Does work stress lead you to make unhealthy choices?

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We’ve teamed up with body confidence expert Dr Katherine Iscoe for the latest WellteQ Webinar.

In this webinar you will discover how to balance the demands of work and still enjoy the deliciousness of life without giving up your health and body goals.

If you want to ask Dr Katherine any questions regarding this webinar, you can email her at info@drkatherine.com.

To find out how WellteQ can improve your workplace wellness, get in touch.

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Men’s Health at Work: Are You Man Enough to Talk About It?

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Men's Health, men health, mens health

It’s time to talk about men’s health in the workplace

With reports of chronic stress and similar conditions at an all-time high, the emphasis on promoting healthy practices in the workplace is now as important as ever. However, men’s health, in particular, is a tricky subject to tackle as, traditionally, men struggle to open up about health issues for fear of appearing weak or emasculated. While there have been some progress on this, thanks largely to awareness campaigns such as Movember, unfortunately these archaic notions still hold sway in today’s society.

“Male Wellness” is Not an Oxymoron

Prostate cancer, testicular cancer and suicide are just some of the health issues affecting men. The sad truth is that men are less likely to make use of their primary health provisions as compared to women. This means that even if the right measures and protocols are in place, men might not stand to benefit from them because of the simple fact of non-engagement.

Regardless of profession, men in general are more prone to chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, stroke and depression. They are also much more likely to respond to such situations by resorting to harmful coping mechanisms such as smoking, alcohol and substance abuse, while eschewing more productive avenues such as therapy, counselling or social support groups.

Psychological Made Physical

Hugh Martin, a psychotherapist, coach and founder of men’s health organisation Man Enough, says that such isolative behaviours are very specific to the male psyche and that the typical male upbringing ‘really enables that sense of isolation, or that a man can’t bring up an issue they’re having’.

Martin goes on to add that, in the workplace, men also tend to overextend themselves when it comes to working hours: ‘They tend to feel more isolated from home life, not as efficient at multitasking… It’s hard to sustain’.

Indeed, the following facts around men’s health are a serious cause for concern:

  • Men enjoy less life satisfaction.

  • They have less access to social support systems.

  • Men are more likely to be obese.

  • Suicide is the leading cause of death for men under 35.

  • More then three-quarters of suicide victims are male.

  • Boys are falling behind girls at all levels of education.

“Awareness” may be a nice word to throw around wellness circles, but there’s a difference between knowing and acting. Most employers have their hearts in the place when they engage wellness consultants or invest in corporate well-being programmes. However, these efforts will count for nothing if they fail to address the crux of the matter.

It’s Time to Talk About It

The problem is social by nature. Men benefit greatly from the feeling of inclusivity that comes with a support network. When surrounded by their peers – all of whom face similar issues – men are more likely to voice their concerns and work towards solutions as they no longer suffer under the illusion of external judgement. Once this network is in place, change can truly take place.

Of course, the way such an initiative is executed also matters. Communication is key when it comes to building and maintaining relationships, and the same holds true in the workplace. You can’t expect something as impersonal as a bunch of generic motivation posters to do the trick. Kritika Singh, of corporate health provider SMG Health, emphasises the importance of a tailored approach to addressing the wants and needs of male employees: ‘It’s all about how the message is promoted to the staff. It has to be clear and show why the individual should take care of themselves’.

Last Thoughts on Men’s Health

While it may be unrealistic to create “male-friendly” workplace environments, the situation faced by men across the world is very real. We all wish to be in good health – even the most “alpha male” of men amongst us. Just because it’s not spoken about enough, it doesn’t mean that the problem doesn’t exist. So, men, don’t be afraid to open up to friends, family and colleagues about health issues.

To help install healthier habits in the workplace, get in touch with the WellteQ team today.

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WellteQ Talks: Fatigue

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There’s often a misconception that tiredness and fatigue are the same thing. In the health and fitness space, how do you differentiate between the two? Tune into this episode of WellteQ Talks, with Natalie Dau, to find out.

WellteQ is running an exclusive offer to help you maximise the ROI on your wellness initiatives in 2019. Click below to find out more.

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5 Tips to Make You Healthier, Happier and More Productive at Work!

