Wellness: A Company Priority

We kicked off a team wellness challenge today.  As partners with Influitive we have our own AdvocateHub which we call Rendezvous. We’re going to use the Experiences capability as our foundation. The Experience capability is almost like having a mini Hub within a Hub.  We’ll have choices of challenges around a monthly theme. Not only are we all going to improve our wellness, we’ll learn a bit more about the AdvocateHub from both the administrative and user perspective. challengesMonth one of our challenge is focused on food and drink.  We can choose from 5 different challenges throughout the month, repeating or choosing to do a new one each week.  Eat less sugar, eat more fruit and veggies, drink more water, eat home cooked meals all week, or try out a new diet. As we complete our chosen challenge each week we’ll earn points towards individual and group goals. 

Next month the theme will be increased physical activity.  Follow our blog and you’ll see updates on how we’re doing. It’s good to focus on wellness and this approach allows us to have personal choices while still working towards a common goal as a team.

Meet the Referential Team: Regina Dawkins


Over the years working in corporate America, Regina Dawkins, pictured in Venice, from her recent trip,  has gained a strong work ethic of professionalism, energy and excitement, and she has accrued very valuable knowledge having worked in multiple business functions ranging from marketing, to HR, to finance. Almost six years ago, she came to Referential because it serves as the advocacy marketing extension she was looking for.

Regina finds the Advocacy Consultant role incredibly fulfilling because of the way it plays a strategic part in sale cycles. She finds satisfaction in running advocacy programs, and particularly enjoys request fulfillment: Matching prospects with experienced buyers, having them connect, and assisting account owners to win deals. She feels she’s constantly learning and the job delivers plenty of variety.

One of her favorite aspects of Referential is the culture: She loves how the atmosphere is always open and collaborative; promoting teamwork and communication. Everyone can truly work together, she describes it as very synergistic.

One of Regina’s philosophies – for both life and work – is that there’s always something to learn, there’s never an endpoint, and Referential delivers the educational environment that she enjoys. Regina is always looking to see what she can contribute by creating new ideas, new approaches, and different perspectives.

It’s not all work though – which is significant to a healthy group dynamic – she treasures having fun moments with the team, and the care that they’ve developed for each other. Celebrating and sharing success, enjoying birthday parties and welcoming new team members, are among her highlights.

Regina is very interested in exercise and nutrition, and is the Health and Wellness Officer for Referential. She particularly focuses on activities such as walking, running, rowing, and weight-lifting, and sets competitions for her co-workers to encourage them to keep moving and stay healthy. She leverages the treadmill desks in the office every afternoon to help her hit her goal of 20,000 steps a day!

Regina’s mantra is to be the best she can be and give 100% in everything she does. She’s always excited to build relationships and connect with people to help them meet their goals. Her favorite times often involve meeting clients face-to-face; she feels the real-life collaboration is a very powerful thing. She’s a beloved member of Referential and her clients adore her too.

Working While Moving - Tips From Our Expert, Regina Dawkins

We are lucky to have access to more than one desk treadmill in our workplace. It has become second nature for several of us to walk while working. While It may even seem counter intuitive or strange, anyone can do it by following a few basic tips. In addition, walking at least 20 minutes a day comes with a variety of health benefits. Building up your eye, hand coordination and finding your ideal walking pace at a desk treadmill is imperative. Here are a few basic tips from our expert and super walker Regina Dawkins which will get you started:

-          Start off walking casually at a 1.5 to 2.0 speed, or a select a pace that feels comfortable for you. Keep your strides short and relaxed.

-          Try typing on your keyboard and moving your mouse around. If your hands are little shaky or wobbly, adjust by reducing your speed. Over time as your hands become steady, increase your walking speed.

-          Ensure the desk treadmill is adjusted to your height by checking to see if your bent elbows are perpendicular to the countertop while easily resting on the countertop. Your shoulders should be relaxed.

-          For stability and support while typing, rest your forearms on the countertop.

-          Have a straight body with good posture. Make sure your hips and shoulders are square and facing the countertop at all times. See Regina's great posture, below!

-          Wear comfortable, flat shoes, preferably athletic shoes, that have good traction.

