- 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.
- Control Healthcare Costs (The American Journal of Health Promotion grudgingly agrees)
- Lower workplace population health risk (even if you believe this, so what?)
And what about the risk wellness creates by exposing people to the healthcare system? Otis Webb Brawley, M.D., tells us in his book, “How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks About Being Sick in America,” that engaging the U.S. Healthcare system is the highest level of risk many of us will face. Also see my blog, “Wellness vs. Illness: How to Use 21st Century Medicine to Your Advantage Without it Eating You up Like a Paper Shredder.”
How will wellness programs of the future look?
- Wellness (it may not be called that) will not be a one-off “program.” It will be an emphasis on the core competency of the business, with a strong emphasis on developing great leadership.
- Great leadership will attract great talent. Vision… Creativity… Team Work… Autonomy… Accountability… and Celebration will be the descriptive terms that emerge from successful workplaces with healthful cultures.
- With great leadership and autonomy in place the culture will develop into a productive and positive place to work. It’s always good to remind ourselves that people can’t be healthful and productive if they hate their job.
- Interaction with the local community will be critical to maintaining a healthy workplace and healthy people. Reach out to community programs, and invite community programs inside. Also, collaboration with other workplaces in the community will add a strong social connection. The goal of making entire communities healthier transcends self and builds on a collective vision worth achieving.
Sometimes I just feel bad for workplace wellness people. They’re bombarded by so much nonsense… presented in deadly serious fashion… to support a failed concept. The only beneficiary is the vendor charging way too much for an illusion of accomplishment. And yet all the talent, treasure, and time farting around with these idiotic wellness programs could be redirected with phenomenal results.
Maybe we need a discussion on how to systematically dismantle the old wellness programs and start building a new paradigm of wellbeing? Well, actually I am doing that. You’ll find a number of articles on these topics on my blog, The Best C+ Student in the Wellness Biz.
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.