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The Science and Software to Make Your Team Happy and More Productive at Work : Gamification

Organizations have seen the rapid ascent of computing technology for employee well-being in the last two decades. This includes a broad range of applications, employees monitoring and managing their own health, and with games transforming long periods of unrewarding work to something fun.
Organizations have seen the rapid ascent of computing technology for employee well-being in the last two decades. This includes a broad range of applications, employees monitoring and managing their own health, and with games transforming long periods of unrewarding work to something fun.

The term called ‘Gamification’ became popular in the early 2010s, and since then this engaging and behaviour developing new approach is changing our work lives. With Gamification, organizations can;

• transform long periods of unrewarding work to something much more fun by enhancing the overall employee engagement and retention ,

• invest in organizational success by opening new pathways for employees and managers to understand each other’s values and helping managers to create successful teams,

• and make behavioral changes promoting good-natured competition for employees to achieve physical and financial wellness goals. When an employee is hungry, reaching for an apple instead of a candy means mastery, autonomy, and control which are the same motivations for a gamer.

Question is can managers reward their employees with their achievements while lowering healthcare costs and decrease absenteeism?

However, the question is can managers reward their employees with their achievements while lowering healthcare costs and decrease absenteeism?

According to Ross Smith, the Director of Test, Skype at Microsoft, it can be accomplished; however, the attendance to the games should be voluntary. Determining what make things fun for employees is the challenge that managers need to solve. However, once it is figured out, the games increase participation rates and creates transparency and high trust within the organization.

A few years ago, Sun Life Financial created an online tool that incorporates gaming principles to teach plan members about retirement and savings. Users learn about topics at various stages and must pass knowledge quizzes in order to advance. They can also compare themselves with other players on leaderboards and share their progress through social media.

Seeing the benefits of Gamification urge insurance companies to embrace gamification as well. In light of this, one of Canada`s Employee Assistance providers Morneau Shepell released a program called ‘Getting to Your Gold’. The program is specifically designed to help motivate behavioural changes while connecting co-workers and Olympic athletes through an engagement program.

The primary objective of Getting to Your Gold program is to maximize employee engagement for employees` own health outcomes. In order to make it accessible to users, the program is hosted on an online portal that houses different Olympic spirit-themed challenges, athlete videos, health & wellness polls and expert advice. With this program employee engagement and total wellbeing are optimized through fun and informative Olympic spirited challenges.
• Physical Activity,

• Nutrition,

• Rest / Sleep,

• Mental Wellness.

Increasingly, we are turning to technology to support our health, and this is not likely to change anytime soon. Insurance carriers are incorporating this new approach to help their clients and examples show fun games can influence and sustain changes in healthy behaviour. Managers need to rethink how gamification can change workplace wellness from employee’s perspective because occupational, emotional and physical wellness should be the goal of our business model today.

Top 3 Myths About Employee Assistance Programs


Tragic events can happen to anybody; to ourselves, our friends, our family, our children or our colleagues. It is reassuring to know that there is a system in place to help and overcome those difficult times [1].

Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides a confidential and voluntary consultation support to employees and their families. It is completely confidential within the limits of the law [2]*. The program can be initiated over the phone, by personal appointment or online and self-guided resources.

Today the services are very comprehensive and extended to:
• Alcohol & Substance Abuse,
• Residential School and Historical Trauma
• Depression
• Relationship Issues
• Stress and Managing Anger
• Financial and Legal Issues
• Domestic Violence
• Retirement Concerns and Planning
• Mental Health Issues
• Workplace Conflict and many more…

The main goal for the program is not to punish employees but rather to:
• Encourage them to receive services needed to deal with personal issues
• Provide advice and consultation to managers and supervisors
• Promote healthy work-personal life balance
• Maintain and promote a positive work environment
• Increase employee engagement.

Today, employers explain EAP is a proactive, preventive effort to help employees identify and resolve personal issues before they have serious medical, family, and/or workplace consequences. The program also provides advice and consultation to managers, supervisors, and plan administrators to spot performance and morale issues when they occur, so the company can address the situation appropriately.

Here are some of the most common questions asked by Human Resources and Finance Managers, and business owners regarding Employee Assistance Programs.

Does EAP increase company health care costs?

