are a few ways to encourage employees to move more in today’s hybrid workplace:

  1. Re-design the office to be more active – After the pandemic years of working remotely, many employees have made the personal commitment to incorporate more movement into their lives, whether that looks like some strength training, a Zoom fitness class, or a daily walk. As we know, though, the workday is often busy, especially on employees limited in-office days, and sometimes it can be challenging to follow through on these intentions. Some employees may be tired of being stuck at their desk, and other will have discovered they have more time for exercise than they thought and want to keep that routine going. Offer upgrades like standing desks, schedule walking meetings, and encourage stretch breaks whenever possible.
  2. Incentivize active commuting – encourage employees to walk or ride their commute (or part of it). This is even more attainable if employees commute to the office has diminished to only a couple of days each week. Create a safe, indoor space where employees can store bikes and other accessories. Consider adding a shower facility to remove the barrier of feeling sweaty during the workday. Companies can even promote “fake commuting” for those working remotely, which might look like a walk or other activity before and/or after work. This can be an effective way to separate work and home life, and a is wonderful way to fit in physical activity. Incentivize participation by creating a challenge connected to any of these options!
  3. Make announcements active – We know that even a few minutes of movement per day can make a substantial difference. Why not build a little activity into your next meeting? During the announcements portion, have an appointed staff member demonstrate movements or stretches like walking in place, side stretch, shoulder rolls, and neck rolls. These types of movements go a long way to freshening up our energy and may even help some employees boost their ability to listen. Better yet, schedule a professional movement teacher to join your meeting, either virtually or on-site, to take this responsibility off your team’s plate!
  4. Encourage out-of-office breaks – Encourage employees to take active breaks where they leave the office to take a walk and get fresh air, whether working remotely or on-site. They could even walk to lunch instead of drive. Employees will return feeling renewed and better able to focus on the task at hand.
  5. Make movement a formal part of your corporate wellness plan – Offer and promote movement classes as a part of your workplace wellness program. Employees working on-site can join from a communal space, while remote workers can connect from home.

Here are a few ideas that can work both virtually and on-site:

  • Schedule a weekly yoga class (or 2-3 per week to encourage consistency!)
  • Make movement fun – think dance-centric workouts like Zumba® or The Ellové Technique™
  • Make it vigorous and sweaty – strength & conditioning, HIIT, SPRK™, barre sculpt, or Pilates are all great go-to’s.
  • Slow it down – for employees who would benefit from a more easeful approach to movement, Tai Chi and Qigong practices are made up of gentle, meditative movements that support stress reduction.

With any movement classes your company might implement:

The most impactful movement classes are inclusive of different bodies and create opportunities for employees to participate in different ways. In a yoga class for example, remind participants they can move close to a wall to support their balance, practice seated or standing, rest, or even stop and simply watch the class at any time. Present options in such a way that all are equal instead of certain options feeling “less than.” (i.e. – if you can’t do this, then do it this easier way).

Why this matters:

Throughout our lives, we have all received implicit and/or explicit messaging about our bodies and what they are capable of. This means within any employee group, there are those who may feel intimidated when it comes to movement, or who do not feel confident or safe being in their body.

So, be sure to seek out corporate wellness instructors who are experienced in supporting people with a wide range of physical abilities and lead practices that are inclusive of everyone in the room. Remember – in the end, employees’ presence is the most important thing!

 


Urban Balance is the premier provider of comprehensive on-site corporate wellness services including massage in the Portland, Oregon metro area and offers virtual workplace wellness programming worldwide. We deliver livestream and on-demand classes, webinars, and extraordinary events to the workplace environment for happier employees and a healthier bottom line.

 

Browse our virtual wellness services catalog with offerings including yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, Zumba, HIIT, Barre Sculpt, meditation, nutrition, learning opportunities, and more.

Discover the benefits of the Urban Balance on-demand video library, a workplace wellbeing solution with over 350+ holistic wellness classes. Includes membership options for companies and individuals.

 

 

8 Ways Companies Can Celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Originally named by Mental Health America in 1949, this important awareness month encourages individuals and organizations to champion mental health awareness and to normalize conversation and action around matters of mental health and wellbeing.

There has been extensive conversation around the topic of employee mental health and wellbeing over the past few years, and rightly so. Though the pandemic has eased in many ways, employees are still facing challenges to their mental health and wellbeing. Persistent and widespread stressors include conflict around heading back to the office, overwork from staffing issues causing teams to be spread thin, and an undercurrent of global political unrest, among others. This creates a recipe for anxiety, depression, and burnout.

Why acknowledgment of Mental Health Awareness Month matters

Given the state of the world, mental health and wellbeing continue to be top workplace concerns. Everyone is affected to some degree. The good news is that addressing this topic in a meaningful way has the potential to bring employers and employees together by creating a healthier workplace.

Companies must lead the conversation around mental health and wellbeing, listen to employees, and provide benefits that make a difference in their lives. Acknowledging mental health is key to fostering a culture of psychological safety at work. Corporate wellness programs produce the best results for employees when paired with top-down, big picture culture change that allows employees to be themselves at work and feel valued for who they are.

