I love to challenge the concept of there is no such thing as a stupid question. What qualifies as a stupid question?
1. Gorillas & Elephants: Stupid questions have a way of pointing them out when they’re in the room.
2. A Blinding Flash of the Obvious: It’s the item a little kid or your grandma may have pointed out. “So what?” is always a good show stopper. It’s a question that reminds us that there is an objective in mind, not just a process.
3. Opportunity Costs: “What if we did something different instead?” A question that acknowledges there are always unlimited needs and limited resources.
A great stupid question should incorporate all three qualifications. But what makes a question stupid is not so much the question as the realization that often the question itself reveals stupidity in practice. And, it often reveals it in a brutally honest way. A question leaves open the possibility of a logical answer. In absence of a simple, clear, and compelling reply, the stupidity is exposed for what it is.
So here are my four stupid questions for workplace health and wellness professionals:
1. What are we going to do about the bad boss?
My colleagues Rosie Ward and Jon Robison in their new book, “How to Build a Thriving Culture at Work, Featuring the 7 Points of Transformation” agree with the great management consultant Peter Drucker when he said, “Culture eats strategy for lunch.” Creating a Jerk-Free Workplace Culture should probably be our first step on the road to workplace and employee wellbeing. How can there be wellbeing in anybody’s life if people hate their bosses and thus their jobs?
2. Why don’t we make safe driving and cold and flu prevention our top workplace priorities?
The cost and productivity statistics on these two issues are overwhelming. The prevention steps are fairly simple and effective. An employee’s motivation to learn more about these issues and prevent them would be intrinsic. Numerous local and national resources are available to help any workplace initiative. We all have “close to home” stories about car crashes and flu bugs, because they are so unnecessarily prolific. I’d advise tackling these two issues instead of any clinical wellness screening, or funding incentives.
3. Is how much a person weighs actually a legitimate issue?
Weight-loss programs are the most popular (and wasteful) programs implemented today at workplaces. First, a person’s weight is the wrong focus. Second, weight-loss programs almost never work and are never sustainable even if there is short-term weight loss. Here’s a better way: Weight at the Workplace.
4. Why don’t we implement a volunteer employee wellbeing program that doesn’t cost anything?
Wellness is common sense. You don’t need a high-priced expert to guide you through a world of complexity, regulation, ROI analysis, and clinical intervention. You just need to trust your gut, use wonderful local and national resources (many of which have already been funded by billions of dollars via taxpayers or other institutions). See our new eBook, “Workplace Wellness 2.0, 10 Easy Steps to an Inexpensive, Community Based, Volunteer-Managed, Wellness Initiative.”
Fix or get rid of the bad boss. Focus on the things that actually have the greatest negative impacts on health and productivity. Forget about the “war on obesity,” just focus on movement and social interaction. And put together a fun, volunteer-managed wellbeing initiative as a grass roots campaign.
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.