Benefits administrator blog from Delta Dental

Category: Work life (Page 2 of 3)

Stay on top of workplace trends, and get tips to improve workplace culture.

How to prevent your business from “falling back” with daylight saving

2‑minute read

Most of us look forward to snoozing an extra hour once a year when daylight-saving time ends. However, for many people, that additional hour of sleep is where the positive effects stop. When you add the season’s colder temps and bitter weather to its darker, shorter days, you’ve got the perfect recipe for the blues. With increasing evidence that employee happiness is tied to productivity, that’s probably a recipe your business wants to avoid. That’s why we’ve gathered these tips to help your workforce stay happy and healthy in the coming months.*

Get moving.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again — physical activities help create endorphins, which are proven to boost happiness.

  • Organizing company sports leagues is a great way to get employees’ blood pumping, and you get the bonus of team building! Try introducing your employees to a unique sport like curling or broomball. For those who don’t like to compete, check out group fitness classes offered in your area.
  • There are also plenty of small steps — from taking the stairs to parking in the back forty — you can encourage to increase physical activity during the workday. Check out our previous article for advice on how to add more mobility in the office.

Build workplace friendships.
Friendships can be a powerful force when it comes to increasing happiness and productivity, especially workplace bonds. Find ways to help bring your employees together in and outside of the office. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Keep tabs on local events and organize a monthly outing
  • Start a book club that meets during lunchtime
  • Provide board games for your break/lunch rooms
  • Find volunteer events employees can sign up for together
  • Pair up new hires with a buddy or two with common interests

Take advantage of the sun (when it’s out).
The sun can be harder to find in the cooler months, but that makes it even more important to catch rays when you can. Sunlight could increase the brain’s production of serotonin, which is associated with mood boosting benefits. In fact, a lack of sun exposure has been linked to major seasonal depression. To help combat the darkness at the office, keep the blinds open and arrange work stations to receive as much natural light as possible. If it’s a particularly sunny day, encourage employees to get out for their lunchbreak to soak up some extra sun.

Don’t wait to seek help.
It’s estimated that 10 million Americans suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), often referred to as the winter blues. If employees start to feel symptoms of SAD or major depression, urge them to seek professional help. The good news: There are several treatment options available, and a doctor can help find the right path to recovery.

 

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*These tips are not meant to be taken as medical advice or as treatment for depression. If you or your employees are suffering from a mental illness, please seek professional help.

5 ways to transform your commute from pain to gain

4‑minute read

Do you live in a metropolitan area in the United States? If you don’t walk or bike to work or exclusively work from home, we bet we can guess how you feel about your commute. Let’s take a look at average commute times by some major metropolitan areas:

  • New York City — 34.7 minutes
  • Washington, D.C. — 32.8 minutes
  • Chicago — 30.8 minutes
  • Oakland — 29.9 minutes
  • Atlanta — 29.2 minutes

Let’s simplify by supposing the average person’s commute time is 30 minutes. You’re looking at an hour-long commute if you go both ways without making any stops. No stopping for gas, no picking up the kids or grabbing the groceries you forgot over the weekend. That’s an hour that you’ve potentially wasted.

But it doesn’t have to be wasted time. In fact, you can even get a jump start on your workday with these tips for making your commute more productive — grouped by drivers and public transit commuters.

For drivers (listening activities only!)

Did you know talking on a hand-held cellphone is banned in 16 states, plus Washington, D.C.?  Hands-free driving is not only safe — in many states it’s also the law.

Here are some commute productivity tips for drivers:

  • Listen to a podcast. These days there’s a podcast for everything. If you’re looking for business insights or news to inspire your workday, check out this guide to the best business podcasts. For those wanting to boost their health or fitness, this comprehensive list has a podcast to help you reach just about any wellness goal. If you prefer using your commute to catch up on life outside of the office, here are some great suggestions to keep you updated on news and current events.
  • Listen to an audiobook. If you’re trying to escape reality on your daily commute, audiobooks are a great option (just don’t get so engrossed you forget you’re driving!). There are far too many to parse out a complete list of suggestions, but we’ll take a shot at naming a few standout titles from recent years. Some popular fiction titles include All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. In the comedy genre, try Calypso by David Sedaris for some serious laughs. For more suggestions, here are 101 more titles you can check out.

