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employees-corporate-wellness

HR Tactics to Strengthen Remote Employee Morale

How do we strengthen employee morale? In this post, we’ll dive deeper into the key tactics and strategies HR leaders and managers can implement with their workforce to help boost remote employee morale and employee wellness as well as develop a communicative and trusting internal company culture, regardless of where employees are located.

Our 3 ways to strengthen remote employee morale are:

  • Key 1: Employee Recognition, Praise and Appreciation
  • Key 2: Build a Culture of Gratitude in Your Company
  • Key 3: Effective Communication, Connection, and Trust

Let’s dive into the tactics and help you strengthen your remote employee morale today.

#1: Show your appreciation by recognizing and praising employees

Recognition, praise, and appreciation can help your employees feel valued and stay motivated.

Many management guides stress the importance of doling out praise or appreciation – as well as bonuses in compensation. No matter what form your appreciation takes – written, vocal, monetary – it’s been shown to increase productivity and boost morale. Employees are sensitive to the fact that some praise may come off as insincere, so there are some caveats to this key – you can exhibit and develop praise and recognition for your employees’ good work, and build a culture of recognition within your team so the appreciation doesn’t just come from the top down. Employees can show appreciation and gratitude towards their co-workers and team members, which can also have a positive effect on morale and productivity.

You can show you care about your employees by recognizing them and showcasing that gratitude to the broader team. Here at BurnAlong, we close out every week’s team meeting by offering a ‘thank you’ to one or more members of the team. This has stayed part of our weekly agenda for much of our team’s history, and remains a core part of our remote company meetings even when we were no longer located in the same office.

  • When employees feel recognized and appreciated, they are more motivated and encouraged.
  • Leading with a culture of gratitude helps perpetuate the cycle, giving employees the space and encouragement to thank others on the team as part of their daily work.

#2: Build a culture of gratitude at your company

Develop a culture of gratitude in your company to create an internal sense of camaraderie and trust.

Promoting a culture of gratitude really helps engage and motivate employees, especially when aligning them to the organization’s purpose. When we end every week by thanking someone else at the company, the benefits of promoting gratitude across levels of the organization can have far reaching effects. It comes up more during weekly meetings, and often people will thank others directly across messaging platforms as well as during team meetings.

Recently we hosted a webinar for HR leaders. During it Senior People Leader at Google shared this thought about expressing gratitude in the workplace:

“At the leadership level, we have what we call a shared gratitude journal: basically a shared Google doc or Box notes, whatever shared documentation platform you are using to have every leader come in and write down what they’re grateful for. And gratitude actually helps build a lot of resiliency at the individual level. And when we’re doing it at the leadership level, it starts to flow down. So I think that is one thing that is a small thing – It’s easy to do, it doesn’t cost anything – that we’ve done that’s gone a long way that I personally feel like everyone should do.”

#3: Communicate and connect to help build trust

Communication and connection is key to fostering and strengthening employee morale – and is even more important when remote teams are separated by location.

Stay connected with your employees through consistent check-ins and team meetings. Even being virtual, it can take just a few minutes a day to reach out via email, text, or message and see how your team is doing. Opening the lines of communication and keeping them well-used gives your employees a sense of safety. In turn they’ll bring ideas, challenges, and solutions directly to you.

With that in mind, for managers and supervisors it’s also important to recognize that there is a balance between productive levels of communication and collaboration, and allowing people time to get work done on their own. Managers need to have a high level of trust to avoid micromanaging or trying to establish too much control over their employees because they’re worried they are taking advantage of the lack of direct supervision.

You can boost remote employee morale if you lead with recognition and appreciation, develop a culture of gratitude, and balance effective communication across all levels of the organization.

(Bonus) Include benefits that they’ll love

Another great way employers and leaders have been able to strengthen remote employee morale is by offering effective employee benefits.

Employees want to feel like they’re being supported and taken care of by leadership. In office environments, many organizations promoted benefits like free coffee and snacks, an on-site gym or massage therapist, or a game room with pool tables and ping-pong. In the post-COVID world, these in-office perks are less important to employees as benefits like a good 401K plan, solid health insurance for themselves and their dependents, and wellness benefits they can use from anywhere in the world

With millions of people now working from home for the near future, and potentially forever, major organizations are starting to look to remote benefits as viable ways to boost employee morale during this time, and beyond. Employee stress is at an all-time high and as a result, companies are focusing resources on improving employee mental health. As they’re working from home, employees are also spending more time around their family and have additional stresses placed upon them; physically, mentally, as well as emotionally and financially. Companies who identify this and put the right type of employee benefits in place will find they have a stronger, more resilient workforce with a higher level of employee morale.

