Business of Well-being

Happy Hour is 9-5

What a cool name of a business book. I was doing additional research on health and productivity when I came across Happy Hour is 9-5 written by Alexander Kjerulf. It piqued my interest, so I read a little more: "Lisa was falling behind at work. Every morning she woke up nervous about the workday ahead of her.

Every evening she went home thinking of all the tasks she hadn't gotten around to." Immediately I bonded with Lisa, a 35-year old engineer and project manager who felt overwhelmed working at a Danish IT company. Basically, with business booming, keeping up had become a struggle-she felt she had to run really fast just to stay in place.

Sadly, this sounded like a lot of people I know.You're likely wondering why I am discussing this in a wellness magazine, as this could merely be a personal time management issue or maybe a staffing issue. But is it really? Over the past few years, I have been working to truly understand why traditional population health management programs are good, but not great.

I believe I have found the answer, and the good news is, I am not alone! In fact, research and analysis from leading health and human capital experts demonstrates that in order to create a true culture of health, a company must look not only at health risks, but also work environment and emotional behaviors. When taking a total well-being approach, a company not only becomes healthier, but joins the ranks of being a high-performing company with happy and more productive people.

So, how do you implement this philosophy in a corporate setting? Here is a key guiding principle to remember: By focusing only on cost reduction, traditional wellness companies miss the mark. They focus on a small number of people with significant health risks or chronic conditions and nag them into becoming "less of a risk." How far has that gotten us?

The cutting-edge philosophy of wellness that yields results requires taking an evidence-based approach that measures and improves all the key drivers of health, well-being, and productivity. It needs to be fun, it needs to be social, and it needs to be for the entire company. Most importantly, it needs to deliver real value-giving HR and benefits professionals unique insight into their workforce and helping them use that knowledge to improve business performance.

With an integrated and holistic wellness strategy, a company will profit with managed healthcare costs, increase morale and engagement, and get more out of the other benefits that they already pay for. It's the easiest-and most beneficial-way to do wellness right. So, what's the formula for achieving a successful holistic wellness program? Look for a solution that goes beyond traditional biometrics alone.

The solution should span the importance of holistic wellness: personal, financial, and professional, as well as physical wellness. Make sure that the solution presents employees' assessment results in a clean, clear way that drives positive action. Employees can be directed-and can direct themselves-to additional resources, which may include health coaching, biometric screening, disease management, or employee assistance programs, depending on how sophisticated and integrated you want to get.

Treat people like people, making them realize they are not just tools to help improve a company's bottom line. Put employees in charge of their own self-improvement with a turnkey system built around the science of behavior change. Peer support, company incentives, challenges, and goal tracking all combine to create an engaging, cohesive experience.

Create simple goal-setting, tracking, and journaling capabilities. The best goals are those that people understand. Providing simple goal-tracking tools and a comprehensive e-mail reminder system keeps each user engaged week to week. Challenge your company...or have peers challenge each other.

For some, a challenge or competition is the best way to stay motivated. Issue a Well-Being Challenge to your company with a drawing or incentive points as a reward. Provide an opportunity for social support and allow users to challenge each other to a well-being goal and comment on each other's progress.

Additional peer-to-peer support is available in vibrant community forums. Track goals from anywhere. Goal-tracking is most effective when it's a part of each person's everyday life-on a mobile phone, from a fitness device like a pedometer, or a desktop widget. Make it easier and make sure wellness can fit employees' lifestyle.Gain workforce intelligence.

Don't forget to get an employer dashboard that provides a clear, concise view of the key drivers of well-being, productivity, and health, with a Key Performance Indicator in each area to help your senior management team understand how their company measures up. This data should provide you with the actionable "What now?" recommendations so you can continue improving your program.

About the Author

Colleen Reilly is the founder and president of Total Well-Being, a leading provider of workplace wellness programs with a holistic approach to wellness-providing services that motivate employees to achieve their physical, financial, personal, and professional wellness goals.

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