A few years ago when I would argue against the typical, clinical-oriented, “comprehensive,” poke-and-prod wellness model, I got a lot of push back. I was always relieved not to be run out of town, arrested, burned-at-the-stake, imprisoned, mugged, or hung. I know, the day isn’t over yet. But it does seem a shift in thinking is taking place.
Today I find myself making that same argument about not doing traditional wellness programs, and everyone starts shaking their head in agreement. It’s as if I’ve been in this brutal tug-of-war and all of a sudden the other side just let go.
Now what, Genius?
It’s an adjustment moving from resistance to assistance. Like an anarchist with a solution. It’s difficult to do. And rare. But there is a time for all seasons. And now that much of the nonsense that passed for workplace wellness is being exposed, people seem open to embracing common sense. Finally!
Stephen Dias said, “The key to life is how well you deal with plan B.” With that thought in mind, here’s an idea for Plan B.
3 Alternative Steps to Traditional Wellness Programs for Workplaces
1. Phase out all medieval, clinically based activity as fast as you can. And as you go through that phase-out, lose references to acronyms such as: ROI… HRAs… BMI… WELCOA (also an oxymoron), and words such as…10K per day… Engagement… Intervention… Comprehensive… Bio Markers… Risk Factors… etc. These are horse-and-buggy whips. The stone tools of the past. Surgeries with rusty saws. We know more now.
2. Focus on Pride in Community. The community where you work and the community where you live deserve to be celebrated and supported. Health awareness, storytelling, guest speakers, and group participation in local events in the areas of food, exercise, music, education, nature, animal welfare, geriatrics, and more. Get out in your community, and bring your community into your workplace. This is not expensive to do. Having a zero budget isn’t even that hard to work around. But it does take dedicated volunteers, a little creativity, and a plan.
3. Build A Culture of Wellbeing. Look at all the ways you treat people, and new ways you can help them achieve their full potential. This isn’t easy stuff, and it takes a long-term commitment. It’s about getting great leadership in place throughout the organization. That’s why our parent company, IHAC, Inc., is publishing How to Build a Thriving Culture at Work, Featuring the 7 Points of Transformation, by Dr. Rosie Ward, and Dr. Jon Robison. It’s due out October 2014, and promises to be a refreshing and practical guide to changing workplace cultures. You can go to the Website now and download free reports and articles, and watch videos on the subject.
So much of the push back on changing from a clinical-based model to a community/culture model is motivated by fear. So many vendors, workplace managers, brokers, and institutions have bought into interventionist wellness that they see this type of thinking as a threat to their existence.
To Vendors: When all your clients call tomorrow after reading this blog, realize you can still profitably serve them by helping to build great workplaces.
As an Anarchist with a solution, I do not want to put these organizations out of work. They have valuable infrastructures, skilled people, and the ability to sustain and support worthwhile workplace endeavors. To these business owners and managers, I offer an idea for a Plan B. A new business model.
5 Alternative Steps to Wellness Vendors’ Business Model
1. Flat Pricing & Volume: Get away from the PEPY or PEPM (per employee per year or month) pricing. And work on flat pricing, or transparent sponsorship models that add value. Think train-the-trainer, geographic focus, or be an industry niche player. Give small businesses a realistic way to participate and there will be enough business to sustain a growing industry. Is there a definable wellness industry now? And let’s not call it wellness. Maybe Community Wellbeing Initiative. Brainstorm it.
2. Use Your Event Planning Skills: Your clients appreciate the events you’ve helped them organize. Walks, healthful competitions, and other events (I am definitely NOT talking about health fairs). You’re great at organization, administration, and coordination. Many people love events. How can you do it better for more organizations?
3. Use Your Coaching Infrastructure: Everybody loves a good coach, assuming the activity is voluntary. Intrinsic coaching for people who want it and group coaching are still viable services. And coaches can even be embedded in client locations to help build agendas, communications, plan internal events, and talk directly with employees. Coaches have to add some administration to their skill sets.
4. Use Your Marketing and PR Capabilities: Is there a community strategy in place for getting workplaces and non-profit organizations working together? How can social media, traditional media, and workplace communication increase awareness of things to do and achievements to accomplish? How can you get local media to help you improve the health and vitality of the community?
5. Metrics: Was pride in the community enhanced? Do people want to work and live in the places your clients occupy? Do employees feel their employer cares about and values them? Is the employer happy with their ability to attract and retain talent? Is ongoing education offered and encouraged? Are mistakes encouraged as part of an evolution of learning and growth? Does the local media cover the human-interest stories that enhance pride in community?
So there you have it. Order from chaos. And some tangible ideas to get a discussion started.
Shawn is the President and Founder of Hope Health. For over 30 years, his work has focused on bringing clear, easy-to-read and watch health messages to the public via workplaces. He bills himself as the “Best C+ Student in the Wellness Biz” because, as he says, “I like to challenge the notion that there is no such thing as a stupid question.” Shawn is on a mission to tie workplaces into their surrounding communities to share resources and ideas in an effort to improve the health of all Americans.
You may reach Shawn at sconnors@HopeHealth.com or 800-334-4094.