Category: wellness

How to Help Your Employees Combat Zoom Fatigue

Employers have had to adapt, working harder to communicate wellness opportunities, benefits information, and providing what employees need most right now. 

With the rapid change to remote and flexed work environments, businesses have turned to technology to resolve communication gaps. Since some employees are no longer meeting in person, they’re becoming Zoom experts. 

A new phenomenon is emerging with video conferencing like Zoom, Google Meet or Microsoft Teams termed as Zoom fatigue. Employers now have the challenge of helping employees recognize and combat zoom fatigue to optimize productivity. 

Recognize Zoom Fatigue

Online meetings are more tiring than face-to-face meetings for multiple reasons. Employees must make more of an emotional effort to appear interested and engaged. The focus on online eye contact puts individuals on high alert and is exhausting. Here are some telltale signs to recognize Zoom fatigue. 

Symptoms of Zoom Fatigue

Zoom fatigue symptoms include: 

  • Anxiety
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Exhaustion
  • Eyestrain or sore eyes
  • Low productivity
  • Lack of concentration or focus
  • Pessimism

Employees experience emotional exhaustion and have reduced motivation. The fatigue goes beyond the pandemic and Zoom to include visual and social fatigue. Some may even experience a feeling of “tech invasion.” Assisting employees to recognize that these symptoms stem from too much time spent in online meetings is important and will affect both their work and personal lives. 

Cognitive Overload

Without the use of non-verbal cues during a video conference, employees may experience cognitive overload. When too much thought is put into a task, because we can only see individuals’ faces, expressions are exaggerated and employees must work harder to understand the body language of co-workers. 

When we stare at the screen in a meeting, we work harder to maintain eye contact. Additionally, the psychological stress of staring at ourselves all day long has negative consequences for our mental health.  

Addressing Zoom fatigue in the workplace to prevent depression-like symptoms and can cause employee burnout is a must. Cornerstone Insurance Group can assist with educating your employees on recognizing Zoom fatigue and introduce ways to combat it. 

Combat Zoom Fatigue

Zoom meetings are necessary for teams to collaborate in today’s workplace environment, but employers can encourage employees to take certain steps to avoid spending all day on a video call to prevent Zoom fatigue. 

Turn off Self-View

It is not always possible, but when it is, encourage employees to turn off their cameras. Without the video component, employees do not have the expectation of forcing a continual smile or keeping constant eye contact. Additionally, this diminishes the heightened emphasis on facial cues which contributes to intense personal emotional reactions. 

Avoid Multitasking

Encourage employees to stop multitasking and dedicate all of their attention to the video call and conversation, then they are not caught off guard causing increased and unnecessary stress. Zoom calls can already be mentally overwhelming without adding additional side tasks or distractions.  

Follow an Agenda

Meetings with shared agendas are more efficient and more likely to end on time, giving employees eyes a rest from constant screen time. Zoom meetings should be scheduled and not impromptu when possible, so an agenda with clear objectives will necessitate the interaction. 

Instead of hosting a Zoom meeting for a quick question, instill collaboration through alternative methods of communication and clear policies to prevent Zoom fatigue.

Use Collaborative Notes

A shared document or non-video collaboration can help prevent Zoom fatigue from setting in, by helping reduce the level of intensity employees from spending too long staring into others’ eyes and being on video conference high alert.

Collaborative notes, like with Google Documents or a messaging application like Slack, allow employees to work together and provide feedback to each other without the constant video interaction.

If you’re struggling to come up with a solution that works for your workplace, Cornerstone Insurance’s human resources specialists can help you establish and implement policies to assist your team.

Focus on Employee Wellness

Employers need to make sure they have the appropriate policies in place to support the physical and mental well-being of all employees. Cornerstone Insurance Group can guide you in encouraging your employees to make small changes to combat Zoom fatigue. 

With our help, you can train your employees on ways to stop fighting Zoom fatigue and develop safe practices that lead to better communication and more productivity. Cornerstone Insurance Group focuses on improving the wellness of each and every employee in all types of work environments. Let us help you create a custom plan catered to your team and your work environment.

