Hi everyone!

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 13 – How They Did It

This chapter’s focus was on companies that created ecosystems of care in the face of workforce challenges. Many of the companies interviewed for this chapter approached employee health and well-being from different angles. The key driving points for all of the companies interviewed were: clarity, focus, and simplicity

The Cleveland Clinic decided that if their wellness program was going to succeed they needed to lead by example. They hired a Chief Wellness Officer and set three key elements to work from:
1. Clear, resolute, engaged leadership
2. A focus on five normal outcomes for employees
3. A comprehensive six-element push for culture change

The Cleveland Clinic highly incentivized participation by dropping health insurance rates drastically if employees hit 5 health goals. They let people create a social NUDGE by instituting a buddy system that helped keep people accountable. They also worked to reinvent their culture to create an environment where positive choices were praised, communication was open and encouraged, and options are provided. As of 2017, the Cleveland Clinic had saved over $254 million in all medical costs and estimates they will save over $150 million more by the end of 2018.  Companies like the Cleveland Clinic are proof that with hard work, It is possible to implement health and well-being in an organization.

Chapter 14 – Courageous Leaders and a Culture of Care

Culture is a popular buzzword right now, leaders everywhere are very concerned about “crafting the culture” of their companies. Miller writes that “culture is inevitable and invaluable” a healthy culture is intentionally and carefully designed. Culture can form naturally but this is can often result in something Miller calls “fuzzy culture”. Fuzzy culture seeps into a company through weakness and neglect. Unless a leader knows how to eradicate the growth of negative and foreign workplace illnesses a culture can easily become toxic. A positive culture has to constantly maintain, pruned, and reshaped like an expensive bonsai.

Understanding how difficult it is to create and maintain a good culture speak volumes to the success stories in this chapter. The most amazing anecdote from this chapter is the GoDaddy Story. I knew GoDaddy was a search engine with Danica Patrick as their spokesperson but had no idea of the success and evolution this company took in 2014. The CEO Blake Irving (now retired) brought in Calvin Crowder who made changes to the building before breaking ground – giving the building a fresh set of eyes and looking at things such as better conference rooms for teleconferencing, huddle rooms, more air, amenities that were playful. The end results were a shift and benefit in culture and a place where people want to come and work.

There was a quote that I found really influential in this chapter. Blake Irving quips that, “If you are fun to be around, fun to spend time with, keep a positive attitude and radiate positivity, who wouldn’t want to work with you?” I think this is a nice reminder for all of us to check in with we’re putting out into the world.

Chapter 15 – The MeTEOR Story

This chapter outlined what MeTEOR (formally Contrax), a commercial education furniture company used to transform and adapt their culture and consequently their business. They are now fully committed and created a culture best known for getting things done.

MeTEOR outlined the “Habits of What Gets Done”. It was developed based on seven habits over the past decade by Bill Latham and John Crawford – owners.  They were deliberately working hard to build the kind of culture they wanted their company to become!

Here’s a brief overview of the habits:

  1. What gets pictured gets done.
  2. What gets modeled gets done.
  3. What gets praised gets done.
  4. What gets trained gets done.
  5. What gets measured gets done.
  6. What gets financed gets done.
  7. What gets scheduled gets done.

If you only read one thing from this book I highly suggest you read these pages (pg. 225-226) because I think it’s one of the simplest outlines of how you institute and maintain culture.

Chapter 16 – Starting a Movement

Most of us sit in “second chairs”, we’re not in control, not looking for trouble, and don’t want to create waves. How do we break from the pattern of watching and instead start taking action?

So how do you start a movement without permission? Easy, just start!
Miller outlines how one employee (Emily) was able to use the MindShift Process to change her company’s culture. It started with a simple suggestion of taking a “trip” and meeting other people within the organization.  From there next steps of getting people to know each other and collecting even more data. Over the course of the next 18 months continuing to engage and navigate around the toxic culture and getting the shifting energy to positive curiosity.  The buzz then went up to the C-suite and gained even more momentum leading to eventually deeper inner workings of the company culture. This also helped identify the benefits that employees valued most.

In the end, if you are in the second seat at a company and trying to bring change, it’s easy to find those like-minded to gain friends, support that can lead you to those higher up that will support your cause.

Chapter 17 – Haven in a Heartless World

The final chapter looks at what a haven a good workplace can be. There are seven “mind shifts” that Miller identifies that are essential to business and building a good workplace:

  1. Change in the environment
  2. Well-being comes before wellness
  3. We must care for people before we can help them
  4. Build a healthy building
  5. Design work for a person’s natural strength
  6. Build social capital
  7. The age of balancing cost and wellness has ended

If you are a leader in an organization the book leaves with many thoughts on how to approach wellness and a healthier work environment.  Starting with simple nudges. If you are “second in the chair” or just an employee the may leave you with thoughts about what companies go through to bring better awareness and health to the workplace. For me, it was a simple nudge and shift that can impact work and my personal life in many aspects. Just a simple change can make a difference.

Final thoughts:

Overall, the book identifies the definition of wellness and what companies truly go through. Technology has had a profound effect on how we work today. There is no more just 8-5 we take our work home.  We can work remote. The cost of a sustainable building has come down from what used to be 30% to now 10% of the cost. The workplace today is one that is more social and culture does have an impact on the success and attitudes of employees. CBRE blazed the way to make a change when shifting to “free address, sit where you want” environment. Offering sits to stand, open space a more collaborative environment. As the evolution of technology continues to change so will wellness programs. Don’t forget, a nudge can make a huge impact from the bottom up and the top down in organizations.

Change is not easy but starting small with a simple nudge and getting buy-in can truly make a change.

Are you interested in creating a healthier workspace more conducive to productivity, creative thinking and the improvement of office wellbeing? Contact us or browse our past projects to see how we can improve your workspace!