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Business Spotlight: BlueShore Financial
Following the inspiring momentum of the second annual Healthy Workplaces Extra Mile Awards, we took some time to speak with one of our nominees. BlueShore Financial is one of British Columbia’s largest credit unions. With over 340 employees across 12 branches and a head office, they understand the challenges of implementing accessible and inclusive workplace wellness initiatives. We had the pleasure of speaking with Marni Johnson, Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Communications, to hear BlueShore’s wellness story. Explore our interview with Marni to find out how workplace wellness programs enhance quality of life and help employees enjoy their work!
What advice would you give to a business to convince them of the benefits of workplace health and wellness?
Marni: It simply makes good business sense to take care of your people. They are your most valuable assets. An investment in workplace wellness shows employees that they’re valued and promotes team spirit and engagement. Since a large percentage of business healthcare costs are due to preventable conditions, taking a proactive approach to workplace health and wellness also reduces long term costs.
How would you define your organizational culture with regards to workplace health and wellness?
Marni: At BlueShore Financial we view our relationship with employees as a partnership. We do everything we can to facilitate their health and wellness. We emphasize the importance of only coming to work when healthy and encourage employees who aren’t well to stay home by offering unlimited sick days. We host weekly soccer games, paying for the rental of a local field, and invite employees to play outdoors. The CEO of BlueShore participates in the staff soccer games too!
We also regularly sponsor health and wellness related events in our communities, such as 10k runs and half marathons in Vancouver, Whistler, Squamish and other regions. We promote employee wellness at the same time by encouraging staff to participate in these initiatives by covering the registration fee.
To accommodate the health and wellness of diverse employee demographics, last year we started offering an annual stipend for wellness purchases. More than half of our staff took advantage of this initiative, buying running shoes, yoga classes, and everything in between. We give a great deal to our employees and the value of our investment is demonstrated through their energy, productivity, and commitment!
BlueShore Financial promotes a flexible work environment. How does this contribute to employee health and wellness?
Marni: A flexible work environment helps employees balance their work and personal interests. As in most workplaces, opportunities to work flexible hours differ depending on the role, but many of our employees are able to leave work early to go see their child’s school play, work out at a time that suits them, or take time to meet with an elder care resource. We know that making flexible work arrangements possible contributes to the physical and mental health of employees and their families.
What is your favourite workplace wellness initiative at BlueShore?
Marni: My favourite wellness initiative is our physical activity photo challenge. Every summer we ask employees to send in photos of their outdoor physical activity adventures and we post the photos on our employee intranet. The challenge is low cost and inclusive. You don’t have to be an athlete to participate, and you get to learn about your colleagues’ interests. I find it inspiring to see whole branches or departments of BlueShore doing the Grouse Grind together or tackling the Tough Mudder.
If you could give one piece of advice to another company around workplace health and wellness, what would it be?
Marni: Workplace health and wellness doesn’t have to cost a lot. There are two key ingredients: imagination and wellness champions. Find people who are passionate about health and wellness so that they approach initiatives with enthusiasm!
Improving the well-being of employees, clients, and communities is part of the core purpose of BlueShore Financial. Their workplace wellness initiatives are embraced by employees and supported by senior management. They see the value of investing in employee health, and encourage other businesses to take a proactive approach to workplace wellness. We appreciate BlueShore Financial sharing their insights into workplace health and wellness!
Following the inspiring momentum of the second annual Healthy Workplaces Extra Mile Awards, we took some time to speak with one of our nominees. BlueShore Financial is one of British Columbia’s largest credit unions. With [...]
World Health Day 2017: Depression, let’s talk
Depression can be a delicate topic to approach in the workplace, but as the conversation around mental health grows, the stigma is silenced. For World Health Day: 2017 the World Health Organization is mobilizing education and support efforts around depression.
To strengthen your organization’s understanding of depression, it may be valuable to explore resources that can help to distinguish between myth and fact, and provide insight into the different ways that depression might manifest. Using educational resources such as fact sheets, posters, or handouts you can share information about the types and symptoms of depression, as well as its contributing factors and treatments. You can distribute these materials through internal communication channels or display them in common spaces such as lunch rooms or stair wells. It is also important to remind all employees of what may be available to them through your EAP (employee assistance program). By engaging in mental health education your organization empowers employees to identify and respond to signs of depression and other mental health topics.
