BY: María Migali
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See how wellbeing can transform your workplace
Today’s highly successful companies are demonstrating the importance of caring about employee´s wellbeing, which results in higher engagement and productivity. The outcome are healthier, happier and more committed employees. However, the benefit are also for the company: it improves work climate, increases productivity, reduces absenteeism and improves the company´s image.
Our innovative Wellness On Demand platform promotes healthy lifestyle habits by providing tools for employees to incorporate holistic wellness into their workplaces and lives, anytime, anywhere.
The easy access to our platform allows us to reach a large number of users. It is flexible; as each user may choose the resources that best suit his/her needs and remain committed to the company’s wellness initiative.
Here are some of the contents that can be found:
– TALKS to potentiate your wellness.
– WORKSHOPS about Wellness, Mindfulness, Healthy Eating, Healthy Stress Management, Smoking and its implications.
– ACTIVE PAUSES of Stretching, Yoga, Mindfulness and Ergonomics.
– Self-knowledge tests
– New products
Our Wellness On Demand platform has been created to produce a positive impact on individuals, businesses and communities, using technology as an enabler to promote and support all types of healthy behaviors and implement preventive actions.
We believe technology should make life better. Our Wellness on Demand platform enhances individuals to engage with wellness easier than ever.
We accompany your company in the journey of change towards wellbeing. There is no doubt that employee’s´ well-being is well-being for the company.
BY: Andrea Lardani
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The results of several studies point to the same place: employed women with young children are the group that is suffering most from the impact on mental and emotional health during the pandemic.
According to the studies, women have experienced a greater increase than men in terms of suffering psychological distress, difficulty concentrating, and difficulty disconnecting from worries. The difference is even greater when it comes to anxiety, depressive feelings, guilt, hopelessness and their levels of confidence, optimism, serenity, relaxation, vitality and energy have been reduced more intensely. These results are related to the fact that many women have found themselves in the situation of teleworking and taking care of their children.
Studies show data indicating that “it is the female gender that is becoming more vulnerable to anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress”.
Whether it is because women work from home and their partner is away or because her partner is home but only works, which leads to an overload of stress as they are mainly responsible for running the house and children’s schooling, without leaving their work aside. Some feel that they are working all day long, since having flexible hours becomes a continuous demonstration of responsibilities towards work while they are taking care of their children and the house. Women with children and teleworking tend to develop strategies such as delaying bedtime or getting up earlier than the rest in order to be able to organize their day and domestic tasks. We find that women are taking on enormous burdens: mental and emotional burden, managing the household, being caregivers, teachers, nurses, psychologists and also workers.
The main problem is that they cannot disconnect even for a second, they do not have time for themselves or to do a pleasant activity, so they have high levels of anxiety, emotional and mental exhaustion, insomnia, hopelessness and stress, being a gateway to mental and physical health problems of our century: anxiety, depression, heart attacks and cardiovascular problems.
Taking this information into account, it is essential to seek advice in time to find healthy alternatives for the new challenges generated by the pandemic, both for companies and their employees. Employee Assistance Programs offer different resources as recommedations for managers on how to lead their teams and psychological support for employees who find themselves in this situation.
– University of the Basque Country
– Arantxa Gorostiaga, member of the Department of Social Psychology and Methodology of Behavioral Sciences at the University of the Basque Country.
– UCM-Group 5 Against Stigma
– Jesús Linares, psychologist
– University of Valencia
– Empar Aguado, sociologist
– Carmen Flores, president of the Federation of Associations of Single-Parent Families (FAMS)
– María Fornet, psychologist and writer on therapeutic feminism
BY: Andrea Lardani
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Grupo Wellness Latina presented at the International EAPA Conference held in the city of St. Louis, USA, between October 23rd and 27th. The selected topic was “Women´s Well-being at the Workplace”, approached from a global perspective. Professionals representing the different continents, Asia, Europe, Africa, North America and South America provided information on the current situation of women and how to intervene from Employee Assistance Programs to respond to their specific needs.