Addressing multiple dimensions of wellbeing, holistic wellness practices boost feelings of connection, which prove integral to our sense of overall wellbeing.

Here are 8 ways companies can support employee wellbeing through investment in holistic wellness programming*:

  • Offer webinars on topics related to mental wellbeing – these presentations provide employees with information and discussion facilitated by a national board-certified health & wellness coach. Many wellness webinars include time for employee questions and interactions on the topic, offering the chance for them to be a little vulnerable if they choose, which can help fellow co-workers with similar challenges feel less alone.
  • Schedule live, interactive fitness & wellness classes – one of the benefits of live classes is the built-in connection employees have with instructors and co-workers. Workouts like HIIT, Strength & Conditioning and other types of exercise that really get the heart rate often help to boost feelings of wellbeing. Or, turn to mindful movement offerings like desk yoga, accessible yoga and Pilates. No matter the type of class, get the maximum reach by pairing live classes with a recording employees can view later.
  • Provide easy access to on-demand classes – many employees make use of wellness offerings they can engage with when it’s most convenient for them. Having an easily accessible collection of wellness practices, fitness classes, nutrition support, and webinars at their fingertips can help employees stay consistent.
  • Organize mindfulness talks or meditation & breathwork sessionsMindfulness and meditation practices teach employees to be present and focused, while breathwork helps to build self-awareness – all strong components of mental wellbeing. Ongoing, weekly classes offer employees a regular touchpoint for their practice, while one-time sessions make a great addition to meetings and special events.
  • Offer Chair Massage at the office – if you have hybrid employees, or employees have fully transitioned back to the office, this is a fantastic service to offer. Pick a day when the majority of employees are scheduled to be on-site or schedule a massage therapist through multiple time blocks so employees can receive a massage when it’s most convenient for them. Massage is known to decrease anxiety, reduce pain, and enhance mood.
  • Get Cooking – Food brings us together. Live, interactive cooking classes are a fun and unique way to bring hybrid employees together, creating the kind of connection that boosts mental wellbeing. These classes can also be fun even if employees prefer to watch and learn from the instructor.
  • Suggest a disconnect from social media – invite employees to disconnect from their social feeds, even for a brief period, while continuing to stay informed through other reliable sources. Social media is shown to have negative effects on mental health. Your company could even set an example by taking a month off from its social media campaigns, allowing your marketing & communications team a respite.
  • Express Gratitude – let employees know they are appreciated. A little recognition can go a long way and help employees feel seen, and thus feel a bit more motivated in their work.

Acknowledgment and action around matters of mental health and wellbeing can go a long way toward having happier, healthier employees, while helping your company to thrive into the future. What steps will your company take toward these ends this month?

*In addition to holistic wellness programming that’s offered at work, employees should always be encouraged to make use of EAP programs to consult with trained and certified mental health professionals. While they can be supportive in many ways, wellness practices are not a substitution for traditional mental health treatment.

 

Urban Balance is the premier provider of comprehensive on-site corporate wellness services including massage in the Portland, Oregon metro area and offers virtual workplace wellness programming worldwide. We deliver livestream and on-demand classes, webinars, and special events to the workplace environment for happier employees and a healthier bottom line.

Browse our virtual wellness services catalog with offerings including yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, Zumba, HIIT, Barre Sculpt, meditation, nutrition, learning opportunities, and more.

Discover the benefits of the Urban Balance on-demand video library, a workplace wellbeing solution with over 350+ holistic wellness classes. Includes membership options for companies and individuals.

 

6 Ways to Improve Sleep Hygiene for Quality Rest

Sleep plays a significant role in both physical and mental health, but research makes it clear that Americans struggle to get quality sleep. In fact, according to the CDC, one third of US adults report that they usually get less than the recommended amount of sleep.

Also according to the CDC, getting poor quality sleep on a regular basis or less than the recommended amount of sleep is linked with a wide range of common health conditions including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression.

It is widely documented that stress, the chronic type that is highly prevalent in the workplace, is one of the leading sleep disruptors.

Feeling sleepy in the office while sitting in front of the computer is one thing, but in industries and workplace settings including warehouses, construction sites, airports, and manufacturing, physical safety is of the utmost importance. In these settings, the National Safety Council (NSC) points out that workplace fatigue can contribute to bottom-line issues like worker absenteeism, poor performance at work, occupational injuries, and accidents, and even offers a calculator for organizations to estimate the cost of sleep deficiency on their operations.

So, what measures can companies take to help stressed employees improve their sleep habits (often referred to as sleep hygiene)? Or perhaps as you are reading this, you have realized that you are ready to make some changes to your own sleep habits?

Here are a few tips to share or apply yourself:

1. Reduce stress –
According to medical professionals, high levels of stress hormones in the body can impact how long it takes to fall asleep or may prevent sleeping through the night. Sleep loss itself can also trigger the stress response, only prolonging the cycle. So, it stands to reason we can benefit from bringing our stress level down.