 Contrary to popular belief, EAP actually Reduces Company Costs. According to Davidson Trahaire Corpsych, with help from EAP, it is possible to increase employee productivity and happiness and still reduce company costs. The company did a survey in 2013 with 4,707 EAP user companies both before and after they had accessed EAP services. The results determined that; •   The average Return on Investment (ROI) due to improvements in employee productivity was around $9,800 per employee per annum, •   ROI due to reduced absenteeism was about $280 per employee per annum. In total, the ROI per employee was more than $10,000. Morneau Shepell also looked at EAP ROI in 2011. According to the study EAP helps with a 25% reduction in health-related lost productivity costs for employers, providing an $8 return on every dollar invested.

It would be great to have EAP but, it is difficult to get everyone on board.

According to Statics Canada, in any given year, it is expected that one in five Canadians will experience a mental health or addiction problem. EAP can always provide professional assistance and guidance to employees. The program is very beneficial because it increases work morale, employee productivity and harmonized work environment while reducing absenteeism, turnover, and conflicts. If employees have access to counseling and support, everyone wins!
In addition, researchers found that EAP lowers sick days and disability claims, and increases work morale and productivity. For companies, the best scenario is to be proactive and provide access to such services like EAP.


Implementing an employee assistance program can be costly

The cost of EAP is negligible compared to the loss of productivity and performance in your organization. Like everything, of course, there are costs associated with implementing EAP, however, supporting employees with work-personal life issues; lowering company turnover and absenteeism rate doesn’t cost that much. Right now in BC, the average cost of EAP is $5.00 per employee per month, and the cost varies depending on the size of your company.

As being the decision-makers, you can promote the well-being of your employees in a truly confidential and professional manner. If you and your employees have questions, EAP has the answers!

Before making your final decision, it is better to spend some time and do your own research. However, if you don’t have the time or experience to find the best possible options, then contacting an Independent Financial Advisor can make things easier for you. With the guidance, you can make your decision with confidence.

Contact Us Today to Find the Most Suitable Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for Your Organization!


Sticking to your new year’s resolution


A new year brings many different opportunities and challenges. It’s also the time that many people try and improve themselves through New Year’s Resolutions. But for most, these are often easier said than done. Even if we do manage to start on our lists, it’s usually the follow through that derails our efforts. Despite our good intentions, we let other aspects of our lives get in the way of these goals. Here are a few tips that may help you complete some of your 2016 resolutions.


Getting Started

Once you have mustered your resolve and decided to tackle your resolutions, you should try these simple steps to help you get started.


  • Make a list
    • Keeping your resolutions in your head and leaving them at the mercy of your memory may not be the best idea. Treat them like any other important tasks and write them down. If you can write down your grocery list, why not your resolutions?
  • Start small
    • If you’ve decided on several things to change this year, prioritize and do them one at a time. Getting fit, taking guitar lessons and starting a blog all in one month may not be the best approach. You may overwhelm yourself and increase the likelihood of sabotaging your efforts. Start with one goal and once you feel comfortable to add the others. You should also take it slow. Ease into your new activities and keep in mind that consistency is the key.
  • Be realistic
    • This goes hand-in-hand with taking it slow. It’s great to have goals and aiming high is not a bad thing, but make sure they are attainable. Having unrealistic expectations will only lead to failure. Wanting to lose 30 pounds may be your ultimate goal, but aiming to lose the first 5 pounds is much less daunting and more realistic.


Sticking with it

Starting is only the first step, now you have to stick to your resolutions.

  • Think about why you are doing it.
    • Remembering the reasons behind any action is a powerful way to reinforce it. Knowing the Why is extremely important. It gives your efforts meaning. Why did you want to get fit this year? Perhaps it’s for your children. You want to be healthier because you want as much time with them as possible. Doing anything just for the sake of doing it is a sure fire way to failure.
  • Keep a visual reminder.
    • Having a visual reminder where you can see often it is a great way to remind yourself of your resolution. It keeps it top-of-mind so you never forget. For example, if your resolution is to drink more water, having a note on your computer monitor will constantly remind you to keep hydrated at work. Alternatively, you can use the alarm function on your cell phones as reminders.
  • Tell your friends and family.
    • Telling those close to you about your goals will allow them to be supportive. If you are trying to be more financially responsible in the New Year, and your friends are aware, they may be less likely to pressure you into those impromptu dinners. Your family could support you emotionally if you are quitting smoking for example.
  • Keep track
    • Nothing is more disheartening than not seeing results. By keeping track of your progress, it will encourage you to follow through your resolutions. If the results are not positive, then it may help you identify areas in which you need to improve to reach your goals.