Cornerstone Insurance Group can help you help your employees combat zoom and pandemic fatigue to create happy, healthy and productive teams. Contact us today.

Optimize Your Employee Wellness Program

A key part of any wellness program is to encourage healthy habits in the workplace and have happier, healthier, more motivated, and productive employees. However, many businesses invest in or launch employee wellness programs and struggle with participation. 

Are you having trouble getting employees to participate? At Cornerstone Insurance Group, we firmly believe in customizing health and wellness plans to best fit your work culture. Here are some great incentives from Cornerstone’s wellness experts to help get employees excited about participating in wellness programs. 

Employee Wellness Program Incentives

Whether employees are working remotely or commuting into the office again, employers should focus on encouraging healthy behaviors. Wellness program incentives can look many different ways and should be customized for your employees’ goals. Many companies offer premium discounts in exchange for participation. Some companies offer additional PTO days or make contributions to employee HSAs. 

Wellness programs should always be a benefit that companies offer for their employees, not to their employees, and they should never be a requirement. If you’re struggling to get participation in your wellness program, perhaps it’s time to try some of these proven incentives.  

Offer Giveaways

Giveaways are a great small incentive to incorporate into your employee wellness program. This can be anything from gift cards to business “swag,” or free healthy snacks at your workplace. Employees can earn giveaways by setting and reaching goals. Companies choose different levels of giveaways for individual employees or teams. Rewards can be more than just monetary. Giveaways can include outings, events, or unique experiences. 

Be inventive with your incentives. Ask your employees what motivates them to work towards their health goals. Their ideas for rewards are usually creative and more meaningful than what you may come up with. 

One regional company gave employees pedometers to “walk around the world” together. The concept was to track your steps and walk the distance from New York to Hong Kong There were ten intermediate destinations, and when you reached a new city, you learned about the culture through a virtual education system. Once the entire journey was completed, you received a gift card. If you only made it halfway, you received half the amount. Employees were not only able to get fit, but they were also able to learn about different cultures and cities.     

Provide Gym or Fitness Class Time

If you’re not ready to embark on monetary giveaways, one concept many companies have adopted is providing time or reimbursement for their employees to go to the gym, take fitness classes or simply take a walk during the workday. This benefit has been proven successful in many organizations as a way to motivate employees to get active and be more productive while at work.

Employers can also consider allowing employees to have a more flexible schedule to make their health a priority. Encourage your team to take an afternoon walk, do 10 minutes of yoga before a morning meeting, or hit the gym at lunch. You will find employees are more focused on work tasks if they take the time to take care of their bodies. 

Introduce Educational Programs

Sometimes what stops employees from making healthy decisions is their lack of knowledge on healthy living. Media, fad diets, and trendy programs have warped our sense of what is actually healthy. Consider including educational programs in your wellness program. 

Bring in the professionals to teach your team what it means to be healthy. Consider having a wellness counselor or nutritionist come to speak with your team to educate and get them excited about becoming healthier. This is a great time to set achievable and realistic goals. 

Encourage Achievable Goals

Yes, achievable goals can be an incentive because if your employees are overwhelmed by the idea of an overhaul of their health, they will simply check out or become discouraged. Mapping out smaller goals along the way and making it personal to their health journey is important for continued success and participation in your program. 

Achievable goals don’t have to be just set at a personal level. Many businesses set company-wide goals to work together as a team. Employees use personal fitness trackers like FitBits or Apple Watches to track participation to an end goal. 

Setting goals is crucial in being aware of the journey ahead, tracking progress, and celebrating victories. It will push your employees to be stronger and empower them to push themselves a bit outside of their comfort zone. 

Acquiring more participation in your employee wellness program is important. First, make sure employees know about and understand the wellness program; some may not be aware there is a program in place. Then, ask your employees what they want in a wellness program and what types of incentives they would like to see. Having a program that no one knows about and has incentives employees don’t care about is a sure way to failure. Make sure to get your employees’ opinions, after all, it is a program for them. 