Andrea Lardani, Director at Grupo Wellness Latina, spoke about the situation in Latin America. The most relevant data was:
- More than half of working age women have a job. However, only 29.7 per cent hold managerial positions compared to 70.3 per cent of men.
- Women earn 10% less than men and devote more time to household chores and caregiving -three more hours than men per day-.
- Latin American countries have very high rates of femicide and it is estimated that 1 in every 3 women over the age of 15 has suffered sexual abuse.
- The main risk factors for women on our continent are obesity, sedentary lifestyles and exclusive breastfeeding for less than 6 months – WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding from birth to six months of age which benefits mothers ‘as well as babies’ health.
- However, a study conducted by Voices Research & Consultancy in 2018, shows that 8 out of 10 women find it difficult to combine breastfeeding and work. 73% of the workers felt uncomfortable asking where to breastfeed or express milk and 65% of the employees informed that they expressed milk in the bathroom.
A survey conducted by Grupo Wellness Latina in 2019 with 277 female employees responders from different Latin American countries reports the following:
- 58,5% consider that their company does NOT offer or offers few wellbeing activities that take into account the specific physical and emotional aspects of women.
- 45, 4% report that their business does not take into account, or takes little account, women´s specific needs.
- 52,7% cover aspects of their personal lives to avoid having less opportunities for career development.
- 23,9% consider that women do NOT have the same development opportunities than men.
From the data presented, as Employee Assistance and Wellbeing professionals, we are committed to becoming allies of organizations to help them achieve women´s real inclusion. In order to attain this, it is essential to, not only incorporate a more equal percentage of women, but also to ensure that the workplace takes into account the fact that women have a different physiology (they can breastfeed, for example) and different needs. Women are still the principal caregivers of children and elders, so companies that demand 24/7 availability prejudice them. Employee Assistance Programs have the opportunity and expertise to support organizations in achieving more inclusive and healthy work environments. Without a doubt, this benefits employees, families as well as businesses.
BY: Andrea Lardani
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As EA professionals we must address specific needs related to diverse employee populations. There are female particular issues such as health, breastfeeding, caregiving and career development that require support. EAP experts from Latin America, North America, Asia Pacific and EMEA will introduce innovative services to promote women’s wellbeing in the workplace.
Join this session on September 25th at 2:45pm at St. Louis Union Station Hotel.
Andrea Lardani (Grupo Wellness Latina)
Nancy Board (GW4W)
Kaoru Ichikawa (Resilie Laboratory Inc.)
Ayumi Nishikawa (WorkWay Inc.)
BY: Andrea Lardani
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When our economic, political and social context is adverse, uncertain and insecure it is impossible to ignore the emotional, physical and interpersonal impact it generates. While each person reacts according to his or her own characteristics and situation, we can identify two types of responses in the same context: “resilient” and “debilitating” responses.
We call resilient responses those that function as buffer of the negative impact and at the same time lead us to develop a new skill or reinforce an existing one. For example, a man who had to close his hardware store because he contracted an illness that prevented him from leaving his home. He started doing carpentry to entertain himself. He eventually discovered that he enjoyed the activity and that his technique improved day after day. He encouraged himself to publish his furniture on the internet, he concreted some sales, his self-confidence increased, as well as the orders.
Debilitating responses, on the other hand, are those that increase or expand the negative impact of the stressor producing detrimental consequences to our physical and/or mental health. An example would be that this same man, after having to close his business, began to isolate, stopped seeing his friends and family. This reaction would begin to negatively impact another area of his life – his relationships– that was not initially affected. We propose four resilient habits to implement during difficult times:
- Think resiliently: Our thinking style is a habit like any other, so we can modify it if we propose. To do this we suggest thinking about difficulties as: a) Temporary, b) Affecting a particular area of your life and c) That you can learn from them. Each time you are in an adverse situation, you may ask yourself: a) How long is this negative situation going to last? Or what will be the duration of the impact of this situation? Try to be as specific as possible and determine how many days, weeks, or months it will last. b) What area/areas of my life are being affected by the situation? Try to narrow it down. For example, if it impacts your work life, what aspects of work are being specifically affected? d) What can you learn from this difficult situation you are experiencing? Would you do something different the next time something similar happens to you? Have you developed or can you develop a new skill? Have you strengthened any skill of your own?