One place to start is being sure to engage in physical activity each day, even if it’s just a short walk, yoga practice, or higher intensity exercise in the form of HIIT routines you can do at home. Exercise increases endorphins (feel-good hormones) while reducing stress hormones, which together help support relaxation.

There are countless stress reduction tools out there. It is likely your employer even offers some through a corporate wellness program provider. If you haven’t recently, be sure to review your company’s employee wellness benefits package to see what may already be available.

If you need some inspiration, Urban Balance’s on-demand class library is a great holistic wellness resource both for companies and individuals seeking guidance with their routine.

2. Develop a consistent sleep schedule – As the proverb “early to bed, early to rise” has long encouraged us, it is beneficial to go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning. Any early riser would agree that having a fixed wakeup time builds the body’s desire for sleep at the end of the day, making it easier to rest and begin the next day’s cycle.

3. Make sure your bedroom is dark and cool – Invest in a set of blackout curtains or try sleeping with an eye mask to support your body’s internal clock. The absence of light signals the brain that it’s time to sleep. Adjust the room temperature – conventional wisdom suggests between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal.

4. Leave ample time to unwind at the end of the day – Turn off screens by at least 30 minutes before bed, do a mediation or some restorative yoga before bed, or settle in with a good book to help your brain unwind.

5. Aim for balanced nutritionEat a balanced diet packed with lots of fruits and vegetables, which provides the recommended daily intake of vitamins and nutrients. Eat dinner a few hours before going to bed, as digestion can interfere with sleep. Be sure to watch your caffeine intake throughout the day, as well as alcohol intake – both are stimulants and can interfere with your ability to fall asleep or stay asleep.

6. Make holistic wellness practices a part of your life – There are many holistic wellness practices that promote quality sleep, including chair massage, yoga (especially yin and restorative styles, as well as yoga nidra), meditation, Tai Chi and other styles of movement. These practices promote overall stress reduction, which sets the stage for better quality sleep.

 

If getting a good night’s sleep is a struggle and you’re curious about whether holistic wellness practices like yoga, meditation, and other healing modalities might help you or your employees, don’t hesitate to use us as a resource!

——

Urban Balance is the premier provider of comprehensive on-site corporate wellness services including massage in the Portland, Oregon metro area and offers virtual workplace wellness programming worldwide. We deliver livestream and on-demand classes, webinars, and special events to the workplace environment for happier employees and a healthier bottom line.

Browse our
catalog of virtual wellness services with offerings including yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, Zumba, HIIT, Barre Sculpt, meditation, nutrition, learning opportunities, and more.

Discover the benefits of the Urban Balance on-demand video library, a workplace wellbeing solution with over 350+ holistic wellness classes. Includes membership options for companies and individuals.

3 Ways Companies Can Support Employees During Stress Awareness Month

April is National Stress Awareness Month. Recognized every April since 1992, this month reminds us of the importance of practices that help with stress management. It can serve as a reminder to both employers and individuals that a key part of wellbeing is about finding healthy ways to cope with the natural stressors of life.

We all experience stress, and not all of it is bad. In fact, stress can play a healthy role in our lives by helping us accomplish what we need to each day and encouraging us to take the steps we need in order to grow. But when left unchecked, stress can wreak havoc on our bodies and minds.

Work stress was rising even prior to the pandemic – the average worker knows the truth of this. Gallup reports that over 40% of US and Canadian workers say they are facing unhealthy levels of daily stress on the job. The workers surveyed reported high levels of worry, anger, and sadness. Stressed, disengaged employees create a drag on productivity, innovation, and organizational change.

As employers bring workers back to the office, they must consider how they will help employees navigate work stress. We know the successful companies of the future will thrive not only because they are profitable, but because they are driven by the efforts of healthy, happy, and resilient employees.

Stressed employees are less able to perform the duties required of them at work. Happy, healthy employees who are resilient in the face of stress equate to a healthier bottom line for your business.

So, how can employers recognize and celebrate this important awareness month? Here are 3 wellness offerings companies can make to employees during Stress Awareness Month—and beyond.

Ideas to Help Employees Manage Stress

1. Normalize Taking Breaks for Wellness-related Activities

Make it a part of company culture to build in breaks for movement and holistic wellness activities throughout their week. Encourage this by scheduling weekly fitness & wellness classes held on site or virtually – offer a blend of high-and-low impact classes like yoga, t’ai chi, HIIT, or Pilates. Movement of any kind is one of the greatest stress-busters.

Consider making meditation recordings available so employees can listen on their break or offer workplace wellness webinars on topics directly related to stress management. No matter what the chosen offering, be sure to provide paid time for employees to engage in these activities, as well as encouragement from management to do so.

2. Surprise Employees with a Retreat Day

On-site and virtual wellness retreats are a great way to help employees find balance and connection during their workday. They allow employers to offer variety and versatility while introducing employees to the benefits of building consistent wellness practices. They also help bring employees together in the hybrid workplace where connection with co-workers can be a challenge.

3. Prepare Some Food Together

Yes, you heard that right. Get employees together virtually and make food.

