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Toolkit Offers Free Wellness Resources for Employers

Posted By Carol Mangen, Arizona Small Business Association, Monday, June 13, 2016
Updated: Thursday, June 9, 2016

Original article posted on Employee Benefit News

Looking for ways to jump-start your wellness program this summer? Virgin Pulse has launched a free toolkit with resources to help encourage healthy employee habits, a kick-off to June as employee well-being month.

The kit contains a variety of tools, including a page of suggested activities such as mapping walking routes to work and placing fruit out in office spaces, while a provided calendar maps out specific dates for health-related events such as Monday lunchtime walks and group fitness classes.

The kit also includes three posters encouraging walking and bringing lunch from home to hang around the office as reminders.

“There are a lot of organizations, and some have more advanced wellness programs than others,” says Wendy Werve, chief marketing officer at Virgin Pulse. “We wanted to make this non-intimidating and accessible without requiring a huge budget or amount of time, which are the two things people are most constrained by.”

For employers, these ready-made ideas aligned with concrete dates can help simplify planning a healthy June workplace while being general enough to allow for customization based on individual offices’ cultures. Healthier workplaces often have a more engaged and productive staff, increased camaraderie and retention rates and decreased healthcare costs, according to Virgin Pulse.

A recent Virgin Pulse report showed that more than half of human resources professionals want to improve employee engagement, productivity and organizational culture through well-being, but struggle to determine the best strategies to do so, says Werve.

[Image Credit: Bloomberg] 

This is the first time that employee well-being month’s sponsors, which include Virgin Pulse as well as the Strategies to Overcome and Prevent Obesity Alliance, the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease and WorldatWork, have provided a public, formal toolkit since it began eight years ago. In previous years such toolkits were restricted to paying customers, with free information scattered and hard to find.

It has been downloaded by almost 500 people since its release last week, which Werve says “just goes to show how important this really is.”

Employee well-being month’s sponsors have also created a new online feature that allows employees to share their success stories, with posts about how work-related wellness programs have led them to reach weight goals or decrease stress. There is also a new social-wall for those currently participating in the month to interact with each other and send updates.

Companies that do prioritize employee well-being are eligible to win the annual Game Changer Award. This year’s winner, Montgomery County, Maryland, has enrolled more than 43% of its eligible population in workplace well-being programs. As a result, they’ve seen improvements in blood pressure, body mass index and activity level, according to a statement from Shawn Stokes, Montgomery County’s director of the office of human resources.

Werve says she hopes that this June’s push to highlight the importance of employee well-being carries through the rest of the year.

“Well-being month is something we invented,” Werve says, “but it can be a real starting point for organizations to make a sustainable change in their workplace’s culture.”


Caroline Spiezio 

Tags:  business  employee engagement  employee wellness  wellness 

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Friday Fever: Keeping Your Employees Engaged at Work

Posted By Niki Ramirez,, Sunday, June 5, 2016

Employee engagement is important every day, but let's just talk about tackling Fridays for now.

You probably already know how it goes… It’s 2:30 p.m. on Friday and the far-away looks on your employees’ faces are easy to read. It’s only natural for employees to want to wind down as the week comes to a close. So there they are, sitting at their desk, thinking about weekend plans with family and friends.

Rather than look the other way and allow them to just "wait it out" on Fridays, here are three great ides to try to address this weekly downturn in engagement and productivity:

Make time to socialize and connect: when the afternoon lull hits, bring your team together in a more social setting to keep energy high and ideas flowing.

Gather everyone in a common area (like a training room, conference room, etc.) or head out to a local coffee shop or bowling alley to talk about what the next week holds, what folks are looking forward to, and what you can do to support one another. Share a snack, drink or other treat as well. Organizational psychologists agree that eating together increases connectedness and feelings of unity. Bottom line: time spent getting to know your employees, listening to their ideas and building relationships will always be time well-spent.

Just for Fun Friday: from ping-pong battles to chess tournaments, allow your employees to let loose and have some fun.

The human brain thrives on fun and novelty. We all perform better and are more successful when our lives are balanced with work and play – and it's not a new idea, we know that work and play CAN go together! I’ve read about teams that leave together (early) on Friday’s and employees go to the gym together and pump iron for the last 2 hours of the week. And here are a few other cool ways to end a Friday at work:

·        crafting and coloring time

·        bring in a yoga instructor or provide employees with chair massage

·        host a chili cook-off, parking lot BBQ, or cookie exchange

The easiest way to ensure that the activities planned really are meaningful and fun for your team is to allow a handful of employees to form a “social committee” – give them a budget and let them go to it, planning activities that they know everyone will truly enjoy!

Allow employees to set their own Friday schedule: this may sound pretty far out, but what if you just let your employees go home on Fridays when they felt they were in a good position to do so?