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Improve your work life

Healthier, Happier and More Productive at Work!

It happens to the best of us, but sometimes we just can’t bear our job! There are a few simple tricks you can do to combat the drain work has on our mental and physical health. So here are five ways you can feel healthier, happier and more productive at work.

1. Move it or Lose it! 

They say that sitting is the new smoking. Yes it’s a crude comparison, and sitting down next to someone is not nearly as antisocial as blowing smoke in their face, but the science backs it up. A recent study from the American Cancer Society finds a link between long periods of leisure time sitting and a higher risk of death from all causes.

Terrifying!

Scaremongering aside, sitting can also have adverse effects on your productivity. While you might believe that you’re ‘in the zone’ and that every minute of the day counts, taking regular short breaks between tasks will actually help you stay focussed. Splitting your day’s tasks into bitesize chunks, rewarding yourself with a short break in between, can help you manage your workload more effectively.

So stand up, get the blood pumping and cruise through your day’s tasklist.

2. It’s Rude Not to Stair

It’s one thing taking regular breaks to move around, but are you ready to take on the stairs? Researchers from McMaster University recently found that climbing stairs for 10 minutes a day can have major benefits for heart health, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. You burn more calories stair climbing so it’s also a great way to lose weight.

Taking the stairs can also helps boost energy levels. Researchers from University of Georgia found that 10 minutes going up and down stairs gives you more energy than 50mg of coffee. Cheaper and healthier too!

Try swapping the work elevator for the stairs. If your office is on the 50th floor, you could always take the lift part way up and walk the rest of the way. Even better, using a wellness program, set up a ‘Stair Master’ challeng and compete with your colleagues to take your fitness to the next level.

3. Do Sleep on the Job

If you ever find yourself nodding off at work, maybe you shouldn’t fight the urge for a sneaky nap. Ok so spending all afternoon with your head on your desk drooling onto your keyboard is a quick way to get fired, but research shows that a 10-20 minute power nap can do wonders for you. The many benefits include increasing alertness, boosting creativity and reducing stress.    

Taking naps at work is being recognised worldwide with some offices actually installing sleeping pods for just that purpose. In Japan they even have a word for sleeping at work: “inemuri,” which translates roughly as “sleeping while present.” So find yourself a comfy spot in the office, grab a pillow and catch a few zzzs!

However, you should not be napping because you don’t get enough sleep generally. You should still be aiming to get at least 7 hours’ sleep a night. Using wearables is a great way to track both the quantity and quality of your sleep.

4. Don’t Be a Slouch

When you’re spending several hours a day at a computer it can be difficult to maintain good posture. Having bad posture can cause both short and long-term injuries. Try using these ergonomic tips to help your body assume a neutral, strain-free position:

  • Sit upright with your feet flat on the floor and your back fully supported by your seat.
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed, allowing your upper arms to hang naturally. Your elbows should be close to the body and bent between 90 and 120 degrees.
  • Your thighs should be parallel to the floor, and your knees close to the same height as your hips.
  • Keep your monitor about an arm’s length away; the top of the screen should be at eye level, so that you can read without craning your neck.

4. Find Your Work BFF

Making friends at work is proven to be beneficial to our wellbeing. A 2014 study by LinkedIn found 46% of professionals worldwide believe work friends are important to their overall happiness. More recently, a survey by Comparably found 60% of women and 56% of men admitted to having a work BFF.

You probably spend more time per week with your co-workers than you do with your other friends, so it’s important to be sociable. Indeed, having work friends can have a dramatic effect on workplace happiness in a number of ways, including: not feeling alienated, being able to bond over shared feelings about the company and reducing stress by having someone to talk to if things go wrong.

Wellness programs are also great to foster friendships at works as they allow you to enter into a community-driven environment where you can compete with, or against, other colleagues.

To find out how WellteQ can help with all of the above, and more, get in touch with the team.

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Millennials, Let’s Talk About Mental Health in the Workplace

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Mental wellness, Millennials

Millennials and mental health in the workplace

The world united this week for World Mental Health Day to recognise mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma. The event takes place every year on 10 October and is supported by the United Nations.

The theme for this year was “Young people and mental health in a changing world”, so in this article we turn our attention to the rise of mental health issues in the workplace among millennials.