Interactive cooking demos are a great way to connect remote workers and bring them together for something fun. No matter the recipes, cooking and baking help to reduce stress by engaging our senses and bringing us into the present moment. Such classes encourage a balanced approach to nutrition, which supports mental wellbeing, sleep and energy levels throughout the workday, while helping employees exercise more creativity in their own kitchen. These sessions incorporate practical nutritional information employees can customize and implement into their meal and snack planning.

Looking Forward

As employers bring workers back to the office and restart operations under what will become their new normal, they must consider how they will help hybrid workers navigate work stress. The successful companies of the future will thrive not only because they are profitable, but because they are driven by the efforts of healthy, happy, and resilient employees.

Boost Stress-Reduction Offerings with a Corporate Wellness Provider

Looking to strengthen your organization’s employee stress reduction programming? Urban Balance offers an array of classes, workshops and webinars on topics related to stress reduction. Browse our virtual wellness services catalog and get the scoop on our latest employee stress reduction resource, the Urban Balance on-demand class library.

Curious about how we could work together? Contact us to start exploring options.

 

 

Urban Balance is the premier provider of comprehensive on-site corporate wellness services including massage in the Portland, Oregon metro area and offers virtual workplace wellness programming worldwide. We deliver livestream and on-demand classes, webinars, and special events to the workplace environment for happier employees and a healthier bottom line.

Browse our virtual wellness services catalog with offerings including yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, Zumba, HIIT, Barre Sculpt, meditation, nutrition, learning opportunities, and more.

Discover the benefits of the Urban Balance on-demand video library, a workplace wellbeing solution with over 350+ holistic wellness classes. Includes membership options for companies and individuals.

Why You Should Go on a Wellness Retreat

 

Since the onset of the pandemic, more people have begun to develop an appreciation for the role of health and wellbeing in their lives. And, as we move into this next phase of the experience, many are ready to travel, gather, and experience the world again.

It’s no secret: the past couple of years have taken a toll on just about everyone’s sense of wellbeing. For one, maintaining physical wellness has been a challenge for many — getting out into nature, moving your body, breathing well, and eating well, are a few of the keys to thriving in this dimension of wellbeing. It’s also very important to acknowledge how challenging it can be to keep our attention here while living under stressful circumstances.

Mental wellbeing is another dimension of wellbeing that has been hugely impacted. In a recent survey from American Express, 69 percent of respondents said they had experienced mental health impacts from the pandemic, while 76 percent of respondents said they wanted to spend more on travel that put wellbeing at the center of the experience.

Over the past 10-15 years, this trend of seeking out vacations that prioritize relaxation and self-care has led to the rise of an entire industry. Dubbed wellness tourism or wellness travel, this industry boasts a wide array of retreat-like experiences in locations around the world.

Benefits of Wellness Retreats

Some of the most impactful wellness retreats combine multiple dimensions of wellbeing that help to enrich our lives. Offerings might range from yoga and meditation sessions to fitness classes to massage and other spa services. Wellness retreats often give participants a taste of the local cuisine, as well as opportunities to learn about the local culture.

There is typically some space set aside for retreat-goers to step out of the main group to enjoy personal time in nature or take excursions to local attractions of their choice. Such elements help transform a simple trip into a holistic experience. If you’re ready for a reset, here’s why you should make a wellness retreat part of your plan.

Holistic wellness retreats help you:

Nurture your body inside and out
Holistic wellness retreats often include daily movement practices like yoga or Pilates, access to spa services like massage and skincare, and the opportunity to savor delicious local fare. Typically taking place in restful, relaxing environments, holistic wellness retreats support the release of tension and stress in the body and nervous system.

Care for your mind
Mental wellbeing has been a well-documented challenge throughout the pandemic. Reducing your stress level for a few days by participating in a refreshing experience like a wellness retreat can help to shift your outlook amidst the challenges of life, and even boost your optimism.

Eat well
Often, one of the best parts about wellness retreats is the food – especially when it’s locally produced, sustainably grown, and chef-prepared. It’s easy to feel well when eating nutritious, flavorful cuisine. All the more reason to leave the cooking to someone else for a few days!

Connect with others
Wellness retreats are a great place to make new connections and discover new interests as you step out of your daily responsibilities and into a fresh perspective. Show up solo and you might just come away with a new friend.

Step out of your routine

There’s something comforting about our daily routines. They can help us stay focused and steady to ensure we honor our commitments to ourselves and others. Consider setting your routines aside for a time. Doing so can help to widen your perspective and release the stress of your to-do list as you immerse yourself in the present moment experience. When you return home, you might just appreciate your “regular” life and the space your routines hold even more.

Looking for wellness retreats near you?

Googling “wellness retreats near me” will pop up some great options in your local area.

Urban Balance is proud to offer local and international wellness retreats. To see what we have coming up, visit the retreats section of our website. Next up is our Gather Wellness Retreat happening April 22nd-25th at Brasada Ranch near Bend, OR.

Looking for a virtual “getaway” for hybrid employees? We also offer virtual corporate retreats that employees can take part in from any location!

