Category Archives: Health and Wellness

Do Something That’s Just For You

Geraldine Sangalang, CHRP

Geraldine Sangalang, CHRP

I’ve recently discovered a love of yoga.  Roll your eyes all you like – I was skeptical of the practice too!  I live in Vancouver where yoga pants have become synonymous with the image of a local woman, somehow.  I’m one of those people who becomes skeptical when large groups of people fall absolutely in love with one thing.  But after giving it a try, I’ve been converted – I love yoga.

I wasn’t interested in yoga for many years because it didn’t seem that strenuous.  I enjoy pilates, but I envisioned yoga as a less challenging version of pilates.  Boy was I wrong!  Yoga is dynamic, and the best teachers are supportive and reflective.  It’s a wonderful practice, and I will certainly continue.

Last night I attended a really wonderful class.  I’ve been stressed at work, and people are starting to get sick all around me, and so I’ve been avoiding physical activity in exchange for sleep and rest.  But a friend convinced me to attend our yoga class last night, and I’m so glad that I did.

The instructor emphasized that we give away our power in different forms all day.  When people are stressed around us, we mobilize, and we move faster.  When a situation arises, we assess, make plans, and execute.  We’re very giving of our time and energy – particularly in the workplace.  But it’s important to realize that you need to do things that bring you power also.  It’s not about reclaiming your strength – because you should give of yourself freely – but you should put yourself into situations that bring power to you, and you alone.

When you commit to going for a run, taking a yoga class or skiing for a few hours, those moments are meant to bring you joy and freedom.  They’re moments that you create for you alone, and that’s powerful. image

You earn money all day that you ultimately distribute to different parties.  You may deal with situations that affect others more than you.  Certainly each conversation you have at work is an exercise of giving your time away to someone else.  But you need to commit time that can only be spent on yourself – you deserve it.

Before saying goodbye, my class instructor asked us to sit up one more time with our shoulders back.  She joked that she wasn’t asking us to sit with our shoulders back because that’s yoga gospel, but because it’s a reminder of your body’s intrinsic power.  You have chosen to sit with your shoulders back, which lengthens your spine.  You control your body, and every action is a choice.

Make sure that you take some time that’s just for you.  Whether that means physical activity, reading for pleasure, or sitting perfectly still on a park bench and admiring the view, commit to doing something that brings power and strength to you.

Ethically Refusing to Hire Smokers

Jessica Lau

Jessica Lau

Recently, I’ve read an attention-grabbing article called Should Companies Have The Right To Refuse To Hire Smokers? on Forbes, it is about the debate and ethicality in not hiring smokers. This is of great interest to me, as HR professionals are the ones in charge of hiring and creating policies regarding this.

According to Alice G. Walton from the article, one group, including “Ralph W. Muller, CEO of Heal, argues that it’s high time to amp up our efforts to help people quit – even if new policies bring short-time unhappiness, they will certainly bring long-term health benefits.” Another group, including “former White House health advisor Ezekiel J. Emanuel, says that even though everyone agrees that smokers should be encouraged to quit, it’s fundamentally unethical for businesses, and even hospitals, to refuse people jobs because they smoke.”

I was quite torn with which group I am in support of. But after some thoughts on this “not hiring smokers” debate, I came to the view that it is unethical for companies and HR to discriminate and not hire someone who is a smoker.

I do agree that people, companies, policy makers and leaders should increase their effort to help people quit but I feel that it is unethical to have policies to not hire smokers. To me, this in a way is to force people to quit. As a very liberated individual, I believe people should be allowed to do whatever they desire for their lifestyle and should not be forced to do something due to society’s pressure. Are we, in a way, discriminating and bullying people to be non-smokers? Since if they don’t become non-smokers then they won’t get hire.

It is true that in hospital settings, most patients probably don’t want to smell the cigarette smoke on the hospital employees’ clothes or body. However, I believe the hospital may want to consider making it a rule not to smoke during work hours. As an HR professional, I believe it is more important to try to implement policies to help and support people to quit.

When I read this article, I related the smokers to those people who are obese and unhealthy with high chances of heart attack and strokes. Often, these people may have habits, which continuously contribute to their obesity. Do we need to stop hiring these individuals, as we want to encourage them to be healthier, like we want to encourage smokers to quit to be healthier? No, that’s not what companies are doing. Instead of not hiring them, companies are implementing health and wellness programs to encourage people to live a healthier life. We should do the same with smokers. As HR professionals, we should consider implementing more health and wellness programs to help and support our employees lead healthier lives, let it be due to obesity or smoking problems.

What is the HR policy your company has in regards to hiring or not hiring smokers? I am very interested in knowing what are the common practices and perspectives out there. How are you, as an HR professional, impacting these policies and practices regarding “not hiring smokers” or helping employees quit?

Walton, Alice G. “Should Companies Have The Right To Refuse To Hire Smokers?”   Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 28 Mar. 2013. Web. 31 Mar. 2013.

How to Bring Free Health and Wellness into Your Workplace

Christine Ramage, CHRPHR Writer

Christine Ramage, CHRP
HR Writer

There are numerous studies and facts available about the linkage between health and productivity in the workplace. Moreover, employees who partake in a workplace wellness program will usually feel more connected to their jobs, companies and coworkers. Health and Wellness programs are relatively easy to start up, and there are an abundance of resources available to help give you ideas, framework and themes as many 3rd party organizations have a vested interest in healthy workers, and people in general.

Most Employee and Family Assistance Programs (EFAP) have components of wellness and go beyond just their company, but will gladly connect you with provincial programs, such as smoking cessation, to help connect you to additional, and often free, resources.

A great way to kick off a wellness program in your office is to ask around to see if anyone else has an interest in championing it with you – assistance is great, and another perspective can be helpful in tuning into your company’s needs. Once you have a partner to help out, or if not, have bounced some ideas off a coworker, its time to spread the word!

You can either start by communicating current benefits and offerings of you company, that are perhaps underused or not well advertised. Or, your can start by hosting your own initiative. If you can tie your initiative to the season, or another anchor, that is helpful to keep it relevant.

Here are some examples:

December: On-site flu shots from a local nurses unit

January: Smoking Cessation. A common New Years resolutions

February: Heart and Stroke Month, a healthy hearts seem to pair with Valentines

March: Have a local Financial Planner in to talk about Tax Season

April: A lunch and learn around proper workstation ergonomics

May: Start a walking group for lunch time

All the information relevant to the monthly theme of your choice can be obtained through EFAP, the Ministry of Health under Organizational Wellness, of even from businesses in your community. Many businesses will come in and present a free information session on whatever service they specialize in. For example, many sports clubs offer a discounted membership if you can get a group to sign up, or financial group will come in and present about RRSP, Tax, Retirement and Savings planning. Remember, health and wellness is affected by a spectrum of influences!

Another free place to look for expertise on your workplace health and wellness can be internally; perhaps you have an employee who can lead a yoga or meditation class, or teach healthy meal planning or even help coordinate a carpool/ cycle to work program. If you’re ever in doubt, or without inspiration, a quick Google search will always turn up some great ideas.