Employees who know they can leave when they are "done" will work diligently to knock out their to-do list in order to get their weekend started. If you do try this tactic, make sure you keep in touch with your employees throughout the week so that you have a pulse on what they have to get done before they call it a wrap. It goes without saying that this will not work for every employee, in every circumstance. Some positions will lend themselves to this far more easily than others.

Just Do It!

There is immeasurable value in making time to connect, have fun and socialize with your employees; and allowing your employees the autonomy to set their own schedule on Fridays (or any day, really!) can prove to be an equally powerful tool. 

Get organized, talk to your employees and start small. You'll discover that your team is more cohesive and productive in no time.

There are a wide variety of strategies that business leaders use to increase and maintain employee engagement, what ideas do you have? Please share in Comments.


About the author: Niki Ramirez is a seasoned professional consultant, speaker and coach with a knack for engaging business leaders.  She has a successful track record partnering with a wide variety of local businesses to analyze current human resources and business operations with the objective of collaborating to design cost-effective training, employee relations programs, develop employment policies and procedures, and help business leaders exceed their goals.
Maybe most importantly, Niki is the proud momma to three strikingly gorgeous, intelligent kids.  She loves to horseback ride and get outside to hike and explore the world every spare minute that she has.

Tags:  employee engagement  employees  HRteam  human resources  management  managing people  small business  success  team building 

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5 Traits of a Disengaged Employee and How You Can Turn Them Around

Posted By Margaret Jacoby SPHR, MJ Management Solutions, Inc., Thursday, February 11, 2016

employee engagementImproving employee engagement is often at the forefront of every manager’s HR solutions list. Disengaged employees often harm a small business’s growth, so taking care of the problem as soon as possible is vital to your company’s bottom line.

5 Obvious Disengagement Traits

How do you know if employees are engaged, and what can you do about it? Though the list of characteristic traits of disengaged employees could go on and on, here are five major signs to watch for, as well as some ideas to turn these employees’ attitudes around.

1. Lack of Enthusiasm
Does it seem like one of your employees simply doesn’t care? When she talks about the work she’s doing, does she seem enthusiastic or apathetic? If the latter applies, then there’s your first sign. Sure, everybody has down days, but if the lack of enthusiasm becomes a regular thing, it’s time to make a change.

2. A Complaining Attitude
Employees who are disengaged tend to complain a lot, even about the smallest things. If someone in your office seems to constantly make a big deal out of something as minor as the kind of coffee available, he may be experiencing decreased employee engagement.

3. Independence
Someone always wants to work alone, rather than as part of a team? This could be a sign of disengagement. When an employee stops caring about the success of a company, he or she likely won’t feel the need to work with others in that company.

4. Failure to Take Responsibility
Excuse-making is another sign of struggling employee engagement. Those team members who truly want to do well in their jobs and advance their careers will readily admit their faults in order to better themselves.

5. Lack of Initiative
Just doing the basics to get by each day is a major red flag. It shows an employee has no desire to move up or stay with your company—or she doesn’t think it’s possible—which often leads to disengagement. If you notice someone barely meeting deadlines or only giving input when asked, consider the possibility that she may be in need of encouragement.

How to Improve Employee Engagementengage your employees

So how can you combat this phenomenon? It’s all about communication and appreciation. Be invested in your employees, and they’ll be invested in you. Here are a few ideas:

  • Give people inside information. There’s no better way to make an employee feel valued than to clue them in on management’s goals, challenges, etc.
  • Celebrate personal wins. People want to be acknowledged when they’ve accomplished something, no matter how small. After all, every tiny victory contributes to your success as a business.
  • Have fun on purpose. Go to lunch with your team members or close early on a Friday afternoon to go on a company-wide outing.

If your company seems to be in a rut as a result of disengaged employees, reach out to MJ Management Solutions today. We can assist you with engagement and offer various other HR solutions.

Margaret Jacoby, SPHR, is the founder and president of MJ Management Solutions, a human resources consulting firm that provides small businesses with a wide range of virtual and onsite HR solutions to meet their immediate and long-term needs. From ensuring legal compliance to writing customized employee handbooks to conducting sexual harassment training, businesses depend on our expertise and cost-effective human resources services to help them thrive.

Let’s connect: LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Google+


Tags:  employee engagement  entrepreneurs  human resources  small business 

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6 Ways to Prevent Your Employees from Becoming Problem Employees

Posted By Bob Wilson, Bob Wilson Solutions, Wednesday, August 5, 2015

This was originally published on The GoodMen Project on July 27, 2015

When I first started managing people over 20 years ago, I remember thinking: “This will be easy, I get along well with everyone and I’m a reasonable person.”