 

——————

Urban Balance is the premier provider of comprehensive on-site corporate wellness services including massage in the Portland, Oregon metro area and offers virtual workplace wellness programming worldwide. We deliver live and on-demand classes, webinars, and special events to the workplace environment for happier employees and a healthier bottom line.


Browse our
catalog of virtual wellness services with offerings including yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, Zumba, HIIT, Barre Sculpt, meditation, nutrition, learning opportunities, and more.

The Benefits of Live, Ongoing Employee Wellness Classes

Companies looking for ways to help employees maintain physical health, address mental wellbeing, and build stronger connections with their co-workers have many options to choose from, including wellness apps that provide everything from on-demand content like guided meditations and yoga classes, to biometric tracking.

While these solutions have their benefits, companies that are looking to shift company culture, by taking a holistic approach to employee wellness should consider the benefits of live, ongoing virtual classes aimed at developing the mind-body connection, as well as a sense of connection with co-workers.

This includes offerings such as yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi & Qigong, dance fitness & conditioning (Zumba, Ellové), HIIT (or strength and conditioning formats), and meditation & mindfulness sessions.

With virtual wellness here to stay, here are 5 benefits to adding live, weekly classes into your workplace wellness program.


Employees can join from anywhere

One of the beautiful parts of online classes is that some of the participation issues that arise in on-site wellness classes, such as vacations, business trips, and employees working different shifts, are no longer as much of a barrier to participation. Whether your team is hybrid or fully remote, employees leave for business trips or vacation, or even if they relocate, they can still join their Pilates class or build that regularly scheduled group meditation session into their day. We’ve heard first-hand from employees in our live classes that they enjoy the convenience and flexibility that accompanies such offerings.

Easy implementation

From a business perspective, live, ongoing wellness classes are relatively easy to implement. Once you determine which class to offer and set the schedule, encourage employees to schedule their classes into their calendar. Working with a company that handles the administrative side, including marketing and employee communications, means wellness coordinators can “set it and forget it”.

They provide a built-in space for connection

Live virtual yoga and movement classes offer an element of connection and community that is especially essential with so many employees now working in hybrid or fully remote environments. In addition to interactive and engaging class content, many mind-body wellness instructors, especially those trained to teach yoga & meditation, are skilled at encouraging connection not only through their teaching but in the spaces before and after class.

Having a weekly time and date to attend class vs. participating via recording encourages employees to be consistent and accountable. Knowing there is a live group they’ve committed to provides many people with motivation to stay engaged.

They offer little something for everyone

Many of today’s group fitness and wellness classes include mixed-level instruction, making them appropriate beginners and the more seasoned practitioners alike. In a live setting, teachers build relationships with the employees who come to class regularly and can offer specific instruction based on what they see. In this way, live classes make it easier for teachers to meet employees where they are and to deliver an experience that differs from the on-demand classes.

A connected, engaging solution to employee burnout

Virtual fitness and movement classes help employees to address common physical issues, such as poor posture, stiffness, neck and back pain, as well as the mental stress that comes with working long hours in a hybrid or fully remote work environment. Mindfulness and meditation sessions can also help employees to create space in the course of a stressful day where there otherwise may have been none.

 

 

In Conclusion:
There are benefits to engaging with wellness offerings no matter the frequency, however, based on positive outcomes with our clients, we are strong advocates for weekly, ongoing corporate wellness programming whenever possible.

Live wellness offerings help to bridge the gaps inherent to a distributed workforce. This type of programming encourages consistency, connection, and community, all of which helps employees stay accountable and reach their wellness goals.

Visit our website to learn more about the full array of yoga and movement classes Urban Balance delivers.

Urban Balance is the premier provider of comprehensive on-site corporate wellness services including massage in the Portland, Oregon metro area, and offers virtual workplace wellness programming worldwide. We deliver livestream and on-demand classes, webinars, and special events to the workplace environment for happier employees and a healthier bottom line.


Browse our
catalog of virtual wellness services with offerings including yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, Zumba, HIIT, Barre Sculpt, meditation, nutrition, learning opportunities, and more.

 

 

5 Workplace Wellness Trends to Act on in 2022

The workplace wellness trends emerging so far in 2022 send a clear message about what employees are expecting from their employers. Staying abreast of the most current workplace wellness trends can prove impactful for organizations seeking to retain current employees, boost employee engagement and retention, and attract new talent. Here are a few we believe deserve extra attention right now:

 

Support for Mental Health & Wellbeing

This first trend has received a lot of buzz to date. In a 2021 American Psychological Association (APA) study, 79% of employees said they had experienced some degree of work-related stress in the last month, with roughly 6 in 10 saying they experienced negative impacts from that stress.

While supports like employee assistance plans and telehealth therapy are integral parts to a well-rounded benefits package and should be prioritized, companies should look to other stress-reduction methods to supplement, such as livestream yoga or t’ai chi classes, or on-demand mindfulness meditation practices. In our experience working on-site and virtually with employees over the past decade, these supplemental yet impactful practices help employees to feel more resilient in the face of stress and give them something to look forward to each week.