Millennials at Work

The way we work has changed dramatically over recent years, and, with millennials set to make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025 (Deloitte Millennial Survey), will evolve even further. However, with this changing landscape comes an increase in mental health issues. Millennials are experiencing higher levels of anxiety, depression, and thoughts of suicide than generations past.

Earlier this year, the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) in the UK conducted a survey of more than 4,500 people regarding stress in the workplace. It found that millennials felt more under pressure at work than older generations, with 28% reporting stress-related illness.

Cause and Effect

There are several potential reasons why millennials seem to be particularly prone to mental health issues, including:

Perfectionism

A recent study from the Psychological Bulletin found that millennials have “multidimensional perfectionism” meaning they feel pressure to measure up to an ever-growing number of criteria. By striving to reach impossible standards they increase the risk of mental health issues. In the workplace, this can be exemplified by a feeling that they are not being given the recognition, and promotions, that they feel they deserve.

Screen Time

Research suggest that millennials check their phones up to 150 times a day! This excessive use of their phones, means they allow themselves less time to “switch off”, which can be detrimental to their health. This reliance on their phones becomes a form of addiction—they feel they need to constantly check what is happening in the digital world for fear of missing out.

Financial Wellness

Millennials have lower employment rates due to increasing competition for entry-level positions. Many new graduates also carry the burden of large student loan debts. Millennials are also less likely to own a home than previous generations at the same age.

Advice to Millennials

So, without wanting to come across too preachy, here is some advice for millennials:

Be comfortable in your own skin

Social media has created an unhealthy culture of perfectionism where people can now airbrush their lives to create flawless photos. But it’s not real. By idealising other people’s lives on social media you are setting yourself unrealistic goals and inevitably setting yourself up  for a fall.

The same is true in the workplace. No-one expects you to be 100% perfect, 100% of the time. Making, and admitting, mistakes is a necessary part of learning and will make you stronger.

You don’t have to compare yourself to other people–accepting who you are is a positive step towards happiness.

Learn the art of patience

It is often said that millennials live in a world of instant gratification—everything they need is “on demand”. This can have a negative impact on their professional lives as they may feel they are entitled to a promotion, pay rise or business trip, but are disappointed when it doesn’t materialise.

You don’t need to get everything you want right now. Working hard to achieve your goals will give you a greater sense of fulfilment in the long term.

Cut down on your screen time

Constantly checking your phone at work can lead to loss of productivity and work-related stress. If we take smartphone usage as a form of addiction, then, like other addictions, it can be overcome with the right approach. While a full digital detox simply isn’t practical for most people, there are several things you can do to help you be present in the moment.

  • Limit yourself. Set strict boundaries on your smartphone usage at work so that you only use it on your break time.
  • Turn your unimportant notifications off. Your world will not stop if you don’t check the notifications within 10 seconds of receiving it.
  • Look up more. Do you really need to walk and text or can you enjoy your surroundings with your phone in your pocket?

For more ideas on cutting down your screen time, check out this article.

Have conversations with older generations

It may be a cliché , but millennials can learn a lot from older generations—everything in this article and more.

In a professional capacity, one of the best ways to learn from older generations is by finding a good mentor. Life in the digital age brings improved connectivity that’s conducive to building supportive online communities for tacit knowledge sharing and professional networking. There is a huge array of business productivity apps that can matchmake young professionals with industry mentors looking for career advice, eg apps like Woomentum, Shapr and Unibly.

These tips are not exhaustive, but hopefully will help you on the path to mental wellness in the workplace. To find out more about our mental wellness initiatives, get in touch with the WellteQ team.

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Safety First! 5 Simple Ways to Avoid Injury in the Office

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fatigue, safety, stress, injury, office, wellness

Safety in the Workplace

When we think of workplace safety, we usually associate it with blue-collar work. While the risks of working at an industrial plant, shipyard or building site are obvious, office environments also have their fair share of incidents. You may not be required to wear a hardhat or steel-toe boots, but that’s doesn’t mean you can take your safety for granted.