- Generate positive emotions: We have long known that positive emotions do well. “Joy is the best promoter of health and is as good for the mind as it is for the body” (Joseph Addison, English poet and playwright, 1672-1719). However, relatively recently we have studies to prove this. According to studies by Barbara Fredrickson, positive emotions have the function of “antidote” to the consequences of negative emotions – such as fear, anger, anguish, sadness, anxiety, etc.- Positive emotions such as love, gratitude, joy, calm, hope, satisfaction, interest and curiosity can be generated with certain actions. Listing the things, we are grateful for, rather than taking them for granted, is a way to generate gratitude, for example. Connecting with nature produces calm and satisfaction. Practicing meditation, breathing exercises and/or muscle relaxation produces tranquility, calm and relief. Carrying out activities that interest us, generate curiosity and pleasure are also ways to increase positive emotions that protect us in times of adversity.
- Strengthen your social support networks: During extreme adverse situations, such as wars, terrorist attacks or natural disasters, those with the capacity to receive support from others and also give it are the ones who succeed. In difficult times it is essential to connect with our loved ones, seek support, ask for help, companionship and affection. It is also an opportunity to generate new spaces to give and receive support. In this sense, during difficult times it is extremely important to make ourselves the time to connect with others, since it is quite common to do the opposite (“I have so many problems that I do not have time to see my friends”).
- Maintaining healthy habits: In times of adversity we run the risk of weakening ourselves with unhealthy habits such as sedentary lifestyles, inappropriate eating and little or bad sleep. In the long term, negative health consequences arise and of course, we run out of energy to deal with the difficulties. For this reason, we suggest paying much more attention to our habits during difficult times. We must prepare for a “demanding competence”. Moderate and regular physical exercise, healthy nutrition, as well as good sleep are key to “competition” as well as for a healthy living.
Organizations may not be able to do much to change the adverse context of a country. However, they can offer specific tools to help their employees develop or reinforce resilient habits to cope with difficulties. When the going gets tough, the resilient – persons and companies – get going.
Lic. Andrea Lardani
Grupo Wellness Latina
BY: Andrea Lardani
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2018 is about to finish. It has not been an easy year for some countries in Latin America. For example, 1,5 million Venezuelans emigrated escaping from a terrible crisis and looking for better life conditions in countries as Peru, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina and Ecuador. In Argentina, the “peso” dropped against the US dollar and has now lost more than half its value since the start of the year. Argentina’s central bank raised interest rates to 60 percent. To make matters worse, the country experienced one of its worst droughts in decades which undermined its agriculture sector. It is impossible to ignore how these adverse contexts impact individuals emotionally. Although each one reacts according to personal characteristics and the particular situation lived, we may identify two types of responses towards similar contexts: Strengthening responses and weakening responses.
We consider strengthening responses those reactions that function as buffers and at the same time lead us to develop new skills or reinforce existing ones. For example, a woman who had to close her shop because she was suffering a chronic illness, started to paint. After some time, she started to sell her paintings through the web and she discovered that not only she enjoyed painting but also that she improved her technique and increased her sales.
Weakening responses, on the contrary, are those that increase or expand the negative impact of stressors producing harmful physical and mental consequences. An example could be If this same woman, after closing her shop started to isolate from friends and family. This reaction would start to affect another area of the life – her relationships – which had not been impacted initially and this would probably lead to feelings of loneliness and sadness.
