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myHR: January 15, 2020

Get Healthier with the 30 Day Wellness Challenge

iStock-1196820851-(1).jpg-Man-at-Sunrise200Starting the New Year often means setting new wellness goals. As the Be in the Know campaign continues in 2020, you can use Bonus Actions, like the 30 Day Wellness Challenge, to help you meet your objectives, stay focused on personal well-being, and feel your best.

The 30 Day Wellness Challenge is a new Bonus Action that can earn you 30 Bonus Action points. To get started, first download a 30 Day Wellness Challenge Packet from the Be in the Know website. The packet contains a simple Pre-Challenge Goals Sheet to guide you toward success and a Post-Challenge Reflection Sheet to help you recap your 30-day experience.

Next, choose the area you want to work on: Nutrition, Sleep or Stress Management. Select your consecutive 30-day time frame to complete the challenge between January 1 and March 31. Then, complete the Pre-Challenge Goals Sheet to determine your goals and an action plan.

Chris Hyson, Senior Health and Wellness Specialist, Benefits, recommends that participants use SMART goals when taking the challenge. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic/Relevant, and Timely.

“Rather than listing a goal such as ‘I want to be less stressed,’ creating a SMART goal of ‘I will do five minutes of mindfulness meditation every morning’ during your selected 30 days will increase your likelihood for success,” Hyson says.

Hyson says the challenge is flexible, allowing participants to develop goals and strategies that personally resonate and meet their specific needs.

“For example, if you’re interested in the ‘nutrition’ category, which is very broad, think about what you hope to accomplish–such as improve cholesterol values, reduce sugar consumption, cut back on alcohol, maintain or lose weight, or have better energy in the afternoon–and then build goals and supportive action steps to help you be successful,” she says.

To help you experience an effective challenge, here are five ideas for strategies within each challenge category:

Drink water vs soda, juice, sugary coffees or alcohol.Reduce caffeine and alcohol consumption. Both disrupt sleep.Begin a meditation practice or learn relaxation techniques. 
Cook at home and pack lunches vs eating out. For lunch, consider a salad with grilled chicken or salmon, or a sandwich with whole grain bread and extra veggies. Turn off all devices and the TV at least one hour before bedtime. No smart phones or laptops in your bedroom.Start a gratitude journal to build resilience and cultivate a positive mindset.
Skip the vending machine and bring nutritious snacks to work (e.g. hummus, nuts, hard-boiled egg, fruit, veggies).Maintain a comfortable bedroom environment by reducing light distractions from electronics or windows. Check your mattress and bedding for comfort.  Make time for fun, relaxation, and personal hobbies.
Read food labels at the grocery store and strive for healthier purchases. Have a bedside journal available to write down worries that wake you. Stay socially connected with friends and family who support you.
Work with a registered dietitian.Take a relaxing bath at bedtime or use mindful breathing to help relax. Use Penn’s EAP program, powered by Health Advocate, for professional support.
For all categories, ideas include any kind of physical activity, or taking advantage of Penn’s well-being resources (group fitness classes at Pottruck Health and Fitness Center, mindfulness and meditation classes, group walks, wellness and work-life workshops, and nutrition counseling with Family Food.)

If you plan to add exercise as a strategy and are not currently active, first check with your healthcare provider. Also, if you are considering strategies that aren’t recommended by the FDA or Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, such as the use of supplements or unconventional diets, you should also consult with your physician first.

For more ideas, use StayWell’s portal  for online programs to support your challenge goals. 

Track your progress during your 30 days using an app, electronic or paper journal, spreadsheet, giant poster board, or whatever tool motivates you to self-track. Following the challenge, complete the Post-Challenge Reflection Sheet.

To earn Be in the Know Bonus Action points, submit a Proof of Bonus Action Form, along with the required 30 Day Wellness Challenge Goals Sheet and Reflection Sheet, to AREUFIT. Submission instructions are on the Proof of Bonus Actions form. Also review the 30 Day Wellness Challenge packet for more details.

Don’t Forget Steps 1 and 2

Remember that completing qualifying Bonus Actions is Step 3 in the Be in the Know campaign. To participate in the 30 Day Wellness Challenge or earn any other Bonus Action points, you must first complete Step 1, a biometric screening, and Step 2, the online health assessment.

If you did not complete a biometric screening this campaign year, new on-campus screenings will be held on the following dates, so click on the links below to register today:

Monday, March 16 – Houston Hall, Hall of Flags
Tuesday, March 17 – Houston Hall, Hall of Flags
Thursday, March 19 – Irvine Auditorium, Café 58

After your screening, take the online health assessment available at This brief, confidential questionnaire is administered through StayWell, Penn’s wellness portal partner. The biometric screening and online health assessment are the two Core Actions required to earn your first $100 cash incentive.

