How to Make Caring for Aging Parents Less Stressful for Employees

With the average life expectancy in the U.S. of about 85 years, workers may enjoy decades of living after they retire. Hopefully, this means many active years of a healthy life. However, as people age, their children again become engaged in decisions and actions related to care. At this stage, decisions relate to elder care for workers’ aging parents, who may be starting to experience declining physical and mental health. The baby boomer generation has now reached retirement age, bringing a large increase in numbers of people experiencing or approaching elder needs.

 

In this life phase, elders and their children are making choices related to long-term care insurance and assisted living choices. For many families, this is a stressful time, as elders are reluctant to leave the comfort zones of their lifelong homes and give up some level of independence. Counseling in change management can be helpful.

 

While the end of life is a morbid thought, elders and their children may need support in planning for this event. Setting up a living will and defining advance directives related to end-of-life care can actually reduce some of the stress of this impending event by removing a bit of the uncertainty. Grief counseling after the loved one’s death can also be a valuable consideration to help employees deal with their grave loss.

 

One part of addressing elder needs is promoting a healthy lifestyle to maximize individuals’ capability of enjoying life at any age. The health coaches at AFC Management Services can tailor a plan for needs related to diet and exercise, weight loss, specific health restrictions, and psychological issues related to aging.

 

Human resource professionals can provide counseling and referrals in all these areas to help employees meet the needs of their aging family members as well as plan for their own future needs. 

 

Would you like to learn more about how an employee assistance plan can improve your organizations bottom line? Give us a call and see how we can help at 866-659-3400 ext. 7 or e-mail Fran Bishop at franb@afmsco.com.

 

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How to Make Childcare Costs Less Stressful for Employees

People go through many transitions during their lives. In earlier times workers often lived near extended family members who could provide support during times of change. According to Pew Research, in the 21st century over 60 per cent of people have moved away from their hometowns, many to find jobs. Now when people have to make decisions or need support for life events, they often look to their employers for help.

 

Early stage – raising a family

 

In the early stages of an employee’s career, personal decision-making often centers on children. Family planning is an important consideration. Employer-subsidized insurance often plays a key role in covering childbirth or adoption expenses.

 

Although some amount of maternity, paternity, or adoption leave is mandated by local, state, or federal requirements, including the Family and Medical Leave Act, companies must make decisions about how they will manage paid or unpaid time off for new parents. They also need to deal with fairness in the workplace, creative temporary staffing of the job, and ensuring availability of an equitable position upon the employee’s return to work. It’s important to comply with any relevant laws and maintain good employee relations while also managing program costs and considering the organization’s bottom line.

 

Childcare is a daily need for many employees. Inadequate care can cause a great deal of stress for a worker and lead to inefficiency at work or frequent lost hours of work to leave for emergencies or simply children’s medical or other activities. Some employers choose to provide an on-site childcare facility. This offers parents a convenient and affordable care option, especially helpful for mothers of new babies, who can slip away to nurse and bond with their young children.

 

When an on-site facility is not practical, organizations may help employees in other ways. Some companies offer a childcare subsidy.  A US News and World Report study showed that childcare for a single child ranged from  $344 in rural South Carolina to $1,472 in the District of Columbia. In many states, average childcare costs are higher than college tuition. This expense eats up a significant chunk of a worker’s pay. An employer-provided childcare subsidy can provide the motivation to come to work rather than stay home and save the money on childcare expenses.

 

Companies can also help employees look for state or federal financial support related to children. Lower-income families may qualify for government childcare subsidies or a portion of the earned income tax credit. The child and dependent care tax credit is available as income rises. Support for navigating the somewhat complex process of adoption benefits can help to maximize the employee’s financial outcome. The organization’s HR team or outside consultant may help employees walk through the process of determining eligibility and receiving these various benefits related to childcare.

 

An employee assistance plan can enhance the benefits system you already have so that your employees can operate at top performance. Click here to learn more about how employee assistance plans can boost your bottom line. Contact AFC Management Services to view our case studies and learn more about the services we offer in areas of personal and family needs, eldercare, educational support, fitness and wellness, and many others. Your employees and your bottom line can benefit from your action.

 

Would you like to learn more about how an employee assistance plan can improve your organizations bottom line? Give us a call and see how we can help at 866-659-3400 ext. 7 or e-mail Fran Bishop at franb@afmsco.com.

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Six Key Areas Best Employers Offer in Employee Assistance Programs

 

As a business leader you know that your people are your most important asset. Just like other physical assets, if they start to show wear and tear, they won’t be able to operate at top performance. Because you care about your people and because investment in their wellbeing is good for your bottom line, you may need to provide employee assistance. Learn about how employee assistance plans work so you can introduce a plan to your operations or enhance the system you already have.

 

Workplace effectiveness is highly dependent on the valuable contributions of workers. This in turn depends not only on workers’ skills and competencies, but also on their health and wellness. A healthy worker is free of illness and injury and also free of undue worry and stress so he or she can focus on assigned responsibilities while at work.

 

In this series, we’ll look at several different areas of worker concern and talk about actions you as a business leader can take to help your workers and help your bottom line. Many organizations and corporations strive to provide an integrated care model for employees. Here we’ll focus on best practices in comprehensive, blended, performance-based programs for workplace employees in all areas of life and family. 

 

Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)

 

Your employees spend eight or more hours a day at work, contributing ideas, solving problems, helping colleagues, and performing many other important tasks in their specific assigned jobs as they contribute to your organization’s bottom line.

 

Day after day, employees fill these roles at work and can count on supervisors, trainers, and peers to help them determine how to address work-related issues. However, employees may sometimes have difficulties outside of work and may also need expert advice on how to approach these personal problems. Outside worries are not only stressful for the employee, but they can ultimately lead to poor performance and other problems at work. It’s in the interest of the organization to help employees deal with these issues before they become major disruptive problems.

 

What is an EAP?

 

Many companies offer an EAP as part of their benefits package. The organization retains the services of EAP experts with a goal of keeping employees healthy, both physically and emotionally, so that they can continue to contribute on the job. Outside counselors are hired to offer assessments, counseling, referrals, and follow-up services. Because the company can engage outside specialists rather than maintain expertise within the organization, a wide range of services can be offered effectively and affordably.

 

These services are generally free to the employee and are available to all members of the employee’s household. While individual confidentiality is of the utmost importance, the organization may also work with the EAP providers to address general issues that affect multiple employees across the workplace.

 

Types of problem assistance an EAP may provide

 

EAPs first appeared decades ago and were largely focused on addressing alcohol problems on the job. Today EAPs include numerous areas of service that top employers offer to retain top talent. In fact, making a call to the EAP provider is an excellent first step an employee can take for myriad problems. Many employees are surprised by the depth and breadth of services that are made available to them.

 

Offer #1 - Personal and family – Issues in these areas can be some of the most difficult for people to deal with because they involve fractures in their personal support systems. The EAP can provide counseling and referrals in numerous areas:

  • Substance abuse, including among dependent children
  • Grief counseling
  • Health issues or behavioral problems
  • Family or relationship matters, such as marital problems or divorce
  • General stress

Offer #2 - Legal – While the EAP staff will generally not provide actual legal representation, the employee can often get valuable advice on what to do in a variety of situations, or at least recommendations on where to start. Some issues include:

  • Doing estate planning
  • Setting up a power of attorney
  • Creating a will or living will
  • Pursuing a real estate closing
  • Dealing with family law such as child support, custody, and divorce
  • Following up on an accident
  • Resolving consumer issues
  • Addressing criminal charges

Offer #3 - Financial – All too often, people reach adulthood without adequate training in important financial matters. This can lead to money mismanagement and result in the extreme in loss of a home, personal bankruptcy, or other serious problems. The EAP may offer programs such as these to help employees and their families improve their financial situation:

  • Basic financial planning
  • Debt resolution
  • Budgeting
  • Saving and investment
  • Planning for retirement
  • Financial decision-making, such as buying or leasing a car, buying a home
  • Identifying a financial planner

Offer #4  - Added Value Services – EAP plans vary across organizations and providers. Some may include other subject areas related to:

  • Elder care support
  • Educational support
  • Child care advice
  • Advance directives, including end-of-life care and living wills
  • Work-related issues
  • Critical incident stress management (e.g. debriefing after a casualty at work)
  • Fitness and wellness, including specific areas of smoking cessation or weight loss

 Offer #5 – Keep it Confidential

 

When employees are dealing with personal issues, they may feel vulnerable. They may be especially concerned that demonstrating a personal weakness could cause them embarrassment with coworkers or distrust of their capabilities by supervisors. The employee receiving EAP support must have confidence that the details of his or her concerns are not made public to anyone within the organization.

 

At the same time, a company may have site-wide issues that benefit from group counseling. After department layoffs, loss of a beloved colleague, an act of violence in the workplace, or extreme trauma in the community, a company may call on experts to provide public communication and group grief management exercises, with private counseling made available for individuals who need additional support.

 

Picking the right EAP for your organization

 

While employees generally have free participation in EAP services, the organization does pay fees to the providers, generally as an annual retainer related to number of people in the workplace or tied to actual rate of use. Often multiple providers are engaged to address varying areas of expertise.

 

When selecting providers to serve your EAP, you should consider the needs of employees and the capabilities of the providers. Employee demographics may indicate where to focus. Young workers just starting families may need more help with basic financial planning, budgeting, and childcare support. Older workers may have greater needs for retirement planning, elder care support, and estate planning and wills. If you’re just starting out in establishing an EAP, you may want to anonymously survey employees with a menu of possible services to find out which have the greatest interest.

 

Consider some of these questions when selecting your providers:

  • Does the provider have demonstrated experience with organizations with similar size or demographics?
  • How well do the services offered match your employees’ needs?
  • How is the cost of the program determined?
  • What case studies and demonstrated results can the provider show you?
  • What type of assessment does the provider offer to demonstrate success of the program?

 Contact AFC Management Services to view our case studies and learn more about the services we offer in areas of personal and family needs, eldercare, educational support, fitness and wellness, and many others. Your employees and your bottom line can benefit from your action.

 

 

 

 

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Four Critical Elements of an Effective OSHA Safety Program

With the help of OSHA, businesses have made tremendous progress in worker safety since the start of the Industrial Age. Basic elements of OSHA safety programs include efforts to eliminate inherent safety risks in the workplace and train workers to operate safely. AFC Management Services’ approach to OSHA safety offers enhanced efforts that focus on several areas for further improvement.

 

1 - How OSHA Training Uncovers Mishaps before they Occur

 

The frequency of safety concerns in an organization typically looks like an iceberg, with few deadly and highly visible accidents, but many near misses and unsafe conditions below the surface. Consider these 2015 numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

 

Incidents per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers (FTEs) 

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How Top Performers Use 5 Key Pillars of Emotional Intelligence to Unlock Hidden Strengths

In his article Emotional Intelligence (EI), Harvard Professor Daniel Goleman has reported on the successful utilization of EI concepts in social and emotional learning (SEL) among athletes and corporate executives.  The application of emotional intelligence training can be used to help develop vital leadership behaviors for both managers and executives.

 

EI includes five key skills as discussed in the article What Makes a Leader. Here we articulate ways excellent leadership may pursue actions in these skill areas. 

 

Self-awareness—knowing one's strengths, weaknesses, drives, values, and impact on others

  • Internalize and consistently communicate outwardly values that make sense for the organization.
  • Surround yourself not with sycophants, but with skilled, open-minded people, who will help you to maintain a balanced perspective.
  • Identify your weaknesses and develop compensating methods.
  • Develop decision-making skills that balance using “good enough” information in a timely fashion.

Self-regulation—controlling or redirecting disruptive impulses and moods

  • Recognize your emotions.
  • Think before you act. Develop strategic thinking to anticipate cascaded impacts of your speech and actions.
  • Determine how to drive positive actions from negative situations.
  • Develop a process to deal with any negative emotions internally rather than venting in an uncontrolled way.

Motivation—relishing achievement for its own sake

  • Learn visionary goal-setting, with goals aligned with values.
  • Be inspirational and optimistic.
  • Be a positive and ethical role model.
  • Challenge yourself, individuals, and teams to achieve stretch goals, and provide support.
  • Build resiliency and wellness in yourself and your team. 

Empathy—understanding other people's emotional makeup

  • Spend time among people in the organization.
  • Recognize that people come from diverse backgrounds and cultures and may think and act differently from your expectations.
  • Listen with genuine concern. 

Social skill—building rapport with others to move them in desired directions

  • Listen and relate. Listen first. Leverage the elements of shared thinking to move forward.
  • Listen not just for “yes, sir” but for true agreement and remaining misgivings.
  • Develop the confidence to say, “I don’t know,” “I was wrong,” “I’m sorry,” and “I forgive you,” to show humanity and mend fences when needed. 

Seven elements to include in leadership training using Emotional Intelligence

 

Training for leadership using EI includes multiple elements to overcome resistance to change and provide new skillsets.

 

  1. Address skepticism. Emotional intelligence may be seen by some as a “touchy-feely” concept that doesn’t have value in a fact-based business world. Provide data and examples, such as these business cases, showing the positive correlation between high leadership EI skills and business and personal success.
  2. Encourage vulnerability. Many people in or aspiring to leadership roles are assertive drivers and don’t want to show vulnerability.  Help participants to identify and label their emotions so that they can properly funnel their energies.
  3. Assess and address. Use self-assessment, 360-degree feedback, personality and skills testing to identify individual strengths and weaknesses for each leadership trainee. Customize a training program for individual gap closure.
  4. Model processes and solutions. Utilize role playing to deal with typical leadership situations. Focus not so much on the results, but on the process, that can develop EI skills.
  5. Teach communication skills. Help leaders to understand their own and others’ communication styles so that they adjust for differences and interact more effectively.
  6. Recognize that change is difficult. Vince Lombardi once said: “Leaders aren't born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work.” Incorporate change management training into the overall program. Be prepared to work hard.
  7. Incorporate the five EI skills. Develop training modules that focus on these interpersonal skills rather than technical skills.

By using an emotional intelligence approach in leadership training programs, you can help managers develop their greater potential as true leaders.

 

Would you like to develop a world class leadership training using element of emotional intelligence for your organization? Give us a call and see how we can help at 866-659-3400 ext. 7 or e-mail Fran Bishop at  franb@afmsco.com.

 

 

 

 

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5 Essential Pillars of Leadership Training

One of the key essentials for organizational success is effective leadership. Part of leadership expertise comes from the individual's innate and already-developed capabilities, but other competencies that are missing can be learned through training. Rather than pulling together modules of disconnected technical skills, create a training program that instills the high-level thinking and interpersonal strengths that are seen in the best leaders.

 

What is leadership?
 
According to Forbes magazine, top leaders demonstrate the four key pillars of strategic vision with adaptation, strategic values, investment in talent, and disciplined and relentless execution. From a clerical perspective, Ron Edmonson articulates seven leadership pillars: vision, commitment, decisiveness, courage, people, passion, and character.  

 

These and a myriad of other characterizations describe leadership as much more than management. While the elements of management are necessary  to keep an organization operating efficiently, a leader needs to rise above these details to truly be world class. Consider some of the differences between leading and managing.
 
Comparing Leadership Qualities to Management Qualities

 

 
Leading
Managing
Planning Strategic Tactical, operational
Focus Outward Inward
Thinking Forward Current
Key Concerns Ideas and people Numbers and details
Message Inspirational Rules-oriented, sometimes pedantic
 
Twenty years ago, psychologist Daniel Goleman published the book Emotional Intelligence that brought a new perspective to the essential elements of life and business success. Oxford Dictionary defines the important personal traits of emotional intelligence (EI) as "the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically."
So what are the five pillars of Emotional Intelligence and how can you use them to improve the communication of the leaders and teams within your organization?  Part II of this article series will address that. 
 