Becoming healthier is a journey. It takes time and support. Assist your employees in discovering their potential by utilizing a wellness program and find what fits your company culture best. When you focus on gaining participation in your wellness program, you will be successful in building a stronger team.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to Cornerstone’s wellness team to help implement the right employee wellness program for you!

If you need additional support and information on how to get more participation in your wellness programs or if you don’t have an employee wellness program and would like to start one, contact Cornerstone Insurance Group today!

COVID-19 Vaccination Programs in the Workplace

Now that eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine has expanded to all U.S. adults, many employers are trying to determine the best ways to disseminate vaccine information as well as face the decision of whether or not to hold in-workplace vaccination programs.

If you’re an employer considering holding a COVID-19 vaccination program, here is some additional information from the Employee Wellness team at Cornerstone Insurance Group that may help you in your decision.

Who Should Hold a Vaccination Program On-site?

While employers should strive to make vaccine information accessible to all employees, many workplaces should think about holding programs on-site. 

You may consider an on-site program if:

  1. A large number of your employees work on-site with regular schedules.
  2. You’re able to enroll within your jurisdiction’s immunization program as a vaccination provider (this may include conducting appropriate training).
  3. You have a workplace that’s large enough to accommodate a clinic while maintaining social distancing each step of the way.

How Do I Plan an On-Site Vaccination Program?

If you’re planning to hold a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at your workplace, there are a few tasks you need to prepare ahead of time:

Contact the Health Department

Your local health department will have the resources and information you need to set up the clinic properly and within guidelines. They can also offer guidance on how to make it efficient as well as eligibility requirements.

Consider Partnering with a Vaccine Provider

There are likely many vaccination providers in your community that help run events just like this one. They typically deliver worksite flu vaccination services but many have expanded their offerings to include COVID-19 vaccinations. These providers have trained nursing staff available, can take care of billing insurance for any administration fees and can also take care of reporting your workplace’s vaccine administration data to immunization registries.

Vaccination partners should also be aware of the warning signs of vaccine reactions, such as anaphylaxis.

Provide Easy Employees Access to Vaccines

If you’re thinking about hosting a vaccine clinic at your workplace, make sure it’s a day and time during which the majority of employees can attend (i.e. during work hours). You should also be mindful to make vaccine access easy for all employee types, whether they’re full-time, part-time, contractor or temporary. 

In addition, consider offering more than one opportunity for employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Mobile clinics should be able to return to your workplace multiple times on a rotating schedule.

What About Off-Site Vaccination Programs?

If your workplace is not eligible to host an on-site clinic — or if it’s not feasible or the best option — you might consider hosting an off-site vaccine program. This is also a good option for companies that:

  • Are small or midsize
  • Have mobile or remote employee populations
  • Have workers with varying schedules
  • Have a majority of employees who would prefer a community-run clinic than one in the workplace

If you’re planning an off-site vaccine program, you may consider working with a mobile vaccination clinic to set up at a community location. You can also work with pharmacies that are enrolled in the Federal Retail Pharmacy program, or local healthcare provider offices and health centers. 

How Can I Encourage My Employees to Get the Vaccine?

Whether your workplace is able to host a clinic on-site, partners with a community clinic or cannot do either, there are many ways in which you can encourage your employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

  • Allow employees to get vaccinated during work hours
  • Educate employees with the resources and information they need to know how, when and where they can get vaccinated as well as what they need to bring
  • Identify any potential barriers that are unique to your workforce that may prevent team members from getting the vaccine
  • Encourage your leaders to be vaccine champions and communicate with employees

Building confidence in the vaccine increases the likelihood of your workplace returning to a more normal state of being. Healthy workers are happy workers!

Still have questions about holding vaccinination programs through your workplace? Let the wellness specialists at Cornerstone help. Contact our team today.