We’re passionate about helping leading employers boost their employee’s morale, health, and wellness

weights-water

Taking it Slow. Not Every Fitness Goal Needs to Be Fast and Hard.

Senior Woman Holding Fitness Sign With Family In BackgroundGo big or go home? We all want to see fantastic results from our hard work and dedication to any fitness program. If we maintain nutrition, eat well and work as hard as we can, we are going to see results: that is inevitable. But, do we have to train as hard as possible each and every time we workout, each and every day? Sure, we fit in a rest day, but what else can we do to make sure we are restoring our bodies and minds?

Fitness goals are most easily reached when they are part of every aspect of our lifestyle and not compartmentalized into a few hours of the day. We have limited energy sources no matter how healthy we are, so it is important to maintain awareness about how each of our decisions and actions influence our wellness and choose accordingly.

From a physical aspect, we can slow down some of our workouts to build strength. This works in a variety of ways. By increasing resistance, continuing muscle exertion over a period of time and working muscles beyond the support of initial momentum, strength can be gained, even with relatively light weights or by using the weight of the body alone. This can be true of some weight training programs and is something you can discuss adding to your fitness routines with a certified personal trainer. It is also one of the key elements of building strength through yoga practice and asanas (yoga postures). An additional consideration from a holistic health perspective is the effects of the stress hormone cortisol on weight loss. By taking part in calming physical activities such as restorative, gentle, yin and meditative yoga practices, it is possible to reduce stress, allowing the body to shed weight, heal and be at top capacity for more intensive strength and cardio training when you are working with your personal trainer or in other group fitness programs. By taking time to slow down, you can actually optimize performance and fitness results.

Nourishing your mind can also come in handy, as a way to promote your health when you are not busy exercising or working. Take time to read, learn, talk with fitness experts, organize your time and plan your meals. A wealth of free information is available online to support you in your fitness goals. Blogs with entries from personal trainers and other fitness experts are a great place to start. Personal trainer certification organizations such as the National Council for Certified Personal Trainers (NCCPT), maintain blogs with a variety of advice for personal trainers and fitness enthusiasts. You may also get inspired and decide to take your fitness goals one step further. Once you get involved learning more about fitness, biomechanics and how amazingly capable your body is, you may even get inspired to become a personal trainer or group fitness instructor yourself!

If you find yourself interested in learning more about how to incorporate fitness into every aspect of your life, maybe even your work, you can find out more from the NCCPT.

No matter where you are at in your fitness journey, don’t forget to take some time for yourself. Slow down sometimes to speed up your progress!

Reprinted with permission from NCCPT.


John Platero is the founder and CEO of the National Council of Certified Personal Trainers (NCCPT) which has certified thousands of personal trainers both nationally and internationally.

apples

The Naturopathic Chef: Apple Pie Monkey Bread

I receive many requests for Monkey Bread by my breakfast lovers but it never had that “wow factor” I look for in a dish. The recipe originated in Hungary and serves as their traditional coffee cake. Dried fruit and nuts are added to the original recipes with the Americanized version tasting more like a Cinnamon roll.

Here, we capture the first signs of Fall with beautiful Gala and Granny Smith apples. No time to peel and chop apples? My time-saving tip: chunky applesauce!

Ingredients

  • 1 tube Flaky Biscuits, I use Immaculate Baking Company
  • 1 each Gala Apple, peeled, cored, and diced into small cubes
  • 1 Granny Smith Apple, peeled, cored, and diced into small cubes (place apples in Lemon water; White Vinegar works, too)
  • ½ stick Butter, unsalted (or Vegan Butter)
  • ½ tsp Vanilla
  • pinch Salt
  • ¼ cup Monk Fruit Sugar
  • ¼ cup Organic Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon

Glaze

  • ½ cup Organic Powdered Sugar
  • 2 tsps Milk of your choice
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp Lemon juice
  • Whisk until smooth, set aside

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

*Butter an 8×8 glass baking dish.

*Do not use a dark baking pan as the sugar will burn.

Make your assembly line

Cut each biscuit into 4 pieces; pile on a plate. Melt butter in a small bowl and stir in vanilla and salt. Stir sugars and cinnamon together in a separate bowl. Drain apples.

Ready to assemble

Spread half of prepared apples on the bottom of baking dish. Dip a few pieces into the butter and then into the sugar/cinnamon. Place in baking dish at different angles and gently press together and down. Continue layering process until your biscuit puzzle is complete. Top with remaining apples, and a light dusting of the sugar/cinnamon mix.

