Shawna Bowen MA., CCWS, NBC-HWC, ACE, a recent graduate of the Certified Corporate Wellness Specialist Program, in this interview talks to Corporate Wellness Magazine about how the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted corporate wellness and what the future holds for the industry.
The Certified Corporate Wellness Specialist Program was created by the Corporate Wellness Association to help business owners and employers redefine corporate wellness with strong structures to boost employee health and wellbeing.
Q: How important is well-being to you personally?
Well-being is my top priority. It has been said, “Your number one professional asset is your health and wellness.” I totally believe this and have made health my number one priority after falling ill for about a year in my late 20s. I lost my job, my health insurance, and my home and spent close to a year sick and homeless. This was one of those ‘Never Again’ moments, and I have pursued health and careers in the health industry ever since.
Q: What change have you noticed over the last year with corporate wellness?
I think the fallout of COVID-19 has strengthened and supported corporate wellness programs. The CDC has two years of data and at this point is naming factors like obesity and sedentary lifestyles as high-risk factors for COVID-19 complications. My hope is that this is a wake-up call that corporate wellness shouldn’t be some sort of fringe benefit but a necessity for all employers to offer their employees.
Q: Where do you see the industry headed?
I see virtual wellness coaching and virtual personal training being HUGE in the industry. Apps are great, but that one-on-one interaction with a certified professional seems to be more effective with people trying to make behavioral changes. I also think that programs dealing with mental and emotional well-being have just as much merit as diet and exercise with most folks experiencing some sort of COVID fatigue at this point.
Q: What are the most important focus areas for you in corporate wellness for the upcoming year?
Emphasizing to my clients and co-workers that I work with, that health is not something to consider or get to one day, but to pursue immediately. We are also emphasizing employee satisfaction and have been doing a huge campaign on employee resilience in the workplace.
Q: If you could give our readers one piece of advice in regards to wellness programs what would it be?
People are more burned out than ever from enduring two years of COVID-19 stress and complications. Employers should promote holistic self-care with an emphasis on recovering from burnout while continuing to work.
Q: Why did you go through the Certified Corporate Wellness Specialist program?
I was looking to change careers from being a therapist working with at-risk youth and families to something more directly related to health in the workplace. It just seemed like a better fit for me.
Q: What was the most valuable takeaway of the corporate wellness certification program for you?
Understanding that employee engagement needs to be diverse; that there are different kinds of workforces and people, so one has to ‘know their audience’ so to speak, then create engagement based on what works best for those employees, not how you think they would best engage.
Also, employee wellness is still a paradigm shift; you need to be patient to get results. Engagement and return-on-investment don’t happen overnight, it is a long-term investment. Lastly, if you want your employees to get on board with wellness programs, make sure that your leadership is also role modeling and engaging too.
Shawna works for Vera Whole Health as a Certified Wellness Coach and serves on Vera’s Whole Health Council, which creates wellness programs for Vera employees. She is also certified as a personal trainer and works with middle-aged and older clients to improve their strength and balance, prevent injury, and promote longevity.