Most of us see the New Year as a great starting point to better ourselves. The tradition of New Year’s Resolutions helps to remind us of this. But the key to change is not in the thinking, but in the doing.

Cancer Fighting Foods

Cancer Fighting Foods

Cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada. In fact, it is responsible for 30% of all total deaths in our country. It is estimated that 2 out of 5 Canadians are expected to develop some form of cancer in their lifetimes, and 1 out of 4 of those diagnosed will die from it.

With those grim figures in mind, it is no surprise that most of us are on the constant look-out for ways to protect ourselves from the disease. Perhaps the best defence, however, is quite simply to live healthy, active lives, and there’s no better place to start than your diet. Although not a magical cure for cancer, certain food items have cancer-fighting properties. Including these in your diet, coupled with regular exercise, are sure-fire ways to decrease your risk of cancer.

A predominantly plant-based diet is ideal for warding off cancer. Meals should contain at least 2/3rd plant type foods. Amongst other health benefits, this ensures a diet low in saturated fats.

Folate-rich foods

There is a correlation between levels of folate in the body and the chances of DNA mutation. Eating folate-rich foods such as cereals, oranges and spinach may decrease your risk of pancreatic cancer by up to 50%.

Source foods

  • Cereal
  • Pasta
  • Orange
  • Spinach
  • Romaine leaves
  • Dried beans
  • Asparagus
  • Brussels sprouts

Teas contain antioxidants called flavonoids. Once such flavonoid called kaempferol has been shown to work well against cancer. Women in a study who increased their kaempferol intake showed a lower rate of ovarian cancer, and post-menopausal women had a decreased risk of breast cancer.

The recommended dose for this antioxidant to work well against cancer is an about 10-12 milligrams daily or approximately 4 cups of tea.

Source foods

  • Various types of teas
Vitamin D

Vitamin D has been known to cut the risks of breast cancer by half. It works by curbing the growth of cancerous cells in the body. It is recommended that an adult should receive a minimum daily dose of 1000 IU of vitamin D.

Source foods

  • Sunshine
  • Milk
  • Cod
  • Shrimp
  • Chinook salmon
  • Eggs
Cruciferous vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables such as kale, cabbage and Brussel sprouts have all been shown to help with the prevention of prostate and colon cancer. It is important to note however that studies have shown that these health benefits are activated only by chewing or cutting the vegetables.

Source foods

  • Kale
  • Turnip greens
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts

Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory properties are its essential trait for fighting cancer. Recent studies have shown that curcumin suppresses the transformation and invasion of cancer cells, by disrupting cell-signalling pathways in the body. Its benefits have been shown to be effective against bladder and gastrointestinal cancer.

Source foods

  • Turmeric
  • Curry powder

How to tell if a mole is cancerous

skin-cancer-mole-womens-healthAlmost everyone has moles on their body. While a majority of them are harmless, some can be deadly. A normal or benign mole is often evenly colored, round or oval in shape, about ¼ inch in diameter and can either be flat or raised. Some moles are present at birth, but the majority appear during childhood. New moles that show up on adults should be examined closely as they could be a sign of melanoma.

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and can develop anywhere in the body that has pigments. It is however curable if diagnosed in its early stages. Certain factors may significantly increase your risk of skin cancer, such as chronic sun exposure, severe sunburn as a child, a family history of the disease or by simply having fair skin.

How do you to tell if a mole is cancerous?

One of the best way to tell if a mole is cancerous is by the way it looks. Aside from the sudden appearance of a mole a change in shape, size or color of an existing one is the most probable sign of melanoma.

