Monthly Archives: June 2009

Employees Who Work Long Hours, Too Many Consecutive Work Days Run Risk Of Ergonomics-Related Injuries

Limited employee involvement in schedule selection, long work days, and an excess of consecutive work days are all linked to increased risk of ergonomics-related injuries, according to a new report.

Poor work-life conditions and sleep deprivation can also lead to ergonomics injuries and lost workdays, especially among employees in extended-hours positions (regularly working outside the hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.), according to the report published by Circadian Technologies.

“We have long known that long work hours, high fatigue levels, and work schedules that fail to account for human physiological needs are linked to a 20 percent increased rate of workers’ compensation claims among facilities with extended-hours operations,” said Kirsty Kerin, Ph.D., Circadian ergonomics specialist and one of the principal authors of “Ergonomics Risks, Myths, and Solutions for Extended Hours Operations.”

Dr. Kerin’s report further details the link between work practices and ergonomics injuries, such as musculoskeletal disorders (MSD).

The study notes that:

  • In a survey of over 12,500 extended hours workers, 30 percent of male workers, and 41 percent of female workers reported “Chronic or Frequent” back pain, while 16 percent of maleworkers and 27 percent of female workers reported “Chronic or Frequent” wrist pain.
  • Sleep deprivation could possibly be damaging in terms of muscle, ligament, or tendon injury. With the average extended-hours employee sleeping only 5.1 hours to 5.5 hours each day when working a night shift, they could face an increased risk of ergonomic injuries.
  • The balance of work and home life is important in controlling the number of lost workdays due to MSD complaints. Both men and women who face simultaneous presence of high mental workload and increased domestic workload have increased neck and shoulder MSDs.
  • Disturbances in sleep affect pain and negatively impact the time it takes a worker to return to work after suffering a soft-tissue injury such as low back pain.
  • Six days of restricted sleep (4 hours per 24-hour period) caused changes to the sleep architecture that are similar to the changes seen in people suffering from depression. Also, lack of sleep causes changes in several natural body rhythms of hormone secretion including melatonin, cortisol, thyroid-stimulating hormone, leptin, prolactin and growth hormone.

These conclusions raise significant new questions for managers of extended hours facilities, in which overtime levels have reached all time highs, and in which employees regularly work evenings, nights, rotations, and long shifts.

The study also challenged long-held myths on work schedules and ergonomics, clearly finding that 12-hour schedules are not inherently more dangerous for employees.

With 41 percent of extended-hours facilities using some form of 12-hour schedule in 2003, this conclusion is important to note when designing alternative work schedules. In particular, the authors found:

  • Although working more than eight hours a day was shown to increase ergonomic injury rates, working two to four weekends a month was also shown to have a negative impact. Since most 12-hour schedules limit consecutive workdays to four, and provide employees with twice as many weekends off as eight-hour schedules, there are pros and cons to each schedule type and 12-hour shifts are not inherently problematic.
  • Female risk factors for neck and shoulder ergonomic injuries include overtime and unsatisfactory leisure time, which can be linked to poorly designed schedules or excess work hours.
  • Employees who reported little or no influence over their work schedule had significant increases in ergonomic injuries of the shoulders, hips and knees.

Managers of extended-hours operations can implement numerous interventions to address the increased risk of ergonomics injuries for the 24 million Americans who regularly work nights, rotating shifts, irregular and on-call schedules.

“Involving employees in schedule selection, training workers on managing the work-life demands of working extended hours, and revisiting workplace policies such as break rules and rest periods can significantly decrease the risk of costly accidents and injuries,” said Alex Kerin, Ph.D., Circadian ergonomics specialist and the other principal author.

Fatigue management initiatives to decrease employee fatigue while at work and commuting to the job, as well as improve sleep quality, also represent critical interventions for extended hours employers.

Circadian is an international research and consulting firm assisting companies with extended hours operations to improve profits by increasing productivity and reducing the increased costs, risks, and liabilities of human factors.

For more information on Circadian, visit www.circadian.com


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Wellness/Health Promotion Professionals’ Titles Vary Widely; So Do Salary Levels

Workplace wellness professionals’ titles vary widely by organization although their duties are similar in scope, according to an analysis of the results of the Wellness Professionals Salary and Benefits Survey conducted by Wellness Program Management Advisor.

