We are pleased to have our Haworth sales representative, Gina Nist, share her thoughts on Rex Miller, Phillip Williams, and Michael O’Neill’s book The Healthy Workplace Nudge. Make sure to order your copy or place a hold at your local library.
Our workplace wellness initiatives aren’t working! We spend $18,000 per employee on health costs and these costs will double before 2030. The Healthy Workplace Nudge works on tackling employee health and disengagement and profiles how 100 large organizations have fixed.
Chapter 5 – In Search of Wholeness
The team working on this book landed at the Mayo Clinic searching for the definition of what is “wellness“? Funnily enough, in 1828 wellness wasn’t even a word listed in the dictionary. Today wellness is defined as a “quality” or state of being in good health, especially as an actively sought goal. As there are many definitions that are similar to this, what we really need to be clear of is the difference between wellness and well-being. Well-being describes more of a holistic state of flourishing in mind and body. Many people will speak of wellness and us the same word but it can have a different meaning depending on who is using it. Wellness has become in a way a means to drive discussions with more focus on the how and not so much the why or who.
Here are some questions for you to think about in regards to wellness:
- As leaders in the organization, the question is what does wellness really mean to your company?
- What does it mean to your employees?
- Is it defined in a way that people understand?
Chapter 6 – Why Happiness Before Health
This chapter is about identifying happiness before health. Within the first few paragraphs, I found this interesting: Dr. Sood, a professor at the Mayo Clinic speaks to the 90-minute rule. He states our brains fatigue after 90 minutes of focused work. People cannot feel their brain pain because the brain doesn’t have nerve endings. When the brain is overlooked it’s like stressing a muscle. When do you know to slow down?
Most leaders know that an engaged mind is a happy mind. So why does happiness trail behind physical health by a large margin? Harvard created an app to track happiness and then studied user data. The findings were pretty much the same, noting a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. How happiness is defined can be viewed in many different ways. I think you have to consider many factors: Your overall mindset, environment, job, culture, physical being, surroundings, co-workers, leaders and much more. It is also our own personal attitudes that make or break our own personal happiness. Work is stressful, life is stressful. Facts or no facts, wellness or wellbeing. You can have the best job on earth with the best leaders but if you have a poor attitude you won’t be happy.
Chapter 7 – Where’s the Data? Inconvenient Truths
Most of us been told that spending money on a wellness program will provide 300% to 600% ROI. We accept this statistic with the idea that prevention must be less expensive than the cure. However, none of this is true. Traditional wellness programs don’t improve health outcomes, lower costs, change behavior, reduce chronic illness, or improve engagement.
The authors interviewed Al Lewis, author of Nobody Believes the Numbers: Distinguishing Fact from Fiction in Population Health Management. Lewis points out that health costs are not representative of the true population health costs or risks. Most wellness programs are divided into two groups: disease management and lifestyle management. The issue with tackling wellness in this way comes down to four factors:
- People with chronic illness are less likely to participate
- Education and incentives don’t change unhealthy behavior
- Because wellness programs often reshuffle every November, they lack the continuity to address long-term health
- Chronic illness takes years to develop and years to manage or reverse.
To speak simply, wellness programs aren’t used by the employees we wish to help and wellness programs can’t address the fact that the symptoms we see today are the result of a decade of poor behavior. If these facts are convincing enough, companies don’t just lose money on expensive wellness programs they also lose the time and productivity of their workers while they are participating in wellness programs.
Chapter 8 – The Mystery of Hospitality: Experiencing the Human Touch
As leaders want happy and healthy employees and a good ROI. How do leaders pierce the veil to prevent good intentions from having unintended negative effects? Dr. Michael Roizen says that he realized he needed to, “move to an empathetic positive future” to act as a guard against cold rationality’s assault on common sense.
Leadership needs to be personal since we can’t care for those we don’t know. Miller says, “At it’s best, leadership is social and engaging. Everyone has a stake in happiness and health. Leaders can start improving the health, happiness, and vitality of their organizations by reducing friction.”
If you want to create a workplace that is good for people, then leaders must:
- Appreciate – give a damn about- their employees
- Walk the talk and deliver a compelling vision
- Take the long view
- Build and maintain a healthy and caring culture
- Weed out resistance to change
- Stand strong during good times and down cycles
- Build an ecosystem with such excellence and strength that the culture will endure in all seasons and under new leadership.