Getting Jerky About Nutritional Advice

in Uncategorized

flying pigJust when you were getting on board with a plant-based diet comes a new, supposedly more rigorous analysis by 14 researchers, saying it’s fine (nutritionally) to eat red meat, even processed meats like bacon. The new analysis argued that previous studies were either biased by veggie-lovin’ diehards and food industry shills or simply weren’t rigorous enough.

But wait… what’s this?! Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the deli, it turns out the lead author of the new analysis had previous ties to the meat and food industry.

This type of shenanigans is why I refrain from engaging in nutritional advice. We really understand little about the health effects of specific foods and nutrients.

 

I’m OK — You’re #OKBoomer

in Uncategorized

Browse the nearly 100 blog posts I’ve published on my website and you’ll find no mention of millennials — because generational stereotypes have limited validity and are just another way to pigeonhole folks. So, while I can understand the backlash that may have led to 2019’s patronizing #OKBoomer meme, it ultimately serves only to perpetuate polarization.

OKBoomer may lead to some age discrimination lawsuits, or it may just be a soon-to-be-forgotten fad. Either way, it can serve as a reminder for each of us to embrace diversity, inclusion, and connectedness, in all their forms.

Research: Stable Work Scheduling Succeeds; Behavior Change… Not So Much

in total worker health, Uncategorized, Wellbeing, job design

In the early going, a typical employee wellness program doesn’t have much impact on healthcare costs, health, quality of life, or job performance. This, based on data from a cluster-randomized study of employee wellness at BJ’s Wholesale stores. (Cluster randomization means the worksites, not the individual participants, were randomized.) Get the lowdown in my article, The 4 Factiest Facts Overlooked in the Latest Wellness Study Kerfuffle.

But rumors of wellbeing’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. A cluster-randomized study of Gap stores showed that stabilizing worker schedules led to increased sales and — while it’s no panacea — enhanced employee wellbeing, especially sleep. (A separate major study confirmed that unstable schedules are strongly linked — more strongly even than low wages — to workers’ psychological distress, sleep disruption, and unhappiness.) The contrasting results from these studies, building on previous research, surely will persuade business leaders to prioritize organizational strategies over health behavior modification products.

Stable schedule infographic

“How To Dress and Act Nicely Around Men”

in Uncategorized

Science fiction -like image of a feminist

Japan’s #KuToo movement — from the words “kutsu” (shoes) and “kutsuu” (pain) — arose in response to dress codes requiring female workers to wear high heels, a workplace policy the Health and Labor Minister declared “occupationally necessary and appropriate.”

Similar requirements have ignited protests elsewhere.

Aside from the unabashed sexism these policies represent, even less woke old-school health promoters will be concerned about health risks linked to high heels. According to a report conducted for the UK Parliament, these include:

  • long-term changes to gait, which cause knee, hip and spine problems and osteoarthritis;
  • stress fractures in foot bones;
  • Morton’s neuroma;
  • ankle sprains, fractures and breakages due to trips and accidents;
  • hallux valgus (bunions);
  • blisters and skin lesions;
  • enduring balance problems which persist into old age;

The report also cited psychological distress reported by female workers who were required to wear high heels against their will.

Meanwhile, in the US, HuffPost exposed a prominent professional services firm that set us all back with one of its women’s leadership trainings. The training’s handbook insisted that “the most important thing women can do is ‘signal fitness and wellness.’” ?

It advised trainees to have a “good haircut, manicured nails, well-cut attire that complements your body type.” Then it warns:

“Don’t flaunt your body ― sexuality scrambles the mind (for men and women).”

Read the full HuffPo article and to view the employer’s “leaked” video response:

Women At Ernst & Young Instructed On How To Dress, Act Nicely Around Men

 

 

Employees with Mental Illness: Too Many To Be Obscured

in Uncategorized, Wellbeing

The National Institute of Mental Health reports that 20% of people live with a mental illness.

past year prevalence of Any Mental Illness among U.S. adults

Mental and behavioral disorders are the 3rd-leading cause of disability in the U.S. That’s a lot and warrants special attention.

Chart of the leading causes of disability, showing mental and behavioral health as the 3rd leading cause

Not everyone recovers from mental illness. Many (here, I don’t have stats, but the 20% figure  —  and my own observations  —  suggests this is true), suffer their entire lives with mental illness, and an increasing number of people end their lives as a result. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. We need to help these people.

Mental health and emotional wellbeing, unquestionably, are important for everyone. But in the wellness industry’s well-meaning enthusiasm for covering everyone under the mental health umbrella, we must be sure not to marginalize the large portion of people experiencing mental illness.

If we do communicate that there’s no difference between someone with a common disabling mental illness  —  like PTSD, bipolar disorder, and anorexia nervosa, as well as severe depression and anxiety  —  compared to anyone else who may be going through a tough stretch in an otherwise smooth-sailing life, we risk perpetuating mental health stigma rather than alleviating it.

If you’re thinking about implementing a mental health strategy in your workplace, check out the Workplace Mental Health resources available here on the Jozito website.

Everyone Cheats? Step-Tracking and the “Privilege” of Higher Premiums

in Employee Wellness Programs

Hedgehog“Maybe you just want to keep your personal data private without having to pay higher premiums for the privilege.”

The article Everyone Cheats On Fitness Trackers makes some odd assertions, like, “This is seen as a win-win for insurers who want you to live longer, so you earn them more money.” But once the article gets going, it raises valid points and describes some amusing scenarios, like

“Making health a game of points means employees game the system right back, though they don’t all have hedgehogs.”

People ask me, “Yeah, but how small is the proportion of employees who cheat in step-tracking programs, and why should the majority of participants, who are honest, have to suffer the consequences?”

Experience suggests that the proportion of cheaters is not at all small (the headline of this article says “everyone”), though the construct of “cheating” is not always straightforward.

Cheating is especially likely when an incentive is offered. For one spectacular example, see my archived article Do Employees Cheat for Wellness Incentives?

 

 

 

 

Don’t Get Left Behind By People Analytics

in Data

Employers are getting serious about HR Analytics (aka People Analytics). At the same time, many of our wellness industry colleagues demonize data, often cloaking their anxieties behind advocacy of humanization

We’ll hear wellness leaders denigrate data because, for example, “it reduces people to numbers” (which could be the slogan for the International Society of Dataphobes).

But if we let our fears, insecurities, or aversions get the better of us, resisting data as a primary language of business, we’ll get left behind in a world where employers, even their HR departments, increasingly see the promise of analytics. Continue reading »