Your title could mean a big difference over what your counterpart with a different title earns who is employed elsewhere. For instance, wellness directors make an average of $10,676, or 20.7 percent, more a year than those holding the title wellness coordinator, according to the survey results based on 2004 data, the most recent year available.

The average salary for wellness directors was $62,238, while the average salary of wellness coordinators was $51,562.

Directors of health promotion participating in the survey averaged 12.6 percent a year less than wellness directors, or $55,296. The spread between a director of health promotion and a wellness coordinator was $3,734 or 6.8 percent, the survey found.

A note of caution, however, is that those who participated in the survey were employed by a variety of organizations including major employers, health plans, hospitals, universities and government agencies.

Also, because participation in the survey is optional among wellness professionals, the chance for missing information, or numbers that are skewed is greater than a more scientific or controlled study.

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Free Report:

Predicting the Future of Workplace Wellness Management: Bright, Growing, Transforming,” a free report for wellness professionals and those interested in a career in the profession, is available for immediate download. There is no cost or obligation.

http://www.healthrespubs.com/FreeReports/18mgt.htm

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Wellness professionals’ salaries for 2004 ranged from a high of $95,000, up from $94,000 in 2003, to a low of $20,300, up $300 over 2003. The overall salary average of those participating in the survey was $51,620.

Among respondents, 42.4 percent had “wellness” in their title, while “health promotion” titles accounted for 12.1 percent of those who responded.

By titles, “coordinator” was the most frequent with 26.5 percent of participants, followed by “manager” with 22 percent, and “director” with 18.9 percent.

But titles are all over the “ballpark.” Here is a representative sample of who participated in the survey: wellness coordinator, wellness director, wellness/fitness manager, corporate wellness coordinator, director community health and wellness, director of health promotion, director, worksite preventive health, employee health/wellness coordinator, health and wellness coordinator, health improvement manager, health promotion manager, health education and wellness manager and wellness program manager.

The survey was conducted online among wellness professionals and subscribers to Wellness Program Management Advisor, Wellness Junction Professional Update and members of the Wellness Managers Professional Discussion Group.

Source: Wellness Professionals’ Salary and Benefits Survey.

Address: Wellness Program Management Advisor, 1913 Atlantic Ave., S 200, Manasquan, NJ 08736; (732) 292-1100, www.wellnessjunction.com.

Workplace Wellness Services Run the Gamut, Study Finds

Workplace Wellness Services Run the Gamut, Study Finds

Wellness professionals say stress management is one of the most-requested services of worksite health promotion programs; if a worksite wellness organization offers a stress management seminar, it is always well-attended.

If there is no such program on the agenda, employees request it — and request it often, according to the exclusive ROI survey conducted by Wellness Program Management Advisor.

Stress

Almost 95 percent of the Workplace Wellness Management Survey respondents said some form of stress management was part of their wellness curriculum; relaxation techniques, massage therapy and mind-body programs were components of various stress management programs offered by worksite wellness groups, the survey found.

“Our employees are concerned about all aspects of their health,” said a wellness program coordinator whose overall program budget exceeds $50,000. “But stress is always right up there at the top of the list. Everything else they do to maintain their health doesn’t matter as much if they feel they can’t cope with things on a daily basis.”

The respondent added that employees who feel better about their ability to manage stress levels are more likely to participate in other wellness programs.

“It [stress management] has a major impact on their general attitudes and how they feel about themselves,” the respondent noted. “If people feel calm and in control, they feel empowered. And if they’re empowered, they often find the energy and desire to do other positive things, like joining a weight-loss program. Or they might decide to quit smoking. It has a domino effect in the best sense.”

Other survey respondents noted that participants in stress management programs often sought relief from depression as well.

“During a discussion after a stress management seminar, at least a dozen people mentioned depression and stress in the same sentence,” said a wellness program coordinator. “One problem seems to feed off the other.”

Fitness

Respondents said employees showed enthusiasm for weight control and fitness groups, while interest in blood pressure, nutrition and general heath screening programs also ranked high. Here are some of the most popular services included in worksite wellness programs, according to our survey respondents:

     * Stress management: 95 percent.

     * High blood pressure: 94 percent.

     * Weight control: 93 percent.

     * General fitness: 91 percent.

     * Health screenings: 89 percent.

     * Nutrition: 87 percent.

     * Smoking cessation: 80 percent.

     * Health risk assessments: 77 percent.