For public transit commuters (who have their hands free) 

For commuters who are able to use their hand-held devices, there’s a little more room for productivity. Here are a few tips for those riding to work on public transit:

  • Set your priorities. Try a productivity app like Wunderlist, Evernote, MindMeister or Pocket. The functions vary by app, but in general they help you organize lists, tasks, ideas and resources. You can organize your thoughts, bookmark things to read later, or create a collaborative grocery list.
  • Get your mind right. It may seem counterintuitive, but more screen time may just help ease stress, anxiety and other mental health ailments. Headspace and Calm help ease stress and anxiety with guided meditation, breathing exercises and soothing sounds. Stigma is a journaling and mood tracking app that can help those who suffer from anxiety or mood disorders to identify trends, and even connect with peers through a messaging function. And for those who don’t wish to (or can’t) go to counseling or therapy, Talkspace offers an affordable, convenient solution.
  • Learn a new language. Want to add a skill to your résumé or CV? Duolingo and Rosetta Stone make it easy to learn a new language on the go, with guided lessons and assessment tools.

We hope these tips help make your commute a pleasure rather than a pain by increasing your productivity, delivering a laugh, helping you administer some self-care or just providing some entertainment. Have any suggestions, or want to share your progress? Send us a quick email at newsletters@delta.org.

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4 ways to create a motivating workspace

2‑minute read

Earlier this year, we shared how celebrating your employees can boost happiness and productivity. While showing appreciation for your employees is key, it’s not the only way to inspire your workforce. Designing the right work environment — from paint colors to plants — can also help motivate your employees. Check out our tips below to learn how the right office décor can uplift and encourage your team.

1. Don’t fear color. What color are the walls in your workplace? Are you surrounded by neutral tones or bold color? Research suggests that certain colors can affect a person’s productivity. If you want to spark some creativity in the office, try incorporating the color purple. If a laid-back vibe is what you want to evoke, try adding more blue and green to your surroundings. If you don’t want to saturate your entire workplace in color, consider painting a couple rooms to match the energy you’re after.1

2. Bring the outside in. You know how we just said green is a calming color? This is great news if your workplace has a view — nature is full of it! Try arranging your employees’ desks in a way that maximizes their view of the outdoors. What if your windows look out to a concrete jungle? Create your own lush landscape by decorating the office with plants and hanging artwork inspired by nature.

 3. Let there be (sun)light. While we all know too much sunlight can be harmful, sunlight in moderation can have mood-lifting benefits and may even help your employees stay focused.

“Exposure to sunlight is thought to increase the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused.” – Healthline Media2  

Keep the blinds open to let as much natural light in as possible. If your workplace lacks natural light, resist the urge to crank up the overhead lights, which can be a nightmare for migraine sufferers. Instead, try providing individual desk lamps so your employees can adjust lighting to meet their own preferences.

4. Live your brand. A great way to get your employees excited about your business is to put it right in front of them. Why not display your mission statement on the wall? What about painting accent walls or providing office supplies in your brand colors? By immersing your employees in your brand, you’re helping them become invested in the business, its goals and its success.

 

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1 http://www.arttherapyblog.com/online/color-psychology-psychologica-effects-of-colors/#.W4Qt5cJry01

2 https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/benefits-sunlight

7 ways to make workplace meetings more productive

Are you regularly engaging with your team members at work? Whether you’re an individual contributor or in a leadership role, refresh your knowledge on the advantages of team meetings, including building trust, fostering innovation, sharing feedback and celebrating successes.

Brainstorming Meeting

Whether staff meetings are common practice at your organization or you’re considering implementing team collaboration, here are a few tips for making the most of your time:

  1. Make it a routine

Start by making your meetings an expected — almost natural — part of your team’s work schedule. Add a recurring appointment on your calendar or set reminders for team engagement so people anticipate the meeting and prepare properly. (More on preparation in a bit.)

  1. Consider location, location, location 

It may sound odd, but the popular real estate mantra also applies to team meetings. Did you know that factors like room temperature, the amount of natural light and even the color of walls can affect how productive or focused people are at work?

You may even consider taking your meeting outside the office. Depending on the occasion, you may meet to plan a project at a local coffee shop, discuss goals and progress over lunch, or celebrate a big win with a round of miniature golf.

Wherever you decide to meet, ensure the setting is appropriate and suited to optimize your team’s focus.

  1. Present information in a way that resonates

Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, recently revealed that the company’s meeting culture is “the weirdest […] you will ever encounter.” And that may not be a bad thing.

The CEO cited the way information is presented at executive meetings — as six-page narrative memos — as an example of said culture. This style could help foster better reading, writing and listening skills among meeting participants. And it forces meeting attendees to do the required reading. (Anyone getting flashbacks from their high school or college English instructor?)

Bezos’s presentation style may not work for you, but carefully consider the best way to share information with your team. It may be a presentation, a video, a list of references to consider, etc. If you really want to up the fun factor, consider some of these innovative ways deliver engaging meeting content.

  1. Prioritize preparation and set an example

Speaking of doing the required reading, you should make preparation a key requirement for meetings. Send a detailed agenda with any supporting resources beforehand, and don’t skimp on said resources. If your team needs a report, statistics, contextual information, etc. to be productive during the meeting, provide it in advance.