Bake 22 minutes or until peaks start to get dark. Allow to cool 10 minutes and invert on serving plate. Cool another 5 minutes and pour glaze over top. Garnish with toasted or candied nuts.

Handy Hints – Need this now?

  1. Butter a loaf pan. Leave biscuits whole, dip in butter mixture then sugar/cinnamon and stand biscuit on its side alternating with unpeeled apple slices. This makes a pull-apart loaf.
  2. Instead of prepping apples; stir chunky applesauce into butter. Coat biscuit pieces as usual. Pumpkin puree is also a great choice, here. Use Pumpkin Pie Spice instead of Cinnamon. Voila! A Pumpkin Pie Monkey Bread, perfect for your holidays.

Phyto Facts

Conventional refrigerator biscuit dough contains hydrogenated oils that confuse hormone receptors, clog the vascular system and have been shown to cause Gallbladder and Liver challenges. Some commercial dough softeners have been shown to cause both Kidney and Liver cancers.

Immaculate Baking Company doesn’t use these chemicals in any of their products.


Get more great recipes from Tina Martini — her book, Delicious Medicine: The Healing Power of Food is available to purchase on Amazon. More than a cookbook, combining 20+ years of experience, along with her love of coaching, cooking and teaching, Tina offers unexpected insights into the history and healing power of clean eating, along with recipes to help reduce your risk of disease and improve overall wellness so you can enjoy life!

Affectionately referred to as The Walking Encyclopedia of Human Wellness, Fitness Coach, Strength Competitor and Powerlifting pioneer, Tina “The Medicine Chef” Martini is an internationally recognized Naturopathic Chef and star of the cooking show, Tina’s Ageless Kitchen. Tina’s cooking and lifestyle show has reached millions of food and fitness lovers all over the globe. Over the last 30 years, Tina has assisted celebrities, gold-medal athletes and over-scheduled executives naturally achieve radiant health using The Pyramid of Power: balancing Healthy Nutrition and the healing power of food, with Active Fitness and Body Alignment techniques. Working with those who have late-stage cancer, advanced diabetes, cardiovascular and other illnesses, Tina’s clients are astounded at the ease and speed with which they are able to restore their radiant health. Tina believes that maintaining balance in our diet, physical activity, and in our work and spiritual life is the key to our good health, happiness and overall well being. Visit her website, themedicinechef.com

Eric Chessen 1

Can’t Vs. Doesn’t Understand; Coaching Towards Learning Style

“Okay, now let’s see a squat, I’m gonna go first and then you try.”

The above is a standard sentence during my PAC Profile assessments and it carries with it powerful proactivity. I just also serendipitously learned that “proactivity” is a real, bona-fide word. When we teach movement, it makes sense to demonstrate first. Explaining to anybody a physical activity they’ve never performed, or performed with questionable technique, will skew towards wheels-fall-off territory early. Proactive practices give us and our athletes more opportunity sooner, and reduce the need to backtrack.

The most efficient use of initial instruction time (the first time we are teaching an exercise) looks like this:

  1. Label
  2. Demonstrate
  3. Provide supported performance

For the ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) population, labeling in particular can have interim or long-term benefit for language (productive and receptive), memory, and independence. If the athlete is familiar with the word “squat” and can equate it to the movement pattern that constitutes a squat (whatever their current ability level), the coach does not have to repeat and demonstrate and repeat and repeat and repeat. Because the athlete already knows. The word squat and the movement squat have been paired in a way that makes sense, and is memorable, for the athlete.

Labeling adds to the lexicon. It’s remarkable just how much functional language we can build through fitness programs. Not only exercise names “squat, press, pull-down, push throw, rope swings…” but objects “Sandbell, rope, cones, Dynamax ball, sandbag…” and abstract concepts including prepositions “in, on, under, right, left, up, down…” When our athletes are actively engaged in fitness activities teaching these terms/concepts is easily presented in a natural manner.

Demonstrating is crucial because it circumvents us and our athlete standing there and staring at one another (or off into the distance for those of our less-eye-contact-inclined friends). We always demonstrate a new exercise; this provides context and a framework for both the learning style and that athlete’s interpretation of what we just did. We’ll learn how they follow visual modeling and, often, how motivated they are to perform the thing they just saw.

Do they get right down to squatting? Are they hesitating? Overwhelmed? We will be given really good clues here.