5 Employee Wellness Benefits You Should Offer

There’s been a brighter spotlight on employee benefits in the last few years, especially in terms of employee wellness benefits

In order to better retain and recruit employees — as well as stay competitive in your industry — consider revising your employee wellness benefits. 

What Employee Wellness Benefits You Should Consider

The pandemic has surfaced a need for more wellness benefits than ever. If you’re considering revising your employee benefits offering, take a look at the following trends. 

A Focus on Mental Health

Employee assistance programs can include more coverage for telehealth counseling, phone calls with counselors, and more. Removing the barriers between employees and their access to mental health providers should be a standard part of employee benefits. 

In addition to this, more workplaces are offering educational resources for employees on mental health to raise awareness for it in the office. 

Telehealth Coverage and Offerings

Even when things return to normal (or our new definition of it), there are many people who have grown to prefer the remote option for appointments. 

Whether it’s mental health resources or a family care practitioner, many physicians have sorted out how to best meet their patients’ needs for non-emergency situations. Make sure your employees’ appointments are still covered, whether in-person or virtual and that they’re informed about what’s available to them. 

Flexible Schedules and Locations

In addition to having remote access to healthcare providers, many employees have found to be more productive working from home than being in the office. If this is an option for your company, consider creating a more flexible work environment permanently. 

Whether this means certain days that are WFH, employees have the option to WFH when they want to, or some kind of combination approach, allowing employees to work from where they feel most comfortable and accomplished could give you the competitive edge. 

Emphasis on Holistic Well-being

Traditional employee wellness benefits may cover medical appointments and procedures, but there’s more to health than just access to treatment. Having a more holistic approach may involve a focus on work-life balance, encourage exercise (for example, covering gym or fitness studio memberships), and others.

Expanded Financial Wellness Resources

Financial-related concerns are the number-one source of anxiety for people. This is now the time, if you don’t already, to provide your employees with sufficient financial planning resources. Consider matching 401K contributions, helping pay student loans, or holding workshops to better educate employees on what’s available to them.

Employees are more likely to be engaged with their work and prepared to handle any hurdles that come their way if these resources are in place. 

For more insights on employee wellness and benefits, be sure to follow along with Cornerstone’s blog. Are you ready to restructure your employee benefits offerings? Contact Cornerstone Insurance Group today.

How to Cope With Stress in Uncertain Times

COVID-19’s impact on all of our lives has been wide-reaching and challenging. Beyond the virus’s physical effects on the body, the pandemic has caused extreme stress. Whether it’s the anxiety of losing a job, not being able to see friends, losing loved ones or simply grieving the loss of normal times, everyone handles these difficulties in different ways.

While public health measures to get the pandemic under control continue to take place, there are things you can do to ensure your mental wellness doesn’t suffer.

The Impact of Excess Stress

It’s no secret that stress can cause a number of issues, including:

Shift in Feelings

Those who are experiencing high levels of stress may experience fear, sadness, frustration and anger more frequently.

Lack of Energy and Appetite

Changes in appetite are not uncommon, as is the lack of desire to do things one once enjoyed. 

Trouble Concentrating

Stress can consume the mind, causing an individual to lack focus in their day-to-day life.

Difficulty Sleeping

Good rest is one of the best ways to restore your brain and body after stressful days, but those who have consistent stress may find it difficult to get to sleep and sleep well.

Increased Use of Substances

One of the greatest risks of enhanced stress levels is the increased likelihood of someone turning to tobacco, alcohol or drugs to cope.

Other Physical Responses

Headaches, body aches, gastrointestinal issues and skin irritations are all common physical manifestations of stress.

Healthy Methods for Coping with Stress

There are several actions you can take to manage current stress and better handle future anxiety and frustrations.

Take A Break

Often a coping mechanism for stress is to fill your time even more, but one of the best things you can do is to rest. Put down your phone and know your limit with the news. Disconnect from social media and your TV regularly. Make sure you’re building in time to your day to enjoy things you like.