     * Disease management: 69 percent.

     * Health education classes: 61 percent.

     * Employee assistance programs: 54 percent.

     * Onsite fitness centers: 49 percent.

Health club subsidies were mentioned by 40 percent of the respondents, while prenatal care was noted by 39 percent, according to the survey.

Respondents included games of sport, such as bowling and softball, in the general fitness category, along with walking, running, aerobics and cardio-vascular exercises; others noted breast cancer exams, cholesterol testing and the monitoring of glucose levels in the health screening category.

Those interested in disease management said diabetes, obesity, glaucoma and chronic pain control (including problems stemming from arthritis) were chief concerns, the survey found.

Address: Wellness Program Management Advisor, 1913 Atlantic Ave., Suite S 200, Manasquan, NJ 08736; (732) 292-1100, www.wellnessjunction.com.

Reporting Health Coaching Success in Disease Management

We had an outstanding webcast yesterday featuring Margaret Moore of Wellcoaches on Health Coaching success in Disease Management.

If you have the chance to hear Margaret speak do sit in. She’s a great presenter with interesting benchmark results.

Margaret was joined on the call by Same Toney of Health Integrated.

Here’s a YouTube video Margaret and her team produced on “How Coaching Works” http://ow.ly/dJGB

http://www.wellcoaches.com

Few Employers Addressing Workplace Stress, Watson Wyatt Surveys Find

While employers acknowledge that stress is affecting business performance, few are taking steps to address it, according to two surveys by Watson Wyatt Worldwide.

Workplace stress is the most frequently cited reason U.S. employees consider leaving their jobs, according to Watson Wyatt.

Nearly half of U.S. employers (48 percent) say stress caused by working long hours is affecting business performance. However, only 5 percent are addressing this concern, according to Watson Wyatt’s 2007/2008 Staying@Work report. Similarly, more than one-quarter (29 percent) of employers believe stress caused by widespread use of technology such as cell phones and personal digital assistants is greatly affecting business performance, but only 6 percent are taking action to confront the issue.

“Many companies don’t appear to appreciate how stress is affecting their business,” said Shelly Wolff, national practice director of health and productivity at Watson Wyatt. “Too much stress from heavy demands, poorly defined priorities and little on-the-job flexibility can add to health issues. By leaving stress unaddressed, employers invite an increase in unscheduled time off, absence rates and healthcare costs – all of which hurt a company’s bottom line.”

One way stress is influencing business performance is through employee retention. Stress is the most frequently cited reason U.S. workers give for why they would leave a company. Forty percent of respondents say it is one of their top three reasons, according to Watson Wyatt’s 2007/2008 Global Strategic Rewards® report.

However, employers fail to list stress among the top five most cited reasons they think workers leave their jobs. Instead, they cite insufficient pay, lack of career development and poor supervisorrelationships.

“Pay alone is not enough to retain and engage today’s workers,” said Laura Sejen, global director of strategic rewards at Watson Wyatt. “To remain competitive, companies need to understand fully what causes employees to join or leave and what causes them to be productive if they stay. A total rewards approach that includes both monetary and nonmonetary rewards is more meaningful for employees and more effective for employers.”

Address: Watson Wyatt, 901 North Glebe Rd., Arlington, VA 22203; (703) 258-8000, www.watsonwyatt.com.

Wellness Programs Meeting The Information Needs Of Employees, Management Survey Finds

Fifty percent of wellness executives believe that workplace wellness programs are adequately meeting the information needs of employees.

However, the results were not overwhelming as 46.4 percent of executives participating in the Workplace Wellness Management Survey disagreed.  The leadership survey was conducted by the Wellness Program Management Advisor and Wellness Junction Professional Update.

“The process has been a slow one,” said the director of a wellness consulting firm, but employers are trying to get to the heart of the matter.

“Many employers are asking their employees what their biggest concerns are and then developing programs around that (information),” the director said.

Also agreeing was the occupational health registered nurse at a corporation who said that “employees have concerns about cost savings and need more education about the indirect decreased costs of wellness participation.”

The director of wellness at a retirement community agreed and said “there is so much information out there about what is important to our teams members. In my facility we do surveys, we meet with different departments and ask what they want and when they could participate. Then we try to make that work.”

A health and wellness manager for a medical center also agrees and said “I think the more formal, comprehensive programs are doing a really good job, although, we always need to be making them better and improving them.