Providing supported performance means that we are starting the athlete at a level of performance that they are sure to master quickly (if we have to progress the exercise immediately this is a good sign). If we wind up progressing an exercise five times during the first session then good. Good! This translates to the athlete having early successes that can be reinforced. We usually prefer to do the exercises that we’re good at, and our athletes with autism are not much of an exception.

We may provide a physical or guided prompt early on with an exercise to ensure safe and effective technical performance. With the squat this may mean having the athlete hold on to a resistance band attached to a secure, stable area and squatting to an elevated surface (we always use Dynamax balls propped up on cardio step risers).

Depending on physical, adaptive, and/or cognitive ability, we may be able to fade this support in the first session or it could take months.  I have some highly motivated athletes who, because of their physical needs, require longer practice with a given level of an exercise before they’ve reached mastery and can progress. The athlete should be held to the expectation of his/her best current level of performance (unless we’re talking about exceptional amounts of strength or power, because then programming changes a bit).

Efficient and effective coaching enables us to determine how best the athlete will learn a particular exercise. While it’s tempting to classify our athletes as “more visual” or “more kinesthetic” learners I’ve found that it is far better to approach this from an exercise-by-exercise basis. Some of my athletes need physical prompting through the end range of an overhead press but can “get” a band row when I demonstrate pulling my arms back while standing parallel to them.

“Don’t know how” is a misinterpretation of breakdown in effective coaching communication. We need to be instructing with less words, more action. More show than tell.

When our athletes, or any of us, don’t understand the direction, the contingency, or the expectation we freeze, get off-task, get frustrated, or a Lucky Charms marshmallow cornucopia concoction of all three.  Being proactive in coaching means giving our athletes the information they require delivered in a way that is useful.

It is easy to take for granted the neurotypical ability to interpret nuance, abstraction, and implied information; the untold stuff between the clearly marked things. Giving our athletes the context and environment to succeed, especially in the first few sessions or when teaching a new exercises becomes our bridge to success in coaching and performance.

Photos provided by Eric Chessen.


Eric Chessen, M.S., is an Exercise Physiologist with an extensive background in Applied Behavior Analysis. Eric provides on-site and distance consulting worldwide. He is the founder of Autism Fitness®, offering courses, tools, resources and a community network to empower support professionals to deliver adaptive fitness programming to anyone with developmental deficits to create powerful daily living outcomes that last a lifetime.

Debra-TedX-Screengrab

Truth About Women’s Fitness in Menopause | My TEDx Talk

Women’s fitness in menopause is a hot topic. This is what I shared in a recent post when I began to spread the word about my TEDx talk:

I think I just threw up a little bit.

That’s how I titled my post. Here’s why.

My TEDx Talk Story

Let me tell you what happens when you get accepted to do a TEDx talk… and have less than 4 weeks to prepare it.

While you’re training for an Ironman happening two weeks after. And the weekend before you’re at a Thursday-Sunday conference knocking out a huge block of time you needed to prepare.

Then you do the talk and walk off stage feeling like you just had an out-of-body experience. You have no idea if you even said all the important things that made you do this, on your own dime and time.

Then you wait, and wait, and wait… for 7 months to it to be published (almost unheard of). And it risks getting banned because it’s controversial and in spite of a dozen+ research studies quoted and the basis of it: it flies against tradition.

It’s released… exactly what you wanted… except then you have to watch yourself and your midget mindset says, “what will people think?” You wonder if you’ve done the women whose stories you told justice. You wonder how many fitness pros will hate it because, well, they’d rather keep doing what they’re doing than accept we might be wrong.

(and of course, I’m human… I think while watching… I definitely look like I had gained that 10 lbs in 2019 I hinted at – ugh!) Keep reading beyond the video to learn more.

Well, hence the original subject line. I opened with. My TEDx talk is wayyyyyy harder to share than I anticipated.

I’ve been talking about women’s fitness for 3 1/2 decades. I’ve been diving deep into the research and protocols on exclusively women’s fitness in menopause for 10-14 hours a day for eight years. And still…

The Resistance

Somehow in my head it went different, you know? It was going to be a huge celebration and something I couldn’t wait to share.

So if I tell you when it all goes peachy and smooth, I have to tell you when it’s a sh#* storm for me.

That’s just personal doubt coming up. And I have it too. So it is fair for me to tell you, when you think maybe something won’t work for you or you can’t do this, these feelings are going to come up.

This resistance is harder than any weight you will ever lift.

So, I’ve got to say to you and to I both… lift the damn thing anyway.

We have to honor what’s happening for us at the moment we’re in no matter what that includes.

Now, a humble ask.

Will you watch my TEDx talk? 

It may help you know you’re not doing anything wrong. It may help you realize you’re doing more than you need to right now. Fitness in menopause is tricky.

Will you share it if it will benefit a friend or a health coach or trainer? 

We need to have some change in the way we think about women’s fitness in menopause order to change women’s fitness and health for the better. You deserve energy and vitality and you’re not going to get there by starving or exercise that causes extreme fatigue.

You can share the link from my website, flippingfifty.com/tedx (scroll below the video and see share buttons to put it directly on your favorite social media site) or from the TED YouTube channel directly.

And know, I appreciate it so much.

Here’s News I Haven’t Shared

Literally, the day after my TEDx talk went live, while I was still pulling up my big girl panties to share it and stop second-thoughts, I got my body fat tested. Here are the results.

Pretty amazing for a woman in post menopause at 56. From walking…. And 2 20-minute interval sessions (start to end) and 2 strength training sessions (about 30 minutes each) AT HOME during COVID19.

Now, if I changed that sentence:

Pretty amazing for a woman in post menopause at 56. From walking…. And 2 20-minute interval sessions (start to end) and 2 strength training sessions (about 30 minutes each) AT HOME during COVID19

Still true.

If I change it again:

Pretty amazing for a woman in post menopause at 56. From walking…. And 2 20-minute interval sessions (start to end) and 2 strength training sessions (about 30 minutes each) AT HOME during COVID19

Still true. (even at gym where you might think it’s easier)

So…You Need to Know

Listen, girlfriend. Please do not let that nasty, second-thought voice inside your head say you’re too old, you can’t get results, or it takes time and effort you don’t have or don’t want to put in.

Women’s fitness in menopause, and let’s get personal, your fitness in menopause may come from far less exercise than you’ve been led to believe.

Had you seen the BEFORE numbers… back in December of 2018 when I tested before beginning Ironman training … I was at 127, 24% body fat. So now… the negative impact of a year full of cortisol elevating stressors – including endurance training – become much more apparent. At my highest weight just before the Ironman I saw 139 on the scale. A number I’ve only ever seen before this when I was when pregnant. On a 5’4” frame that’s not healthy, and it’s mysterious given the exercise I was doing and high quality diet I have. Or so you might think!

Endurance exercise… causes a spike in cortisol.

You add that with many more major life stressors (I clearly got in the wrong line at some point in 2019) and you will GAIN weight. Add hitting menopause mid-year and you’ve got a perfect storm.

And no, many blessings to those who said, oh it’s muscle. Honey, um no. A girl knows. Muscle is more compact, not bulky. You can see the increase in body fat percent… 27% is not bad… just not something that makes sense with my lifestyle.

You Don’t Have to Go That Far (Please Don’t!)

I did an experiment in extremes here. You don’t have to be doing Ironman triathlon training to gain weight with too much exercise.

Please check your default thought pattern that more exercise is better.

Better exercise is better. Like walking…. Walking … for a woman used to running 3 hours, biking 4 and 5 hours… swimming for 1-1.5 hours … could also make you lose weight if it is the right Exercise is Medicine dose for you right now.

There will be a time when I can do some more of the endurance I love again. We have to listen to our bodies, adjust the exercise, as you would medication if your status changed.

For Fitness Professionals

Gain the information, tools, and resources needed to coach and train this steadily growing population with Debra’s 10-hour online course with MedFit Classroom, Stages of Menopause and Exercise Intervention.

Given the number of women who have not exercised previously, and the current void in proper hormone balancing exercise prescription, there exists numerous, lucrative opportunities for fitness professionals to positively impact the lives and health spans of a great many women still seeking answers.


Reprinted from flipping50.com with permission from Debra Atkinson.

Debra Atkinson is the #youstillgotitgirl who is flipping 50 and changing the way thousands of women think about their second half. She’s the host of the Flipping 50 TV Show and the Flipping 50 podcast. As a master personal trainer, strength and wellness coach with over 30 years fitness industry experience, she works with women who are pro-aging with vitality and energy. She is an international fitness presenter, author of hundreds of articles and multiple books. Visit her website, flippingfifty.com

Trainer helping senior woman exercising with a bosu balance

Core Strength is NOT Washboard Six Pack Abs: 4 Steps to Building Your Powerful Core Strength

Most people associate the core with the look of your abdominals. They believe that having a strong core is associated with the look of a washboard stomach or Six Pack Abs. In reality, there are 27 muscles that make up the core of your body. From pelvis and hip muscles on up, the core is an entire system. Only a few of the muscles are visible to the naked eye.