Another possible avenue for mental health support is through wellness webinars. A great strategy is to offer a bundle of monthly or quarterly webinars on topics related to self-care and stress management.

Diversity in Well-Being Offerings

When it comes to workplace wellbeing offerings, one of the common challenges is that employees all need a little something different – because some of the variables of being human include gender, race, sexual orientation, family structure, religious background and lifestyle, to name just a few – we are all different. It is important for leaders to recognize this and offer a diverse array of wellness offerings to connect with as many employees as possible. Doing so can help them to feel seen and heard, which can boost feelings of psychological safety at work.

We expect this trend will take the corporate wellness landscape further into a focus on holistic programming, which recognizes and prioritizes the whole person and all dimensions of wellbeing.

Employee Benefits will Become a Key Employee Retention Tool

In 2021, “The Great Resignation” took center stage, as many employees vacated their positions in search of greener pastures. This has prompted a wake-up call for employers and led to a re-imagining of the workplace. Employees want to be heard by their employers. Employers can encourage healthy feedback loops by survey employees and taking action on the data they receive.

Community Connection & Engagement

Employee engagement continues to be a challenge in our hybrid world. How can you bring employees together? One option we advocate for is offering livestream workplace wellness classes, which give employees the opportunity to come together for something other than a meeting – in a space for self-care and connection.  Try scheduling classes in for your employees as meetings to increase the likelihood that they’ll attend. Make it fun and don’t hesitate to incentivize them!

Increased Interest in Financial Wellness Offerings

Financial stress impacts employees’ emotional wellbeing. According to a 2019 report by Metlife, 1 in 3 employees admits their financial stress makes them less productive at work. Some of today’s top stressors include lack of emergency savings, keeping up with monthly expenses and being laid off. For companies, this can mean lost revenue, absenteeism, and high turnover.

Research shows that providing financial wellness support can increase employee engagement and even loyalty to their company. Per this PWC study and analysis, more than 80% of employers report having a financial wellness program in place, however many of these are traditional programs focused on retirement education and other planning programs that aren’t addressing the current, real causes of employees’ financial stress.

 

 

How to Deliver Workplace Wellness Programs that Work

The first step to delivering impactful employee wellness programming is to start by gathering data. Survey employees to find out what they need and deliver based on those responses. Remove as many barriers to participation as possible. Make wellness offerings creative, interesting, and easily accessible no matter where employees are working from. Finally, be sure to measure the impact the offerings had, through participation tracking and surveys.

 

In Conclusion

To position your company for success in the face of a competitive job market, hybrid work environment and ongoing global uncertainty, improving employee wellbeing must be top-of-mind. Employee wellbeing is the key to a profitable, sustainable business. Corporate HR and employee benefits teams should find ways to meet the needs expressed by these trends and most importantly, deliver in a way that is authentic and in alignment with the overall culture your unique company is looking to promote.

 

Find out how Urban Balance’s Workplace Wellness services can enhance your employee benefits program when you contact us for a complimentary consultation.

 

—————————————————

Urban Balance is the premier provider of comprehensive on-site corporate wellness services including massage in the Portland, Oregon metro area and offers virtual workplace wellness programming worldwide. We deliver livestream and on-demand classes, webinars, and special events to the workplace environment for happier employees and a healthier bottom line.

Browse our catalog of virtual wellness services with offerings including yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, Zumba, HIIT, Barre Sculpt, meditation, nutrition, learning opportunities, and more.

Ways to Boost Mental Fitness in the Workplace

Ways to Increase Mental Fitness in the Workplace

Have you heard the term “mental fitness” and wondered if it involved lifting tiny weights with your brain? Thankfully it doesn’t, but mental fitness training can enhance our ability to move through many of the challenges we encounter at work and at home – an area where many employees are needing support right now.


What is mental fitness?

Critical to our ability to thrive and reach our full potential, mental fitness can be defined as a state of emotional and psychological well-being in which we are in touch with how we think, feel and act. Just like physical fitness, mental fitness is something we can all strengthen and improve over the course of our lives. There is an array of skills, lifestyle habits, and practices that can help boost our mental fitness and increase resiliency so we can manage stress and cope with challenges.


What does being mentally fit look and feel like?

A few common indicators include:

  • A positive sense of how we think, feel, and behave
  • Living in the present moment more of the time
  • Resiliency in dealing with stressors as they arise
  • Experiencing flow states more of the time
  • Laser-focused attention and a clearer mind
  • Clarity about who you are and how you want to be
  • Eagerness to take on new challenges and show up in your life
  • Ability to creatively problem-solve

What are some ways to increase mental fitness?

Meditate or otherwise practice mindfulness
Meditation and mindfulness practices encourage relaxation as you engage in contemplation. Regular meditation may increase your ability to focus, decrease anxiety, and help you approach life with greater intention.

Look at your “information diet”
Pay attention to what types of media you’re consuming on a regular basis. What is the overall quality of your “diet”? Notice the quality of thoughts that are flowing through your consciousness each day. Kinder, more compassionate thoughts help to develop a more optimistic mindset which in turn supports positive action.