I was so wrong. Managing others is difficult. Employees will say and do things you never thought you would hear or see. Even good employees can be a challenge at times. But when you have a “problem” employee, the challenges increase exponentially.

Save yourself the grief and tip the balance in your favor. Here are six ways you can lessen the chance of having problem employees.

1) Schedule regular 1-on-1 meetings. Why are these so important? Besides helping you get regular updates on tasks and projects, there are three other significant benefits:

  • Shows the employee they are important. Taking time out of your busy schedule demonstrates directly to your employee they are important.
  • Helps creates trust. By meeting regularly you get to know each other better. Trust takes time to build. Regular 1-on-1 meetings are the foundation upon which trust is built.
  • Creates a more positive, less stressful environment. Without regular 1-on-1’s, when do you usually ask to talk to an employee? When something is wrong. So, when you ask to talk, they will anticipate something is wrong and be stressed. With regular 1-on-1’s you can put more focus on positive things. Plus, when problems are discussed, they come up in a more natural way since you are already talking about their work at these meetings.

2) No laundry lists. If your employee has several performance issues, resist the urge to discuss all of them at once. If you discuss them all at once, the employee will think you are either having a bad day or assume you are a negative person. Either way, their focus has shifted away from their performance and toward your perceived negativity. Most people quit listening at this point.

As difficult as it may be, pick only one issue at a time. Handle other issues as separate discussions. Remember, you are in this for the long haul. Managing isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.

3) Get them talking. As a manager, it’s only natural to assert your authority. After all, you are the one in charge. But this can lead to you dominating a discussion.

Dominating turns a discussion into a monologue or a sermon. Make it more interactive. Direct the discussion instead of dominating it. Make it give-and-take. Think 50-50 or 60-40. One of the best ways to do this is to ask questions.

Put some thought into what questions to ask. For example, one of the worst questions you can ask is:

“What do you think about this?”

It is too general and also a leading question. You will likely get a positive response instead of an accurate one. Two better options are:

“What concerns do you have with this idea?” or

“Tell me one concern you have with this idea.”

These types of questions give the employee permission to say what is really on their mind.

4) Communicate expectations clearly. After you have explained an assignment to an employee, ask them to repeat it back to you in their own words. You may get a strange or puzzled look. I often did. Clarify by saying something like: “I just want to be sure we have a common understanding.”

I remember clearly the first time I asked an employee to repeat an assignment back to me. I had stated four steps for him to complete. He re-stated all four steps, but only one of them was as I had intended. This wasn’t an isolated incident. I saw similar outcomes with other employees.

It is important to note that this wasn’t an indication that I was a poor communicator or they were a poor listener. Instead, it points out that misunderstandings happen all the time. We need to be more vigilant in finding them and correcting them.

If the employee doesn’t re-state all points correctly, then it is up to you to re-explain them. You may want to re-word it slightly. Once again, ask them to re-state, in their own words, what you said. Do this as many times as needed. It may seem tedious, but it’s much better than ending the discussion with differing expectations.

5) Know the consequences in advance. It is rarely a good plan to use consequences as a “stick” to try to get an employee to behave. However, an employee may challenge you during a performance discussion. It is good to be prepared.

I have had employees say, “If I don’t do what you ask, will you fire me?” You don’t want to hesitate when answering that question. Some employees ask it in a joking manner. My experience has shown that they wrap the question in humor as a safe way to gauge if the issue is serious or not. Even though they play it off as a joke, they truly want to know the seriousness of the issue.

When an employee asks that question, if the answer is “yes,” then you need to be upfront and tell them. Most times, that isn’t the case. Instead, you are much more likely to answer with something like:

“No, but if you don’t you won’t be eligible to bid on other jobs within the company.” or

“No, but if you don’t your salary will be frozen.”

These are just two examples. Your situation may require a completely different consequence.

6) Think multiple meetings. Many managers treat performance issues like they just have to mention it once and the problem will be solved. Fat chance. Nearly all performance issues will require multiple meetings. So you might as well get yourself in that mindset upfront.

Turning performance issues around is a process. Each meeting serves as a checkpoint, giving you ways to monitor the employee’s progress and provide them with feedback (both positive and negative). Making these ongoing course corrections is critical. They help keep your employees on the right path.

What has worked well for you to prevent employees from becoming problem employees?

Bob Wilson is the owner of Gilbert, AZ-based Smartful Coaching. If you need help managing your employees better, contact Bob at (480) 710-0340 or to schedule your Free Consult. 