There are great health benefits to walking. It is one of the greatest low-impact cardio exercises, enhancing the level of HDL (good) cholesterol, curbing the production of LDL (bad) cholesterol and it can even lower the risk of cardiovascular problems. If you sit at a desk for hours at a stretch, walk breaks keep your blood circulating and help promote a less sedentary work day. If you wear a fitness tracker, it helps to meet your daily step goals. You may also feel a sense of accomplishment by getting multiple things checked off your list of to dos for the day. It has become a daily routine for many of us and can be for you too!


Holiday Volunteering

HealthTrust 2017
HealthTrust 2017

Volunteering as a team during the holidays is a Referential tradition. As we did last year, we sorted food with the FOODBasket Food Sorting team of The Health Trust.  We sorted and helped with storage and display of fresh produce which is offered to their AIDS Services and Family Resource Center clients.  The photo shows just part of the food we helped process. We are in the heart of Silicon Valley, a place of great wealth, but also of great need, as this paragraph from The Health Trust website makes crystal clear:Silicon Valley is a place of innovation, opportunity and affluence. On average, it is one of the healthiest, wealthiest places in the world. But not all residents of Silicon Valley share in that wealth – or that health. More than 13 percent of children in Santa Clara County are living in poverty. More than half of the adults are overweight or obese. Nearly half of the county’s older adults are considered impoverished. More than 19,000 adults and youth are homeless.

Contributing our time as a team is one way we can make a modest contribute to their vision of a healthier Silicon Valley for everyone.

Take Your Vacation - All Of It!

Last year fully 54% of American workers did not use all their vacation according to this post from Business 2 Community written by Kristen Carlson.  Taking time away to refresh and recharge is valuable but do you know just how valuable? This article from Inc by Lolly Daskal has some interesting statistics. When we do go on vacation 3 out of 5 of us do some work, some more than others! If you don’t take your vacation you’re likely to have higher stress levels and negatively impact both your cardiovascular health and even your year end performance rating!

At Referential we believe taking vacation is important.  We just did a quick mid-year reminder to everyone of how much vacation they have already used this year and how much they still have available. We encourage early planning for time off at the holidays, which is really important for us as our clients still need our services. We are open and stagger time out of the office so as to continue to provide coverage.  We discourage carry over, we’d rather people take their full vacation and get the associated benefits each year.  So far team members have had staycations, attended music festivals, visited the Caymans, the Dominican Republic, Spain, France, and Seattle, to name just a few places, with more exciting locations in plan.

Be among those that take all of their vacation time each year!  You’ll feel better and perform better as well.

Get up and get moving!

Like most office jobs our roles are very sedentary.  It would be easy to spend the full day at our desks and even walking to the printer and the rest room and the break room does not add up to many steps.  We do care about the team’s health. Our office has two treadmill desks, which have shown some of us are better at walking while typing than others!  We also have a standing desk, balls instead of chairs, and each new employee gets a Fitbit.  We encourage people to stay healthy and get their steps in.    Northern California is an area with wonderful weather, usually, and many of us take a walk around the block at some point in the day.  We’ve had the chance to meet Bill as he’s on his daily walk, he’s the most energetic 95 year old ever!  Sometimes we see our letter carrier, kids and parents walking home from the nearby school, or the couple who watch their preschool grandchild during the day. We’re anxiously awaiting the opening of a nearby coffee shop too! 

Our office is in an interesting area, commercial on one side and residential on the other.  The walks give us a chance to know the neighborhood and nearby residents better.  Also, importantly, research shows getting up and getting exercise, improves your productivity at work, your overall health, and reduces stress. Not only all that, a study from the Journal of Neurology shows exercise slows brain aging by 10 years!  Read the article here. Just as we encourage our employees to get up and get moving we encourage you to do so as well.  Take a few more steps next week than last!

Volunteering at The Health Trust

Health Trust 2016.png Another successful volunteer session at The Health Trust. Believe it or not we moved about 1000 pounds of fresh produce - each!  That's a lot of bok choy, carrots, spinach, potatoes, onions, and celery!

In a region of great wealth there is also surprising need. 13% of the children in this county are living in poverty.  More than 19,000 adult and youth are homeless.  The Health Trust's vision is for a healthier Silicon Valley for everyone.  Please consider supporting this worthy organization: http://healthtrust.org/

CPR and First Aid Certified!

We spent Friday afternoon with the Red Cross and the lovelies in the photo below. All of us are now trained in CPR and first aid. It was a great afternoon of team building and a wonderful learning experience. It's the sort of training you hope to never have to use but if there is an emergency we are now all much better prepared. 

