Really, who are these people? They dominate the seminar podiums and the Webinar world. They tell us the rules of the wellness road as they’ve established those rules. They use words and phrases like scientific evidence, ROI, HRA, achievable outcomes, risk factors, incentives, and best practice standards.
They throw mind-boggling numbers around like Frisbees®. They talk about wellness like it was an early 20th century assembly line. And they define the phrase “comprehensive wellness program” for us. I suppose that’s just in case we’re thinking of hiring a Carnival Barker or Snake Oil Salesman to advise us on healthful living?
Wellness Ph.D.s Give This
C+ Student an A+ Migraine
Just reading the titles of our enlightened, academicians’ wellness speeches and papers gives me an A+ migraine.
So allow me to use two big words now − metaphorical and literal. And that’s how we should think about these denizens of the workplace wellness dais.
Swamp Vapors & Planetary Movements
1. Metaphorical: Listening to our Ph.D. wellness experts reminds me of what it must have been like to study medicine before microscopes and the germ theory of disease was introduced into the conversation. Until that time, noted physicians like William Harvey of England lectured that disease came from swamp vapors and planetary movements. And he was highly respected.
In fact, the great French surgeons of the first half of the 19th century awed legions of medical students while still killing almost all of their patients.
Stupid People Tricks
I wonder why, if our Ph.D. wellness experts are so effective, has the obesity rate been shooting straight up in the US for the last 30 years? And why are we getting less healthy as a nation instead of more healthy?
They tell us we should pay people (use incentives) to make healthful choices when it’s in a person’s best interest to do so without a bribe. Give someone enough money and you can get them to do stupid tricks on public sidewalks too.
2. Literal: Are they real doctors, like Board Certified Physicians, MDs? What are their Ph.D. degrees for? Where did they earn them? What exactly is their training in? Have we checked out their credentials, audited their claims, and vetted the qualifications they wave in our face?
The fact is many wellness practices are actually born of the need for revenue generating business models. These models have been complex, and thus must be explained by great intellects. Nothing wrong with that if it works out for all parties. But I am missing the win-win here. I am not feeling the love. Where are all the healthy Americans?
Want to Lower Healthcare Cost (long
enough to get a raise)? Just Do This. . .
If your goal is to lower healthcare costs in a workplace (which is a silo within a community), then brutally attack health risk factors in that small population. Bring them down with a sledge hammer. Get a huge budget approved. Get potential participants to engage with aggressive, intense programming, and hoopla. And pay them big incentives for something as simple as signing up for a program or event, or for actually completing a “task” or an “objective.”
Here’s the problem with the above approach − it’s a top-down model of programming that is not sustainable and has nothing to do with wellness, in my opinion. Head check. When does workplace wellness engagement peak? If you answered just before the measures for the incentives are due, you win a bubble gum cigar.
Wellness is About To Go Wiki
Workplace wellness is about to get more community based and Wiki like. The community of health outside the office or factory walls is about to move inside and start changing work cultures for the better.
What is sustainable and meaningful is humor, goodwill, community, friends, and education that is relevant to our everyday lives. All of this is available in your local community, within five miles of your workplace. And it doesn’t cost anything.
Hey, but if you’re into swamp vapors and planetary movements, have at it.
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.