Back Button
Menu Button

Acts of Kindness – A New Company Holiday?

Make A Difference in Your CommunityI’m always looking for emerging trends with employers regarding the benefits they offer. Just recently, I came across a commentary piece in the March edition of Employee Benefits News about an employer, Borislow Insurance, a benefits brokerage firm based in Massachusetts, who created a holiday tradition called The Random Act of Kindness. My interest was immediately peeked.

As described by Mark Gaunya, principal at Borislow, their program works as follows… For each of the last five years, Borislow gives each employee a $100 bill and asks them to go out into their community and ‘pay it forward.’ This ritual takes place about two weeks before the actual company ‘holiday’ celebration.

The rules are quite simple. Each employee must:

  • Use the money to make a difference in someone’s life.
  • During the holiday celebration, share with other employees how they spent the money.

As mentioned by Mr. Gaunya, “The stories are incredibly touching, and there usually isn’t a dry eye in the house by the time all is said and done.” Stories include an employee secretly following a senior citizen around a grocery store and paying for the groceries at the checkout counter. Another employee used the money to help pay some of the funeral expenses for a family that just lost a child to a sudden death.

Isn’t this perk really about a sense of belonging to an organization that desires to make a difference in small (and unique) ways within its’ own community? This particular employer-provided benefit allows for individual creativity. Employees provide thoughtful acts of kindness helping those who least expect it. Civility in our communities can certainly go a long way, especially given the many societal challenges we face.

Whether through volunteerism or asking employees to donate money to various causes, organizations can make this ‘benefit’ become an avenue of employee engagement. For some organizations, it may seem awkward to ask employees to donate to certain causes…or perhaps even volunteer their time. If the program is not communicated appropriately to employees, it may be negatively perceived as ‘intrusive’ or ‘forceful.’

It seems to me that corporate giving and employee volunteerism can represent an enjoyable way for employees to meet outside the workplace and experience a real source of pride by giving back to their community. Employees can derive a tremendous sense of joy when giving back to others in many different ways – through giving of their time, talent and money.

Employee engagement is extremely powerful for any organization. Finding meaningful ways to engage employees that will ultimately benefit their community is definitely a win-win-win for the employee, the community…and the employer. There is a great deal of information on the impact that corporate giving has on revenue, etc. One such resource can be found at Boston College’s Center for Corporate Citizenship.

So is this idea an emerging trend? I don’t know. But I do believe that Mr. Gaunya’s organization is on to something that creates a great deal of value to all who touch that $100 bill!

To learn more, we invite you to subscribe to our blog.

A New Approach: Heartland Health Research Institute (Part 2 of 2)

HHRILast week’s blog, “A Bystander – No More!” has set the table for this week’s blog.

I have recently founded another organization with the vision to advance the transparency of facts through objective research and innovative solutions in the delivery and payment of health care. Our mission is to provide meaningful health care information to improve decision-making for consumers, employers, health care providers, policymakers and the general public.
The name of our new organization is Heartland Health Research Institute (HHRI).

Dr. Yogesh Shah

Dr. Yogesh Shah
Associate Dean of Global Health
Des Moines University

HHRI is a collaboration between Dr. Yogesh Shah and me. Dr. Shah serves as associate dean for Global Health at Des Moines University (DMU) – a position created to establish and increase international rotation opportunities, medical service sites and other global health experiences sought by DMU students. His passion includes improving the health of people around the world.

Dr. Shah is triple-board-certified in family medicine, geriatrics and hospice and palliative care. He is very involved through the World Health Organization (WHO) and was instrumental in making Des Moines a member of the WHO network of age-friendly cities. Dr. Shah led the creation of the Heartland Global Health Consortium, a collaboration of Iowa educational learning opportunities for students. He was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to develop a palliative care program in Rwanda. Dr. Shah was born in Mumbai, India.