In openly discussing depression in the workplace, employers and employees may have unique challenges and considerations to take into account. For instance, employers may not know how to accommodate mental health issues in hiring practices, and employees might wonder how to articulate mental health issues to employers. Mental Health Works offers practical strategies and solutions that employers and employees can use to address depression and mental health in the workplace.
Engaging in consistent mental health promotion supports a shift in organizational culture. It helps de-stigmatize topics like depression and encourages open discussion about mental health issues. To integrate mental health promotion into your organizational culture you can consider scheduling regular mental health hints where you share brief informational videos on the factors that affect mental health within the workplace. The videos are designed to promote discussion on factors such as workload management, psychological demands, and balance. They each have a corresponding worksheet that a facilitator, such as a wellness committee member, can use to guide conversation during team meetings, lunch ‘n’ learns, or employee orientations.
Through a combination of mental health initiatives and information your organization can confront mental health issues while creating an atmosphere of acceptance and awareness. To connect with more resources about depression and mental health in the workplace you can visit our Workplace Wellness topics page.
Depression can be a delicate topic to approach in the workplace, but as the conversation around mental health grows, the stigma is silenced. For World Health Day: 2017 the World Health Organization is mobilizing education [...]
Brain building strategies for smart workplaces
The defining characteristics of humanity begin in the brain. The brain encodes and deciphers your entire sensory experience. It composes your thoughts, emotions and behaviours through a series of electrochemical signals. Brain Awareness Week, March 13-19, 2017 is an exciting time to introduce information and initiatives focused on brain health within your organization.
Collaborating with your workplace wellness committee you can encourage participation in brain exercises. These exercises could include any activity that challenges your brain beyond its usual routines and responses. For instance, you could start a book club where employees from all levels of your organization can come together to engage in creative discussion. This activity would enable co-workers to form meaningful social connections that support organizational culture and brain health!
Another socially interactive way to stimulate brain activity is to exchange skills or interests with a colleague. You might offer to teach knitting and in exchange learn words from a different language. To generate interest, post a sign-up sheet in a well-frequented area of your workplace where employees can fill in their name and skills that they can share with a co-worker.
Brain health is also dependent on lifestyle factors such as healthy eating and physical activity. To promote healthy eating in your workplace consider planning Lunch ‘n’ Learns and providing nutritious foods for staff in attendance. If you don’t have budget for this check with your employee assistance program provider to see what they can offer in terms of free Lunch ‘n’ Learns, and encourage employees to bring healthy food to share. To address physical activity in your workplace your organization can develop a physical activity policy or review and update your existing policy. A comprehensive physical activity policy outlines the range of resources your organization will allocate to create opportunities for physical activity. To access physical activity ideas that you can implement in your workplace look to our Workplace Wellness topics page.
You can access more information on boosting brain health through the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada website. They provide a range of fun activity ideas and a brain health brochure that can enrich the minds of your employees.
The defining characteristics of humanity begin in the brain. The brain encodes and deciphers your entire sensory experience. It composes your thoughts, emotions and behaviours through a series of electrochemical signals. Brain Awareness Week, March [...]
A natural solution for workplace wellness
Modern workplaces are often centered in cities and can require prolonged screen-time. They can expose employees to a high degree of sensory stimulation which may lead to mental exhaustion. To lighten the sensory overload of your work environment and transform your workplace from a potential source of stress to a solution for it, try incorporating nature into your organizational culture.
You might do so by forming an employee walking group and going to the nearest park or green space during breaks. Alternatively, you could encourage employees to keep desk plants or to showcase natural scenes on their computer desktops. These small actions would energize employees by decreasing stress while increasing productivity.
If your organization is looking for a way to help employees unwind and unplug you can join the 30×30 Nature Challenge. This initiative from the David Suzuki Foundation encourages individuals to spend 30 minutes in nature for 30 days. In addition to providing daily tips for interacting with nature the Foundation also offers free workplace toolkits that include activity plans, posters and resources to help you implement the Challenge in your workplace.