A Moment is All it Takes

A lapse in attention or a moment of carelessness is often all it takes to trigger an incident that could have easily been avoided. Some of the more common accidents in the office include:

  • Slips/trips/falls
  • Muscle strains
  • Hit by falling objects
  • Repetitive strain injury
  • Crashes/collisions
  • Cuts/lacerations

After the Event

While many of these may seem trivial, they can have a negative effect on health and productivity. One solution is to have a dedicated first aider who can they quickly attend to minor injuries, and even save someone’s life in serious cases. In many countries, having a first aid kit in the office is a legal requirement. 

However, before you scramble for the first aid kit, try these five preventative measures to avoid workplace injuries:

1. Prioritise Rest

The effects of stress in the workplace are far-reaching and can prove problematic if left unchecked for too long. More often than not, such cases can be traced back to poor sleeping habits. Constant late hours and excessive device usage puts our minds and body in a hyper-excited state and deprives us of restorative rest.

This leads to fatigue, which is one of the most common reasons for workplace injuries. Be it from lack of sleep or excessive workloads, fatigue plays a significant role in determining situational and personal awareness. Shoot for a minimum of seven hours of uninterrupted rest and avoid accumulating a hefty sleep debt.

2. Use Aids if Necessary

If injured, you need to protect the afflicted area. Things like wrist and ankle sprains are pretty minor, but they can lead to dropped objects or falls. Wearing braces or using movement aids is not a sign of weakness; these devices promote recovery while also preventing any exacerbation of existing injuries.

3. Abstain from Drugs and Alcohol

Going out on a bender the night before can easily affect the way you work the next day, even if you’re used to heavy drinking. An altered perception of your physical surroundings can lead to accidents and serious injuries. Certain prescription drugs carry similar side effects. While recovering, and on medication that causes drowsiness, stay at home until you’ve completely recovered.

4. Highlight Safety Hazards

Tangled wires, exposed electrical outlets/wiring and loose fans/floorboards/ceiling panels are things that need to be immediately highlighted to HR upon identification. Aside from the obvious threat to occupational health and safety, these hazards could be indicative of a deeper systemic issue in the building/office.

5. Stay Home if Sick

Illnesses like flu tend to make us feel more tired than usual due to the stress our bodies are under while fighting infection. When you feel like deadweight, your ability to react to your surroundings is thoroughly compromised and it’s better to stay at home to avoid infecting anyone else. 

Final Thoughts on Workplace Safety

It’s one thing to clock in all sleepy-eyed after missing your morning coffee fix, but it’s another to be exhausted to the extent where you can’t even pay adequate attention to your surroundings. Accidents in the office are more common than you think, and a small error can easily snowball into something much worse causing injury to yourself or others. So take the precautions above, remain vigilant and stay safe at work! 

This October is National Safe Work Month in Australia. To find out more about this excellent initiative, visit the Safe Work Australia website.

To discuss how to combat fatigue within your workforce contact the WellteQ team.

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WellteQ Talks: Mindfulness and Mental Health

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In observance of World Mental Health Day, WellteQ CEO, Scott Montgomery, caught up with Anji Hallewell from Hidden Lava to talk about how mindfulness can make a positive impact on certain areas of mental health.

WellteQ is running an exclusive offer to help you maximise the ROI on your wellness initiatives in 2019. Click below to find out more.

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Winning the Hearts of Your Employees!

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heart health, stress management, nutrition, alcohol consumption, smoke free

Getting to the heart of the problem

Putting your heart into your work is a phrase that plenty of us are familiar with. While it may be an admirable work ethic, some people inadvertently take it too literally. As reports of job stress increases, the negative impact it has on health and wellness has become more prevalent. Short of packing things up and retiring to a private island (one can only dream!), what can we do to prevent our hearts from redlining? With World Heart Day coming up on 29 September, we have some top tips on how to look after your heart. 

Stress is Subjective

One man’s meat is another man’s poison. Not all of us react to work the same way–what you find stressful might be a walk in the park for someone else. Yet the ways stress in the workplace affect our heart health are far from ambiguous:

  • Panic attacks and spikes in blood pressure.
  • Emotional volatility and violent outbursts.
  • Poor sleep quality and low focus.
  • Compromised immune system.
  • Stress/binge eating as a coping mechanism.