Dr. Shah and I met a year ago while jointly working on a research project for Capital Crossroads. Through this interaction, we realized our passions about health care were very similar, and our seemingly disparate backgrounds are actually complimentary to one another. It was through our discussions that HHRI was conceived.
So what will HHRI do?
An ongoing need exists for objective, unbiased information regarding the local health care system, so that decisions affecting our system will be based on verifiable facts. HHRI was founded to conduct research and provide education focusing on a broad spectrum of health care issues. Topics covered are specifically from the patient’s perspective and measure patient confidence and trust in the health care system today and into the future.
HHRI will function strictly in an objective and unbiased manner and not as an advocate or opponent for any position. Frankly, we are not about advancing any particular political agenda, but rather, advancing factually-based evidence that will attempt to make sense out of this very complicated health care world in which we live. Topics addressed by HHRI may include:

  • Transparency in costs and outcomes
  • Quality of health care
  • Patient engagement and activation
  • Palliative care
  • End-of-life care
  • Employment-based health benefits
  • The value of health coverage
  • Population-based health
  • Attitudes toward health care reform
  • Identifying and understanding the unintentional consequences of public policies
  • Other tangential issues

HHRI is a knowledge-based organization serving Iowa and other Midwestern states, and will focus on:

  • Data to reveal major health challenges and opportunities.
  • Credible, reliable and objective research for decision-makers, policymakers, employers, media and the general public.
  • Exploring and presenting key health care issues with thought leaders from all sectors.

We want to provide understandable information that can be used to solve the problems our health care system suffers from today. Our work must provide clear results that will be applied to everyday decision-making by employers, employees, policymakers, media and the general public. Having a healthy, robust workforce and population is critical to the economy of Iowa and other Midwestern states.

In the future, I will continue to monitor the downstream of Our Health Care River using the annual Iowa Employer Benefits Study. With the advent of HHRI, we will now be able to move upstream and pursue critical issues inherent within our health care world.
HHRI is new and fresh and created to make a real difference. You will be learning much more about our work in the months ahead! Should you have further questions about HHRI, I encourage you to contact Dr. Shah or me.

To learn more, we invite you to subscribe to our blog.

Smart Phones – Smart Future!

David P. Lind BenchmarkIn March, on behalf of Humana, Inc., Forrester Research released their report, “Mobile Application Adoption Trends and Strategies To Engage The Workforce”. According to this report, the trend appears to be that more employers embrace the idea of interacting with their employees for personal and work-related activities using new technologies offered through smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices.

Three key conclusions come from this report:

  1. An emerging demand for health and wellness mobile applications. Such applications enable employees to locate healthcare provider sites, track exercise activities, or monitor various biological conditions such as heart rates, glucose levels, and other health-related.
  2.  Mobile recruitment applications are emerging. Capturing candidate information during job fairs, interviews, or sharing video clips to candidates about specific jobs available within the organization.
  3. HR and benefits professionals implement awareness campaigns to promote employee adoption of mobile applications.  Purposes may include rolling out a new wellness campaign, incentive programs, and other new initiatives that are central to employment.

This report allows human resource executives and benefits administrators to look into the future when attempting to engage their workforce…using existing and new technologies.

Consider this:

  • About 17,000 health-related mobile applications are on the market*
  • By 2015, the number of mobile health service users are expected to reach 500 million*

Sprint launched a 12-week “Get Fit” challenge during the summer of 2011 and found big success using social media tools to engage employees to participate in wellness activities, such as weight loss, exercise minutes and pedometer steps. The estimated savings from this challenge, according to Sprint, was approximately $1.1 million. Partnering with ShapeUp, a wellness software company, Sprint used social networking tools that allowed employees to log their progress online through a website portal in addition to using mobile devices. Employees interacted with other employees throughout the country with friendly competitions – holding each other accountable. Sprint attributes a big part of the programs’ success to social networking. Social media tools can be a good thing when used appropriately!

Hmm, maybe it is time to learn more about what Iowa employers plan to do in the future regarding this new technology! Stay tuned.

*Stetler, Mark, “Trends in Healthcare and Medical Apps