- Wellness is a journey, best done as a group.
- We spend nearly ½ of our awake lives at work, during our working years. If wellness is not practiced at work, we will spend ½ of our awake lives unwell.
- Creating wellness at work is a priority for nearly all employees.
- Insurance companies are invested in cost-savings, not true wellness.
- Wellness is achieving one’s maximal potential.
- Wellness programs reduce the liability of implementing lifestyle changes at work.
- Wellness can improve productivity.
- Wellness can reduce absenteeism.
- Wellness can improve job satisfaction.
- Wellness can improve quality of life for leaders and employees.
- Wellness can reduce the incidence of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke.
- Wellness can prolong lives.
Introduction to the Wellness at Work
The business of the future will compete for human resources by recognizing the importance of “human sustainability.”
In the past, businesses competed by offering benefits, competitive salary, and desired work location/life. The workforce is changing and increasingly employees need something different. They need wellness at work. Wellness, as defined by Dr. Halbert Dunn, is achieving one’s maximal potential.
At the same time, as there is a shift in employee preference, chronic disease is at an all-time high. Americans are sicker than ever. Depression, anxiety, suicide and other social disorders are plaguing Americans at record rates. Obesity, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, strokes are all ending lives too quickly and the burdens of these diseases are dragging down business productivity. Cancer, which in many cases, is a lifestyle disease is negatively impacting Americans, their families and limiting our collective potential.
We spend a lot of time at work. Just like communities and society are stepping up their game to combat problems with disease, it’s time that employers did the same. Interestingly, creating a culture of wellness could combat all of the following. We don’t have to TREAT anything; all we have to do is create a culture where wellness thrives. In doing so, these diseases never occur.
“Research evidence has accumulated over the past 20 years showing that human resource management practices associated with high-performance workplaces are also associated with health employees and high levels of productivity.”
This makes intuitive sense. If wellness is achieving your maximal potential, then you will never have the best of an employee without wellness. Businesses spend countless dollars making sure that a machine is running at its maximal potential. No bugs! Businesses spend countless hours making sure programs, processes and production are at their maximal potential. Yet, we aren’t doing the same with employees.
“I didn’t go into business to be my employee’s doctor!” a CEO friend of mine said to me once. My response was, “You didn’t and you are not their doctor, but you are in the business of maximizing human capital and therefore human potential.” Without doing so, you have left the best potential part of your human capital on the table. You have not fulfilled your goal of maximizing your business potential without maximizing your employee’s potential.
A business doesn’t not exist in a vacuum. We no longer living in a Sum Zero world, where we extract the best our employees have to offer for the benefit of our organizations. We live in a Sum One World, where we achieve our greatest potential, as an organization, when we create the environments in which our employees can achieve their maximal potential. When we settle for exploiting and taking what employees have to give, we sell ourselves short by not capitalizing on their maximal potential. In doing this, our businesses will never be the best that they can be.
Many companies falsely believe that they have to become doctors and nurses, in order to care for sick people. Wellness is NOT sick care. Wellness is not just the absence of disease. You can have wellness, even in the face of permanent medical problems. Wellness is a journey. It’s a journey that everyone needs to be on. Like any journey or road trip, it’s always better with friends. When we work towards wellness independently, we will never be as great as when we do with co-workers, our communities and our families.
“Other researchers and writers have demonstrated a link between human resource management practices and employee health and well-being, employee engagement and organizational performance.”1
We need to make employee health and well-being a priority for organizational performance. “Healthy employees are more productive and also reduce health care costs of employing organizations.” 1 In addition, “Unhealthy people are tired, dissatisfied, work more slowly, make more errors, and have more accidents.”1 When workers are sickly, suffering from chronic disease, overweight, and on track for innumerable health problems, you are not getting the best of them. You may be getting 20%, 30%, or even 50% of what you could be getting of their maximal potential. Think of all of the training that companies put into ensuring employees know what they are doing, how to do things, and when to do things. What about wellness? Even if the training is perfect, you will, at best, only get a well-trained employee at only a fraction of their maximal potential. All of the investment capital for a machine that only runs at ½ capacity would be such a waste, yet, when it comes to human capital it’s the norm.
On the other hand, “Healthy people work harder, are more satisfied with their jobs and work environments, more productive and more likely to help others.”1 “Other benefits include lower levels of job stress, fewer injuries and higher levels of commitment when employees see that their organization cares about its people.”
It isn’t just about money
“What is the ROI on wellness?”
One of the big misconceptions out there about wellness programs is that it’s all about saving money. If we spend money on the wellness program, what’s our ROI? We should be able to see decrease in cost of health insurance, payouts for self-pay corporate health care costs, right? Maybe, but this is fatal logic. This is a Sum ZERO game, where you are concerned only with cost and you haven’t seen the logic in a happier, healthier work force. That’s the Sum ONE game, where your employee’s potential hasn’t even come close to full, until workplace wellness is the norm. When a new employee comes onboard, you are getting the standard American employee, but when they enter into your wellness program, they become super-charged thereby producing at rates that no other company can reach. “Corporate wellness programs that are only concerned with potential cost savings in terms of health and insurance claims are likely to fall short. Wellness programs should be more than just cutting costs.”1
Here’s another major misconception about workplace or corporate wellness; health insurance companies can NOT provide adequate programs. I have heard so many people say, “We have a wellness program through our health insurer.” Health insurance is interested in only one thing. Reduce payouts to preserve profit! That’s it. All insurance is the same. They make money on premiums and lose money on payouts. They use actuarial science to maximize profits. They insure only the best bets, in terms of preserving profit. The ONLY reason that they even provide “wellness programs” is to reduce payouts. They understand that the “wellness thing” is associated with weight loss, better blood pressure and cholesterol and figure that if they can invest in it, they can preserve payouts. Here’s the problem, they are NOT wellness experts. Their models are not designed to actually improve wellness. They are designed to preserve costs. This won’t lead to a healthier employee that is more productive, happier and achieving their maximal potential.
Wellness is a quality employees are looking for in a team
Wellness is an individual journey, best done with a group and best guided by wellness experts that are not seeking to offer the minimum for the maximal gain. At best, an insurance wellness program can show minor improvements, but will ALWAYS fall short of maximal potential. The investment can’t be from the insurance company. It must be from the business seeking to benefit the most.
Employees are wiser than ever before. Particularly, the millennial population sees great value in wellness as a “benefit” to working at an organization. People are no longer simply looking for the highest wage. When thinking about the cost of on-boarding new employees, think about the cost as = employee wage + onboarding cost + wellness cost. Wellness can be used as a way to bring new employees in, even with a lower starting wage, plus it becomes a way to maximize their potential right out of the box.