Are there Flaws in our Wellness Initiatives?

I have been thinking a lot about wellness initiatives for the past couple of years perhaps due to having participated in Illinois annual Workplace Wellness WOWIE Awards a couple years back. ILSHRM in partnership with Blue Cross / Blue Shield of Illinois has really created an excellent program in acknowledging companies across Illinois in their wellness efforts as well as encouraging others to step it up a notch!

After having reviewed several applications, it seemed that overall there were only a few companies who were actually seeing major results and ROI (for lack of a better term) in these initiatives. Not to mention that after a while most of the participants initiatives started to sound the same. Only a few were thinking creatively when it came to workplace wellness.

I often wonder why sometimes we take the easy road when implementing new strategies and simply follow the path of least resistance, and do what the next guy is doing instead of asking ourselves, “What’s going to work in our workplaces, with our diverse cultures and generations, and how can we create real change in our own organizations?”

Don’t get me wrong.  There are some great new technologies springing up that assist us in getting creative with things such as Gamification (think KEAS), and that boost excitement in the hopes that our employees will choose to play a game that will help them accomplish their wellness goals.

I ran across this in a recent article that makes a valid point:

“Healthy workers are more productive than unhealthy workers, just like workers in some countries are demonstrably more productive than those in others. Yet while no one would propose solving a struggling country’s economic problems by paying its workers to act more German (for example), the average Fortune 500 company pays unhealthy workers $460 per year to act like healthy workers” (article “Do the Wellness Math Yourselves”)

I encourage you to read the full article because it provides great insight into some of the things our departments and organizations have wrestled with for years.

It’s a fact that some employees will out-perform others in every area, including wellness. And paying them to change their life habits doesn’t always work out, especially in the long run.

Is it possible that Employers have been fooled by get-well-quick schemes because the process-oriented Human Resources department is being burdened with analytic responsibilities delegated by the CFO? 

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