Are you developing a leadership training for your organization?
  
AFC serves as a resource partner to several large public agencies including: NGA, SEC, USAID, Booz Allen Hamilton, GAO, FEMA, DHS, State Department and HHS. Can we help your organization with a business process, training or workforce innovation? Give us a call and see how we can help at 866-659-3400 ext. 7 or e-mail Fran Bishop at  franb@afmsco.com.

 

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3 Quick Tips to Reduce RFP Overload

Swimming knee deep in RFP and other year end, must finish deliverables? Here are 3 simple strategies you can use to clear your desk and ease your stress.

  

1. MANAGE EXPECTATIONS

 

One of the biggest mistakes managers can make is to over promise and under deliver. So take a honest, practical audit of your task load and requirements. Can you really finish every item you've been asked to perform and deliver at the timeframe it's expected? If you hesitate to answer then the answer is probably NO. So let someone know, a colleague, customer, vendor, direct report, or whomever what is achievable and what is not. BE HONEST. By letting people know well in advance where you may need help or assistance, nine times out of 10 they will appreciate it and will probably help you find a better solution.

 

2. DELEGATE (Quickly & Constructively)

 

After reviewing the above list ask yourself , "Who can help me with this?" and by help me I mean "Who can I delegate this task to so I can move on to the next?" Again, there is probably someone on your team or in your network that can manage this task just as well as you can. If it still needs your final approval, why not delegate it to them and request a draft be returned to you in enough time that you can review it and send it out at the time requested. This is a great a strategy I often employ with my team. It also helps others stretch and learn new skills and feel appreciated that you thought to ask for their assistance.

 

3. USE LISTS

 

Remember when you went grocery shopping with your mom and she ALWAYS had a list? A list is a great way to keep you on task, focused and committed to the most important requirements at hand. If your mom was like mine, she was always managing a lot of things and managing her $$$ well was on top of her list. Managing your time is just like managing money; don't waste it on unnecessary things!

 

These 3 strategies can make your productivity soar...it certainly has done that for me! I notice my desk is cleared by Friday afternoon and I no longer dread Monday mornings. So try it out and let me know what you think. You can reach me at franb@afmsco.com.

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How To Transform Your Vendors Into Resource Partners

Can vendors really become trusted resource partners? In a strategic partnership, particularly when it’s federal + Industry, both organizations can benefit greatly by collaborating on best business practices and solutions.

Here are 3 key steps AFC has found to be vital in becoming a true resource partner for other businesses and particularly the commercial and public agencies that we serve:

 

Step One: Know your objectives up front

 

What are the business goals or objectives you and your partner want to reach: a process innovation, change management, critical acquisition planning and the list goes on? Before deciding what type of partner you need, you must clearly define the primary goals for your organization and where possible quantify what you plan to achieve.

 

Step Two: Identify potential partners

 

After the objectives are clarified, it’s now time to decide to select the resource partners that will best fit your objectives. Two common practice in the public space are RFI announcements and vendor roundtables. Both practices allow industry to share and expound upon best practice solutions that can become solid resources for the public agencies they serve.


Another example of partner selection may be a Fortune 500 company and a small innovative business. It’s been long said that the best innovations come from the small business community. Large companies know this well and as a result have developed successful strategic partnerships with small businesses that provide nimble, creative resources for their slow behemoth-like business processes.


Don’t be afraid to think big, and don’t be afraid look outside your industry for mentors in unexpected places.

 

Step Three: Network-Network-Network

 

Great partners are everywhere but more often than not you must leave your office to meet them. Small business events, industry days (mentioned earlier) and conferences are terrific venues to not only meet these partners but start the initial discussion and relationship. Demonstrate your readiness and enthusiasm to partner by having a case study or two on hand to share. Sharing a memorable customer experience can go along way in showcasing how your company demonstrates its ability to be a valued resource partner and can make be a fast-track to new business, profits and revenue.

 

Being a resource partner or finding one can support your organization in reaching and even exceeding its performance goals. It can enhance your existing business processes and help your organization BE the benchmark others want to emulate.
So know your objectives, identify potential partners and get out there and find the partners to help your organization grow.

 

The benefits are ABUNDANT!

 

AFC serves as a resource partner to several large public agencies including:  NGA, Army, the Washington Post, Booz Allen Hamilton, GAO, FEMA, DHS, State Department and HHS. Can we help your organization with a business process, training or workforce innovation? Give us a call and see how we can help at 866-659-3400 ext. 7 or email Fran Bishop at franb@afmsco.com.

Are Workshops Worth It? How To Gauge ROI On Employee Wellness Workshops

It’s not hard to tell if you’re running a successful employee wellness program. After all, high participation is usually a clear indicator you’re offering wellness opportunities that resonate with your employees – at least right now.

 

But how can you guarantee continued participation in the future?

 

Which aspects of your programming are must-haves, and which elements (and costs) can be cut?

 

What are the core elements that need to be in place, in order to help employees achieve their fitness goals?


The answer to all these questions and more can be found through employee feedback and analysis.

 

For those savvy enough to ask, “Why aren’t people participating?” a gap analysis can help you pinpoint the problem. From there, you can create workshops as a viable solution to help employees rethink their relationship to fitness, as well as their participation in your wellness program.

 

We recently created a 4-part workshop series for a government client who wanted to find out why employees weren’t participating in their wellness program.

 

Each workshop we offered taught employees about the programming options available to them, how to use them, and how the programs could improve their lives.


Offering workshops alone is not enough. In order achieve program loyalty and increased participation long-term, you also have to get feedback on the workshops themselves, AND analyze your results.


For our most recent government client, employees who attended workshops gave positive feedback on the speakers we chose, as well as the topics we offered. After completing each of the 4 workshops, over 90% of the participants signed up for the company’s Winter Fitness Challenge – a Key Performance Indicator that proved the workshops worked.


Feedback and analysis is important at the executive level as well. In our post-workshop analysis, we observed that our client requested an additional two workshops be added to the schedule because they were so thrilled with the results. Another client, who originally requested biannual workshops, upgraded to quarterly workshops after reporting similar results.


This told us two very important things:


First, employees were learning how to achieve their fitness goals and re-frame their views of wellness by participating in these workshops.


Second, their employers were meeting their goals for increased participation through the very same workshops.


Now, these are two examples of a decidedly non-fitness-oriented community of employees making a drastic 180-degree turn and embracing the seasonal fitness and wellness programming offered to them.


Had our results been less significant, we would have sought direct feedback from employees and management to find out how we could make the workshops more relevant to them. In the same way that we use a gap analysis to identify the reason behind low participation, we can use analysis to determine why employees seem influenced or unaffected by our workshops.


This simple process is a proven turnkey solution we’ve used time and time again to achieve spectacular results.


If you’re ready to boost participation in your employee wellness program, analysis is your best friend in determining why people aren’t participating, and what measures need to be implemented to get them away from their desks and into the gym.


We are now taking appointments. Don’t waste another second on problem programming! Email us to schedule your complimentary gap analysis today: franb@afmsco.com

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How To Enhance Employee Wellness With Supplemental Workshops

Do you remember the first time you used wearable fitness technology? 

 

If you’re like me, there was a definite learning curve! You can’t simply pick up a Fitbit and expect to magically get healthy overnight. Wearable fitness technology is a powerful tool that must first be understood in order to be effective. Once you know how to use it, this tool offers unlimited potential in helping you reach your fitness goals.

 

It’s the same with employee wellness programs.

Offering a lot of feature-rich programming without showing your employees how to use it is sort of like offering someone a Fitbit without explaining how it works. 

 

They might figure it out, but chances are good they’ll simply get frustrated and give up altogether. 

 

In order to help your employees take advantage of everything your program has to offer, you have to frame each program element as a tool that can help them reach their personal goals. 

 

This can be accomplished through a series of workshops that teach employees about your wellness programs in a language that clarifies, motivates, and inspires them. 

 

Recently, a government agency hired us to identify the cause of low employee participation in their wellness program. After identifying gaps in their programming, we developed and produced a 4-part workshop series for their employees. 

  • Workshop 1 focused on identifying the thoughts and beliefs that prevent enhanced wellness. Employees learned new ways to think about exercise, fitness, health and well-being. They learned how to create a complete thought shift that helped them relate to the programming in a new way.
  • Workshop 2 helped employees overcome information overload in terms of their health. Participants learned what they should pay attention to, and what’s just “white noise.” They also learned how to make educated decisions about their health and the health of their families. 
  • Workshop 3 showed employees how to apply insights gained in the first two workshops to their individual lifestyles and habits. Making the connection between concepts and real life is crucial to creating lasting interest in workplace wellness programs. Participants learned new ways to think about and approach fitness in terms of their specific, individualized needs and circumstances. 
  • Workshop 4 focused on long-term wellness solutions, including how to incorporate new healthy habits for the next 6 weeks, 6 months, and beyond. By showing employees exactly how to incorporate wellness programming into their short-term and long-term health goals, you lay the foundation for continued program involvement for years to come. 

Workshops are an extremely effective way to help your employees regain interest in your wellness program and consider possibilities they hadn’t thought of before.

 

In order to implement this turnkey solution, we worked with our client to create four unique workshops focused on the areas most important to them: work/life balance, reducing stress, nutrition, and lifestyle. 

 

Since we often create these workshops for our clients, we had a strong foundation in place and were able to develop the entire program in less than 30 days. Thanks to our established network of thought leaders and wellness industry experts, we were also able to book the most relevant speakers and presenters to address our client’s specific goals for each workshop. 

 

If your employees are unsure about how your wellness program can benefit them, workshops are a wonderful tool to show them what’s available to them and how your programming can change their lives. The process begins with a gap analysis, where we identify the WHY behind low employee attendance in your program. Then we create an action plan to increase participation and employee satisfaction. 

 

We are now taking appointments for 2016, which will be here before you know it. Don’t waste another second on problem programming! Email us to schedule your complimentary gap analysis today: franb@afmsco.com

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Three Small Changes That Can Make A Big Impact In Your Employee Wellness Program

When your employees don’t participate in your wellness program, you’re not just frustrated; you’re wasting precious resources on equipment, classes, instructors, and events that don’t offer a strong ROI.

 

In our last blog post, we revealed how a gap analysis can help you pinpoint the problem and identify ‘the why’ behind low employee participation.

 

When you understand why employees aren’t participating, you can develop a solution that addresses those objections. Then you can inspire them to get involved.

 

Countless Aerobodies clients have found success using our turnkey, customizable workshop solutions to address gaps in their wellness programming. Workshops function as tools that help employees better utilize existing programming.

 

Just as having a Fitbit is not enough to get fit, having an employee wellness program is not enough to guarantee participation. People need to know how to use the tool you’ve given them, and why that tool is important. Workshops serve this purpose by introducing your employees to various aspects of your wellness program, and helping them engage with those aspects in meaningful, personalized ways.

 

Recently we helped our client, a government agency that employs doctors and scientists, develop a 4-part workshop series to address the gaps we identified in their programming.

Employee participation was low because the doctors and scientists weren’t being spoken to in their language, which was the language of research, proof, and scientific analysis. They didn’t want to be sold on health and fitness; they wanted scientific proof that the programs being offered would indeed impact their health in a positive manner.

 

After identifying this gap, we developed a workshop series that featured industry experts and clinical research. Thanks to Aerobodies’ pre-established network of experts, we were able to quickly draw upon our contacts and produce the workshops in just a few weeks.

Once the employees learned about the programming in a language they understood, participation significantly increased.

 

65% of employees were drawn to the workshops because they featured subject matter experts they respected, and because they were formatted in a scientific manner they understood. Once employees attended these workshops and better understood why and how to use the programs available to them, 93% of them signed up for an upcoming winter fitness challenge.

The workshop solution works for three important reasons:

 

1. Aerobodies workshops are turnkey solutions that can be implemented quickly and affordably. We offer workshop creation as an add-on service or as an a la carte service. Because we have a proven system in place to produce these workshops, and a network of subject matter experts on call, we can usually produce workshops in less than 30 days.

 

2. Workshops can be easily customized to solve your company’s most pressing problems. Our management experts are trained to understand the drivers that get employees out of their seats and into your program. We know how to identify the gaps and create a strategic solution that’s customized for your employees and their unique needs.

 

3. Workshops enhance the wellness programming you already have in place. There is no need to reinvent the wheel when you can use workshops to increase employee participation. Workshops are a tool that can be used to change the way your employees think about fitness, help them better understand how they can benefit from your program, and motivate them to reach their fitness goals through your program.

 

If you’re looking for fast, effective solutions to enhance your employee wellness program, a gap analysis is a great place to start. We can help you pinpoint problems and develop swift solutions to dramatically increase participation and ROI.

 

 

We are now taking appointments for 2016, which will be here before you know it. Don’t waste another second on problem programming! Email us to schedule your complimentary gap analysis today: franb@afmsco.com

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How A GAAP Analysis Can Reveal What Your Employees Aren’t Telling Your $$$ Wellness Program

At Aerobodies, we’re dedicated to developing strong worksite health programming that gets your employees excited about health and wellness.

 

Of course this is by no means an easy task! Creating great fitness, safety, ergonomics, and occupational health programs is one thing; getting employees to participate is quite another.

 

That’s why we’ve developed a turnkey solution to help our clients identify gaps in their wellness programming, and completely transform the way their employees think about fitness.

 

The first step to identifying gaps in your wellness program is simply having a conversation.

 

Recently we sat down with a client who had created some truly fantastic programming for their employees, most of whom were doctors and scientific researchers.

 

The challenge?

 

The doctors and scientists were simply not participating in the great programs that were being offered. The company was unsure of how to boost employee participation and was wasting resources because of it. They weren’t hitting their numbers goals, they weren’t seeing a strong ROI, and they had no idea why.

 

When you work with Aerobodies, we provide onsite managers who are highly trained to identify gaps in your wellness program strategy. During our gap analysis for this client, we uncovered two key programming cracks that quickly revealed the source of the problem.

First, we discovered that the employees were perfectly aware of the programs that were available to them. This was an important discovery, because lack of awareness could not be correlated to the lack of participation.

 

Our client’s employees knew about the programs being offered, but still weren’t interested in participating. The burning question remained – Why?

 

In search of the answer, we uncovered the second programming gap: employees weren’t interested in the offered programming because they didn’t buy the science.

In a community of doctors and scientists, it’s crucial to present proven research before making any claims. While the programs being offered claimed to improve employee health and wellbeing, these employees needed proof the programs worked. Because they weren’t seeing the proof, they dismissed the entire program as being ineffective.

 

After we determined why the employees weren’t participating, we were able to develop a solution that directly addressed their concerns. Aerobodies created a 4-part workshop series that featured industry experts, scientific research, and lots of evidence. We framed the wellness program in terms of evidence-based research that appealed to this particular type of employee. 

 

The results of the gap analysis speak for themselves: 65% of employees attended the workshops. What’s more, a whopping 93% of workshop attendees committed to a subsequent winter fitness challenge – but only after getting the research-based evidence they needed to feel excited about the program.

 

Many HR managers hesitate to undergo a gap analysis because they’re afraid it will be time-consuming. The truth is that you can achieve fantastic results with this technique in less than thirty minutes!

 

For this client, we competed a 15-minute intake form, then spent another 15 minutes having a conversation about the core issues impacting their employees. Within 30 minutes, we had completed the gap analysis and identified the major problem holding them back. From there, we developed a turnkey, customizable workshop series that was finished and implemented in less than 30 days.

 

If you’re anything less than thrilled with employee participation in your wellness program, a gap analysis is a fast, effective way to identify the problem.

 

We are now taking appointments for 2016, which will be here before you know it. Don’t waste another second on problem programming! Email us to schedule your complimentary gap analysis today: franb@afmsco.com

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Why Fitness Center Design Matters to Your Employees

Back in the mid-1990s, fitness centers became the new standard in building design. Nearly every new building constructed had a gym or fitness center, and if it didn’t, it slowly lost business to the surrounding buildings that did.


This trend quickly caught on in the corporate world as more and more employers began offering onsite fitness programming, including exercise spaces and equipment.


Flash forward to 2015, when merely having a fitness center as an available option simply won’t do. Today, businesses are scrambling to create cutting-edge fitness centers designed with their employees in mind.


When combined with ergonomic office equipment and fitness program management, strategic facility design becomes a powerful way to attract top talent, keep employees healthy, and establish your business as a leader in the development of wellness-focused company cultures. 


Here are 3 proven ways to improve worksite wellness, encourage employee participation in your program, and make your fitness facility stand out from the competition:


1. Facility Design

The design and layout of your fitness center is crucial to its success. A tired old gym with aging equipment simply won’t cut it in 2015!

Top companies are now designing their fitness centers to cater to employee needs and wants. The most popular choices we’re seeing today include…

·         Rooftop yoga spaces

·         Lap pools with strategically placed windows to showcase sunrises and sunsets

·         LEED certification for environmental sustainability

·         Strategic layout of cutting-edge equipment

Instead of treating their fitness centers as separate entities, savvy business owners are working with the building and using its structure and layout to create unique fitness centers that encourage employee fitness and program participation.


2. Ergonomics Evaluations

Another important aspect of your fitness center and workplace wellness is ergonomics, of the efficiency of your employees’ work spaces, work equipment, and work methods.

Ergonomics is more involved and complicated than simply purchasing ergonomic office chairs and computer monitors. Today’s laws require employers to protect their employees from injury using ergonomic equipment and design, making purchasing and design decisions of utmost importance.

In order to make sure you’re buying the right equipment and designing with efficiency in mind, it’s important to conduct a thorough evaluation of your workspaces. Such an evaluation will prevent spending on equipment you don’t need while identifying changes that will improve employee productivity.


3. Fitness Program Management

Once you have established the most advantageous design and layout of your fitness center and pinpointed ergonomic changes that need to be made, it’s time to investigate management options for your overall fitness program.

Without proper management, many fitness programs languish and die. It takes oversight and integration to keep your employees active and engaged in using your fitness equipment and participating in your wellness programs.

In addition to an enticing fitness center design and ergonomic equipment, great fitness programming incorporates regular events, contests, challenges, and classes to keep employees invested in their own health and wellbeing.

Each area of wellness design – from the design of the actual building to the placement of office equipment – contributes to your employees’ perception of your company, their utilization of program offerings, and your overall ROI. In order to maximize these areas, be sure to…

1. Invest in a strategic fitness center design that differentiates you from the competition, incorporates sustainable certifications like LEED, and offers exciting fitness options like rooftop yoga and lap pools.

2. Develop ergonomic solutions, both in terms of office equipment and design. Keep in mind that an ergonomics evaluation is the most cost-effective way to determine what you need (and what you don’t) to improve office ergonomics.

3. Utilize expert fitness program management to ensure increased employee participation, reduced health insurance costs, and a better ROI for every area of your wellness program.


There are limitless options available for fitness center design and programming. Before you spend a dime on new equipment or a new design, make sure your money is being well spent. At Aerobodies-AFC, we provide a host of fitness center design solutions to help you find the most cost-effective way to positively impact employee wellness. Call (866) 659-3400 or email franb@afmsco.com to find out more. 

How to Reduce the Cost of Employee Health Insurance 

‘Tis the season for workplace wellness!

The holidays will be here before you know it, and as Halloween quickly turns into Thanksgiving, the open enrollment period for health insurance will begin for 2016.

 

From November 1st, 2015 through January 31, 2016, your employees will be thinking about their health insurance options, which in turn will make them think about their overall health.

 

Open enrollment is a great time to give your employees new and better options for monitoring, maintaining, and improving their health both in and out of the workplace.

In addition to operating a workplace fitness program and dedicated fitness center, it’s important to give your employees ample options for preventative healthcare.

By offering biometrics screenings and other health tests, you’ll be able to help your employees be more proactive about their health while preventing costly medical conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

 

Basic biometrics screenings include things like…

·         Finger prick tests for diabetes

·         Blood pressure tests

·         Cardiac tests

·         Flexibility tests

·         Strength tests

 

These tests serve as a biometrics baseline, and can be much more involved and complicated depending on the needs of your employees and your company. For example, many of our clients choose to do in-depth executive evaluations where we perform full-day screenings with a dedicated trauma unit. The more in-depth the data you collect, the more effective your workplace wellness program can be.

 

Besides effective exercise programs and workplace wellness options, biometrics screenings and other health tests are the #1 way your company can reduce its health insurance spend.

 

Just 15 to 20% of the population contributes to the highest health care costs. These costs include the treatment of more serious, chronic or life-threatening conditions like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

Because many of these conditions can be prevented with early screenings and interventions, catching them early is critical, both for the wellbeing of your employees and the wellbeing of your budget.

In order to reap the benefits of biometrics screenings, it’s crucial to find and work with an experienced company that performs these types of screenings regularly. In most cases a team of healthcare professionals will be brought in to administer the appropriate tests. No matter the size of your business, facilitating a company-wide biometrics screening is a big undertaking with a lot of moving parts. In order to administer the tests properly, organize the collected data, and incorporate needed changes into your wellness program based on the test results, you must work with a company well-versed in biometrics screenings and their application.

 

AFC Management provides biometrics screenings of all types to companies large and small. In our experience, these types of tests, when accurately designed to reflect and analyze the specific needs of your company, are the #1 way to reduce instances of disease, improve employee health, and prevent excess health insurance expenditures.

 

When combined with a strong workplace wellness program and engaging fitness options, biometrics screenings becomes a powerful tool for improving the long-term wellbeing of your employees and your company.

 

Are you paying too much for employee health insurance? Are you concerned about conditions like diabetes and heart disease contributing to more sick days and insurance payouts for your employees? If you’re ready to take control of employee wellness at your company, a biometrics screening is the perfect place to start. FIND OUT MORE about conducting a biometrics screening at your company by scheduling a free consultation with the experts at AFC Management. Email Fran at franb@afmsco.com or call (866) 659-3400

6 Easy Ways to Improve Fitness Center Operations: Part 2

In our last blog post, we revealed the 3 foundational elements that must be in place in order to create and manage a flawless fitness center for your corporate employees.

 

In Part 2 of our series on fitness center management, we’ll cover three additional strategies for turning your fitness center from an onsite gym to a comprehensive, integrative wellness experience.

 

4. Reporting

 

In addition to assessing employee attendance and analyzing current operations, it’s important to have a reporting system in place for each and every program you offer.

 

Reporting needs to go beyond tracking employee participation, however. Besides attendance, employee engagement can be measured to assess the success and popularity of each program, the benefits provided, and the return on your investment of resources.

 

By implementing a transparent reporting system that can be integrated into every area of your operations, it becomes easy to see which programs should be retained, which programs can be eliminated, and which programs need improvements. [LEARN MORE]

 

5. Value-add Services

 

Your fitness center offers fitness classes, personal training sessions, wellness workshops and health screenings.

 

Now it’s time to take it to the next level by adding even more value.

 

Once a reporting system has been established, it’s easy to see exactly what employees want and need from your fitness center. From there, you can go above and beyond with value-adds like online fitness journals, access to wearable fitness technology, team-building events and competitions, and family-based fitness outings.

 

Remember to base value-adds on specific feedback you have received from employees during the assessment and reporting process. A family fitness event will fall flat if the majority of your employees are single or have grown children, just as a diabetes screening will fall flat if the majority of your employees are concerned about heart health. [LEARN MORE]

 

6. Maintenance

 

Maintenance is crucial to your fitness center management, both in terms of equipment and facilities upkeep and maintaining relevant programming.

 

A strong maintenance plan will allow you to accurately forecast equipment repairs and ensure employees are never frustrated by broken equipment. Fitness equipment that functions properly will motivate employees to be consistent with their fitness efforts and more easily reach their goals.

 

It’s also important to view your fitness center programming from a maintenance perspective. Just because a certain program was popular five years ago doesn’t mean it’s relevant today.
Be sure to incorporate your reporting from Strategy #4 with the long-term maintenance of each wellness program being offered, ensuring the class or offering is still relevant to your employees. [LEARN MORE]

 

Running a flawless fitness center is easy! Just remember these 6 strategies:

  1. Assess current operations, facilities and programming
  2. Create dynamic programs specifically geared toward your employees
  3. Use modern technology in your fitness center and programs
  4. Develop reporting systems for every program offered
  5. Offer value-add’s that go above and beyond the norm
  6. Implement a maintenance plan to keep your fitness center running smoothly

Are you ready to run a flawless fitness center for your employees? Learn exactly how to implement these 6 winning strategies when you download our FREE whitepaper here: Six Successful Strategies for a Flawless Fitness Center

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6 Easy Ways To Improve Fitness Center Operations: Part 1

Corporate wellness is about more than just offering your employees access to your company’s fitness center.


It’s about providing targeted options and ongoing support specific to the needs of your team, and creating happy, healthy employees who enjoy a high standard of living both in and out of the workplace.
When your employees are happy and healthy, your business can thrive.


But how can you be sure the programs, equipment, and classes available at your fitness center are exactly what they need to become and stay healthy?
Simply follow our proven 6-step system for improving fitness center operations and flawlessly managing your corporate wellness programs.


In this two-part series, we’ll reveal the 6 crucial elements every company needs to keep their fitness center running smoothly and keep program participation high.


1. Assessment


Whether you’re revamping your wellness program or opening a brand new fitness center for your employees, conducting a comprehensive assessment is crucial to your success.


Assessing areas like patron usage times, equipment layout, and patron feedback will help you determine what changes need to be made, and how best to manage your wellness center for increased participation.


For example, if during your assessment you determine that most employees use the fitness center during their lunch hour, you can create special programs and opportunities during that time, and cut operations costs at other times of the day. [LEARN MORE]


2. Programming


Offering programs that appeal to your employees is the #1 way to increase attendance at your fitness center.


Remember that programming needs to reach beyond mere physical fitness, and incorporate all areas of health and wellness. These include emotional health, mental health, seasonal health, safety, and more.


The most successful fitness centers cover all of these areas by implementing a variety of programs in addition to fitness classes: from wellness assessments and personal training sessions to health fairs and team-based challenges. [LEARN MORE]

3. Modern Technology


Incorporating cutting edge technology into your fitness center will cut operation costs and increase enthusiasm for personal health and fitness.


By using green technology and energy-efficient equipment, your company can greatly reduce the costs of running your fitness center.


Technology is also a great way to increase employee participation and make getting fit fun. Consider implementing smart-messaging boards and digital kiosks into your center, and using wearable fitness technology and web-based fitness software to create a comprehensive wellness experience both online and off. [LEARN MORE]


With a strategic assessment of your current operation, the implementation of strong programming, and the use of the latest technology, you’ll be well on your way to improving fitness center operations and creating a wellness environment your employees will love.


But you’re not finished yet! In Part 2 of this series, we’ll reveal the remaining elements that must be included in order to achieve flawless fitness center management.


For a sneak peek at our 6-part strategy, download your FREE copy of our whitepaper here: Six Successful Strategies for a Flawless Fitness Center.

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Increase Your Event’s Impact With Fitness Technology

At AFC, we envision, produce, and execute a variety of different health and wellness events throughout the year. These events range from big fitness promotions with partners like Microsoft to intimate, community-based events for children and families.

No matter who we’re serving or where the event takes place, we’ve discovered that the #1 most important ingredient for success is to incorporate technology into the event, both in terms of its promotion and the actual activities our participants take part in.

Take MECKids, for instance. This organization was created to cater specifically to the health and fitness needs of kids and teens. Because today’s kids are very tech-savvy, we knew that incorporating technology into our fitness programs and live events would help get and keep kids interested in their own physical fitness.

First, we created an online health and fitness network to help kids set and track their fitness goals. We then developed the “You Gotta Move” program, an interactive web-based contest that challenges kids to make tangible health and fitness changes to their lifestyle in just 90 days.

But the online component of this event is only one piece of the technological pie. “You Gotta Move” participants also use wearable fitness technology like pedometers and heart rate monitors to further involve them in tracking their fitness goals during the contest.

In addition to web-based tracking and wearable fitness technology, MECKids hosts a variety of live fitness promotions and events throughout the year, including momnmeFIT, Get Kids Moving, and our upcoming feature at the Ford Neigborhood Awards in Atlanta, Georgia with none other than Steve Harvey.

Attendees for these events are drawn from our web audience, who are eager to participate and further the progress they’ve made online, as well as connect with like-minded kids who are also meeting their fitness goals.

At all of these events, we continue to incorporate cutting edge technology to keep kids excited about their fitness goals. Sponsors and partners like Microsoft and Sprint provide our participants with the opportunity to try and learn new technologies directly related to health and fitness, such as advances in wearable fitness technology and goal-tracking apps.

But fitness technology isn’t just for kids! All of our fitness promotions and events incorporate web and other technologies in order to maximize the success of each participant before, during, and after the event.

The Walk It OFFice fitness challenge combines a 90-day online contest for corporate employees sandwiched between two live events: a highly publicized outdoor media event followed by an elaborate awards ceremony.

Between the two events, participants in the contest track their steps in an online walking journal that incorporates interactive maps, nutrition education, and motivational tips.

While live events are unparalleled for inspiring kids and adults to get fit, incorporating technology is crucial for long-term goal achievement. Technology allows participants to take control of their health and fitness goals on their terms and on their schedule. Apps and wearable fitness technology make tracking fitness fun, and participating in an online community keeps everyone accountable to their goals.

By using the power of web-based technologies and wearable fitness technology, you can significantly increase the impact of your fitness event and empower participants to make real, lasting changes in their fitness levels before, during, and after your event.

We talk the talk, but can we really walk the (fitness tech event) walk? See for yourself by attending the MECKids Racing team, where MECKids will partner with Children’s National Medical Center to bring families together to raise awareness and support children’s health research.  A day packed with health, fitness and lots of fun. Join our MECKIDS RACE team.

For more information on incorporating technology into your next fitness programs and fitness center offerings, download our FREE whitepaper, Six Successful Strategies for a Flawless Fitness Center

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5 Proven Ways To Host A Successful Corporate Fitness Or Wellness Event

Hosting a successful fitness event is a huge undertaking, a massive challenge, and one of the most rewarding things you can do to serve your target audience.

 

Fitness events bring communities together while helping teams and families form lasting bonds that stretch beyond the office, the gym, and the playground.

 

At AFC, we’ve produced and partnered on dozens of fitness promotions and events over the past several decades. Through a lot of trial and error, we’ve discovered what works and what doesn’t when it comes to getting people involved and excited about their fitness and health.


If you need to produce an event that is well-attended, gets the attention of leaders in your industry, and provides maximum value to your target market, simply follow this 5-step system:

 

Step One: Be of service

 

It’s great to have goals for your fitness event, but don’t let your hunger for success supersede your desire to be of service to your audience.


The best events we’ve hosted, from our “You Gotta Move” MECKids contest to our Walk It OFFice wellness event for adults, were created and executed from a place of service to our participants. All of the other benefits of hosting a successful event were merely icing on the cake.

 

Step Two: Define your audience

 

A great fitness promotion or event is targeted toward a specific audience, target market, or community. The best way to be of service to your customers is to first define who, exactly, you want to serve.


While MECKids is focused on kids and their families, we streamline our targeting for each event we produce in order to appeal to even more specific demographics.


Our “momNmeFit” event, for instance, targets mothers with school-aged children, while our “Walk It OFFice” event is geared toward employees in the legal profession. 

 

Step Three: Solve a specific problem

 

Obesity in 6 to 11-year olds has more than doubled over the past two decades.


That’s a very specific problem that our MECKids “You Gotta Move” event was created to solve. Once you have identified who you’re serving, take a close look at their most pressing fitness and health concerns.


Some groups will resonate with an event focused on weight loss, while others will love learning about healthy cooking and eating habits.

 

Make sure the goal of your event is for attendees to leave with actionable tips they can take home and implement once the event is over. In this way, your fitness event will provide value to attendees during the event and help them to make lifelong improvements.

 

Step Four: Integrate with technology

 

The foundation of our “Walk it OFFice” and “Lose to Win” events is the ability to integrate an interactive health and wellness tracking system for employees spread out in different locations which allows them to monitor their fitness goals online.


By using technology to get employees excited about fitness, we’ve built a loyal tribe of followers that jump to attend every live event we produce. Using technology to promote live events, and using live events to complement technology, are two powerful ways to increase your reach and event attendance.


Step Five: Focus on team-building


Whether we’re partnering with Microsoft to help kids track their fitness, or launching a 90-day walking challenge for corporate employees, our focus is on building supportive teams and communities.
The best fitness promotions and events leverage the power of groups and teams to help everyone involved meet their fitness goals.


Your next fitness promotion or event is sure to be a success! Simply remember to stay focused on service, define your target market, solve a tangible problem, use technology as a tool, and focus on team-building.


We talk the talk, but can we really walk the (fitness event) walk? See for yourself by attending our next fitness event:


Race For The Cure

The Race for Every Child to benefit Children's National Health System is a fun-filled annual family event with a serious purpose: To bring the Washington metropolitan community together to encourage children's health and wellness and to raise much-needed funds that help the region's only children's hospital provide world-class preventive and critical medical care to every family in need. We are excited to be part of the amazing event! Join Our Team!

 

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Are Workshops Worth It? How To Gauge ROI On Employee Wellness Workshops

It’s not hard to tell if you’re running a successful employee wellness program. After all, high participation is usually a clear indicator you’re offering wellness opportunities that resonate with your employees – at least right now.

 

But how can you guarantee continued participation in the future?

 

Which aspects of your programming are must-haves, and which elements (and costs) can be cut?

 

What are the core elements that need to be in place, in order to help employees achieve their fitness goals?


The answer to all these questions and more can be found through employee feedback and analysis.

 

For those savvy enough to ask, “Why aren’t people participating?” a gap analysis can help you pinpoint the problem. From there, you can create workshops as a viable solution to help employees rethink their relationship to fitness, as well as their participation in your wellness program.

 

We recently created a 4-part workshop series for a government client who wanted to find out why employees weren’t participating in their wellness program.

 

Each workshop we offered taught employees about the programming options available to them, how to use them, and how the programs could improve their lives.


Offering workshops alone is not enough. In order achieve program loyalty and increased participation long-term, you also have to get feedback on the workshops themselves, AND analyze your results.


For our most recent government client, employees who attended workshops gave positive feedback on the speakers we chose, as well as the topics we offered. After completing each of the 4 workshops, over 90% of the participants signed up for the company’s Winter Fitness Challenge – a Key Performance Indicator that proved the workshops worked.


Feedback and analysis is important at the executive level as well. In our post-workshop analysis, we observed that our client requested an additional two workshops be added to the schedule because they were so thrilled with the results. Another client, who originally requested biannual workshops, upgraded to quarterly workshops after reporting similar results.


This told us two very important things:


First, employees were learning how to achieve their fitness goals and re-frame their views of wellness by participating in these workshops.


Second, their employers were meeting their goals for increased participation through the very same workshops.


Now, these are two examples of a decidedly non-fitness-oriented community of employees making a drastic 180-degree turn and embracing the seasonal fitness and wellness programming offered to them.


Had our results been less significant, we would have sought direct feedback from employees and management to find out how we could make the workshops more relevant to them. In the same way that we use a gap analysis to identify the reason behind low participation, we can use analysis to determine why employees seem influenced or unaffected by our workshops.


This simple process is a proven turnkey solution we’ve used time and time again to achieve spectacular results.


If you’re ready to boost participation in your employee wellness program, analysis is your best friend in determining why people aren’t participating, and what measures need to be implemented to get them away from their desks and into the gym.


We are now taking appointments. Don’t waste another second on problem programming! Email us to schedule your complimentary gap analysis today: franb@afmsco.com

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How To Enhance Employee Wellness With Supplemental Workshops

Do you remember the first time you used wearable fitness technology? 

 

If you’re like me, there was a definite learning curve! You can’t simply pick up a Fitbit and expect to magically get healthy overnight. Wearable fitness technology is a powerful tool that must first be understood in order to be effective. Once you know how to use it, this tool offers unlimited potential in helping you reach your fitness goals.

 

It’s the same with employee wellness programs.

Offering a lot of feature-rich programming without showing your employees how to use it is sort of like offering someone a Fitbit without explaining how it works. 

 

They might figure it out, but chances are good they’ll simply get frustrated and give up altogether. 

 

In order to help your employees take advantage of everything your program has to offer, you have to frame each program element as a tool that can help them reach their personal goals. 

 

This can be accomplished through a series of workshops that teach employees about your wellness programs in a language that clarifies, motivates, and inspires them. 

 

Recently, a government agency hired us to identify the cause of low employee participation in their wellness program. After identifying gaps in their programming, we developed and produced a 4-part workshop series for their employees. 

  • Workshop 1 focused on identifying the thoughts and beliefs that prevent enhanced wellness. Employees learned new ways to think about exercise, fitness, health and well-being. They learned how to create a complete thought shift that helped them relate to the programming in a new way.
  • Workshop 2 helped employees overcome information overload in terms of their health. Participants learned what they should pay attention to, and what’s just “white noise.” They also learned how to make educated decisions about their health and the health of their families. 
  • Workshop 3 showed employees how to apply insights gained in the first two workshops to their individual lifestyles and habits. Making the connection between concepts and real life is crucial to creating lasting interest in workplace wellness programs. Participants learned new ways to think about and approach fitness in terms of their specific, individualized needs and circumstances. 
  • Workshop 4 focused on long-term wellness solutions, including how to incorporate new healthy habits for the next 6 weeks, 6 months, and beyond. By showing employees exactly how to incorporate wellness programming into their short-term and long-term health goals, you lay the foundation for continued program involvement for years to come. 

Workshops are an extremely effective way to help your employees regain interest in your wellness program and consider possibilities they hadn’t thought of before.

 

In order to implement this turnkey solution, we worked with our client to create four unique workshops focused on the areas most important to them: work/life balance, reducing stress, nutrition, and lifestyle. 

 

Since we often create these workshops for our clients, we had a strong foundation in place and were able to develop the entire program in less than 30 days. Thanks to our established network of thought leaders and wellness industry experts, we were also able to book the most relevant speakers and presenters to address our client’s specific goals for each workshop. 

 

If your employees are unsure about how your wellness program can benefit them, workshops are a wonderful tool to show them what’s available to them and how your programming can change their lives. The process begins with a gap analysis, where we identify the WHY behind low employee attendance in your program. Then we create an action plan to increase participation and employee satisfaction. 

 

We are now taking appointments for 2016, which will be here before you know it. Don’t waste another second on problem programming! Email us to schedule your complimentary gap analysis today: franb@afmsco.com

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Three Small Changes That Can Make A Big Impact In Your Employee Wellness Program

When your employees don’t participate in your wellness program, you’re not just frustrated; you’re wasting precious resources on equipment, classes, instructors, and events that don’t offer a strong ROI.

 

In our last blog post, we revealed how a gap analysis can help you pinpoint the problem and identify ‘the why’ behind low employee participation.

 

When you understand why employees aren’t participating, you can develop a solution that addresses those objections. Then you can inspire them to get involved.

 

Countless Aerobodies clients have found success using our turnkey, customizable workshop solutions to address gaps in their wellness programming. Workshops function as tools that help employees better utilize existing programming.

 

Just as having a Fitbit is not enough to get fit, having an employee wellness program is not enough to guarantee participation. People need to know how to use the tool you’ve given them, and why that tool is important. Workshops serve this purpose by introducing your employees to various aspects of your wellness program, and helping them engage with those aspects in meaningful, personalized ways.

 

Recently we helped our client, a government agency that employs doctors and scientists, develop a 4-part workshop series to address the gaps we identified in their programming.

Employee participation was low because the doctors and scientists weren’t being spoken to in their language, which was the language of research, proof, and scientific analysis. They didn’t want to be sold on health and fitness; they wanted scientific proof that the programs being offered would indeed impact their health in a positive manner.

 

After identifying this gap, we developed a workshop series that featured industry experts and clinical research. Thanks to Aerobodies’ pre-established network of experts, we were able to quickly draw upon our contacts and produce the workshops in just a few weeks.

Once the employees learned about the programming in a language they understood, participation significantly increased.

 

65% of employees were drawn to the workshops because they featured subject matter experts they respected, and because they were formatted in a scientific manner they understood. Once employees attended these workshops and better understood why and how to use the programs available to them, 93% of them signed up for an upcoming winter fitness challenge.

The workshop solution works for three important reasons:

 

1. Aerobodies workshops are turnkey solutions that can be implemented quickly and affordably. We offer workshop creation as an add-on service or as an a la carte service. Because we have a proven system in place to produce these workshops, and a network of subject matter experts on call, we can usually produce workshops in less than 30 days.

 

2. Workshops can be easily customized to solve your company’s most pressing problems. Our management experts are trained to understand the drivers that get employees out of their seats and into your program. We know how to identify the gaps and create a strategic solution that’s customized for your employees and their unique needs.

 

3. Workshops enhance the wellness programming you already have in place. There is no need to reinvent the wheel when you can use workshops to increase employee participation. Workshops are a tool that can be used to change the way your employees think about fitness, help them better understand how they can benefit from your program, and motivate them to reach their fitness goals through your program.

 

If you’re looking for fast, effective solutions to enhance your employee wellness program, a gap analysis is a great place to start. We can help you pinpoint problems and develop swift solutions to dramatically increase participation and ROI.

 

 

We are now taking appointments for 2016, which will be here before you know it. Don’t waste another second on problem programming! Email us to schedule your complimentary gap analysis today: franb@afmsco.com

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How A GAAP Analysis Can Reveal What Your Employees Aren’t Telling Your $$$ Wellness Program

At Aerobodies, we’re dedicated to developing strong worksite health programming that gets your employees excited about health and wellness.

 

Of course this is by no means an easy task! Creating great fitness, safety, ergonomics, and occupational health programs is one thing; getting employees to participate is quite another.

 

That’s why we’ve developed a turnkey solution to help our clients identify gaps in their wellness programming, and completely transform the way their employees think about fitness.

 

The first step to identifying gaps in your wellness program is simply having a conversation.

 

Recently we sat down with a client who had created some truly fantastic programming for their employees, most of whom were doctors and scientific researchers.

 

The challenge?

 

The doctors and scientists were simply not participating in the great programs that were being offered. The company was unsure of how to boost employee participation and was wasting resources because of it. They weren’t hitting their numbers goals, they weren’t seeing a strong ROI, and they had no idea why.

 

When you work with Aerobodies, we provide onsite managers who are highly trained to identify gaps in your wellness program strategy. During our gap analysis for this client, we uncovered two key programming cracks that quickly revealed the source of the problem.

First, we discovered that the employees were perfectly aware of the programs that were available to them. This was an important discovery, because lack of awareness could not be correlated to the lack of participation.

 

Our client’s employees knew about the programs being offered, but still weren’t interested in participating. The burning question remained – Why?

 

In search of the answer, we uncovered the second programming gap: employees weren’t interested in the offered programming because they didn’t buy the science.

In a community of doctors and scientists, it’s crucial to present proven research before making any claims. While the programs being offered claimed to improve employee health and wellbeing, these employees needed proof the programs worked. Because they weren’t seeing the proof, they dismissed the entire program as being ineffective.

 

After we determined why the employees weren’t participating, we were able to develop a solution that directly addressed their concerns. Aerobodies created a 4-part workshop series that featured industry experts, scientific research, and lots of evidence. We framed the wellness program in terms of evidence-based research that appealed to this particular type of employee. 

 

The results of the gap analysis speak for themselves: 65% of employees attended the workshops. What’s more, a whopping 93% of workshop attendees committed to a subsequent winter fitness challenge – but only after getting the research-based evidence they needed to feel excited about the program.

 

Many HR managers hesitate to undergo a gap analysis because they’re afraid it will be time-consuming. The truth is that you can achieve fantastic results with this technique in less than thirty minutes!

 

For this client, we competed a 15-minute intake form, then spent another 15 minutes having a conversation about the core issues impacting their employees. Within 30 minutes, we had completed the gap analysis and identified the major problem holding them back. From there, we developed a turnkey, customizable workshop series that was finished and implemented in less than 30 days.

 

If you’re anything less than thrilled with employee participation in your wellness program, a gap analysis is a fast, effective way to identify the problem.

 

We are now taking appointments for 2016, which will be here before you know it. Don’t waste another second on problem programming! Email us to schedule your complimentary gap analysis today: franb@afmsco.com

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Why Fitness Center Design Matters to Your Employees

Back in the mid-1990s, fitness centers became the new standard in building design. Nearly every new building constructed had a gym or fitness center, and if it didn’t, it slowly lost business to the surrounding buildings that did.


This trend quickly caught on in the corporate world as more and more employers began offering onsite fitness programming, including exercise spaces and equipment.


Flash forward to 2015, when merely having a fitness center as an available option simply won’t do. Today, businesses are scrambling to create cutting-edge fitness centers designed with their employees in mind.


When combined with ergonomic office equipment and fitness program management, strategic facility design becomes a powerful way to attract top talent, keep employees healthy, and establish your business as a leader in the development of wellness-focused company cultures. 


Here are 3 proven ways to improve worksite wellness, encourage employee participation in your program, and make your fitness facility stand out from the competition:


1. Facility Design

The design and layout of your fitness center is crucial to its success. A tired old gym with aging equipment simply won’t cut it in 2015!

Top companies are now designing their fitness centers to cater to employee needs and wants. The most popular choices we’re seeing today include…

·         Rooftop yoga spaces

·         Lap pools with strategically placed windows to showcase sunrises and sunsets

·         LEED certification for environmental sustainability

·         Strategic layout of cutting-edge equipment

Instead of treating their fitness centers as separate entities, savvy business owners are working with the building and using its structure and layout to create unique fitness centers that encourage employee fitness and program participation.


2. Ergonomics Evaluations

Another important aspect of your fitness center and workplace wellness is ergonomics, of the efficiency of your employees’ work spaces, work equipment, and work methods.

Ergonomics is more involved and complicated than simply purchasing ergonomic office chairs and computer monitors. Today’s laws require employers to protect their employees from injury using ergonomic equipment and design, making purchasing and design decisions of utmost importance.

In order to make sure you’re buying the right equipment and designing with efficiency in mind, it’s important to conduct a thorough evaluation of your workspaces. Such an evaluation will prevent spending on equipment you don’t need while identifying changes that will improve employee productivity.


3. Fitness Program Management

Once you have established the most advantageous design and layout of your fitness center and pinpointed ergonomic changes that need to be made, it’s time to investigate management options for your overall fitness program.

Without proper management, many fitness programs languish and die. It takes oversight and integration to keep your employees active and engaged in using your fitness equipment and participating in your wellness programs.

In addition to an enticing fitness center design and ergonomic equipment, great fitness programming incorporates regular events, contests, challenges, and classes to keep employees invested in their own health and wellbeing.

Each area of wellness design – from the design of the actual building to the placement of office equipment – contributes to your employees’ perception of your company, their utilization of program offerings, and your overall ROI. In order to maximize these areas, be sure to…

1. Invest in a strategic fitness center design that differentiates you from the competition, incorporates sustainable certifications like LEED, and offers exciting fitness options like rooftop yoga and lap pools.

2. Develop ergonomic solutions, both in terms of office equipment and design. Keep in mind that an ergonomics evaluation is the most cost-effective way to determine what you need (and what you don’t) to improve office ergonomics.

3. Utilize expert fitness program management to ensure increased employee participation, reduced health insurance costs, and a better ROI for every area of your wellness program.


There are limitless options available for fitness center design and programming. Before you spend a dime on new equipment or a new design, make sure your money is being well spent. At Aerobodies-AFC, we provide a host of fitness center design solutions to help you find the most cost-effective way to positively impact employee wellness. Call (866) 659-3400 or email franb@afmsco.com to find out more. 

How to Reduce the Cost of Employee Health Insurance 

‘Tis the season for workplace wellness!

The holidays will be here before you know it, and as Halloween quickly turns into Thanksgiving, the open enrollment period for health insurance will begin for 2016.

 

From November 1st, 2015 through January 31, 2016, your employees will be thinking about their health insurance options, which in turn will make them think about their overall health.

 

Open enrollment is a great time to give your employees new and better options for monitoring, maintaining, and improving their health both in and out of the workplace.

In addition to operating a workplace fitness program and dedicated fitness center, it’s important to give your employees ample options for preventative healthcare.

By offering biometrics screenings and other health tests, you’ll be able to help your employees be more proactive about their health while preventing costly medical conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

 

Basic biometrics screenings include things like…

·         Finger prick tests for diabetes

·         Blood pressure tests

·         Cardiac tests

·         Flexibility tests

·         Strength tests

 

These tests serve as a biometrics baseline, and can be much more involved and complicated depending on the needs of your employees and your company. For example, many of our clients choose to do in-depth executive evaluations where we perform full-day screenings with a dedicated trauma unit. The more in-depth the data you collect, the more effective your workplace wellness program can be.

 

Besides effective exercise programs and workplace wellness options, biometrics screenings and other health tests are the #1 way your company can reduce its health insurance spend.

 

Just 15 to 20% of the population contributes to the highest health care costs. These costs include the treatment of more serious, chronic or life-threatening conditions like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

Because many of these conditions can be prevented with early screenings and interventions, catching them early is critical, both for the wellbeing of your employees and the wellbeing of your budget.

In order to reap the benefits of biometrics screenings, it’s crucial to find and work with an experienced company that performs these types of screenings regularly. In most cases a team of healthcare professionals will be brought in to administer the appropriate tests. No matter the size of your business, facilitating a company-wide biometrics screening is a big undertaking with a lot of moving parts. In order to administer the tests properly, organize the collected data, and incorporate needed changes into your wellness program based on the test results, you must work with a company well-versed in biometrics screenings and their application.

 

AFC Management provides biometrics screenings of all types to companies large and small. In our experience, these types of tests, when accurately designed to reflect and analyze the specific needs of your company, are the #1 way to reduce instances of disease, improve employee health, and prevent excess health insurance expenditures.

 

When combined with a strong workplace wellness program and engaging fitness options, biometrics screenings becomes a powerful tool for improving the long-term wellbeing of your employees and your company.

 

Are you paying too much for employee health insurance? Are you concerned about conditions like diabetes and heart disease contributing to more sick days and insurance payouts for your employees? If you’re ready to take control of employee wellness at your company, a biometrics screening is the perfect place to start. FIND OUT MORE about conducting a biometrics screening at your company by scheduling a free consultation with the experts at AFC Management. Email Fran at franb@afmsco.com or call (866) 659-3400

6 Easy Ways to Improve Fitness Center Operations: Part 2

In our last blog post, we revealed the 3 foundational elements that must be in place in order to create and manage a flawless fitness center for your corporate employees.

 

In Part 2 of our series on fitness center management, we’ll cover three additional strategies for turning your fitness center from an onsite gym to a comprehensive, integrative wellness experience.

 

4. Reporting

 

In addition to assessing employee attendance and analyzing current operations, it’s important to have a reporting system in place for each and every program you offer.

 

Reporting needs to go beyond tracking employee participation, however. Besides attendance, employee engagement can be measured to assess the success and popularity of each program, the benefits provided, and the return on your investment of resources.

 

By implementing a transparent reporting system that can be integrated into every area of your operations, it becomes easy to see which programs should be retained, which programs can be eliminated, and which programs need improvements. [LEARN MORE]

 

5. Value-add Services

 

Your fitness center offers fitness classes, personal training sessions, wellness workshops and health screenings.

 

Now it’s time to take it to the next level by adding even more value.

 

Once a reporting system has been established, it’s easy to see exactly what employees want and need from your fitness center. From there, you can go above and beyond with value-adds like online fitness journals, access to wearable fitness technology, team-building events and competitions, and family-based fitness outings.

 

Remember to base value-adds on specific feedback you have received from employees during the assessment and reporting process. A family fitness event will fall flat if the majority of your employees are single or have grown children, just as a diabetes screening will fall flat if the majority of your employees are concerned about heart health. [LEARN MORE]

 

6. Maintenance

 

Maintenance is crucial to your fitness center management, both in terms of equipment and facilities upkeep and maintaining relevant programming.

 

A strong maintenance plan will allow you to accurately forecast equipment repairs and ensure employees are never frustrated by broken equipment. Fitness equipment that functions properly will motivate employees to be consistent with their fitness efforts and more easily reach their goals.

 

It’s also important to view your fitness center programming from a maintenance perspective. Just because a certain program was popular five years ago doesn’t mean it’s relevant today.
Be sure to incorporate your reporting from Strategy #4 with the long-term maintenance of each wellness program being offered, ensuring the class or offering is still relevant to your employees. [LEARN MORE]

 

Running a flawless fitness center is easy! Just remember these 6 strategies:

  1. Assess current operations, facilities and programming
  2. Create dynamic programs specifically geared toward your employees
  3. Use modern technology in your fitness center and programs
  4. Develop reporting systems for every program offered
  5. Offer value-add’s that go above and beyond the norm
  6. Implement a maintenance plan to keep your fitness center running smoothly

Are you ready to run a flawless fitness center for your employees? Learn exactly how to implement these 6 winning strategies when you download our FREE whitepaper here: Six Successful Strategies for a Flawless Fitness Center

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6 Easy Ways To Improve Fitness Center Operations: Part 1

Corporate wellness is about more than just offering your employees access to your company’s fitness center.


It’s about providing targeted options and ongoing support specific to the needs of your team, and creating happy, healthy employees who enjoy a high standard of living both in and out of the workplace.
When your employees are happy and healthy, your business can thrive.


But how can you be sure the programs, equipment, and classes available at your fitness center are exactly what they need to become and stay healthy?
Simply follow our proven 6-step system for improving fitness center operations and flawlessly managing your corporate wellness programs.


In this two-part series, we’ll reveal the 6 crucial elements every company needs to keep their fitness center running smoothly and keep program participation high.


1. Assessment


Whether you’re revamping your wellness program or opening a brand new fitness center for your employees, conducting a comprehensive assessment is crucial to your success.


Assessing areas like patron usage times, equipment layout, and patron feedback will help you determine what changes need to be made, and how best to manage your wellness center for increased participation.


For example, if during your assessment you determine that most employees use the fitness center during their lunch hour, you can create special programs and opportunities during that time, and cut operations costs at other times of the day. [LEARN MORE]


2. Programming


Offering programs that appeal to your employees is the #1 way to increase attendance at your fitness center.


Remember that programming needs to reach beyond mere physical fitness, and incorporate all areas of health and wellness. These include emotional health, mental health, seasonal health, safety, and more.


The most successful fitness centers cover all of these areas by implementing a variety of programs in addition to fitness classes: from wellness assessments and personal training sessions to health fairs and team-based challenges. [LEARN MORE]

3. Modern Technology


Incorporating cutting edge technology into your fitness center will cut operation costs and increase enthusiasm for personal health and fitness.


By using green technology and energy-efficient equipment, your company can greatly reduce the costs of running your fitness center.


Technology is also a great way to increase employee participation and make getting fit fun. Consider implementing smart-messaging boards and digital kiosks into your center, and using wearable fitness technology and web-based fitness software to create a comprehensive wellness experience both online and off. [LEARN MORE]


With a strategic assessment of your current operation, the implementation of strong programming, and the use of the latest technology, you’ll be well on your way to improving fitness center operations and creating a wellness environment your employees will love.


But you’re not finished yet! In Part 2 of this series, we’ll reveal the remaining elements that must be included in order to achieve flawless fitness center management.


For a sneak peek at our 6-part strategy, download your FREE copy of our whitepaper here: Six Successful Strategies for a Flawless Fitness Center.

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Increase Your Event’s Impact With Fitness Technology

At AFC, we envision, produce, and execute a variety of different health and wellness events throughout the year. These events range from big fitness promotions with partners like Microsoft to intimate, community-based events for children and families.

No matter who we’re serving or where the event takes place, we’ve discovered that the #1 most important ingredient for success is to incorporate technology into the event, both in terms of its promotion and the actual activities our participants take part in.

Take MECKids, for instance. This organization was created to cater specifically to the health and fitness needs of kids and teens. Because today’s kids are very tech-savvy, we knew that incorporating technology into our fitness programs and live events would help get and keep kids interested in their own physical fitness.

First, we created an online health and fitness network to help kids set and track their fitness goals. We then developed the “You Gotta Move” program, an interactive web-based contest that challenges kids to make tangible health and fitness changes to their lifestyle in just 90 days.

But the online component of this event is only one piece of the technological pie. “You Gotta Move” participants also use wearable fitness technology like pedometers and heart rate monitors to further involve them in tracking their fitness goals during the contest.

In addition to web-based tracking and wearable fitness technology, MECKids hosts a variety of live fitness promotions and events throughout the year, including momnmeFIT, Get Kids Moving, and our upcoming feature at the Ford Neigborhood Awards in Atlanta, Georgia with none other than Steve Harvey.

Attendees for these events are drawn from our web audience, who are eager to participate and further the progress they’ve made online, as well as connect with like-minded kids who are also meeting their fitness goals.

At all of these events, we continue to incorporate cutting edge technology to keep kids excited about their fitness goals. Sponsors and partners like Microsoft and Sprint provide our participants with the opportunity to try and learn new technologies directly related to health and fitness, such as advances in wearable fitness technology and goal-tracking apps.

But fitness technology isn’t just for kids! All of our fitness promotions and events incorporate web and other technologies in order to maximize the success of each participant before, during, and after the event.

The Walk It OFFice fitness challenge combines a 90-day online contest for corporate employees sandwiched between two live events: a highly publicized outdoor media event followed by an elaborate awards ceremony.

Between the two events, participants in the contest track their steps in an online walking journal that incorporates interactive maps, nutrition education, and motivational tips.

While live events are unparalleled for inspiring kids and adults to get fit, incorporating technology is crucial for long-term goal achievement. Technology allows participants to take control of their health and fitness goals on their terms and on their schedule. Apps and wearable fitness technology make tracking fitness fun, and participating in an online community keeps everyone accountable to their goals.

By using the power of web-based technologies and wearable fitness technology, you can significantly increase the impact of your fitness event and empower participants to make real, lasting changes in their fitness levels before, during, and after your event.

We talk the talk, but can we really walk the (fitness tech event) walk? See for yourself by attending the MECKids Racing team, where MECKids will partner with Children’s National Medical Center to bring families together to raise awareness and support children’s health research.  A day packed with health, fitness and lots of fun. Join our MECKIDS RACE team.

For more information on incorporating technology into your next fitness programs and fitness center offerings, download our FREE whitepaper, Six Successful Strategies for a Flawless Fitness Center

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5 Proven Ways To Host A Successful Corporate Fitness Or Wellness Event

Hosting a successful fitness event is a huge undertaking, a massive challenge, and one of the most rewarding things you can do to serve your target audience.

 

Fitness events bring communities together while helping teams and families form lasting bonds that stretch beyond the office, the gym, and the playground.

 

At AFC, we’ve produced and partnered on dozens of fitness promotions and events over the past several decades. Through a lot of trial and error, we’ve discovered what works and what doesn’t when it comes to getting people involved and excited about their fitness and health.


If you need to produce an event that is well-attended, gets the attention of leaders in your industry, and provides maximum value to your target market, simply follow this 5-step system:

 

Step One: Be of service

 

It’s great to have goals for your fitness event, but don’t let your hunger for success supersede your desire to be of service to your audience.


The best events we’ve hosted, from our “You Gotta Move” MECKids contest to our Walk It OFFice wellness event for adults, were created and executed from a place of service to our participants. All of the other benefits of hosting a successful event were merely icing on the cake.

 

Step Two: Define your audience

 

A great fitness promotion or event is targeted toward a specific audience, target market, or community. The best way to be of service to your customers is to first define who, exactly, you want to serve.


While MECKids is focused on kids and their families, we streamline our targeting for each event we produce in order to appeal to even more specific demographics.


Our “momNmeFit” event, for instance, targets mothers with school-aged children, while our “Walk It OFFice” event is geared toward employees in the legal profession. 

 

Step Three: Solve a specific problem

 

Obesity in 6 to 11-year olds has more than doubled over the past two decades.


That’s a very specific problem that our MECKids “You Gotta Move” event was created to solve. Once you have identified who you’re serving, take a close look at their most pressing fitness and health concerns.


Some groups will resonate with an event focused on weight loss, while others will love learning about healthy cooking and eating habits.

 

Make sure the goal of your event is for attendees to leave with actionable tips they can take home and implement once the event is over. In this way, your fitness event will provide value to attendees during the event and help them to make lifelong improvements.

 

Step Four: Integrate with technology

 

The foundation of our “Walk it OFFice” and “Lose to Win” events is the ability to integrate an interactive health and wellness tracking system for employees spread out in different locations which allows them to monitor their fitness goals online.


By using technology to get employees excited about fitness, we’ve built a loyal tribe of followers that jump to attend every live event we produce. Using technology to promote live events, and using live events to complement technology, are two powerful ways to increase your reach and event attendance.


Step Five: Focus on team-building


Whether we’re partnering with Microsoft to help kids track their fitness, or launching a 90-day walking challenge for corporate employees, our focus is on building supportive teams and communities.
The best fitness promotions and events leverage the power of groups and teams to help everyone involved meet their fitness goals.


Your next fitness promotion or event is sure to be a success! Simply remember to stay focused on service, define your target market, solve a tangible problem, use technology as a tool, and focus on team-building.


We talk the talk, but can we really walk the (fitness event) walk? See for yourself by attending our next fitness event:


Race For The Cure

The Race for Every Child to benefit Children's National Health System is a fun-filled annual family event with a serious purpose: To bring the Washington metropolitan community together to encourage children's health and wellness and to raise much-needed funds that help the region's only children's hospital provide world-class preventive and critical medical care to every family in need. We are excited to be part of the amazing event! Join Our Team!

