Now before my HR friends get all wound up hear me out. Let’s think for a minute about what wellness is ultimately intended to achieve:
- lower benefit plan costs
- fewer missed days of work; and,
- theoretically a healthier workforce
Let’s be honest. Do you actually believe large employers have launched program after program simply because they felt a passion for the personal health and “wellness” (which is a very odd word if you think about it) of their workforce?
Um, no. It’s capitalism, remember?
So What Is the Deal?
If any of you are still reading let’s take this a step further. I’m a fitness fanatic. I work out a lot, push myself (too) hard…and eat healthier than I have to. I’m motivated to stay healthy and strong. But it has nothing to do with any workplace program that was ever launched at the organizations where I worked…and I’ve launched some really good ones!
When was the last time you heard a woefully out of shape colleague announce to the team “thank God the company launched that wellness program, now I can finally get healthy!"
In my view there are only two instances when workplace wellness programs make an impact.
1. Financial incentives are put in place.
2. The employee experiences a personal health crisis or scare.
That’s it. No amount of pedometer propaganda or limited availability of sugary drinks in the cafeteria can come close to the power of money and the fear of dying.
So Why Even Launch Wellness Programs?
The answer here is simple. Once employers understand what the real drivers of these programs are (save money, reward employees who either are motivated by money or literally are scared to death due to their own lack of motivation and now poor physical health) only then can real progress be made.
Be honest with yourself about why these programs are useful.
Align your incentives properly.
Make sure your leaders participate as role models.
How About You
Are you fired up about wellness program that are based on grandiose ideas but in reality are not aligned with what really matters? Make the changes necessary, and get moving. For the minority of employees that will truly embrace your program it will make a world of difference.
And that makes all of it worthwhile.
I’d love to hear from you.