Survival Mode

Stress can be divided into two types: short and long-term. Looming deadlines and double shifts may sound bad in theory, but the human body is surprisingly adept at handling short-term stress—even mental ones. However, long-term stress—like a new boss who micro-manages every single thing that you do—is a different story altogether. In both cases, your body produces hormones like adrenaline and cortisol as part of a natural survival response. When these hormones fail to dissipate after long periods of time, cholesterol levels increase and so does your risk of heart disease.

Keeping the Heart Strong

Proper nutrition and active living might be instrumental to good heart health, but even the best of efforts can be compromised when they’re exposed to a constant barrage of stress factors. Here are some measures you can take at the workplace (or any similar setting) to keep your heart strong:

Limit alcohol consumption

Yes, after work drinks on a Friday can be tempting, especially when everyone else at the office is doing it. However, it is all too easy for a drinking habit to spiral out of control. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention lists excessive alcohol consumption as one of the top five lifestyle-related factors of heart disease, so this is far from an old wives’ tale. Many corporate wellness programs have ways to monitor your alcohol intake.

Stay smoke-free

Even if you’re a non-smoker, second-hand smoke can still affect you. If your social circle at work comprises regular smokers, then you may want to consider distancing yourself whenever they go and light up. Inhaling the smoke from others can lead to atherosclerosis, which can cause a heart attack or stroke. Organisations should ensure designated smoking areas are kept well away from non-smokers.

Regular health screenings

Some companies make regular health screenings mandatory for all employees. For those who are presented with an open option, you’d be remiss not to take advantage of it. Health screenings can help identify early signs of heart disease, allowing one to take action and receive treatment post-haste. The earlier the treatment, the higher the chance of making a complete recovery.

Peer counselling

Most stressed employees end up feeling this way due to their perception of being alone in their struggles. In such cases, having someone to lend a listening ear can be a soothing balm for even the most troubled of souls. Talking to a more experienced colleague who’s “been there, done that” might shed some new light on a grim situation. Sometimes, a new perspective might be all that you need to get things going again. As an employer, try encouraging a culture where your employees feel comfortable opening up to each other.

Meditation

You don’t have to roll out the yoga mat if you don’t want to, but basic practices like deep breathing and silent contemplation can be done in a workplace setting without creating a spectacle. Stuck at the desk for hours? Take a few minutes off for a short walk. Another key consideration of meditative practices is proper posture–something that is often lacking in the workplace. When combined with chest breathing, poor posture can affect your lungs’ ability to fully inflate and deflate. This lapse in oxygen intake and carbon dioxide expiration can raise one’s blood pressure, so don’t be a slouch (literally) at work! If you’re in charge of employee wellness, consider setting up regular meditation sessions for your workforce.

Take Heart! 

Heart disease can be mitigated through healthy behaviours. In a workplace environment, we often find ourselves forgoing common sense for the sake of productivity and “blending in”. While the thought of numerous work accolades might seem enticing, it should not have to come at the expense of your health. Your heart might be in your work, but you don’t want to reach a point where your heart NEEDS work.

To discuss how our digital wellness solution can keep your workforce “heart-healthy”, contact the WellteQ team.

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Financial Wellness: The New Workplace Frontier

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Financial wellness as part of a holistic approach to corporate wellness programs

Taking the stress out of financial wellness

Corporate wellness is certainly a trending buzzword in today’s health-focused landscape. Healthier employees are generally happier and more productive in their day-to-day lives. However, holistic wellness extends beyond just the pure physical.

Looking Beyond the Surface

Stress is often cited as one of the main detriments to health and happiness, and a major stressor among employees is the state of their finances. Not only does this result in low morale, it also becomes an unsettling distraction, which can lead to increased absenteeism.

As the wage gap deepens and income classes become more stratified, it’s not surprising that more and more workers are feeling the pinch. The rise in the cost of living means that low-to-middle income earners must find ways to do more with less. Combined with the demands of their day job, such financial stress can become the straw that broke the camel’s back.

What Can Employers Do?

It might be surprising to learn that the workplace is actually an ideal place to build financial wellness. A single programme has the potential to reach a large pool of individuals. Employee density also means that important messages can be communicated more efficiently and accurately. Whether it’s a simple presentation on the importance of investment, or the implementation of an employee benefit scheme, any means of improving financial outlook can pay sizeable dividends in terms of the quality of life and can significantly boost talent retention.