 

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How To Grow Your Social Media Presence For Real Business Results

What if you could promote your next event or successfully launch your next product with the click of a button on social media?


Imagine it – a single Facebook campaign or series of tweets is enough to get your target market from Point A to Point Buy without batting an eyelash.


The kind of social interaction that leads to effortless sales is not only possible; it’s really easy once you’ve mastered the business basics that govern the social media.


Today, when we have an event to promote, there’s no heavy lifting because we already have a built-in social network of engaged fans and followers. Here’s how we built it (and how you can too!):


1. Find your people online


The first step in building a receptive social audience is identifying where your target market hangs out online. If you’re targeting moms and their kids, where do they spend time? What websites, blogs, or forums are they passionate about? Are they “Facebook people” or “Instagram people?”


After doing some detective work, we realized our audience hangs out on Facebook, followed by Instagram, then Twitter. We adjusted our social campaigns accordingly and were able to connect with more high quality leads than ever before.


2. Focus on quality, not quantity


Speaking of quality, one of the best ways to grow your social tribe is a bit counterintuitive.


Some business experts say “it’s a numbers game,” but on social media, that’s simply not true. Gone are the days of collecting as many likes, fans, and followers as humanly possible.


You may have 10,000 Facebook fans, but if none of them buy from you, what’s the point?


Instead, focus on growing smaller numbers of high-quality fans that are truly interested in your message and your work. It will be much easier to engage them, cultivate a real relationship, get them to attend events, and get them to purchase your product.


3. Testing is important


When we first started focusing on social media, we didn’t spend a ton of time, energy, and resources building campaigns we’d never tried before. First we had to test and see what our audience responded to.


This meant testing the social waters with different posts, graphics, tweets, and ad campaigns without committing to any one tactic until we had absolute proof it worked.


And where to find that proof? It’s all in the data….


4. Mine the data


Once you’ve tested a variety of different content and strategies on social media, go to Google Analytics. See what people are responding to and what they want. If a certain type of post gets a lots of likes, shares, and traction, give the people what they want!


When your fans raise their hands to say, “I like this,” it’s your job to give them more of that same thing, over and over again.


Paying close to attention to the content people like will give you an intimate understanding of your target market. It will help you tailor your products and services to their needs in the same way you tailor your content.


5. Stay in touch consistently


Once you know where your fans hang out and what they want to see from you on social, your job is to be as consistent as possible. It doesn’t work to toss up a Facebook post once a month, just as it doesn’t work to post daily but never respond to comments or interact with your audience.


Sharing consistently great content, paired with consistently engaging your audience, is key to building a loyal following of customers and prospects.


When it comes to social media, think small and focused. Forget collecting a zillion fans and spend your energy building authentic, solid relationships with true fans who believe in what you’re doing.


That way, when it’s time to go for the sale, promote the event, or launch the new product, you’ll already have high quality prospects lined up around the virtual block.

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How To Form Strategic Partnerships With Top Industry Players

Forming strategic partnerships is one of the fastest, most effective ways to meet your business goals.

Whether you’re a small business, microbusiness, or solopreneur, it’s possible to form partnerships with industry “big boys” in order to gain exposure, build your authority, and increase your revenue.

This year MECKids partnered with Microsoft to promote their Youth Spark summer program to kids and families in our area. Youth Spark is a free 4-day event filled with fun, creativity, and coding for kids, while Microsoft in the Classroom trains educators in the latest technologies.

This mutually beneficial partnership provided both companies with…

  • Access to additional resources, such as exposure, reach, money, and speakers
  • The chance to cross-utilize business referrals
  • Opportunities to connect with individuals and markets neither company would have otherwise had access to

In a strategic partnership, both companies benefit from joining forces – even if one of those companies happens to be small, and one of those companies happens to be a behemoth like Microsoft.

Here’s how to form a strategic partnership with key players in your industry:

Step One: Clarify your goals

What are your current goals in terms of revenue, reach, and marketing?
Before you decide what type of partner can help you achieve those goals, you must identify exactly what it is you want to achieve.

Step Two: Choose your “Big Brother”

Once you have identified specific goals and decided that forming a strategic partnership is the best way to reach those goals, it’s time to decide who would be a good partner.

Be open-minded in terms of industry. On the surface, you wouldn’t think Microsoft would have much to do with kid’s health and fitness. In reality, Microsoft is in the midst of a huge campaign to help kids and families get healthy and stay active using their technology. Our partnership was a perfect fit, but only because we did our research and scratched beneath the surface of what most people think of when they think ‘Microsoft.’

Another example of BIG BROTHER COMPANIES partnering with small businesses can be seen in the story of Fubu’s Daymond John. This story is truly inspiring! In the early years of FUBU, Daymond John was approached by a large foreign base tech titan to form a strategic partnership. Fubu made clothes, and this tech company made electronics, but because they had common goals and target markets, this “Big Brother” saw the benefits of partnering with Daymond and did so to their mutual benefit.

Don’t be afraid to think big, and don’t be afraid look outside your industry for mentors in unexpected places.

Step Three: Make your pitch

We first met with Microsoft representatives at an industry event focused on women in business sponsored by the Small Business Administration.  The event topic gave us common ground, and once we started talking we realized we had mutual goals that could be accomplished together.

It was important that we demonstrated our readiness to partner with a company like Microsoft. This didn’t mean we had to be as big as them, but it did mean we needed to show our reach, our past efforts, and how we’re making a difference in the communities we serve.

Once we had established all of those things, and Microsoft felt comfortable that we had strong ties to our community, they were happy to take on a meaningful role of partnering with us on MECKIDS events benefiting families and the community

If we can partner with big industry players like Microsoft, you can too. Innovation, a proven track record of success, and quality connections with your target market are much more important than size.

If your business is making an impact, don’t think “Big Brother” isn’t watching! Big companies are always looking to form strategic partnerships with innovative thought leaders in all types of industries.

So set clear goals about what you want to accomplish with your partnership, and then look for big players that will find your work complementary to what they’re doing. From there, connect with individuals in a natural, organic way – the best strategic partnerships require little-to-no heavy lifting.

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How To Become A Sought-After Strategic Partner

Forming mutually beneficial strategic partnerships is an important part of your long-term business strategy.


In Part 1 of this series, we looked at the benefits of forming such partnerships, and how to find the right kind of strategic partners for your company.


Part 2 will show you how to become the kind of strategic partner that is sought after by other companies, and how to create an environment where the perfect partners are constantly approaching you.


When forming strategic partnerships, you may be tempted to think about how you can woo other companies to partner with you, and how those companies can benefit your business.


But great strategic partners take an opposite approach to ensure their longevity.


In order to leverage strategic partnerships to grow our business, Aerobodies has developed the following system. Over the past 20 years it has worked well for us, and I’m confident it will work for you too!


1. Strive to become a great partner, not just find a great partner. 


Turn your focus inward and make an honest assessment of what you can offer a potential partner.


Ask yourself “How can I serve my partners?” instead of “What can I get from my partners?”


Getting clear on what you have to offer and what you do well will help you connect with the most beneficial partners possible.


2. Be a consistent networker


Strategic partnering is nothing more than an extension of networking.


To be a great networker, you need to be consistent.


As your company pursues its goals, reaches out to your target market, and works for the causes you’re most passionate about, you’ll have ample opportunities to connect with vendors, customers, industry leaders, and even celebrities.


Exchanging business cards at a single event does not create a strategic partnership. In order to reap the long-term benefits of partnering, it’s crucial to develop a networking system that is focused on authentic relationship development, not just a one-time pairing.


3. Engage in goal-based partnering


A company’s size and revenue is less important for strategic partnering than a company’s goals.


Once you have identified your end goal for entering a strategic partnership, the next step is to identify those companies, brands, and celebrities that share the same goal.


For our company, pursuing a cause we’re passionate about – kid’s health and wellness - has helped us form countless strategic partnerships with organizations that share the same passion.


Since many companies want to make an impact on kids and families in their local communities, we have to do very little ‘selling’. Instead, we demonstrate the impact our programs are making and partners approach us, asking how they can get involved.


Example: MECKids recently partnered with Microsoft to introduce MECKids children and parent members to their new wearable fitness technology, the MSFT Band and the XBOX 360-Fitness.


The partnership will allow Microsoft to get involved with local communities, showcase their new products, and educate consumers that they’ve entered the competitive wearable tech arena.


It will allow MECKids to showcase new and exciting technology at our events, and also provide us with a space to hold our events – a win-win for both partners!


If you’re ready to form long-term, beneficial strategic partnerships, the first thing to do is get crystal clear on what you bring to the table. Once you know exactly what your company does best and what you have to offer, it’s easy to find other companies that will benefit from your services.


What’s more, when your strategic partners are in the market for the products and services your company provides, you’re sure to be the first person they call.


Is your company looking for a great strategic partner to help spread the message about your product or service offering?  If so contact us and see how we may collaborate:  Franb@afmsco.com.

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Why Your Business Needs Strategic Partnerships

Forming long-lasting strategic partnerships with like-minded companies is one of the most effective ways to assure the stability of your business.

It’s been said that good business is all about networking, and that’s true both at the individual and the corporate level.

By joining forces with companies that have similar goals and target markets as yours, it’s possible to drastically expand your reach, increase positive exposure, and position yourself as a sought-after industry expert.

In this two-part series on strategic partnerships, you will discover…

  • The definition of  a strategic partnership
  • The benefits of forming strategic partnerships
  • How to identify a great strategic partner
  • Real-world examples of mutually-beneficial strategic partnerships

Are you ready to partner up? Let’s go!

What is a strategic partnership?

A strategic partnership is formed when organizations with similar goals join forces to meet and exceed those goals together.

Partnerships like this allow the goals of separate entities to align while providing benefits to both companies.

In many cases, strong strategic partnerships can be formed between companies, brands, and individuals that, on the surface, seem to have little in common.

But it’s the sharing of common goals, not necessarily common business practices that makes these alignments so powerful.

Example: During their Back to School campaign last year, Staples partnered with pop star Katy Perry to get kids excited about the coming school year. Perry held a contest where she offered to perform at the school that created the best Roar music video, and ABC hopped on board to televise the whole thing.

Staples sells school supplies, Perry sells albums, and ABC sells advertising on its network. But all three strategic partners wanted face time with the lucrative 10-25 year-old age group, and this contest was a win-win-win for all three.

The Benefits of a Strategic Partnership

Strategic partnerships help you stay relevant to your customers, even when you’re not selling to them.

When you form partnerships, especially around social causes, you end up constantly networking with vendors and clients at live and online events.

The more partnerships you have, the more involved you’ll be with your particular target market without the need for hard-selling.

Then, when the customer is ready to buy, you’ll be at the forefront of their mind.

In addition to staying top of mind and saving time hard-selling, strategic partnerships also help you increase business revenue. More and more opportunities will fall into your lap as companies come to you with their needs (instead of you chasing after them!).

How to Identify a Great Strategic Partner

It’s clear that forming strong strategic partnerships is essential to your business’s success.

So how do you find the perfect partners for your company?

  • Identify what you’re looking to gain from the relationship. What specific outcome are you trying to achieve with this partnership?
  • Get clear on what you bring to the partnership and how you can benefit your partner.
  • Look at specific ways in which the partner can benefit you.
  • Make sure your company’s mission, values, and end goals are in line with those of your partner.

Example: Aerobodies Fitness recently formed a strategic partnership with the Auto Alliance. Since children’s safety is a big priority for them, we realized that our goals for creating happier, healthier kids were aligned with theirs.

The partnership allowed the Auto Alliance direct access to schools, kids, and parents – a demographic they were eager to target. It also gave us a powerful way to address kid’s health and safety that we hadn’t touched on before.

When forming beneficial strategic partnerships, don’t be afraid to look to other industries that may seem unrelated to yours.  The most important thing to have in common is the dedication to a cause and end goal both parties are passionate about.

In Part 2 of this series, we’ll identify ways in which strategic partnerships foster long-term business growth and see how companies like Aerobodies, MECKids, and Microsoft are using these types of partnerships to meet their business goals.

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3 Fail-Safe Strategies To Retain Top Talent

In the past decade or so, high employee turnover has become the norm in the American workforce.

 

Gone are the days of 20 or 30-year stints at the same company. Today, it’s common to see resumes with short-term smatterings of work assignments as unhappy employees bounce from job to job: 18 months here, 2 years there….

 

The problem?

 

All of this turnover is costing U.S. companies some $11 billion every single year (Bloomberg). In fact, according to Bain & Company, the average U.S. business loses up to 50% of its workforce each year due to turnover.

 

But there is hope. When companies invest in ongoing career training for their employees, and empower them to become indispensable within the organization, they not only stay – they thrive.

 

A recent Gallup study recorded a 147% increase in per-employee earnings and a subsequent boost in company earnings simply by implementing these proven methods of engagement:

 

Strategy #1 – Communication Transparency

 

Empowering your employees to communicate with each other, with management, and with those they manage is crucial to increasing employee retention. Neglecting to do so openly and honestly may often shipwreck your long-term employee retention strategy.

 

Communication includes more than being able to verbalize and write in a way that’s clear to others. It also includes the acquisition and cultivation of soft skills like the ability to empathize, effectively delegate tasks, and allow other team members to shine while stepping away from the spotlight.

 

Another key area of communication that’s becoming more and more integral to employee retention is communication between Millennials and Baby Boomers.

 

These two groups have vastly different communication styles that utilize completely different technologies and ways of thinking. Helping Millennials and Baby Boomers find common ground is key to keeping them in your employ.

 

Strategy #2 – Invest in Emerging Leaders

 

Your company is only as strong as its leadership. Empowering your leaders with a highly developed sense of emotional intelligence is crucial to creating happy, engaged employees at every level of your business.

 

Leaders must learn self-awareness and self-regulation. They must be able to identify their weak spots and blind spots while focusing on their strengths. They must learn how to counsel and coach their team members, effectively delegate tasks based on individual strengths, and hone their interpersonal skills so that everyone on the team feels valued.

 

Strategy #3 – Empower Employees as Subject-matter Experts

 

Engaged employees are those who have been empowered to become experts in their particular fields. Providing opportunities for ongoing training, education, and promotions helps employees feel they are indispensable to the company.

 

At the same time, expert employees and managers directly contribute to increased company growth (not to mention revenue). Since expert employees feel empowered and appreciated by their company, they’re much more likely to feel loyal to that company and to stay there longer.

 

There is no magic formula for retaining excellent employees. You simply have to focus on communication skills, empower strong leaders, and give every employee the ongoing training needed to become experts in their chosen field.

 

Do you need to decrease turnover and build a loyal workforce of dedicated, engaged employees? AFC has a large pool of subject matter experts who can help your organization grow in all levels of training and development. Call now (866.659.3400) to set up your FREE 30-minute briefing and find out how we can help your company meet its retention goals this year.

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Wearable Technology In Action: How Parents Are Motivating Their Kids To Live A Healthy Lifestyle

21st century parents are faced with a myriad of challenges when it comes to keeping their kids healthy and fit.

The first obstacle to overcome is getting kids excited about fitness. Truthfully, many kids simply aren’t athletically inclined, or are uncomfortable with the social pressures surrounding organized sports. Others have not had a strong example to follow at home, and are reluctant to integrate physical activity and wellness into their daily routine.

The next obstacle faced by parents and kids is the attraction to non-fitness related activities that constantly demand their attention – things like iPads, videogames, computer time, and other technologies.

