Category: wellness

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