While providing the right tools is important, building a culture that supports financial independence is more beneficial for long-lasting change. Successful engagement means setting the stage for certain habits, such as financial awareness and budgeting, to take root. Programmes that adopt a more holistic approach to improving this aspect of employee wellbeing will not only help staff become more financially astute, but will also benefit the business on the long-term. A financially secure employee is less likely to start looking elsewhere for employment.

Promoting Financial Wellness 

Here are some ways businesses can get their staff to start thinking about their financial health:

  • Employee benefits. Offering benefits such as income protection, life insurance, pension and medical insurance means less things for employees to worry about and a greater sense of financial security.
  • Education. Engaging financial experts as consultants, be it via a workshop or a one-on-one basis, is a great way to keep your staff informed.
  • Saving schemes. Companies can collaborate with banks to offer specialised workplace saving programmes.

Additionally, the power of technology can and should be harnessed to optimise an organisation’s efforts to improve financial security in the workplace. Combining personal and employer data can help paint a more complete financial picture. Certain specialists offer programmes that utilise algorithms to analyse and compile the financial circumstances of employees and their individual needs.

Better Prospects for Everyone

Healthier employees, be it physical or financial, equates to healthier margins. Major life events like marriage, the birth of a child, or buying a house can come as a financial shock. Organisations that actively support their employees through these events give themselves a sizeable advantage when it comes to attracting and retaining talent, and in doing so will enhance their bottom line.

To find out more about WellteQ’s financial wellness initiatives, get in touch with us today.

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How to Transform Your Employees from Detractors into Promoters

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One of the questions we hear a lot is: how can you use wellness programs to transform employees from detractors into promoters and significantly increase your Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS)?

What is eNPS?

The eNPS approach is a relatively new phenomenon but it is fast becoming a powerful tool for savvy employers. It was adapted from the Net Promoter Score (NPS) metric, which is used to measure customer loyalty by asking how likely, on a scale of 0-10, they are to recommend a product or service: 0-6 (detractor), 7-8 (passive), 9-10 (promoter). You then calculate the NPS by subtracting % of detractors from % of promoters.

However, the difference is that the eNPS measures employee loyalty through the question: “How likely are you to recommend this company as a place to work?”. It’s a pretty brutal scoring system, with only the super-engaged employees becoming promoters.

WellteQ has been proven to significantly improve eNPS

Calculating your eNPS score

But why all the fuss about eNPS? While the system is not perfect, with several critics calling for more expansive measurement criteria, there’s beauty in its simplicity. Asking employees one simple question is a low barrier to gathering feedback on work culture and, if used periodically, can provide good indication of employee engagement. However, anyone who’s worked in HR will tell you it’s hard enough to implement an eNPS, let alone measure it.

Healthy Employees Are Happy Employees

At WellteQ we take an altogether more holistic approach to understanding employee engagement. We believe that employee wellness is intrinsically linked to employee engagement – by improving your exercise regime, nutrition, sleep quality, mental health and financial wellness you can boost your happiness at work, thus increasing the likelihood of recommending your employer.

Happy employees

Healthy employees are happy employees!

One important aspect of employee wellness is stress. A recent case study shows 44% of employees reporting significant reductions in stress at work after the wellness initiative. Perhaps a more surprising result was that 44% of employees also reported a strong decrease in stress levels at home.

WellteQ step challenge among employees from case study

Stress levels pre/post wellness program

The Net Result

By measuring stress and other human factors across our wellness initiatives, we have seen a dramatic rise in the eNPS score ranging from 18-73%.

However, perhaps our most exciting finding is that employees who measured as least engaged before the wellness initiative made the largest positive shift after the initiative – truly transforming detractors into promoters!

Positive Perception

The overarching participant feedback was companies investing time and money in wellness initiatives showed they truly cared about employee wellbeing. This created a much more positive perception of that employer.

This is just one example of how WellteQ leverages technology and analytics to drive demonstrable ROI on employee engagement and wellness.

To discuss how you can turn your detractors into promoters by maximising employee engagement, get in touch with WellteQ today.

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