CPr manikins at the ready!!

The Next Challenge - Enough Sleep

We are a fairly health conscious group.  We have our Fitbits.  We every so often do monthly walking challenges.  We eat (for the most part) well.  We have standing desks, treadmill desks, and balls instead of chairs for those who prefer them. The next area to think about may be sleep.  A recent article from Fast Company, here, cites a study that shows how bad lack of sleep can be.  “Subjects in a lab-based sleep study who were allowed to get only six hours of sleep a night for two weeks straight functioned as poorly as those who were forced to stay awake for two days straight. The kicker is the people who slept six hours per night thought they were doing just fine.”   The study is from the Journal Sleep.

These results are compounded by the fact that people just aren’t very good at knowing how long they do sleep.  Estimates are usually off, sometimes significantly so.  And, as the study showed, when people don’t sleep enough they do overestimate how well they are doing.  Getting enough sleep isn’t always easy but we certainly don’t want people functioning as though they have been up for 48 straight hours!  Our next area to emphasize for better health may have to be sleep.

Let's all avoid the flu this season!

None of us want the flu and there are things we can do at the workplace to help keep employees well. For us it begins with the choice of healthcare providers. We have a Kaiser plan and Kaiser has frequent shot clinics, walk right up and get your vaccination.   Recently several of the Kaiser Clinics near us offered drive through vaccinations. No need to get out of your car, just stick your arm out and be on your way! For day to day use we have hand sanitizer and tissues on desks and in public areas, and we encourage their use.   That’s an easy way to make it convenient to keep hands clean.

While we hope everyone stays well, if someone is ill, and can’t work at home, we do have disposable face masks. They help contain the sniffles and sneezes. It’s highly appreciated by members of the team that are very susceptible or have had health issues recently. While the masks may not be the most comfortable to wear, it’s the least we can do to help others stay well.

Year round we encourage healthy habits. We all have our Fitbits and try to reach our step goal each day. We (for the most part) eat well. That foundation should help us stay well.   Is there anything special your company does to keep employees healthy?

2,000,000 steps and counting!

FitbitWe’ve been wearing our Fitbits and counting our steps.  We created a company group and as a team we have exceeded 2,000,000 steps for the month.  The contribution to that total did vary somewhat.  Two people consistently exceed 10,000 steps per day – sometimes get closer to 20,000 steps.  And then there are those that don’t consistently wear their tracker or who’s exercise isn’t the type to add steps- like the heavy duty core workout favored by one.  Whether at the low end or the high end of our step total, we have seen everyone more active than they were before.  The Fitbits were a great investment in terms of getting people up and moving more, which is great for health, but also have been great for team building.  We’ve compared step totals, talked about fitness, collected just about every color of band, and there’s been some teasing now and again too!  Fun and healthy, what more could want from a team reward for a job well done!

Snacks - they're good for business!

The Intuit Small Business blog had a recent post about the business benefits of providing nutritious snacks for your employees.  You don’t want unhealthy snacks leading to health issues. Here at Referential, Inc. we tend to each lunch together and it’s interesting to see what everyone brings.  Let’s just say a few of us take health and nutrition more seriously than others!  Yesterday we had a treat, someone brought a fresh smoothie she had just made from home.  Spinach, mango, almonds, and cranberry-raspberry juice.  While it was green it smelled and tasted of fruit.  Surprising that you didn’t even taste the spinach.

I have to say that was much healthier than the other snacks we shared earlier in the week.  Afternoon tea is often at our desks, unless there is birthday cake or treats!  A discussion of a European trip at lunch meant we had chocolate croissants one afternoon.  And just because they looked good it was blueberry scones another day.  At least we cut them into reasonable sized servings!

So while our snacks may not always be the healthiest, nothing beats the camaraderie as we share their deliciousness!

Helen gets the boot, literally

Helen's bootWell one of our finest is in a boot. She was injured while clearing debris for fire safety at her home and will be in this thing for several weeks. Here's to hoping her bones heal quickly! For now no more afternoon walks for Helen. Not only are we across the street from Ebay but the City of Campbell has a great walking trail very nearby. Miles of paved path, largely level. It's a very popular area for groups like Team in Training to hold practices on the weekend. Knowing we sit way too much all day many of us regularly walk after work or even run in the mornings. What healthy habits does your workplace encourage?