Wellness at work

Wellness is a management program, not an HR initiative.

Many companies offer wellness initiatives. Here are a number of reasons why companies believe wellness initiatives should be organized;

  • recruitment and retention
  • lower health insurance costs
  • genuine care for employee’s wellbeing
  • maintain/improving productivity
  • avoid legal costs
  • improve employee’s morale

We are all very used to companies providing health insurance and the trend to offer wellness benefits is directly linked to it. From the above reasons the one lowering costs of Health Insurance was the most important one for about 74% of employers surveyed on the topic.

The reason employers offer health insurance (and not your church, subdivision or home owners association) is that back in the days, there was a freeze on pay (Stabilization act of 1942). In an effort to continue to be able to attract the best and the brightest, employers sought to increase the value of their package for employees and so they started to offer health insurance. Later the tax treatment began to take over as the main reason to offer the insurance and these days we don’t even question it anymore.

The wellness initiatives come in various shapes and forms, from friendly advice and information that gets distributed, to financial incentives to go for preventative health care and financial disincentives to maintain unhealthy habits.

As a manager what is your role in the wellness at work?

First you need to understand why you offer the wellness initiatives. Next you need to be happy with the impact on the employees of the various wellness offerings and thirdly you need to support the communication of the wellness initiatives.

All too often we see health and wellness programs totally run by the benefits- or Human Resources department. Although these departments will be able to offer expertise in setting the plans up and executing it in a responsible manner, they are not the decision makers over the resources of the company. Goal clarity is important and Management needs to set the goals and make sure employees know where this fits into the overall strategy of the company. Employees look at their management and will react depending on Management’s behavior. When management does not look to be in charge of the wellness programs, it will remain a benefit that lives on the sidelines of employee’s attention. However when Management fully supports and spearheads the decision to go for wellness programs and actively participates it can accomplish its goals. Offering wellness programs at work needs to be thought through carefully as the majority of the beneficiaries of your health plan are probably spouses and children of employees who not normally come to the company.

A good article about some simple yet very effective ways to get started is HERE

There is a lively debate about whether or not the wellness plans deliver on their promise to cut health insurance costs and one article capturing three studies is HERE

Meanwhile a huge business developed in wellness programs said to top $10 billion.

If you follow the theory from Herzberg about motivators and hygiene factors, it should be clear that wellness can never be a motivator but should be seen in the hygiene factor category, meaning that you need to treat it from a recruitment and retention perspective as a competitive benefit. No one joins a company solely for their wellness offering. People may however become dissatisfied with their package if it does not include wellness when their peers all enjoy it at their companies.

Looking at the wellness plans as a major factor in containing the cost of health insurance, turns the management decision to what will provide you with most cost-savings while not upsetting the competitiveness of the overall package.

Wellness is a management program, as all programs are that have an impact on costs to the company and the ability to attract and retain talent.


Keep up your maintenance

We all know the encouragements from the medical world to make sure you get regular check ups.

You go to your doctor at least once a year, probably the dentist twice a year, maybe some specialist for your eyes, ears or nose or other parts of the body, so you keep your body in good shape. You work out regularly and you try to eat healthy.

Even your pet probably gets taken to the vet a few times a year for shots or a check over and the car dealer sees your car every 3,000 miles.

Great! So how is it with your mental capabilities? Do you get regular updates on your knowledge about new stuff that is coming or changed philosophies and methods? You expect your doctor to get his regular updates in medical science, you know that some licences require a number of hours of continuing education per year, CPAs, teachers, HR folks with shrm accreditation etc. but how is that for you?

If there are no hard requirement do you actually make sure you update your knowledge on a regular basis. Can you afford not to do this? When things change, like you need to look for the next position, you will be glad you did. Also attending classes and conferences is a great way to meet others in a similar situation to either learn from each other or be re-assured that you are not alone with your issues at work.

Look at your resume, can you show a continuous path of learning and keeping your skills and knowledge up to date? What is the last book you read? Was it work related?

There are sites that claim to help you with keeping up to date, Get Abstract, Soundview or  What’s Best Next, and your consultants usually send updates on the newest information available.

Leave your team alone

No we do not advocate abandoning your team but rather, leave your team to do their work without your interference.

Most leaders get to their position as a result of their great performance in previous positions. When you are the person having all the answers and doing great work, there needs to be a transition before you can lead a department or team.

Your team is recruited, selected, educated, trained and experienced to do their work. They should not need your constant involvement other than providing direction and guidance.

It is most demotivating for your team members when you move into the process of doing the work and start dealing with the issues directly. Certainly if you were the person previously doing the work yourself it may be difficult to let go of the work, you have done and leave it to others that may do things differently.

manager on the field

Get off the field!

Getting the most out of your team happens when you leave them alone, however counter intuitive this may sound. Provide them with direction and guidance by setting the goals, tools and resources and get out of the way to see great things happen.

Monitoring the results is a key part of your role and you should have processes in place to ensure eventually the goals of the department/company get accomplished.

There is a delicate balancing act for you. Being involved enough in the work to be able to take responsibility for the work being done well is important. The other side of the scale is that you need to let go of being directly involved in the work and trust the processes and resources you put in place.

It is the equivalent of the coach, who is not supposed to personally enter the playing field but remain on the side and accomplish the results through the team he has recruited, selected, trained and encouraged. How are you doing this? What are your recommendations or tips?