Focus on Nutrition
It’s hard to focus or feel mentally engaged when our bodies aren’t getting enough nutrients. While there is no one-size-fits-all diet to follow as each body has different needs, concentrate on eating a wide array of nutritious foods and eat for brain health whenever possible.

Maintain physical fitness
A healthy body supports a healthy mind. There have been many studies done that show the positive impact of exercise on mental health, including this one. If your mind is feeling dull or on the other side of the spectrum, chaotic, getting out and moving can work wonders, often in a short amount of time.

Improve Sleep Hygiene
Consider your sleep habits. What is your caffeine and water intake like throughout the day? Do you have a routine in place like reading or meditating to help you wind down before bed? These can all impact the quality of our sleep.

Mental Fitness Training Programs
Mental fitness programming is one of the many ways companies can demonstrate care for their employees’ mental well-being. In fact, formal brain training/mental fitness programs have become quite a trend in the last few years and with the widespread increase in demand for mental well-being programming in the corporate wellness landscape, these programs definitely have their place.

Urban Balance offers one such program called Positive Intelligence. In this 8-week course, employees learn to identify, recognize and intercept thoughts, habits, and patterns that no longer serve them. The practices offered within the program simultaneously activate and strengthen the region of the brain that supports highly effective stress-free performance and optimal response.

To enroll yourself or a group of employees in the next session of this widely-acclaimed professional development course starting in January, please contact us for full details.

——————————————

Urban Balance is the premier provider of comprehensive on-site and virtual corporate wellness services in Portland, Oregon. We deliver yoga, Pilates, meditation, massage, nutrition and learning opportunities to the office environment for happier employees and a healthier bottom line.

Check out our catalog of Virtual Wellness Services here.

3-Ways-to-Get-Creative-with-your-Employee-Wellness-Programming

4 Ways to Get Creative with your Employee Wellness Programming

At this point in the pandemic, when it comes to your virtual wellness offerings, maybe it feels like you’ve tried it all (and then some!) and aren’t quite sure how to pique your team’s interest. Need a little inspiration? If you’re looking for ways to keep your programming fresh and share gratitude with your employees as we head into 2022, here’s a list of fun event ideas to consider.

Virtual Wellness Retreats

Design a virtual wellness retreat experience tailored to your employees’ needs. This fully customizable option invites employees to enjoy all the relaxation, bliss, and centering of a wellness retreat within the safety of their own home or office. Companies that work with us can choose from any of the live or pre-recorded or classes in our catalog including movement, meditation, nutrition, wellness webinars, and more.

During these events, employees are encouraged to make their space a sanctuary and be as present as possible by disconnecting from work for the span of a few hours. Having some scheduled time away from their daily responsibilities could be just what your employees need to help feel nourished and re-charged for the new year.

Host a Virtual Wellness Week

If you’re looking to offer more of a multi-day experience with a diverse array of offerings spread out across several days, consider hosting a virtual wellness week.

With this type of event, we can help you customize a creative, informative, fun and interactive weeks’ worth of webinars. One possible way to structure the event is to focus on a different dimension of well-being each day for 5 days. Consider having 2-3 webinars live-streamed per day, and opt-in for recordings to send to employees who could not attend live. We will collaborate with you and with our skilled and experienced team of corporate wellness professionals to present a rich blend of webinars that will speak to mental, financial, physical, environmental and nutritional/social well-being.

This format has a high likelihood of sparking good conversation in the office (or virtual workspace), because it allows employees to steep in each topic for a little longer than usual. This extra time spent with the material can help guide employees toward meaningful change in their lives.

Virtual Health Fairs

Is your company planning a virtual health or benefits fair? These events are a great way to help employees take initiative over their well-being by showing up to interact with a variety of wellness experts as they learn about the benefits and services that are available to them.
Consider tying in benefits providers you haven’t worked with before to help keep things fresh. Offer a meditation session or movement class, or even a nutrition demo as part of the event. Providing opportunities for experiential learning through classes and webinars can help keep the event fun and informative while building community.

Substitute Your In-Person Holiday Gathering with Virtual Wellness Experiences

If your organization is unable to hold an in-person holiday gathering again this year, consider other ways you could bring employees together to appreciate their efforts and have a little fun. One of our favorite strategies is to offer a holiday-themed interactive cooking class where employees can cook with the instructor. You could also consider a virtual yoga class or a high-energy movement class like Zumba, HIIT, etc.

Whichever path you choose here are some general guidelines to help you design an experience that runs smoothly and ends up being meaningful for employees:

  • Meet employees where they are – make it relevant. Cater to your team’s wants and needs. Survey them. Give them two or 3 options to choose from. Find out what employees want and deliver! For instance, if you have a team that loves food, offer an interactive cooking class. If you’ve heard a lot of people say they’re burnt out or need a break, consider some gentle or restorative yoga, or group meditation session.
  • Make it interactive. have presenters ask engaging questions, offer fun prizes or other incentives for those who attend, and be sure to follow up with participants to see what their experience was like when all is said and done.
  • Give employees paid time to participate. This is one of the best ways to boost engagement and show employees that you are prioritizing their well-being.
  • Get the word out early and often. What is your department is doing to inform and remind employees of what is available to them? Employees may need to hear about wellness offerings several times before they really notice them and decide to participate.
  • Offer multiple ways to participate. Livestream classes are great for bringing people together in real-time and building community. Consider offering a recording for those who could not make it to the live session.
  • Build excitement around the offerings. To ensure employees show up to reap the benefits, really make it an event that employees won’t want to miss – make it “cool” to participate! Offer a drawing or other incentive or find other ways to create a little friendly competition.

