Wellness Plans: Good Health is Good Business



Sorry Chef: Big Data is Changing High-End Dining

ChefEveryone knows the customer is always right. Well, almost everyone.

What about those culinary maestros crooned over in magazines such as Vanity Fair and Bon Appetit with the kind of adjectives usually reserved for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge?

You know the type – gourmet chefs on a mission to teach untutored restaurant goers the finer points of dining.

These are the divas of the kitchen, who, if you dare to ask for salt, might indignantly toss you and your naïve tongue right out the door.

But wait! One group of chefs is actually asking customers their opinions. Even better, they’re using their comments to tinker with dishes and menus. Can it be that haute cuisine is “crowdsourcing”?

The chefs work for Dinner Lab, described in a recent New York Times article by writer David Segal as “a pop-up restaurant company…dedicated to the notion that high-end chefs ought to listen to customers.”

Adds Segal: “This is a surprisingly radical idea … at the wallet-thinning end of the dining spectrum, you can (usually) send your compliments to the chef, or you can shut up.”

At a recent pop-up dinner, chef Christopher Sorter table hops, asking for diners’ reactions.

But of wider value are the customer comment cards, which are aggregated and fed back to the chefs.

The company’s chief executive, Brian Bordainick, sees this “big data” as a step towards revolutionizing the high-end restaurant industry; the company hopes to sell the information to clients in 40 cities at home and abroad.

Considering a Business Partnership? Get a Pre-Nup First

WeddingAccording to Bloomberg Businessweek, “A business partnership is usually hatched in a state of inspired optimism when two or more seemingly like-minded individuals come together with an idea to create a product or service and develop it into a business.”

A good partnership is like a good marriage in which each partner supports the other and often supplies something the other may lack. Whatever the inspiration, to make it work as it should, it’s important to detail expectations – to know who does what and get it on paper before the marriage – as with a pre-nuptial agreement.

This is what these famous partners understood:

  • Thomas Edison partnered with J.P. Morgan and the Vanderbilts to found the Edison Electric Light company. Edison supplied the ideas, and his well-heeled partners supplied the money – an excellent arrangement indeed. Today, that company is General Electric.
  • Computer whizzes Bill Gates and Paul Allen predicted the future: software. Their partnership produced Microsoft, the biggest software company in the world. Similarly, Steve Jobs’ marketing brilliance and Steve Wozniak’s software knowledge created Apple.

They were the savvy ones. Coco Chanel understood fragrances but sold 90 percent of her company to marketing genius Pierre Wertheimer and Theophile Bader, owner of Galeries Lafayette, a famous French department store. Chanel No. 5 became one of the best-selling perfumes in history. As for the business relationship, it was acrimonious.

If you’re contemplating a business partnership, unlike Chanel, consider these must-do’s: Conduct your due diligence to understand what you’re getting into, and prepare in advance for the possibility of a break-up.

In business, a pre-nup is called a partnership agreement. Write it up – before the honeymoon is over.

Wellness Plans: Good Health is Good Business

As the New Year approaches, you may be thinking about resolutions. And, as per usual, those resolutions (such as eating healthier and exercising more) seem like distant memories as the year goes on.

What we fail to realize is that most major lifestyle changes like those mentioned above are easier to make when someone is beside us for support. Resolutions have a better chance of working when we work on goals together.

Businesses need resolutions too, and if you want your business to be successful in 2015, there’s one resolution you may want to consider – one that will make you an ally (albeit an unlike one) in helping your employees to keep their fitness resolutions: wellness programs.

According to a survey of employers by Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health (NBGH), some nine out of ten companies now offer wellness programs as part of their benefit packages to encourage their employees to lead and maintain healthy lifestyles. The survey indicates a growing understanding on the part of employers that healthy employees are good business.

Wellness programs lower insurance costs

Towers Watson found in its survey that businesses pay over $9,000 on average for each employee’s health insurance. Group health insurance works like other types of insurance: if their employees are deemed high risk due to unhealthy lifestyles, their employer will pay more for group health insurance.

Consider this example: Employees battling depression can raise employers’ costs by up to 70 percent. Exercise is a proven way to treat depression and a major component of most wellness programs. The conclusion: It’s cheaper to insure healthy employees, and wellness programs can help employees achieve and maintain good health. Therefore, wellness programs virtually pay for themselves.

Fewer sick days equals increased productivity

Those living healthy lifestyles aren’t as susceptible to illness, and wellness programs help reinforce and maintain this. Productivity losses resulting from absenteeism due to illness is costing employers billions of dollars each year; the impact of unhealthy lifestyles is taking its toll on individual employers and on the country as a whole.

Return on investment

Not only are there savings on healthcare premiums, but a multitude of companies are also seeing additional benefits from wellness programs and healthy employees. For example, depending on the state you live in, you could be eligible for a tax credit, possibly reducing your company’s taxable income.

Additionally, you could see savings on workers compensation insurance premiums, as fewer workers compensation claims are filed. The numbers are certainly attractive – businesses that implement wellness programs may see an average decrease of up to 30 percent in workers comp claims, as well as in long-and short-term disability claims. And you may avoid many potentially expensive lawsuits.

These are just a few ways wellness programs will work for you. It’s not just about becoming a caring employer, it’s also good business.

Your insurance agent can help you determine what kind of wellness program is right for your company.