We propose 4 strengthening habits for 2019:
- Develop a resilient thinking style: Our thinking style is a habit as any other habit, so if we propose ourselves, we can change it. For this we suggest to think about difficulties as: a) Temporary, b) That they affect a particular area of our lives and c) That we can learn from them. So each time you find yourself having to cope with an adverse situation you may ask yourself the following questions: a) How long will this negative situation last? Or how long will the impact of this situation last? Try to be specific and determine duration in terms of days, weeks or months.b) Which specific area of my life is being affected by this incident? Try to delimit the area clearly. For example, if it impacts my work life, which specific aspects of my work are being affected (my relationships, my salary, my performance, my job satisfaction?) c) What can I learn from this difficult situation I am living? Would I act different next time? Have I developed a new skill? Have I strengthened an existing skill?
- Generate positive emotions: Popular knowledge has always recognized that positive emotions are good for health. Nevertheless, not so long ago, different studies began to show evidence about this. Barbara Fredrickson, presented evidence about how positive emotions function as antidote for the physiological consequences of negative emotions (as fear, anger, anxiety, sadness, etc.). Positive emotions as love, gratitude, happiness, hope, satisfaction and curiosity can be generated with certain actions. Naming the things for which you are grateful for, instead of taking them for granted, is a way of feeling gratitude for example. Connecting with nature produces calmness. Practicing meditation, breathing exercises and/or muscular relaxation produces calmness, relief, serenity. Performing activities that really interest us generates curiosity, satisfaction and pleasure. So increasing our positive emotions is a way of protecting ourselves in times of adversity.
- Strengthen relationships: Evidences shows that during extreme adverse contexts as wars, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, those who are capable of receiving and providing social support have more probabilities of overcoming the obstacles. In difficult times, relating to others, asking for help, company and love is fundamental. It is also an opportunity to generate new spaces to give and receive support. In this sense, during difficult moments it is really important to make ourselves time to connect with others, as the tendency of doing the opposite is frequent (“I don´t have time to see my friends because I am too busy with my problems”).
- Keep healthy habits: In times of adversity we run the risk of weakening by maintaining harmful habits such as sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy nutrition and lack of sleep. The consequences for health in the long term are of course negative. For this reason, we suggest being much more careful with our habits during times of adversity as we must be prepared for a “challenging competition”. As athletes before a difficult competition, we must eat healthy, sleep well and exercise moderately when coping with adversity.
Incorporating new habits is not easy but possible. Difficult times are opportunities to do it and to encounter with our unknown or dormant strengths and putting them into action. Welcome 2019!!
BY: Andrea Lardani
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On October 26th, Grupo Wellness Latina, Global Women for Wellbeing and Universidad de San Andrés organized a conference in Buenos Aires about women´s wellbeing at the workplace. Novartis, Grupo Omint and Nestlé sponsored the conference. About sixty participants assisted, occupying almost a hundred percent of the auditorium.
Andrea Lardani, Director at Grupo Wellness Latina, opened the conference explaining that the term wellbeing has different definitions but some consensus exists about three characteristics of wellbeing: it is subjective, it has a cognitive aspect and an emotional one. So wellbeing is what we think and fell about our lives. Andrea also talked about the reasons of choosing this topic for the conference, why women if we are also interested in men’s, children´s and adolescents ´wellbeing? Women have particular aspects, as the possibility of breast feeding, that need specific responses from organizations. For this reason, we have invited different companies to tell us about what they are doing in this direction.
The conference was divided in two panels. A Data Panel and a Good Practices Panel.