“But many companies say they have wellness programs in place when in reality they actually only implement tiny bits and pieces of a wellness program,” the manager said. “This is better than nothing of course, but definitely not what is fully needed.”

The wellness educator for a health insurance brokerage firm agreed that the needs were being met and said “I think the needs of today’s consumers are hit in the media enough that employers know what to address. But to make real lifestyle changes, we need a cultural change.”

“That means work hours to allow for real cooking, not frozen meals bought at Sam’s Clue. It involves consumers not using food to make their family budget. I usually end my healthy eating talks with if you need a Sunday coupon to buy your food, I guarantee, it has too much sodium, sugar or fat,” the wellness educator added.

An employee wellness coach for a manufacturing facility disagreed and said “I know there are better ways and ideas out there. They are just hard to find. It’s hard to find new and refreshing ideas and concepts for wellness programs in manufacturing specifically.”

Also disagreeing was the wellness program manager of a government agency who said “people are so busy and healthcare is so complicated. It’s hard to match the info to the employee, even though we use all types of media and learning opportunities.”

The CEO of a wellness consulting firm disagreed as well and said the reason was “wellness programs are still scarce on the ground so the thrust of the masses is not there yet.”

A human resources manager at a corporation disagreed and said, “yes and no actually. We send publications, have had speakers come in and talk to employees, but getting people to become engaged in this topic is their decision and a tough one to get there.”

Another human resources executive at a manufacturing facility disagreed and said, “we currently do a health assessment but once the assessment is completed, there isn’t another education meeting for another year. We are going to try and get more educators in here to help our employees.”

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Are workplace wellness programs adequately addressing the information needs of today’s employees, the new healthcare customer?

Yes       50 %

No        46.4 %

Unanswered     3.6 %

Source: Workplace Wellness Management Survey, Wellness Program Management Advisor

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Address: Wellness Program Management Advisor, 1913 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 200, Manasquan, NJ 08736; (732) 292-1100, www.wellnessjunction.com.

Our Workplace Wellness Management Group On LinkedIn has been growing!

Congratulations are in order to all the members of our Workplace Wellness Management Group on LinkedIn.  The Group has grown to 400 members.

Not all the members are ‘wellness managers’ but all seem keenly interested in the workplace wellness and health promotion arena.

Workplace Wellness Management is dedicated to serving the business networking and information needs of executives and professionals engaged in the business of workplace wellness management.

Today there are more than 30 million individuals on LinkedIn and we believe that it offers opportunities for those engaged in the wellness ‘business’ to connect and network with your peers on LinkedIn, find jobs, prep for an interview, recruit, connect with potential prospects to make a sale, or recommend some one or some company.

Workplace Wellness Management on LinkedIn is another way we can aim to help you and your colleagues in our network. We do this in several ways including producing Wellness Program Management Advisor, Wellness Junction Professional Update, the Wellness Manager Professional Discussion Group on Yahoo, the Wellness Manager’s Blog, the Wellness Management Information Center on Facebook and sponsoring www.wellnessjunction.com

Workplace Wellness Management http://www.linkedin.com/groups?home=&gid=1456627&trk=anet_ug_hm


Retention Key To Health Management Program Success

Health management programs should be designed to retain employees, according to EmployeeWellnessUSA.com.

The programs, when designed properly, are a win-win proposition for employees hoping to improve their health and employers seeking to reduce their health insurance premiums, saidEmployeeWellnessUSA.com.

“Continued program participation is like sticking to a new diet,” said Holt Vaughan of EmployeeWellnessUSA.com. “At first, it’s easy to stay with a new employee wellness program because it’s new and your health goals are fresh in your head. But as the weeks wear on, people drop off because they lack the structure, community, incentives and results that they need to stick with it.”

Health management is one of the primary tenets at EmployeeWellnessUSA.com so program retention is consistently stressed to clients at their San Antonio, Texas, headquarters.

Vaughan said corporate wellness surveys are an important tool that wellness program managers can use to ensure retention. “Wellness surveys are easy to customize and administer, and they tell you what employees want from their health management programs,” Vaughan said. “If you listen to what they are saying, you won’t have wellness program participation shortfalls down the road.”

Address: EmployeeWellnessUSA.com, 8700 Crownhill Rd., Suite 110, San Antonio, TX 78209; (800) 299-7226, www.employeewellnessusa.com.