So many articles, posts, blogs, and chatter about Employee Engagement – Well-Being – and Workplace Wellness- does it really matter?
Actually, it matters more than many employers care to realize or invest in and the result is crushing a company’s bottom line with increased costs related to health care, absenteeism, turnover, disability, pre-mature death payouts, loss productivity, and a decay of the work environment.
Collaborative research by the Institute for Health and Productivity Studies at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Transamerica Center for Health Studies developed an Employer Guide of evidence based practices that employers can replicate at minimal cost based on real-world examples. These health promotion programs have indicated significant positive health impacts for the workforce and workplace based on pre-post evaluation assessments and take into account both individual and organizational risk factors.
Company wellness programs often fail due to being one-sided. Programs focusing only on employee risk factors do not make allowances for organizational factors such as employee input, engagement, and leadership support. Comprehensive programs achieve both a ROI and a VOI as they build a culture of health and blend the individual-level health promotion goals with the organization’s goals and are supported by leadership buy-in.
Benefit Plan Design
Measurement and Evaluation
Health Promotion Programs
In order for workplace wellness to thrive in organizations human resource personnel, senior management, and all level stakeholders must become aware of the many facets of Health & Wellness and develop health promotion programs based on evidence-based practices. This BLOG will continue to discuss the individual and organizational risk factors over the next few months…..stay tuned.
Daily choices affect many areas in a
person’s life and by understanding how one food choice may affect both diet and sleep or fitness or mindset or stress levels, a person can begin to make better choices.
By assessing where one is on the wellness continuum and which health dimensions are lacking, a coachee and coach create an action plan to practice thoughtful choices on their wellness journey.
Health dimensions include many pieces of a life: self-responsibility, intellect, physical fitness, nutrition, environment, spiritual, purpose, communication, occupation, financial, family, self-care, connections …, play. Many of these combine to make an action plan more manageable (e.g. physical fitness, nutrition and play become diet& exercise or family, communication, connections become relationships. Regardless of the dimensions, an assessment of those pieces is necessary in order to create new movement towards wellness.
Health & Wellness coaches have many tools to help coachees assess their lives. One tool is a Wheel of Life – a circle is divided into equal pie parts based on dimensions representing a coachee’s life and they rank their pieces from 1-10 (1 being low).
Coloring the pieces illustrates various levels of wellness for the coachee’s wellness pie. The discrepancies in rankings for certain pieces, (e.g. physical – 9 but financial – 3, family -4 and play -10…) provides a glimpse of the bumps in life and becomes a conversation starter in deciding where to begin. One may argue having a 5 for all pieces would represent a life without bumps, however, the goal is to constantly strive for a personal best in integrated health & wellness.
Wellness is not the absence of illness or disease, rather a way to focus living a lifestyle of improvement in every dimension. Those with chronic disease, family strife, or environmental difficulties can move towards the positive end of well-being by assessing their wheel of life and enhancing pieces in small or big ways.
Improving one health piece improves all other pieces. If a goal is to build better family relationships, other outcomes result; such as personal growth, physical health, and possibly fun and recreation.
The pieces of life affect each other – assessing wellness can guide one in understanding where the wheel is in need of repair.
Understanding health and wellness is not an easy task. Many if not most people read reports and hear suggestions or lectures about eating healthy, exercising, getting enough sleep, and being mindful so stress and anxiety do not build up inside.
The suggestions and lectures sometimes prompt one to seek out diets, exercise, or sleep programs, however, many people fall victim to these programs and continue making the same unhealthy choices and following self-defeating habits. With all the literature, social media access, and programs available to improve one’s lifestyle – why is it so difficult to live a healthy life?
Defining Health and Wellness
Healthy people will tell you they feel pretty good, haven’t had a cold, and don’t have any aches and pains. They say they are doing well. However, those suffering from the flu, allergies, or an injury complain about every body part, need rest, and state they want to be healthy. Health and Wellness are bigger than getting over the common cold, flu, or a few body aches now and then. They are two keywords representing lifestyle choices happening everyday. Working definitions of health and wellness illustrate how lifestyle choices affect our lives.
Health is – “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” (WHO, 1946)
“The definition changed in 1984 to: Health is the extent to which an individual or group is able to realize aspirations and satisfy needs, and to change or cope with the environment. Health is a resource for everyday life, not the objective of living; it is a positive concept, emphasizing social and personal resources, as well as physical capacities.”
Regardless of the “HEALTH” definition, the reality is in order to have a Quality of Life – actions supporting physical, mental, emotional, and social functioning are the keys to health and wellness.
Wellness – “is an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.” (NWI, 2004)
The National Wellness Institute and many experts in the field of wellness have developed various models to explain the dimensions of wellness. Some models describe up to 12 dimensions while all models highlight: physical, spiritual, nutrition, occupational, emotional, intellectual, and environmental as either leading dimensions or assumed under another dimension.
Living Health – Wellness
In order to live both healthy and well, the many dimensions of a person’s life must be assessed, understood, and then met with a meaningful action plan for Lifestyle Change.
Wellness affects everyone and every organization. There is no one-size fits all plan to become healthy and well, a lifestyle change requires intentional behavior change from the individual and a personal commitment to follow through on an action plan.
Wellness coaches assist each coachee in creating an action plan by assessing each person on his or her dimensions of wellness as well as the readiness, willingness, and ableness levels of the coachee and prioritize first steps to create positive change.