You can complete qualifying Bonus Actions anytime throughout the campaign year to earn additional points and up to $200* in Bonus Action incentives. Participants can receive up to $300* in incentives this Be in the Know campaign year. If you earn more than 350 total campaign points, you will receive VIP-level status and a special gift on top of the maximum cash incentives after the campaign year ends June 30, 2020.

For more information about the Be in the Know campaign, visit

*All cash incentives associated with the Be in the Know campaign are less applicable payroll taxes. You must be an active full- or part-time benefits-eligible faculty or staff member to participate. Incentives will be issued in November 2019, and monthly from January–August 2020, in paychecks or as Penn Recreation credits. Payment times depend on when you complete the Core Actions (biometric screening and online health assessment) and qualifying Bonus Actions.

Incentives for Be in the Know Bonus Actions will not be paid until you first complete the two Core Actions (a biometric screening and StayWell's online health assessment). Bonus Action incentives are paid when you reach every 50 point level (50 points, 100 points, 150 points, and 200 points.) However, any remaining unpaid Bonus Action points will be paid in the final incentive cycle, August 2020.

Saver’s Credit Income Limits for 2020

retirement-nest-200At any stage of your career, it pays to grow your retirement nest egg. Even a small increase in saving may lead to big returns over time. New IRS annual retirement contribution and Saver’s Credit limits for 2020 may give you an opportunity to boost your retirement savings.

The IRS contribution limit for 403(b) retirement plans increased to $19,500 per person for 2020. If you are age 50 and over, you may make additional catch-up contributions up to $6,500 this year.

For traditional and Roth IRAs, the limit for annual contributions remains $6,000 per person. If you are at least 50-years-old or turn 50 at any time in 2020, the limit is $7,000.

The Saver’s Credit (also known as the Retirement Contributions Credit) income limits were raised for 2020. The Saver’s Credit income limit is now $65,000 for married couples filing jointly, $48,750 for heads of household, and $32,500 for singles and married individuals filing separately.

Visit the Contributions web page for details or contact the Retirement Call Center at 1-877-PENN-RET (1-877-736-6738) for help determining the right weekly or monthly contribution amount to maximize your savings.

Understanding Emotions at Work

Four images of a woman's different facial expressionsEmotions run deeper than the expressions on our faces. Whether feelings are obvious or hidden, they can drive our behavior. That’s why emotional intelligence--your awareness and understanding of feelings and their impact on our actions--plays a large role in your success at work, especially when you’re in a leadership role.

In fact, according to the Center for Creative Leadership, higher levels of emotional intelligence are associated with better performance in such areas as self-awareness, conflict resolution, and change management.

Any leader can increase their emotional intelligence. Penn’s Leading with Emotional Intelligence workshop will show you how on February 4, 9 a.m.-12p.m., 3624 Market Street, Suite 1A South.

In this half-day workshop, you’ll explore the concepts of emotional intelligence. This group of abilities includes monitoring your own and others’ feelings and emotions, distinguishing among them, and using this information to manage your thoughts and actions.

The course will also present practical techniques for raising your emotional quotient (EQ), which will help you:

  • Manage your emotions by recognizing how thoughts and emotions are connected
  • Improve self-control by identifying physical cues that indicate your emotions may be taking over,
  • Develop more positive relationships at work and a more optimistic outlook,
  • Use assertive communication to express your needs and feelings appropriately, and
  • Recover from setbacks.

Register online today and put you and your team on path to developing skills of success.

There is a $75 cost for this course. Once registered, please send your department’s 26-digit budget code to Jamie Apgar at Your department won’t be charged until after your attendance in the class.

More professional development resources are available at

Workday@Penn Town Hall

town-hall-my-hr-200To celebrate the first six months of Workday@Penn operations, a town hall is open to the University community. At this forum, the governance and management team will describe Penn’s Workday accomplishments, continuous improvement program, and the 2020 road map, which includes new functionalities.

Visit to register, learn more information and send questions in advance.

When and where:

Friday, January 31, 2020
1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. ET
Fitts Auditorium, Penn Law, 3501 Sansom Street

Launched on July 1, 2019, Workday@Penn is transforming how we deliver human capital management-related services, such as staff recruitment, payroll, time management, faculty and staff benefits administration, and more.

A recording of the town hall will be placed on the Workday website for those unable to attend in person.

Healthy Meals: Red Grape and Tuna Salad Pita

red grape tuna salad in pitaFor a juicy twist on tuna salad, add tangy red grapes to the mix, then tuck it into a whole wheat pita. It’s a sweet and simple way to enjoy tender tuna and give yourself a winter time omega-3 and vitamin D boost.

Find the recipe here.

Click here to send us your healthy recipes and tips. 



Did You Know? Penn Offers Admissions Workshops

Is post-secondary education on the horizon for a teen or young adult in your family? On January 30, February 18, and April 29, Penn Undergraduate Admissions will lead seminars for faculty and staff who are helping dependents prepare for college. Each session covers a pivotal part of the college admission and selection process: high school curriculum, choosing a program of study, and campus visits.