With a strong aversion to sports and playing outside coupled with an insatiable tech appetite there is no wonder we’ve become a nation of couch potatoes!

How can concerned parents and growing kids get reacquainted with health and fitness and make it a part of their ongoing lifestyle?

By embracing – not relinquishing - technology in the name of well-being.

Technology isn’t going anywhere. Rather than force kids to stop using it or to choose between high-tech and their health, MECKids has developed a way to combine fitness and technology to help kids and parents stay excited about fitness.

Here’s what we have found to have the greatest impact on the health of kids and their families in the technological age:

1. Technology keeps kids excited about their health

When kids don’t have to pick and choose between physical fitness and the latest tech gadget, they’re far more likely to make fitness a part of their ongoing lifestyle.

With new wearable fitness technology being frequently released, kids have an opportunity to discover new technology while getting into the fitness game.

Wearable technology also gives “non-athletic” kids a reason to get excited about fitness. Being able to track their heart rate, record their steps with a pedometer, and monitor their nutrition provides a fun mental activity in addition to providing physical benefits.

2. Kids want their own wearable fitness technology


At recent MECKids events, we’ve noticed a strong desire from kids who want their own versions of the Fitbit, Fuelband, and other wearable tech gear.

Kid versions of these technologies don’t exist yet, but the indications of kids’ interest in these gadgets is encouraging.

While parents may not be ready to spend upwards of $100 to buy their kids their own fitness tracking device, there are lower-cost alternatives to keep kids engaged.

For example, you might start out with a $2 pedometer before graduating to a heart monitor for your child. These devices satiate the tech craving while encouraging physical activity and giving kids a way to track their own progress.

The key is to always explain why each gadget and subsequent activity are important. Make sure to offer an explanation as to why it’s important to track your steps, monitor your heart rate, and so on.

We’ve found that by giving kids a strong ‘why’ as it relates to fitness, they’re much more likely to make physical activity a habit.

3. Kids are eager to take the lead when it comes to familial health

Don’t worry if your family hasn’t always provided a strong example of health and fitness for your child. Kids are eager to take the lead and help the entire family get healthy.

Many of our MECKids participants have reported astonishing changes after attending our events. Our participants become so excited about what they have learned, they are suddenly ready to help cook meals, oversee food choices, and remind their parents that it’s time to exercise!

Giving your child a sense of personal responsibility for their fitness is just one more benefit of incorporating wearable fitness technology into their lives.

The MECKids goal is to cultivate within every kid the passion and the purpose to move. If your kids become aware and stay active now, they’ll never have to face a drastic health-related wakeup call when they’re 35 or 40. If exercise becomes an ingrained habit when young, it is much easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle..

To get started and introduce your kids to increased health and fitness, access the free Health Tracker on the MECKids website. This application is a great first step before kids start using wearable fitness technology. With the tracker, they can input fitness data, activity, exercise, BMI/BMR, resting heart rate, and more. The introduction to these concepts sets the stage for a lifetime of health and well-being.

5 Ways Your Workplace Wellness Program Can Empower Your Employees To Make A Difference

CEOs of some of the country’s largest companies are scrapping the spreadsheets and foregoing discussions of their wellness program’s ROI.


Why?


Because unlike the return on your marketing investment or the cost of new products and services, your investment in employee wellness goes far beyond your bottom line.  


As reported by the Washington Business Journal, when Honest Tea CEO Seth Goldman gifted every single one of his employees with a new bicycle, he wasn’t thinking about how he’d make that money back.


Instead, Goldman’s ROI was measured in improved employee perception, better company culture, and an exponential feeling of wellness that expanded from his employees to their families and, ultimately, the community. 


Across the country, successful wellness programs are putting a priority on people. Instead of focusing on financial returns, more and more corporations are considering how investing in their employees’ wellness impacts family life, community involvement, and society as a whole.


Here are 5 big benefits of creating employee wellness programs that go beyond the bottom line. 


1. The Promotion of Personal Health


Healthy employees are not only more productive in the workplace; they are happier, more focused, and better able to withstand workplace challenges without getting stressed and upset. 


A supportive, targeted employee wellness program creates a thriving company culture that’s focused on long-term retention, team-building, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. 


2. Empowering Emotional Health


In the past, employers focused primarily on the financial benefits of physical wellness, such as the reduced health insurance costs associated with turning smokers into nonsmokers.


Today, leading employee wellness programs address employee health in three dimensions: physical, mental, and emotional. 


Empowering your employees’ emotional health means adding program benefits that don’t necessarily have an immediately traceable ROI; things like encouraging walk breaks, setting up a dedicated nap room, allowing for personal and mental health days, and establishing work-from-home options. 


All of these emotional benefits not only boost workplace morale; they enhance your company’s reputation and position you to win ‘Best Place to Work’ awards, both of which will attract top talent to your firm. 


3. Strengthening Families


Great employee wellness programs have a positive impact on employees and their families. Just as the health of all your employees impacts the whole, the wellbeing of each employee’s family impacts your company culture on a deep level. 


Without a happy home life, no amount of workplace perks will keep your employees at peak performance. That is why cutting-edge wellness programs across the country are including more and more family-oriented events and services in their offerings. 


The 2015 Youth Empowerment Summit (YES) is the perfect example of the importance of wellness for the entire family. During the summit, parents and students will come together to address 360 degrees of personal and familial health; from physical fitness and emotional wellbeing to financial health and education. 


Including events like YES in your wellness program is the perfect way to empower healthy families within your company. 


4. Inspiring Action


Great wellness programs inspire employees and their families to take action. Through workshops, discounted memberships, and special events, employees are encouraged to make positive changes in their health and wellbeing. The results they see in terms of physical, mental, and emotional fitness, coupled with encouragement from those running the program, inspire them to be equally proactive in the workplace. 


5. Building a Better Community 


The ramifications of better and better employee health are truly exponential. Beyond the individual, and even beyond the family, a strong workplace wellness program can positively impact the community at large. 


An important part of overall health and wellness includes giving back. Part of a successful wellness program should include opportunities for volunteer work, such as citywide clean-up initiatives or volunteering at a local soup kitchen. 


Giving back boosts self-esteem and emotional wellness while allowing your employees to forge deeper, more meaningful bonds with one another. Additionally, it is a great way to position your company as an innovative community leader. 


So what kind of ROI can you expect from a 360-degree approach to employee wellness?


“Who knows?” says Seth Goldman of Honest Tea. 


While larger companies like Marriott can measure the impact of their wellness programs in terms of direct ROI, your company may want to take the Goldman route. Higher employee retention rates, improved workplace morale, fewer health insurance claims and a better work-life balance all add up to the true sum of total wellness: priceless. 


Are you ready to improve your employees’ physical, mental, and emotional health? Get started by inviting your team and their families to the 2015 Youth Empowerment Summit. Register now by clicking here: 2015 Youth Empowerment Summit 

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How Wearable Technologies Are Shaping Our Future

Your family’s wellbeing is made up of many different facets, from physical health and nutrition to financial literacy and emotional intelligence. 

 

But, have you considered including technology in your healthy living toolkit?

 

Technology has become an integral part of our lives, but it is even more prominent in the lives of our children and youth.

 

I recently read a statistic that estimated the average kid sends and receives 5,000 text messages per day. No, I didn’t accidentally add an extra zero to that figure!

 

Technology is everywhere and isn’t going away anytime soon. The good news is that we can use technology to create happier, healthier families through responsible, balanced use and by creating a direct connection between technology and wellness. 

 

Wearable fitness technology is a perfect example of this phenomenon. Thanks to devices like Fitbit and online programs like Under Armour’s UA Network, more and more people are using technology to help them achieve their fitness goals. 

 

The popularity of wearable fitness technology has huge implications for the future of healthy families. 

 

Instead of using technology for entertainment, information, and social networking alone, families can now use fitness apps and devices to create 360 degrees of wellness in every area of their lives. Wearable fitness technology will help you….

  • Bond as a family by setting and achieving wellness goals together
  • Track your progress, overcome obstacles, and celebrate your wins
  • Use technology responsibly and set an example for your kids
  • Make fitness a fun and exciting game for the whole family

As fitness technology advances, it will become more and more integral to the creation of family and workplace wellness. 

 

Across the country, companies and community organizations have begun to incorporate wearable fitness technology and online programs into their traditional wellness offerings. 

 

In addition to gardening, wellness summits, personal training sessions, and field trips to health food stores, more and more families and communities are introducing responsible-use wearable fitness technology to help kids turn fitness and wellness into a  lifestyle. 

 

Next month I’ll be speaking at the Youth Empowerment Summit on how wearable fitness technology and health are shaping our future. During the Summit, middle and high school students will participate in informative, hands-on workshops about fitness, finance, college applications, healthy eating, and how to use technology responsibility. 

 

YES 2015 will highlight the future of fitness technology in our companies and in our families. Join me for this innovative event by registering here

 

Are you currently using wearable fitness technology to track your fitness? 

 

How does your family use technology to stay happy and healthy?

 

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A Two-Way Street: How Clients And Vendors Can Work Together To Improve Employee Wellness (Case Study Part 2)

In my previous case study blog post, I revealed how we increased employee wellness program participation for a large government agency by 69% in just a few years. 


While there were many key action steps that contributed to our success, including the creation of consistent, congruous program offerings across 5 locations, what guaranteed our success was the attitude of our client. 


In many large companies, and in government agencies in particular, management adopts an attitude that says “We’ve always done things a certain way, and your job is to fit into our pre-set paradigm.”


This is all fine and good, of course – if in fact, the ways things have always been done is helping you meet your current goals. 


But for companies dissatisfied with their ROI on employee wellness programs, adopting a spirit of open-mindedness and innovation is crucial to lasting change.


Happily, our client realized this and gave us the freedom to innovate at will. In turn, we took it upon ourselves to go above and beyond the requirements of our contract and provide massive value to our client and their employees. 


When bringing in a professional to optimize your employee wellness programs, simply follow the steps my client took:

  • Vet your contractors and make sure you’re working with someone who is experienced and has a proven track record of success in the area of employee wellness. 
  • Trust that they know what they are doing and give them the freedom to execute plans based on proven techniques and outcomes. 
  • Observe the fiscal benefits of creative innovation and support your vendor by getting out of their way and allowing them to problem-solve as needed. 

In return for such trust and freedom, your contractor should:

  1. Go above and beyond the parameters of your contract by creating and implementing value-adds like our Employee Healthy Living Journals.
  2. Clearly demonstrate the value of their services by providing reports, data and case studies on how the implemented changes have impacted employee attitudes and participation. 
  3. Create and manage a collaborative team that consists of both clients and contractors, facilitates feelings of trust and ease between all team members, and empowers leaders without making any one person the “star.”
  4. Develops and executes well-thought out ideas that are both beneficial and sustainable. 
  5. Tackles and solves problems as they arise while freeing the client from having to put out fires. 

Our client’s innovative attitude paired with our enthusiasm about that attitude resulted in measurable, positive results for both parties. 


Because we were free to implement what we thought best, wellness program attendance and employee well being enjoyed a notable increase. Because of this notable increase, the program manager received recognition and a promotion within the client organization. This promotion caused our client to give us even more freedom and flexibility in our work; an increased level of trust for us to “do our thing!” 


We shined, our client shined, and most importantly, the employees we were hired to serve were given the opportunity to truly shine. 


This case study is a best-case-scenario example of what can happen when clients and contractors work together to improve employee wellness. In fact, our experience with this company was so positive that we have nominated them for the Healthiest Employer Award. 


Is your company ready to shine? 


If you’re ready for awards, promotions, a better ROI, and the chance to position your company in the best light possible, we’re ready to help. 


Contact Fran at 866.659.3400 or email Franb@afmsco.com to find out how you can achieve these kinds of results in your business. 


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CASE STUDY: Designing A Unified Employee Wellness Program For Multiple Office Locations

Sometimes everything just falls into place.


That’s how it has felt working with our current client, a large government agency with a multi-faceted workforce spread out across three states and five different locations.

 

But the warm and fuzzy feeling that comes from a wildly successful partnership doesn’t just happen by chance – it takes hard work, dedication, and the willingness of both parties to embrace innovation. 


Here is how we worked together to exceed set goals, increase ROI, and revamp their employee wellness programs across the board.  


THE CHALLENGE


Our challenge with this client was to help them streamline and synthesize their wellness program in order to increase employee attendance and make a significant impact on their employee’s physical, emotional, and mental health. 


When we first began working with them, our client had implemented a wide variety of wellness offerings for their employees, including The Biggest Loser-type wellness competitions, boot camps, and an ever-changing array of classes and instructors. 


The problem was that our client was not seeing a strong ROI for their efforts. Employee engagement was inconsistent. When a new, exciting program was offered during one month, attendance would top 200 people. However, when that program was replaced by something different the following month, attendance would drop to 50 people or less. 


What our client needed was consistency: a turnkey approach that could be applied to every wellness program in every location. 


OUR PROCESS


Here were the steps we took to ensure a stronger, more predictable ROI and more consistent employee engagement across multiple locations: 


  • We created a yearly scheduling system that specified all of the wellness programs to be rolled out monthly, quarterly, and semi-annually. The schedule was the same for every location. In this way, employees could see ahead of time the various work/life balance and fitness-oriented programs that interested them most, and make plans to attend. 
  • We developed programming that addressed every area of employee wellness, including mental health, emotional health, physical health, seasonal health, and safety components, paying particular attention to the importance of seasonally-based programs (the way we stay well in winter is different from how we stay well in summer). 
  • We created marketing materials for each individual program featuring highlights and benefits to the employee.
  • We developed and implemented a reporting system for every program, ensuring absolute transparency and clarity in terms of attendance, employee engagement, benefits, and ROI. 
  • We developed and implemented “feel good” value-adds above and beyond the scope of our contract, including an Healthy Living Journal that made it easy for employees to see which wellness offerings were on the horizon. This particular offering has since become so popular that we get requests for the calendar-journal months before it comes out!


THE IMPACT


Three years into our five-year contract with this client, we have seen a significant increase in consistent attendance across all of their wellness programs. 


These programs serve some 7500 employees in 5 different locations. As of today we have seen a 69% increase in wellness program attendance since implementing these changes!


The key to such a stark rise in attendance has been the creation of consistent, congruous programs planned well in advance. Another crucial part to our success is making sure employees are aware of each program and have ample time to incorporate these programs into their schedules. 


But everything doesn’t just fall into place by magic – one of the most important elements of our success during this project has been the freedom to innovate that’s been given us by our client.


In Part 2 of this series I’ll reveal the key attitudes and core values held by this client; values that directly contributed to the success and ease with which these changes were implemented. 


Until then, why not do a strategic assessment of your wellness program and see how your company can increase attendance by 69% or more? 


To schedule your FREE assessment contact Fran at Franb@afmsco.com, or call 866.659.3400.


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10 Proven Ways To Reduce Employee Healthcare Costs

In a previous article, I revealed the #1 way to reduce the cost of employee healthcare in your company: by making your employees well.


The solution may sound simple, but it really does work. By providing your employees with exciting wellness options that involve the entire family, you can significantly reduce the burden of healthcare costs by improving and sustaining healthy employees long-term.


Here are my Top 10 resources for getting employees excited about your fitness program and maintaining a healthy lifestyle in and out of the office. 


1. Fitbit


Giving your employees a Fitbit fitness tracker is a fantastic way to get them engaged (even obsessed!) with tracking their fitness levels. 


In addition to helping them track how far they’ve walked and how much sleep they’re getting, a nifty gadget like a Fitbit has the power to involve the whole family. Spouses and kids can get their own Fitbits and everyone can track fitness as a family!