You may also like: Immunization for adults

Dermatologists recommend using the ABCDE method to identify possible signs of the disease during your routine screening. It determines if mole is cancerous by using the following characteristics as indicators:

  • A = Asymmetry: One side of the spot is very different from the other.
  • B = Border: The spot has irregular edges. Either notched or blurred.
  • C = Color: If the color is inconsistent throughout the spot.
  • D = Diameter: If the spot is larger than the size of a pencil eraser or ¼ inch.
  • E = Evolving: Is it changing in size, shape or color.

Not all melanomas fit the descriptions above, so if you have any doubts about a spot on your body it is best to consult your doctor right away.

To help decrease your risks of getting melanoma you should limit your exposure to sunlight and use sunscreen when possible. Since early detection is key to prevention, regularly screening your body for irregular spots is very important and may even save your life.

Immunization for Adults

When we hear the word immunization, we often think they are for children. But being protected from contagious diseases is important for all of us.

Immunization is the process by which a person is vaccinated for a certain type of infectious disease, to boost their resistance or immunity. The treatment stimulates the immune system’s antibodies to help better combat the infection. These vaccines save lives. In fact they have decreased the death rate of infectious diseases to less than 5% to date. It is important to know that even though you were vaccinated for a particular type of disease as a child, you may need to get it done again later in life. This is especially important for seniors and those with weakened immune systems.

What should I be immunized for as an adult?


Although rarely fatal, the flu virus may cause complications with those that have compromised immune systems. High risk individuals such as seniors and pregnant women should be vaccinated every year, as the flu virus may have evolved and changed.


The shingles is caused by the same virus as the chicken pox. This is why it is very dangerous to contract the chicken pox as an adult. Shingles causes painful skin rash and blisters, which may spread to the face and eyes and could cause blindness. Even if you have already had chicken pox as a child, the virus could stay in your body and re-activate when your immune system is compromised due to complications or age. Chances of getting the shingles increases after the age of 50, but getting the vaccine reduces your chances by 12-50%.


Depending on your destination, there may be multiple types of diseases you should be vaccinated for. But if you are and avid traveller you should be immunized for polio, diphtheria, hepatitis and the measles regardless. If you are unsure which shots you need, speak to your doctor or visit a travel clinic. Just make sure to give it plenty of time as some vaccines may take up to 2 weeks to become fully effective.


Adults who did not receive the following vaccines as a child should make sure they get them right away:

  • Tetanus
  • Diphtheria
  • Pertussis (whooping cough)
  • Measles/Rubella (German Measles)
  • Mumps
  • Varicella (chicken pox)
  • Pneumococcal disease (pneumonia) – over the age of 65

Adults may have better developed immune systems than children, but that doesn’t make us immune to diseases. Make sure you get all the necessary immunizations today.

Top 3 reasons why Paramedical services in employee benefits plan is a must have!

Top 3 reasons why Paramedical services in employee benefits plan is a must have!

1. Attracts prospective talents and helps retain current ones

Paramedical services are often described as a nice-to-have addition to employee benefits plans instead of must-haves. But more and more employees are seeing the importance of these services. Having Paramedical services in your group benefits not only will attract prospective talents to your First Nations organization but also will help retain your employees.


2. Increases employee morale and loyalty

Creating a Work-Life balance can be difficult for today`s workforce. With services like “Massage Therapy” employees can relieve tension and pain. Giving your employees access to Paramedical services can help them to lead to better health, such as to overcome stress and increase morale.

As a Plan Administrator, are you worried about the cost?

Generally, employees pay a certain portion of the cost. This amount usually reduces the longer employees stay with your Indigenous organization.


3. Costs can be controlled

Making paramedical services work for you and your employees relies on sustainability. In order to include Paramedical Services in your benefits plan, you need to manage the costs and have a budget.

Unfortunately, runaway expenses can quickly derail your plan. Managing and monitoring plan benefits usage is crucial to identifying patterns, which can be used to modify the offerings for future sustainability.

In addition, adding minor restrictions to the plan can also help mitigate bloated costs. Enforcing a per-visit or per-practitioner limit is a good idea, but can still be expensive if the plan members have large families. Many companies have adopted this option instead of a family maximum, which encourages employees to be more responsible for their usage.

Another option for cost control can be to implement a tiered-based coverage based on tenure.


Offering paramedical services to your workforce is a great way to keep them healthy and happy, but being cognizant of the accompanying costs is also extremely important. Finding a balance between employee morale and the costs is the bottom line to the successful employee benefits plan.