Maintain a Healthy Diet and Exercise Regimen

It can be easy to turn to junk food and a sedentary lifestyle when life is overwhelming. But if you can make an effort to eat well-balanced meals, exercise regularly — whether it’s a 5K, a yoga class or a walk around the block — and get plenty of sleep, your body will thank you. 

Connect with People

One of the many byproducts of stress is that it can cause some people to retreat inward. While it can be difficult to connect with others in this age of social distancing, take time to regularly call a friend or go on a distanced walk with a neighbor. Even starting meetings early to talk with coworkers can boost your spirits.

Talk to a Professional

If the above methods are not adequate, or your stress is interfering with your ability to live a fruitful life, please reach out to your healthcare provider or visit Psychology Today to find a therapist near you. 

How Employers Can Help Stressed-Out Employees

Employers can, and should, proactively address the stress experienced by their teams. Some of the ways you can do this are by:

  • Recognizing the challenging time we’re living in.
  • Offering mental health resources and benefits.
  • Reiterating the importance of taking breaks or PTO.
  • Encouraging employees to ask for help. 

Employees will feel more valued if their companies acknowledge the challenges that exist and the stress everyone is feeling.

For more wellness resources, be sure to follow along with Cornerstone’s blog. If you’re looking to expand your company’s wellness and benefits, contact Cornerstone today.

Flu Shots: What You Need To Know

Considering the recent events in 2020, it should be more apparent that the seasonal flu is taken seriously. With the COVID-19 vaccine still in preproduction stages, numerous sources are citing it won’t be available until late in 2021. While we are taking more precautions than ever before due to COVID-19, we still need to keep the approaching flu season top of mind.

Protecting yourself against the flu is more important than ever. This fall there will be two respiratory viruses circulating making it possible to contract a double infection. The influenza vaccine can minimize at least one of the potential respiratory infections. If you were to get sick with influenza your body’s immune system is weakened making it more vulnerable to a possible coronavirus infection. Besides protecting yourself, you help prevent the spread of the virus to your family and those in the community who may not be able to get the vaccine.

By now, I’m sure you’ve seen the reports of people testing positive for COVID-19, without ever having any symptoms. The same thing is possible with the influenza virus, you can spread it without ever having symptoms of being sick. This is the reason healthcare professionals are required to get the flu vaccine every year, protecting themselves and the people around them.

Transmission

The main mode of transmission is by particles in the air and on contaminated surfaces, making washing your hands and using hand sanitizer important to stopping the spread of the flu virus. An infected person can spread the flu virus to an average of 1.3 other people. This number may be higher in families living together and those who are working in close proximity to each other. The virus can be transmitted one day prior to the infected person experiencing any symptoms and can continue to be contagious 5-7 days after the onset of symptoms. Individuals with compromised immune systems may remain contagious for several days longer than that.

Prevention

The most important step you can take to prevent getting and spreading the flu is getting vaccinated every year. Washing your hands and using hand sanitizer often is are also important ways to reduce the transmission of the virus. Take care to help younger children wash and sanitize their hands often as well. The CDC estimates that over 20 million people each year will contract the flu, however, it is estimated that the flu shot will save around 40,000 lives each year. Even if you are young and healthy, the flu vaccine can prevent you from spending 2 long sick weeks in bed and can save the lives of those around you.

Flu Facts

  • The flu infects an estimated 20-40 million people a year in the US alone.
  • Of those infected, over 61,000 deaths occurred in the 2017-2018 flu season.
  • There were a reported 600,000+ flue related hospitalizations in the 2017-2018 flu season.
  • Each year the CDC watches trends and tracks the different strains or mutations of the virus to formulate the most effective vaccine for the current flu season.
  • The best time to get the flu shot is early on in the season and as it takes up to two weeks for your body to build up an immunity to the virus.
  • Once you have the flu, antibiotics will be useless to help with symptoms. Instead, use of antivirals should be taken under doctor supervision as early as possible for best results.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we need to take care of ourselves and those around us. Be mindful of those who are more vulnerable, or those who can’t get vaccinated due to underlying health issues. Getting vaccinated helps everyone in the long run. For more information on the flu shot, don’t forget to check out our webinar on flu shots.