During the meeting, reinforce how crucial preparation is. You may even ban “thinking out loud” unless the meeting is primarily focused on brainstorming.

  1. Encourage creative development

A meeting where attendees are not allowed, or encouraged, to think creatively, offer suggestions and provide candid feedback will most likely not lead to innovation and improved trust. But don’t take our word for it — here are tips from 15 members of the Forbes Coaches Council on promoting creativity at work.

  1. Facilitate compromises when necessary 

We know that a culture promoting collaboration and candor can also lead to creative conflict. Be prepared to facilitate professional disagreements by encouraging compromises during meetings.

One of the most important tips in compromising is a classic — choose your battles. Know what your team’s goals are, communicate them effectively, and know when to compromise based on your objectives.

  1. Cancel if you need to

Even though it’s important to make team engagement a regular part of your work schedule, it’s definitely acceptable to cancel a meeting here and there. In fact, in some cases it may be for the best. If you don’t have much to discuss or work through, don’t meet for the sake of meeting.

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If the earth could smile …

1‑minute read

OK — we might be slightly obsessed with smiles at Delta Dental, but wouldn’t it be cool if the earth could smile? While we’ll likely never see a toothy grin from Mother Earth, there are plenty of ways your enrollees and your business can drive positive change for the planet every day.

Don’t forget your enrollees are a great resource, too. Think about creating a suggestion box just for their green ideas.

Want to know what Delta Dental does to practice sustainability? Check out the sustainability report.

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1 To go paperless, enrollees can visit deltadentalins.com, log in (or register for a free online account), select the My Profile tab and change their Document Preference to Online with Email Alerts.

Step o’clock: 7 ways to fit more activity into your work day

4‑minute read

If you work a desk job, you’ve probably heard the warnings about a sedentary lifestyle at least a few (dozen) times. Many of us spend the majority of our time sitting at work. In fact, human resources managers in particular spend more than 75% of their workday sitting, on average.

young employees walking down hallway

We’ve all got important work to do in the office and personal lives to maintain, so it sometimes seems impossible to meet the ever-elusive 10,000 steps. In fact, when ranked by citizens’ average steps per day, the United States comes in at 30 out of 46 countries with an average daily step count of 4,774.

Let’s step it up! Here are some ways to implement more mobility in your workday:

  1. Set a reminder to walk around once per hour

Sometimes breaking a lofty goal into smaller, achievable segments is the most effective route to success (as we’ve covered in a previous post). Aim for two to three minutes of activity per hour to keep your blood flowing and your mind fresh.

Many fitness trackers will remind you to move each hour, but you can track activity on your own by setting a calendar reminder and sticking to the time goal.

  1. Eat a healthy snack on the go

Are you a grazer? If you eat several small meals throughout the day, try eating one or two on the move. It’s tempting to continue working or catch up on news and social media on these little breaks, but a lap around the office may be the best addition to your fruit or granola bar.

  1. Switch up your commute — take public transit and get off a stop or two early

If you don’t already take the train or bus, just trying it out can increase your daily activity as you move around stations, switch routes and travel to and from your final destination. And if you’re already a public transit rider, try getting off a stop or two early and walking the remainder of your route.

If we use an average of about one kilometer between bus stops, you could easily walk a 5K during your workday. One kilometer is about 1,300 steps, so adding an extra kilometer of walking each way would fulfill more than 25% of your 10,000 step goal without any additional activity the rest of the day.

  1. Park in the back forty 

Bookend your workday with light activity by parking further away from the office. We know it’s tempting to beat Bob to the best spot in the lot, but you’re the real winner when you’re improving your health.

  1. Take the stairs

Taking the stairs is classic advice for working in more activity, but it’s also a great way to level-up your daily activity goals. Walking around is certainly better than standing, but climbing up and down stairs for even a few minutes boosts the intensity of your daily activity.

Depending on weight, people burn 450 calories per hour on average climbing up and down stairs. If you climb for only two minutes, you could burn around 15 calories.

  1. Opt for a longer route to perform daily tasks

Going to the restroom? Getting water? Grabbing copies off the printer? Great — but switch up your route. Try using a restroom on the opposite side of the building, or on another floor. Instead of taking a direct path to the printer, weave in and out of some cubicles. Bonus points for saying hello to coworkers you don’t get to see often!

  1. Drink up

Hydration is a key element of an overall wellness routine (including oral health!), and you can use water and steps as a wellness double whammy. Keep water at your desk and try to take at least several sips each hour. You’ll stay hydrated — and when nature calls, you’re being more active with each trip to the restroom (especially if you take the long way). Funny little coincidence, huh?

We hope these tips can get you and your employees up and moving. Have any suggestions, or want to share your progress? Send us a quick email at newsletters@delta.org.

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