Why Blue Zones Offers a Better Solution to Poor Employee Health Than Workplace Wellness

Thomas Edison and Team“What can you expect in a Blue Zone community? Better health, greater civic engagement, lower healthcare costs, happier citizens.” That’s a claim from Blue Zones’ Website, which rings true, unlike similar claims from clinically oriented workplace wellness programs. (Blue Zones is a movement to help people live longer, better lives.)

If you’re getting that uneasy, just below the surface feeling that workplace wellness programs may not be working, and may in fact be causing harm, you’ll be joining a growing list of the disenchanted (and enlightened). Welcome to the Jedi Enclave.

The really hard part of this self-doubt is that if we can no longer poke, prod, intimidate, single out, and punish employees (for $350 PEPY) who are not biometrically acceptable, or even somehow pre-diseased, well, really, what is one to do?

Wellness Programs of the Future Will NOT Include These 3 Common Practices

OwlThe following three items have been the “tripod” of wellness programs for years. They’re not working.

  • Extrinsic Incentives (employees as Pavlov’s dog)
  • Biometric Screenings (practicing bad medicine at work)
  • Health Risk Appraisals (often inaccurate, always irrelevant)

These following two goals have been the justification of workplace wellness programs for almost 30 years. They’re not being achieved either.

Students of Workplace Wellness Need Not “Study” ROI Nonsense

Check upThis just in: University of Wisconsin to Offer Free Course in Workplace Wellness Evaluation

One of my favorite movie lines is from the 1974 hit, “Young Frankenstein.” It’s the one when Dr. Frankenstein meets Igor (Igor has a big hunch back bulging out of his shirt).

Dr. Frankenstein says, “Incidentally, I don’t mean to embarrass you in any way, but I’m a rather brilliant surgeon. Perhaps I can help you with that hump.”

Igor responds, “What hump?”

Workplace Health Communication: How Do Your Employees Use The Internet?

Internet UsageSo many times we see workplace wellness and health plans that are thrown together so quickly they remind me of Stephen Leacock’s saying:

“He flung himself on his horse and rode off madly in all directions.”

Take a few minutes this week to sharpen the blade before you start chopping away. The Health Fact Sheet from the Pew Research Internet Project is a gold mine of information for anyone interested in how people get their health information, and what issues drive their investigations.

Do Workplace Health Promotion (Wellness) Programs Work? A Whale of a Tale

Big Fish in a Small PondJust a couple weeks ago I posted this epic guidance: “8 Ways to Debunk Wellness and Health Promotion Research Papers.” It obviously rocked the world of the scientific health-publishing community.

Since then, editorial review boards of respected research journals in the population and workplace-health fields have called emergency meetings. The boards admitted a need for more diligence in evaluating article submissions, and then improving objective, peer-review standards prior to publication. My phone is ringing off the hook. HA! NOT!!

CPR for Dysfunctional Workplace Cultures — and Why You Should Never Name a Restaurant “Heimlich’s”

Many years ago my wife and I were attending a small wedding rehearsal dinner at a popular local restaurant. The groom suddenly stopped eating, looked wide-eyed, and displayed all the symptoms of having his windpipe plugged. He couldn’t even breathe in to make a noise. A couple nearby people tried to assist him but with no result.

So I jumped up, shrugged my cape over my shoulder (the one with the S on it), took in an extra dose of adrenalin from my 200,000-year-old physiology, and performed a perfectly executed Heimlich Maneuver. The results were spectacular. The groom survived to get hitched the next day. But the whole affair put a bit of a damper on everyone’s dining experience — I mean everyone in the entire restaurant. Ever since then we have referred to that restaurant as Heimlich’s and have never gone back.

You can draw a few points from this story: