Mental & Physical Health Of The Working World: Talking Healthy Work Culture With HealthKick CEO & Wellness Expert, Erika Zauner

A recent study found that Americans are much more stressed out about Coronavirus than citizens of other countries. There truly is no denying that the stress of COVID-19 has negatively impacted our mental health. If you are working, work culture dictates that we show up, good attitude and all. A mental health day is hard to take when you are essential or already working from home. This is why our current lives require stricter self-advocacy and routine that focuses on a balanced lifestyle. We have to advocate for our mental health even harder, but what a lot of company heads fail to realize is that happy faces at work don’t just happen on their own. Fostering a healthy work culture and keeping up with brand quality requires a long term plan that takes employee health into consideration. Our bosses likely want us to be healthy, but the concern always seems to stop at the onboarding process. In the US, skipping lunch and working long hours has been the trend for years. In fact, it was expected. We dare say, work culture is changing, and with the right tools in hand it can be a lot better.

Introducing HealthKick. HealthKick is proof that the wellbeing of employees matters, and that when health is infused into company culture, productivity goes up. It was a matter of time before someone shook up the corporate world and gave companies an outside perspective on improving morale.

Our interview with HealthKick CEO & Wellness Expert, Erika Zauner, reveals what HealthKick does. In addition, Erika Zauner provides us with tips on a healthy balance between work and personal wellness.

Cultivated: What is HealthKick?

EZ: HealthKick is a corporate wellness membership that provides personalized access to over 500 leading consumer health, fitness and wellness brands spanning fitness, nutrition, mental & emotional health, financial wellbeing and personal care. HK@Home is a curated a selection of over 100 digital health, fitness and wellness brands, from food delivery with Thrive Market and Hungryroot to the Calm mindfulness app and fitness classes with NEOU and JETSWEAT, plus weekly livestream wellbeing events that we launched to support employees’ physical and mental wellbeing during COVID-19.

Cultivated: Who is your typical client?

EZ: HealthKick works with mid to large-size employers globally in industries ranging from tech to retail, advertising/media, financial services/consulting and engineering/architecture firms. Some of HealthKick’s clients include Burberry, Peloton, American Eagle, Suffolk Construction, Berdon, LLP, Centric Brands, Hugo Boss, SH Group (Baccarat Hotel, 1 Hotel Miami, Jeremy LA), BSE Global (Barclay’s Center), KIND, and Infor.

Cultivated: What type of results have you been getting?

EZ: The average engagement rate for corporate wellness programs is less than 30%. HealthKick’s clients see average engagement rates of 50-70% or more. There are several factors that contribute to this. 

1. Variety of options for everyone: Providing the variety of options that cater to different employee interests and wellness goals is essential to meeting the wellness needs of a diverse population of employees – from employees just getting started with building healthy habits to avid wellness enthusiasts. Most programs are one-size fits all (i.e general gym discount, office gym), and that is where engagement falls flat. 

2. Flexibility: Providing options that offer employees flexibility to engage in a way that fits into their lifestyle is critical for engagement. On-site programming is great, but often employees have meetings that conflict or deadlines that keep them from participating. HealthKick offers employees the resources they need- from livestream fitness classes to meal kit services or mindfulness apps to use when it works for them. 

3. Fresh and exciting new offerings: As we like to say, wellness trends change faster than it takes a company to roll out a new wellness benefit. HealthKick’s team is always proactively sourcing the latest and most relevant new health and wellness brands to continually offer new and exciting options for employees, which drives ongoing engagement.  4) Financial value: HealthKick has been able to create financial value for employees by saving each member $500+, while also keeping them healthy. With the multitude of benefits and services that HealthKick provides, many of its members and companies are noticing the value it’s bringing to their everyday life, especially during this time. 

Cultivated: Can you provide us with some tips on how to help relieve anxiety and stress, especially when we feel overwhelmed by the state of today’s world.

EZ: When the COVID-19 outbreak first hit the U.S. and the nation went into a state of lockdown, there was a lot of uncertainty and general uneasiness as a result. I found myself waking up already stressed before the day even started. Now, every morning,

I focus on four things I am grateful for before I get out of bed. This daily gratitude practice takes less than 2 minutes and helps shift my energy through the whole day. Once you anchor on an emotional state of gratitude you can always come back to it throughout the day when stressful events inevitably arise.

I also started practicing Tony Robbins’ “priming” technique – a 10-minute daily exercise of gratitude and visualization that gets you in a high energy state to conquer the day!

Cultivated: How can we create a daily routine in quarantine and while working from home that helps us feel like we have it together?

EZ: A lot of people are working longer hours throughout the pandemic, causing them to not have the time to exercise as frequently as they would like. Longer hours can also induce stress-related anxiety or depression, which can be difficult to manage without access to appropriate resources. If you don’t have a full hour in your day to exercise, commit to 15 minutes of activity or 5 minutes of a mindfulness practice (doing air squats while on a conference call counts!). Even though right now can be hard with juggling work and childcare all at the same time, maintaining a work/life balance is essential for nurturing your mental health and wellbeing and also sustaining a positive attitude. 

To cater to quarantined employees, HealthKick introduced HK@Home, a selection of 50 digital health and wellness brands from streaming fitness apps like Peloton and Aaptiv, to meal kit services like HelloFresh and Blue Apron, and mental health apps like Calm and Talkspace. These resources are helping employees establish routines that work with their lifestyles while supporting their physical and mental wellbeing. 

Cultivated: What are some current trends in mental wellness? 

EZ: Many wellness trends have peaked during the pandemic, including virtual fitness and self-meditation. With gyms closed, and people still exercising caution when it comes to being in public places, many are leveraging digital workout programs. There are so many great livestream fitness and mindfulness classes available. If you have been hesitant to try meditation, now is a great time to experiment since almost every app is offering free access- and there are so many variations that you can try on apps like Inscape, Calm, Headspace or Insight TImer- it’s all about finding the right format that works for you.

Cultivated: Can you recommend any additional meditation tips or breathing exercises? 

EZ: Throughout the pandemic, we’ve incorporated mindful minutes into our team meetings to help everyone center and focus and engage with each other from a place of calm. It’s easy to bring some calm into the next team meeting by starting with a 10-minute guided meditation from an app like Calm or Inscape, or join the Breathwork collective for a live Zoom class. This practice is a great way to help people reconnect and quiet their minds for a more focused and productive discussion. Mental health has become a major focus for employers as people are dealing with unprecedented levels of stress due to quarantine, a lack of social interaction, and other external stressors. Setting aside time for mindfulness shows employees that a company is dedicated to their employees’ wellbeing and helps everyone start meetings with a clear mind and positive attitude.

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