Among the materials in the workplace toolkit is a global study that shows the benefits of biophilic design: a method of design that integrates natural elements into urban structures. According to the study employees with natural light or plants in their workspace report a 15% increase in creativity as compared to those without any links to nature. Meanwhile, research in neuroscience demonstrates that alpha wave activity, which signifies a relaxed but alert mental state, increases through interaction with nature.
For organizations looking to build new workplaces or enhance existing spaces, biophilic design makes a strong case for honouring ties to nature. To incorporate nature into your work environment you can use earthen tones for interior walls, and introduce indoor plants. You can also consider creating vertical gardens that optimize space planning or use organic moss materials to create an accent wall display. By converting your workplace into a green space you can promote the prosperity and productivity of employees, and attract bright new individuals as well!
Using nature to support workplace wellness is simple. Whether you choose to take meetings outside, with the added benefit of physical activity, or bring the outdoors into your workplace through biophilic design, connecting with nature provides measurable benefits to employee health.
Modern workplaces are often centered in cities and can require prolonged screen-time. They can expose employees to a high degree of sensory stimulation which may lead to mental exhaustion. To lighten the sensory overload of [...]
February is Heart Month
The heart is one of the body’s major organs; it pumps fresh oxygenated blood out to the body and sustains life. This February as you pay attention to matters of the heart, take note of your heart health as well, because it has a profound impact on your wellbeing.
Since the average working Canadian spends about 60% of their waking hours in the workplace, it is an important environment in which to implement strategies that promote heart health. Heart Month is the perfect time for your organization to set a collective goal to improve the heart health of your employees. You could do this by adding small doses of exercise, such as stretch breaks or step challenges, into your workplace routine. You might also choose to focus on healthy eating by swapping out sugary drinks, such as pop, for a healthier alternative such as fruit infused water. To substitute the sweetness of the sugary drinks you could encourage employees to exchange sweet messages or expressions of gratitude. This practice would create a socially supportive atmosphere that relieves stress and boosts employee moral!
Using internal communication channels to speak to supervisors, management, and employees you can better understand what areas of heart health could be addressed in the workplace. To help employees identify individual risk factors and areas for improvement you can share the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s free online risk assessment. This tool specifies health and lifestyle factors that are heart health risks, assists with goal setting to improve your heart health according to specific risk factors, and provides additional resources to help transition to a healthier lifestyle. It provides focused feedback to individual employees and can help jump-start your wellness program. If employees are willing to share the results of their risk assessments, your organization can use this information to propose collective heart health goals that are targeted towards the most prevalent heart health risks. By supporting health initiatives in the workplace your organization has the potential to gain the wholehearted appreciation of its employees and experience an increase in productivity.
You can access more resources and information regarding heart health at the Heart and Stroke foundation website. To get in touch with educational materials or to find actionable ideas for improving heart health in the workplace you can visit our Workplace Wellness Topics pages.
The heart is one of the body’s major organs; it pumps fresh oxygenated blood out to the body and sustains life. This February as you pay attention to matters of the heart, take note of [...]
Monthly highlight: November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month
Your workplace can support the lung health of your employees.
On average, 73 Canadians will be diagnosed with lung cancer every day. Excluding non-melanoma skin cancers, it is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canada and the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women.
November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month across Canada, and this serves as a good time to think about how you can support lung health in your workplace and to reflect on and review your workplace smoking policy.
A good tobacco-free policy has 2 main components: provides a tobacco-free work environment and support for employees who want to quit. If your workplace doesn’t have a smoking policy, make sure to include employees, management, unions, smokers and non-smokers in your process. They are important stakeholders that can provide input on what is realistic for your policy efforts. Once you establish your policy, or if you already have a policy in place, November can be a great time to think about ways you can provide support to employees who are looking to improve their lung health by quitting smoking. Using your internal communication streams, make sure all employees are aware of the support provided to them through your employee assistance program or community resources such as QuitNow.ca.
Your workplace can support the lung health of your employees. On average, 73 Canadians will be diagnosed with lung cancer every day. Excluding non-melanoma skin cancers, it is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canada [...]