Returning to Work Post COVID-19

As more and more states begin to loosen their stay at home restrictions, the question many business owners have right now is, “When can we get our employees back to work, and how do we do so, safely?” Many companies were able to transition to a remote working environment and subsequently have seen their employees really step up to the plate and become very productive working from home. As a result, numerous businesses are making the decision to allow their employees to continue to work from home even as regulations begin to allow a return to work. St. Louis County specifically stated that if a business has been able to efficiently operate remotely, they should consider allowing employees to continue to work from home for a little longer.

Getting Back on the Job

However, not all businesses can operate remotely and may be eager to get their employees back to work as soon as possible. First and foremost, those businesses must follow the protocol outlined in the applicable reopening guidelines as directed by their states or counties. This could include limited staff or patrons in the building, or enhanced cleaning and employee health screenings. In order to effectively follow these guidelines, employers may choose to allow employees back in waves, or stagger office hours, thus, limiting the exposure each employee has to other coworkers. This may be a great solution for the manufacturing industry where employees work closely to one another.

Safety and Sanitization

Not only may enhanced sanitization be required, it can also help ease employee’s minds when returning. Sanitizing shared or frequently used work surfaces multiple times per day will help reduce potential exposure to the virus. We recommend providing access to hand sanitizer or hand washing stations for employees. Many companies are requiring all employees who return to work, wear masks and/or gloves to help protect themselves. Though it is not a requirement, it’s recommended that if the organization is requiring employees to wear masks and gloves, those should be supplied by the company. Furthermore, management should also consider putting new policies in place for all employees returning to work, so staff is aware of these expectations and mandates prior to returning to work.

Health Screenings and Considerations

As businesses reopen, they may be required to perform daily health screenings under applicable legislation, or they may choose to do so in an effort to protect staff. These screenings can include daily health questions to confirm the employee is not exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19 and has not been around anyone with those symptoms. It could also include taking the temperatures of staff or visitors. This may cause an issue with privacy concerns, so employers should take great caution with those administering these tests and protecting the data. Employers do have the right to refuse work to anyone who is sick with COVID-19-like symptoms.

Adjustment Period

The environment employees are returning to may look very different from the environment they left a few months ago. The dynamic in the office will be a little foreign and helping employees get back into the swing of things and adjusting to the changes, is important. Reminding and enforcing guidelines on sanitization, masks, social distancing, and health screenings can help ease concerns of employees apprehensive of returning. However, there may be employees who are simply too scared to return, and these situations should be handled carefully. Overall, employers should strive to provide peace of mind to know staff and remind them the primary concern is employee safety.

As we continue to navigate this uncharted territory as a society, we will start to learn more about what works best and create new best practices for our businesses. Below are some helpful links from the CDC and OSHA that will help you make informed decisions on how to proceed with safely opening your businesses and getting back to work. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.

https://www.osha.gov/pls/publications/publication.html#c19
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-small-business.html
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/general-business-faq.html
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/reopen-guidance.html

How To Support Your Employees in a Time of Uncertainty

WellnessTo say these are uncertain times is an understatement. COVID-19 has our nation on edge and your employee’s well-being and safety is your top priority.  Many employees are teleworking for the first time, isolated from co-workers, friends and family.  Disruption of their daily routine can cause anxiety and stress – physically, mentally, and financially.  It is imperative that business owners and managers step back, remain calm, and show support for their employees.
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How to Launch a Wellness Program

How to Launch a Wellness Program

Approximately, 80% of the US population is in the workforce or linked through family relationships/retirement putting employers in a key role for health and wellness issues. People spend the majority of their week at the workplace, making the worksite and excellent place to conduct a wellness program. Launching a worksite wellness program doesn’t always mean spending large amounts of money by installing fitness facilities and hiring an on-site wellness coach. However, in order to launch a successful wellness program there are some key steps and planning required. Read More