April 2nd is Employee Benefits Day

April 2nd is Employee Benefits Day. The day was organized by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP), as a day of appreciation for those in the benefits profession. It is meant to recognize the work these individual do, to educate both employee and employers about the wide range of benefit topics and issues.

Employee_Benefits_Day_LogoEvery year the IFEBP brings focus on a particular subject, and this year they have chosen Wellness 2.0.This is the growing movement to expand employer wellness programs to encompass all areas of total well-being: body, mind, wallet, community and work. Today everyone is encouraged to examine what initiatives your organization could offer to increase your employees’ overall health

Check out the IFEBP website for some great tools to start incorporating the Wellness 2.0 movement in your workplace.

Fitness in the Workplace

jogging_legs-onlyWhether it’s to lose weight or just get healthier, we all wish we had more time to exercise. One of the biggest excuse we tell ourselves is that we are just too busy with our jobs. But imagine if your job helped you to lose weight. Well a company in Dartmouth Nova Scotia did just that. By implementing a workplace wellness program, they were able to help their entire workforce get healthier. With 19% of their employees classified as obese, Efficiency Nova Scotia took action and implemented the program by first doing an Employee Health Risk Assessment. This assessment showed not only the need for the wellness program, but also the willingness of the employees to participate.

 So how did they help their employees loose weight?

They set a goal for all participants to increase their physical activities and use pedometers to track their progress. They also monitored their blood pressure, body fat and weight loss throughout the program’s duration. They also used incentives to keep the employees motivated. Those who had the highest number of steps for example would receive a gift certificate. This program aimed not only reduce the participants weight within the time frame set, but also to help them create sustainable habits for the future. Once the program was complete, the results showed that the majority of those that participated found it worthwhile, and believed they would be to maintain the healthy habits.

Would a wellness program be right for your workplace? Call us today to see how we can help.


Supporting Chronic Illness in the Workplace

Chronic illness affects an estimated 17 million Canadians. With conditions such as arthritis, hypertension, diabetes and asthma chronic illnesses are often the result of advance age. And as Canada’s workforce begins to get older, that number will begin to rise. Although these conditions can often be managed by treatments and lifestyle changes, support in the workplace for those inflicted is sorely needed.

Monique Gignac from the Institute for Work & Health points out that chronic illness not only affects employee health, but also the company’s bottom line. For example, a worker with arthritis may cost the company an estimated $11,000 per year in lost of work hours and productivity.

To better support those with chronic illness she recommends using the three ‘Cs of Chronic Disease.’ Which are Communication, Coaching and Checking In.


Making sure that employees know exactly where to find important resources to help them deal with their health issues is critical. Employee privacy may prevent them from disclosing their conditions to managers or colleagues, so giving them the ability to act independently is important.


Ensuring that managers are sufficiently trained to handle situations related to chronic illness will mitigate negative situations. As an example, one of the most common signs of chronic illness is sudden change in work performance. If the employee’s manager is aware of this fact, and is able to create an environment where they feel the issue can be discussed freely, they can work together to find a reasonable solution.


Checking In

Checking in with HR or their managers on a regular basis is crucial to making sure that proper accommodations are being offered. Whether it is flexibility of work hours, or an ergonomically optimized workspace, an open line of communication between all parties is a necessity.

By following these three simple rules, employers can ensure that they are providing the proper support for their ailing workers, and maintaining a happy healthy work environment for all.

Benefits of Massage Therapy

massage_armMore and more companies are recognizing the importance of adding paramedical services to their group benefits plans. One of the more understated of these services is therapeutic massages.

Aside from its most common treatment used for soft tissue and joint pain, massages have many other great health benefits. Massage therapy treatments can reduce stress and support your general health and wellness. It can even prevent diseases and other conditions from manifesting. In other words, the importance of regular massage therapy for most people’s health maintenance simply cannot be overstate

Below are just a few of the newly understood applications for therapeutic massages.

  • Depression and Anxiety
  • Hospice Care
  • Alzheimer’s Care

If you want to see how Eagle Bay Financial can help you with your Group Benefits plan, check out our benefits page by clicking here and contact our team.

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