2. Weight Watchers


Making one of the most popular weight loss programs available to your employees is a surefire way to increase engagement and enhance employee health. 


Many people participate in Weight Watchers outside of work. Giving your employees the opportunity to take advantage of this program increases convenience and will help them be more consistent (and therefore more successful!).


3. #MomNmeFit Challenge


Inviting your employees to enter the #momNmeFit Challenge is a fantastic way to engage moms and kids in 30 days of healthy living and learning. During the challenge parents and kids receive daily challenge fitness, nutrition and wellness activity tasks to improve their health and improve the family bond.


4. Fun Company Events


Part of creating happy, healthy employees means addressing their physical fitness as well as their emotional and psychological well being.


Fun Company Events hosts team-building and bonding events such as BBQs, obstacle courses, picnics, and other fun activities meant to help your employees bond with each other socially and emotionally. 


5. Relaxation Room


Another great way to support mental and emotional health is to designate a ‘relaxation room’ in your office. Giving employees the chance to take a break, rest, and even take a nap is a proven way to increase productivity throughout the rest of the day. 


6. Harpers Ferry Adventure Center


Harpers Ferry combines fun fitness activities like hiking and whitewater rafting with team-building games and outings. Employees learn to work together while discovering individual strengths. 


7. Mental Learning Day


So far we’ve addressed physical fitness, team building, and de-stressing. Another important aspect of overall employee health is education and mental stimulation.


Host a learning day where you screen relevant TED talks and other inspirational, educational videos in a designated space within your office. Be sure that everyone has a chance to dive into the material, and consider holding a discussion afterwards. 


8. Glad Springs Retreats


There’s a lot that can be done to improve employee fitness in and out of the office. However, sometimes you just need to get away from it all and hit the reset button!


Glad Springs offers a scenic mountain setting with multiple options for team-building, brainstorming, and trust-building activities. 


9. On-Site/Phone-In Lifestyle Coach


Hire an on-site lifestyle coach to work with interested employees for 15-20 minutes each. The expertise and one-on-one attention will not only make your employees feel pampered; it will give them the chance to voice their hopes, concerns, and fears surrounding work and life. 


10. La Torretta Lake Resort & Spa


Golf, fine dining, a 5-star luxury spa…what better way to reward top achievers in your fitness program than with a trip to La Torretta? This is a great place for business functions and retreats, or for simply giving your employees a much-deserved break. 


By providing employees with ample opportunities to improve their physical, mental and emotional well being, you will significantly reduce the cost of healthcare both short and long-term. 


Keep in mind that your investment in employee wellness is really an investment in the company. Doing so protects your employees from illness and burnout. It also protects the company from rising healthcare costs.


Let us support you in reducing the healthcare cost for your company. Please contact Fran at Franb@afmsco.com or call 866.659.3400 for more information. 


Image courtesy of photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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The Hidden Healthcare Secret Everyone Is Ignoring

In the past year, many companies have felt the squeeze of rising healthcare costs due to new laws.

 

Providing healthcare for employees has always been expensive, but in light of recent changes, employers are scrambling for ways to reduce rising healthcare costs while keeping their employees healthy and happy.

 

There’s a big, fat secret floating around that many companies continue to overlook: it’s the secret to slashing healthcare costs without jumping through hoops or compromising employee care.

 

What’s the secret?

 

It’s simple: in order to reduce the cost of healthcare for your employees, you must keep it a priority to keep people ACTIVE & HEALTHY.

 

Fostering healthy, happy employees is the best way to significantly reduce escalating healthcare costs, making a positive affect to your bottom line.


Here are the top 3 ways to improve employee health and wellness and in turn dramatically cut the costs of healthcare:

 

Take a 360° Approach

 

Just about every company with a wellness program offers heart screenings, diabetes testing, and other clinical procedures.

 

Sure, these types of tests are beneficial, but they don’t get employees excited about getting healthy.

 

Lasting health comes from employee engagement in your program, which is impossible to achieve unless you find that “secret sauce” that inspires employees to participate and stay well.

 

For some employees, that might mean giving out Fitbits to track progress. For others, it might mean offering a Weight Watchers program, family fitness days, kickball tournaments, or yoga classes.

 

Create a Fantastic Program

 

The fastest way to get employees excited about their health, and in turn cut healthcare costs, is to create a program that caters to the specific needs and challenges of your company.

 

If your employees work in a stressful, high-pressure environment, the fitness benefits you offer must address those challenges.

 

For example, employees under lots of stress may do well with a nap room, relaxing lighting, and access to healthy foods and drinks.

 

Don’t forget to take the physical office environment into account as well. Employees that spend much of their time in enclosed spaces may benefit from spending more time outside and taking frequent walks or nature breaks.

 

Focus on the Family

 

Do you know that 70% of employees who participate in their company’s wellness program have a spouse or child on their plan?

 

One of the easiest ways to get employees excited about fitness is by involving their families. Remember that your employee only spends 8 hours per day with you. A truly great wellness program addresses the employee’s lifestyle outside of work.

 

An example program that incorporates moms and kids in health and fitness activities is a program AFC sponsors called momNmeFit a 30-Day Fitness Challenge in which moms, kids and family teams compete in fitness, nutrition and wellness challenges. 

 

In addition to family outings, family fitness days, and family gym memberships, give your employees the opportunity to discuss issues concerning their family. Doing so addresses mental and emotional health as well as physical health, and gives the employee the opportunity to thrive in 3D. Specifically, see if your EAP program can include family discussions and/or family coaching calls.

 

By focusing on making your team healthier, your company will be able to taper off the rising costs of healthcare, all while creating an exciting company culture based on balance, wellness, and family fun.

 

In my next article, I’ll reveal the Top 10 Resources for getting your employees excited about their health.

 

If you’d like to learn more about our momNmeFit program visit our registration page today at #momNmeFit. In the meantime, please email Fran at Franb@meckids.com or call 866.659.3400 for more information.

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92% of Successful EAP Programs are Taking 5 New Tactics in 2015… Is Yours One of Them

Last month I revealed 5 effective ways to increase sign-up’s and participation in your Employee Wellness Program.


This month, you’ll learn how to move beyond the initial sign-up, and ensure that interest and participation in your program only grows stronger with time. After all, it’s much easier to keep the current Wellness Program members you already have than it is to recruit new members. 


Offering ‘one and done’ upfront incentives is not enough to retain your membership long-term. Instead, it’s crucial to continually find fresh, relevant incentives to keep participation levels high and engagement consistent over time. 


Here are 5 effective ways to turn your new wellness recruits into long-term super fans of your Wellness Program in 2015: 


1.    Get hyper-specific with your engagement


Last month we identified your target market and discussed ways to engage with them through your program offerings. Now it’s time to dig deeper and capitalize on your employee’s specific interests. 


Take Millennials, for example. A recent study conducted by Keas Millennial Workforce revealed that this demographic:


  • Is more interested in the quantified self-movement than any other age group (46%)
  • Is 54% more likely to buy a body-analyzing device than any other demographic 
  • Currently uses apps and other devices to maintain health and wellness and to lose weight
  • Currently tracks water intake and sleep cycles using technology  


Armed with information like this, you’ll be able to create and offer wellness programs that specifically relate to your employee’s interests and needs in a way that moves beyond face value. 


Don’t just research employee demographics. Look at behavior and psychology to find and serve specific needs on an ongoing basis. 


2.    Think like an employee


An employee doesn’t think of themselves as a demographic or a statistic. As your Wellness Program’s chief recruiter, it’s your job to think like an employee and answer the question “What’s in it for me?” 


When you think like an individual employee, you can immediately see which aspects of your program are most relevant to that employee. 


This step takes you beyond the needs of specific employee groups and allows you to access the needs and wants of individual employees. In thinking of the needs of individuals, are you certain your program offerings are relevant to them? If not, it’s time to take another look at what your employees truly want. 


3.    Budget for the long haul


Your proposed budget has a direct impact on employee participation. Employees need to know that the company is vested in them, and that the program is sustainable. 


An exciting one-time event might be fun, but if your goal is long-term participation. Make a list of line items and resources needed to sustain the program long-term. If your company is willing to invest in its employees, your employees will be willing to invest in the program.  


4.    Be Demanding 


If your employees aren’t required to invest in your program up front, engagement and participation will be adversely affected because the employee is not emotionally invested in the program.


Make sure they have some skin in the game by requiring payment up front. Employees are far more likely to participate if neglecting to do so means wasting money they’ve already spent. 


5.    Reward consistency


The final key to growing a sustainable wellness program is to promote and reward consistent participation among members. 


Do case studies and profile employees who are successfully using the program. Continue to market the program as an effective and fun affirmation of company culture. Reward participation by holding contests and championing those who are consistently involved. 


Getting employees to sign up for your wellness program is only half the battle. The key to lasting success is consistency on all fronts: dig deep to find relevant offerings for your employees, continue to engage them after sign-up, require an investment of time and money, and reward participation in fun, creative ways. 


Do you want to create a customized wellness program that brings long-term results in 2015 for your organization? Let us support you.  Please contact Fran at Franb@afmsco.com or call 866.659.3400 for more information.


Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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5 Easy Ways to Cultivate Balance in 2015


As we’re thrust deeper into the holiday season with thoughts focused on the New Year, a great temptation is about to rear its ugly head.


No, it’s not the temptation of yet another batch of holiday cookies. It’s the impossible-to-resist pull to set unrealistic, Herculean goals for 2015. 


And yet while the setting of New Year’s resolutions isn’t a problem in itself, making unrealistic promises to one self or others disrupts balance and ends up making you feel more frazzled than ever. 


Here are 5 balanced, realistic ways to achieve your goals in 2015: 


1. Create a Goal Board/Calendar


You want 2015 to be a great year. You have 20, maybe even 100 different things you’d like to achieve. But a goal without a realistic plan is merely wishful thinking.


Create a goal board and/or calendar and choose ONE goal per month for the first quarter of 2015. Choosing fewer goals will not only help you prioritize; it will help you create a manageable plan for actually achieving those goals as well. 


2. Ask the Tough Questions


What do you really, truly want in 2015? On the surface, your goals might include launching a new business, getting healthy, spending more time with family, and other worthwhile pursuits.


But what is at the core, or heart, of those goals? What is your “why” behind seeking a new business, a healthier body, or better state of mind? 


Determining what you truly want underneath the surface will help you choose goals that reflect your deepest aspirations. It will also help you shift your lifestyle and bring every aspect of your life into balance. 


3. Do Your Research


You’re not alone when it comes to achieving goals and cultivating balance in 2015. Examine some different resources, including blogs, books, mastermind groups, and coaches, and see which of these resources can help you achieve your goals. 


The resources you choose should not only help you reach your goals, but should help you focus on your overall performance and create more equilibrium in your life. 


4. Evaluate Pro’s and Con’s


Be honest – what aspects of your life are just not working for you? Which facets do you love and want more of in 2015? 


Sometimes it can be difficult to know from where your lack of balance originates. Take a good, hard look at what’s working and why those aspects of your life make you happy.


Take another hard look at what’s causing you stress and draining your energy. Keep in mind that goals can also include ending toxic relationships and spending less time and energy on certain projects and/or people. 


5. Treat Yourself


It may sound counterintuitive, but one of the most effective ways of reaching your goals is by doing something totally unrelated to your goals.


Take a vacation, sign up for an art class, attend a conference, or treat yourself to something seemingly unrelated to your personal and professional life. You’ll not only learn about yourself and the world; you’ll discover surprising answers and new perspectives that will, in turn, help you achieve your goals that much faster. 


Bonus: Tighten Your Focus in 2015


A wonderful goal-setting treat for 2015 is called Excuse Me, Your Life Is Waiting. This book, by author Lynn Grabhorn, will help you get laser-focused about what you want to achieve and how you’re going to get there in 2015.


In Chapter Three, Grabhorn writes, “Focus on what you don’t want, and watch it get bigger. If you’re giving some passionate attention to something you truly do not want, it will eventually grow up to smack you.” Focus instead on what you DO want, and be sure that focus is directed toward one goal at a time. 


If you had to narrow it down, what is your ONE goal for 2015?


Do you want professional guidance on how to a balanced and focused life? Let us support you. Please contact Fran at Franb@afmsco.com or call 866.659.3400 for more information. 


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7 Simple Tips to Balancing Yourself Through The Holidays

‘Tis the season to be grateful – for your family, your friends, your work and your health. But as we near the end of the year and take stock of all the good things in our lives, don’t forget to spend some time appreciating yourself. 

 

During this busy time of year, it can be more challenging than ever to cultivate balance, take time for yourself and give thanks for all you have accomplished. 

 

So often we spend our days doing, doing, doing. Then the holiday season comes and we DO even more, without ever stopping to pause, self-nurture, and appreciation all we give and all we have to offer.

 

Here are 7 easy ways to show gratitude – not just for others, but for yourself and all you are. 

 

1.    Engage in Self-Care

 

Don’t feel guilty about splurging a bit this season. Get the massage, book the manicure, and indulge your senses even more than usual. You might want to book a massage every week from now until the end of the year, or try out a new treatment like acupuncture.

 

I personally love Reflexology because it works on specific triggers in the body and clears away negative energy. 

 

Find a treatment that makes you feel special – even pampered! – and reward yourself!

 

2.    Choose Conscious Nutrition 

 

Another great way to engage in self-care is to get conscious about the foods you’re eating.  No, I’m not talking about going on a diet or skipping your favorite holidays foods. I am talking about noticing what foods you’re choosing instead of simply grabbing and going without a second thought.

 

Your conscious attention will lead you to foods that nourish and nurture, instead of foods that leave you feeling tired, cranky, and unsatisfied. 

 

3.    Create a Serene Environment 

 

Cultivating a serene, supportive environment is a wonderful way to give thanks for you. 

  • Light candles or incense throughout your home
  • Use essential oils to create balance
  • Purchase a piece of art that you love

All of these environmental tools help you create a space in which to be healthy. 

 

4.    Make a Vision Board

 

If you can’t imagine your dreams coming true, how will they ever materialize in the world? Create a vision board using magazine clippings, newspapers, or a secret board on Pinterest. Use colors, shapes, and images that represent your ideal life, and then watch as those things miraculously start to appear wherever you look. 

 

5.    Fire your friends (if needed) 

 

One of the most powerful ways to appreciate yourself it to fire your toxic friends.

 

Your time, energy, and talents are precious – don’t waste them on negative people or

energy-suckers. Set boundaries in your relationships this season, and learn to put

yourself first. If a friend or family member is detracting, instead of adding to, your personal health, be brave enough to step away. 

 

6.    Get Honest About Work

 

Is your work environment healthy or toxic? Does is add or retract from your physical and spiritual well-being?

 

This season, take a good, hard look at how your work environment and work relationships impact your happiness. If you don’t like what you see, be open to the possibility of change in the New Year.

 

7.    Take That Painting Class

 

Ok, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a painting class (although the painting and wine class I recently took was the most fun I’ve had in years!). 

 

If you have a long lost interest or passion, search for classes or opportunities in your area. You’ll be able to connect with those who have similar interests and may even find yourself surrounded by the warmth of a new community – just in time for the holidays.

 

You spend the entire year doing for others, but now it’s time to turn that attention inward. This season, I invite you to go all out. So get the massage, go to Whole Foods, book a day trip, or take that painting class. There’s no better way to express self-gratitude than by nurturing the self!

 

Do you want more specific help on how to show more appreciation for yourself? If the answer is yes, please contact Fran at Franb@afmsco.com or call 866.659.3400 for more information.

 

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