HR and benefit managers are beginning to think critically about wellness programs. For instance, I posted this blog awhile back, “5 Questions That Will Make Your Wellness Vendors Think They’re Having a Bad Nightmare… A Workplace-Wellness Critique.” I am sure that post created mass hysteria within wellness vendor offices everywhere. And all this time you thought Taylor Swift had the biggest social media following!
Another blog of mine, “Wellness Programs of the Future Will NOT Include These 3 Common Practices,” reflects my optimism that vendors will change their business models and not offer:
1. Extrinsic incentives (positive or negative)
2. Biometric screenings
3. Health Risk Appraisals
I think it’s important to know when a duck is a duck. Regardless what wellness vendors say, if they still offer the above three components in their wellness program offerings, they’re using a very outdated scientific model. See, “How to Build a Thriving Culture at Work, What’s science got to do with it?”
Some Wellness Vendors Make this Exercise of Spotting
These Three Ancient Practices Easy
They still use all three forms of these medieval tortures, and make no bones about it. They’ll even give you good arguments for using these outdated and harmful tactics like:
1. “I am a brilliant doctor, highly respected, and make wheel borrows full of cold cash doing this; how dare you question my use of these tactics.”
2. “Years of data back up these tactics.” (However, they can’t produce any of that abundant data that fifth-grade math would blow out of the water in about a minute.)
3. “If someone says using these tactics is wrong, they’re lying just like tobacco executives lie.” (I didn’t make that up.)
4. And the all-time, most persuasive argument in human history, “Everyone’s doing it.” My Dad (also a great C+ Student) always told us, “Everyone is often wrong.”
In case you need a little help with all the nonsense coming from vendors via “research papers,” check out, “8 Ways to Debunk Wellness and Health Promotion Research Papers, Plus 8 Questions Research Should be Trying to Answer for Workplaces.”
But still, I respect anyone who’s transparent, engages in civil debate, and is willing to take a stand in what they believe — even if it’s against the laws of gravity.
Watch for Those Tricky Homonyms
1. Watch for Homonyms: Words such as “culture” and “community” keep popping up in mainstream business discussions these days. The business person is usually talking about a form of freedom of expression through work. The wellness expert is often talking about how an unyielding institution can pretend it’s not via wellness programs.
2. What is the elevator speech?: Many wellness Websites are beautiful and full of head-nodding nostrums. But even after looking them over for a while, you can’t tell exactly what the hell it is they actually do.
3. Be aware of cloaking: This tactic was made famous by the Klingons in Star Trek. Captain Kirk and Spock always knew the extraterrestrial humanoids were around, but they were invisible. I’ve noticed the nasty little things about wellness programs, like punishment… picking, poking, and prodding. . . and its high cost, are hidden now. Many vendors using these tactics are diluting or not mentioning these openly on their Websites. Let’s hope they’re transitioning to a better model. Meanwhile don’t let them use those three types of tactics on your employees.
Meanwhile, we think Laura McKibbin gets it right with, The “Food For Thought” Pyramid, How to REALLY enhance your health. Take a look at that as a model for how to build a true culture of health.
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.