Paula Ferrari, Topic Chair of Digital Inclusion at W20 Argentina and Regional Marketing Director of GSMA opened the panel talking about the conclusions presented at W20 Summit which took place on October 2nd and 3rd in Buenos Aires sharing very interesting data about the gender gap related to the use of internet and mobile phones. Pamela Suzanne, professor at Escuela de Negocios of Universidad de San Andrés talked about how to generate self-confidence presenting real cases as examples. Lucía Kazelian, Chief of cardiology hospitalization unit at Hospital Argerich and Member of the area Heart and Women from the Sociedad Argentina de Cardiología presented data about the principal health problems women face today. During her presentation, the audience was alarmed when Lucía exposed that 1 every 3 women die of heart disease or stroke, illnesses that tend to be more associated to men. For this reason, Dr. Kazelian emphasized the importance of preventing risks factors – such as smoking, sedentary lifestyle, hypertension, overweight and stress -. Regarding stress,María Migali , Commercial Director at Grupo Wellness Latina, defined it as a necessary survival response. Negative stress appears when we perceive that our resources are not enough to cope with a given situation. Regarding stress in women, María mentions three different positions in research: 1) Those who consider that performing multiple roles is a source of stress and conflict that reduces life quality; 2) researchers that present how multiple roles benefit women´s wellbeing as when they work they have more social support, economic resources and opportunities to excel themselves which increases self-esteem; and 3) those who view the effects of multiple roles in health and wellbeing in relation to how such roles are perceived by each women. This means, that performing a certain role does not generate stress per se, it depends on the cognitive attribution given to the experience. Closing the panel, Silvia Solá, lactation and childcare specialist at Grupo Wellness Latina shared updated information about the challenges for organizations on issues related to maternity in different stages: pregnancy, child birth and children in school. Companies that facilitate resources to support families in such stages benefit their employees as well as the business, according to Silvia.
This panel was subdivided in two rounds. The first one was moderated by Ariel Kievsky, Director de la Especialización y Maestría en RRHH, Escuela de Administración y Negocios. Universidad de San Andrés. The speakers were the following: María José Gomez Silva, Commercial Director for Latin America and Canada at Novartis; Daniela Mora Simoes, Director of Gestión & Desarrollo de Personas at Grupo Omint y Federico Spoturno, Member of international HR committee (Latin American & Caribbean Region) at Nestlé.
For the second round, the moderator was Mariana Lome, Director of Programa en Organizaciones sin fines de lucro Universidad de San Andrés. Presentations were given by Paula Altavilla, Latin America South Region Director Whirpool; Andrea Rodius, OTC Leader LAA South Region at Dow Argentina; Ana Laura Peña, Responsible of HR Benefits for Argentina, Chile, Colombia, CostaRica and Perú at Accenture and Paola Argento, Latin America South Region Director at YPF.
The principal practices presented by the speakers were:
- Extended maternity leaves
- Extension of paternity leave
- Flexible work policies
- Home office / telecommuting options
- Reimbursement of child care services
- Coaching during pregnancy
- Mentoring Programs: Women mentors of women
- Employee Assistance Programs
- Lactation rooms
- Workshops for men and women about unconscious bias
To end the Conference Nancy Board and Karina Müller from GW4W, mentioned the pending issues related to women´s wellbeing:
- Women have different health and wellbeing challenges than men. We need to better understand why.
- Barriers for women succeeding are different than for men.
- Women still provide majority of the care giving to children and aging parents/family. We need better support.
- Most health research has been done on men and male animals. Women have different physiology.
- Women, on average, get 20% less pay than their male counterparts. Financial stability impacts health and wellbeing.
- Depression and Anxiety is 2 times more prevalent in women than in men.
As final comment, Nancy outlines the need of increasing awareness in organizations, providing more trainings as well as generating solutions to support child and elder care responsibilities. Women represent 50% of the labor force, so it is crucial that next generations receive more support from organizations.
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At Grupo Wellness Latina we offer our clients two options of EAP models: 1) EAP Basic Model and 2) EAP + Well-being Model. This second one has the objective of including a broad variety of resources to promote employees’ and families’ wellbeing together with the traditional EAP services.
Which are these resources and how do we integrate them to our EAP?
We offer eligible clients free access to our Wellbeing Platform which includes short and animated video tapped workshops on topics divided in four areas: “Healthy Habits”, “Healthy Minds”, “Healthy Relationships” and “Women’s Wellbeing”. Employees and family members may access the workshops at any time and repeat them whenever they want. For each workshop, “Breastfeeding and parental guidance” for example, the platform includes additional materials for those who want to deepen their knowledge and move towards change. These materials are research supported self-help books, films, internet resources, support groups and apps (John C. Norcross, 2013). A client satisfaction survey is administered after completion of workshops. The platform also shows analytics – number of accesses, number of completed and interrupted workshops- which allow us to include this information in our utilization reports for the company. So we may show EAP utilization plus Well-being Platform utilization.
Together with our EAP access numbers, WhatsApp, mail, App and webpage we communicate how to access our Wellbeing Platform. When launching the service, in employee orientations, we explain how to access EAP + Well-Being Platform. During the whole year of contract, we provide communication materials that promote EAP as well as the Well-Being Platform.
Director at Grupo Wellness Latina
Norcross, John C. (2013). “Self – Help the Works”. Resources to improve emotional health and strengthen relationships. Oxford University Press.
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Women And Their Multiple Roles
Exhaustion or enrichment?
Exhaustion or enrichment?
6 am the alarm clock sounds, Mary gets up to prepare the lunches that her children will take to school. 6:30 am she wakes them up, prepares breakfast, makes sure they have their backpacks ready, with swimming clothes for the afternoon, that John does not forget to take the cardboard for plastic and that Sophie takes the authorization to go to her friend’s house after class. Once ready, she accompanies them to the door with all the luggage to wait for another mother to pick them up to take them to school. Then Mary lifts and washes the breakfast rates, makes the beds, takes a quick shower, dresses and leaves for her job remembering to bring her notebook and her bag with her clothes to go to the gym at noon. Intense working day, two call conferences with Brazil and problems with clients. Luckily in the afternoon her husband leaves earlier from work and can pick up John at school, then Mary takes the opportunity to go to see her mother who lives alone and broke an ankle. Mary passes by the supermarket and buys food for her mother. While chatting with her she leaves something ready for dinner. Then she goes to pick Sophie up from her friend’s house and they go home. When she arrives she opens the refrigerator and realizes that she forgot to buy food for dinner. At the same time, john says: “Ma, what’s there to eat? … I’m hungry.”
Although this scene does not represent 100% of women and today men participate in many of these responsibilities, domestic and childcare tasks, as well as elder care is still mostly in charge of women.
Now, these multiple roles produce exhaustion, stress, compete with each other for energy and time? The theory of role scarcity considers that each person has a determined amount of energy to use. Therefore, if a person takes time and energy from a role – for example, taking care of children – it detracts from another role – that of worker -. From this perspective, the conflict between roles is inevitable and is associated with stress symptoms.
Another look on the multiple roles
The theory of role accumulation suggests that the commitment to participate in different roles can create benefits. Some time ago, authors like Marks and Sieber argued that multiple roles give energy and resources instead of taking them away. Resources created by participating in a role can be used in other roles. This view considers that energy and time are resources that can be shared, included and transferred, instead of being fixed and limited. For example, by helping her mother who lives alone and taking care of her children daily, Mary feels satisfaction, increases her self-confidence and develops interpersonal skills. These emotions and resources developed can be used in other roles to be played, such as work. In turn, self-confidence and well-being will serve as buffers before difficulties she may face in her everyday life, such as a problem with a customer.
This perspective does not deny the existence of the exhaustion and stress that role overload can produce, but it emphasizes the benefits that are often overlooked.
What can organizations do?
Many companies take into account the benefits of having women committed to multiple roles and some suggest avoiding the sharp division between “work mode” and “home mode”. Instead they encourage “bring your whole self to work”. Nevertheless, continue looking for specific programs and policies that collaborate with the development of women’s careers, as well as their personal / family lives, is still necessary.
Women’s Wellbeing Programs provide specialized advice both for women who feel overburdened by multiple roles and for those who feel satisfied, but still want to maximize their resources to continue developing as individuals and workers.
By Andrea Lardani