In these times, there is no doubt that companies will need to be creative when it comes to supporting employee well-being. Think outside the box and let us know how we can support your remote or hybrid employees. We’d love to brainstorm with you to create an event that makes a difference in their lives!

 

————————————————-
Urban Balance is the premier provider of comprehensive on-site and virtual corporate wellness services in Portland, Oregon. We deliver yoga, Pilates, meditation, massage, nutrition and learning opportunities to the office environment for happier employees and a healthier bottom line.

Check out our catalog of Virtual Wellness Services here.

 

How Workplace Wellness Programs Can Boost Psychological Safety,

Returning to Work: How Workplace Wellness Programs Can Boost Psychological Safety

Mental health, and employee well-being in general, have been prominent topics of conversation throughout the pandemic.

At first, quarantine had an overwhelming impact on everyone’s mental well-being. A sense of isolation paired with never really being able to “shut off” work was an issue at the forefront for so many. Fast forward 18 months to now, when many employers have announced their return-to-work plans and the transition is well underway. It turns out going back to the office has been just as challenging, if not more so, than the sudden switch to remote work.

In June 2021, global management consulting firm McKinsey conducted a survey of 1,602 employed people, in which 1 in 3 employees reported that returning to the office negatively impacted their mental health.

What is Psychological Safety?

Psychological safety at work is marked by the presence of feelings of interpersonal trust and an overall culture of respect and inclusivity that invites members to show up as their whole selves, take risks, and innovate. Ensuring employees feel psychologically safe in the workplace is part of supporting their mental well-being through this new round of changes.

What are the current employee concerns; how can employers help?

Perhaps the most obvious include physical concerns related to contracting COVID-19 or spreading it to loved ones, including immuno-compromised family members and children who may not yet be eligible to receive the vaccine.

Another top-ranking concern is flexibility, which 62% of survey respondents reported could decrease the stress of transitioning back on-site. Many employees are seeking hybrid work arrangements and more time off. In our increasingly busy world, one where employees are often leaving for greener pastures, employers are needing to find ways to accommodate people in this regard.

What role can your workplace wellness program play in supporting psychological safety at work?

Holistic corporate wellness programs can go beyond providing employees with stand-alone movement, meditation, or cooking classes. When executed well, engagement with these offerings helps to create a culture of well-being at work – a culture where qualities like openness, inclusivity, and caring about co-worker’s joys and challenges, becomes normalized — all of which can help to reduce mental health stigma and help employees find a sense of belonging in the workplace.

Livestream and on-site classes — activities done together in real time — serve to bring employees together to cultivate a shared experience, and even a sense of community and purpose, around something other than work. Through interacting with co-workers during a wellness webinar on reducing stress through meditation, for example, employees may come to realize that they have the same anxieties and stressors as some of their peers and feel less alone as a result.

Providing options can help to reduce stress and give employees flexibility in how they engage with your wellness offerings. Each employee population is a little different. Try mixing up your offerings and how they are delivered. If your employee report feeling “Zoomed out” by the end of the day, it may be difficult to get everyone on board to take part in a single virtual class. Instead, try offering a mix of virtual and on-site services, or perhaps some on-demand classes they can take part in when it feels right for them.

For example, try offering 2-3 weekly yoga classes paired with an on-site massage session once per month. If on-site programming does not yet feel accessible in your area yet due to state or local restrictions, it’s something to consider for the future.

Finally, with ‘The Great Resignation’ underway, your employee wellness program has to do double duty — that is, support existing employees while also signaling to prospective team members the type of workplace culture you are looking to prioritize. If you’re in a leadership role, model positive engagement with existing wellness offerings. Stay connected with current employees’ needs, both by surveying and talking with them regularly, while staying abreast of the trends. A quality well-being program is a singular, yet potentially very impactful piece of the puzzle of supporting your team’s mental health.

In Closing

Psychological safety is a huge part of your employee’s overall well-being and prioritizing it in your company’s return-to-work strategy will be of the utmost importance. If your company is seeking a partner to help tailor and execute a corporate wellness program for these times — look no further! We have a deep commitment to understanding the nuances of employee wellness and will be here with you every step of the way.

————————————————-
Urban Balance is the premier provider of comprehensive on-site and virtual corporate wellness services in Portland, Oregon. We deliver yoga, Pilates, meditation, massage, nutrition, and learning opportunities to the office environment for happier employees and a healthier bottom line.

Check out our catalog of Virtual Wellness Services here.