Tags:  conflict management  employee engagement  engaged employees  how to be a better manager  how to be a better supervisor  management  problem employees 

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Are you holding back your company

Posted By Carine Dieude, Biostress Imagery LLC, Wednesday, October 29, 2014

We often talk about employees’ engagement and retention and their exorbitant cost on businesses (cf. ‘Are your employees engaged?’). How are CEOs dealing with this challenge? How are they developing tomorrow’s workforce?

The PWC 17th Annual Global CEO Survey reports that 93% say they recognize the need to change their strategies for talent, yet 61% haven’t taken the first step…

It is further reported that 63% of CEOs are concerned about the availability of key skills. Should skill be the major concern? Employees are mostly let go because they were not a good fit within the organization. 70% of the workforce being actively or passively disengaged clearly points out that the current recruiting for skills method does not ensure a good fit. So who is really holding back the company?

What is engagement?

Employee engagement is the emotional commitment an employee has to the organization and its goals, resulting in the use of discretionary effort.

The workplace is by nature a task oriented environment where logic is what keeps the system in place. Yet emotional human beings perform these tasks. We have more and more examples of billion dollar companies proving, without a doubt, that today’s sustainable success is build upon cultivating consciousness and ensuring their practices benefit their stakeholders, employees and clients, their environment, their community and the world at large. Their culture promotes personal growth and a sense of purpose greater than the task, at ownership, leadership and employees level alike, emulating engagement. Virtually all personal growth produces new skills, behaviors and wisdom that are directly transferable to the workplace.

John Mackey, Whole Food Markets founder, said “business must view people not as resources but as sources”.

Carine Dieudé, C.Ht., Biostress Imagery LLC

Tags:  conscious capitalism  employee engagement  sustainable business 

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Are your employees engaged?

Posted By Carine Dieude, Biostress Imagery LLC, Monday, August 25, 2014

Actively disengaged employees are costing the U.S. an estimated $450 billion annually. Gallup research defines ‘actively disengaged’ employees as discontent and are out to damage their company’s reputation. According to Gallup, an estimated 20% of employees in the U.S. are actively disengaged . A further 50% of American workers are not engaged (that is, they are present on the job, but not inspired by their work or their managers). Only 30% are engaged and inspired at work.

Each one of us is motivated by our needs. 

This reality greatly influences our behaviors and actions. When our needs are not met, it gives rise to negative emotions and feelings, and cognitive distortions. Emotions and feelings are beautiful things in interpersonal relationships. However, in the workplace, they defy logic whereas logic is the system that keeps everyone focused on the tasks at hand. Furthermore emotions attached to the work place cause our perception to deviate further from reality leading to disengagement.

In 1943, the US psychologist Abraham Maslow published a paper called ‘A Theory of Human Motivation, in which he said that people had five sets of needs, which come in a particular order. As each level of needs is satisfied, the desire to fulfill the next set kicks in. His original model had the following five stages:

1. Biological and Physiological needs: air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep, etc.

2. Safety needs: protection from elements, security, order, law, limits, stability, etc.

3. Belongingness and Love needs: work group, family, affection, relationships, etc.

4. Esteem needs: self-esteem, achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, managerial responsibility, etc.

5. Self-Actualization needs: realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences.

This theory has been expanded upon throughout the years and largely remains widely accepted today. Even though Maslow’s model maybe perceived as a grand theory into which a number of exceptions will not fit, these five basic stages have transposed into the workplace as follows:

Stage 1 – Physiological needs: salary, decent work environment

Stage 2 – Safety needs: safe working conditions, job security

Stage 3 – Social needs: good team atmosphere, friendly supervision

Stage 4 – Esteem needs: recognition of achievements, fancy job title

Stage 5 – Self-actualization: opportunity for promotion and personal growth, creativity

This has had an influenced on management education and management practice. "One of the insights is that as managers we can shape the conditions that create people's aspirations." says Gerard Hodgkinson, a psychologist at Warwick Business School. Since the 1950s, employers began to realize that employees' hopes, feelings and needs had an impact on performance.

But, truly engaging employees requires more than giving them a pet project, a fancy job title or a motivational speech or workshop which will be brushed off within a few days. Personal growth programs have proven extremely efficient. Helping employees remove automatic subconscious programming, beliefs and behaviors that no longer support them and replace them with a strategy that support their personal development lead to long-lasting changes. According to a study by the Boston College, forty percent (40%) of the employees attending a personal growth program are experiencing less stress, feel more engaged and less likely to look for another job. The ripple effects are profound: stability, more productivity and less recruitment, health or workers compensation related costs for the company.

Without a doubt today’s sustainable success is built on a serious and compassionate commitment to helping employee identify, pursue and reach their own personal unique potential. When we grow as people, we automatically become more effective and valuable as employees.

Author: Carine Dieudé, C.Ht., Biostress Imagery LLC

Tags:  employee engagement  personal growth  productivity 

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