Business of Well-being

Preparing for When the Wellness Bubble Bursts

I have been thinking for a while that the field of worksite wellness is currently experiencing a bubble - a wellness bubble. My recent reading of the book, The Demographic Cliff by Harry Dent, Jr. has further solidified my thinking about our field being in an economic like bubble.

Throughout the book, Dent makes reference to the various economic bubbles that have occurred across time and how they have all eventually burst. Since bubbles always, without exception, burst, this has started me thinking about what steps a wellness program coordinator can take starting today to prepare for the eventual bursting of the wellness bubble.

While bubbles always burst, there is no way to predict when. The bubble could burst tomorrow, in 6 months, in 12 months or it may take 5 years or longer. The only certainty is that the bubble will burst. So how might the wellness coordinator begin today to prepare?
These suggested strategies are not prioritized. They are simply a list. You, the reader, must determine how to best prioritize the list based on your own personal psyche, experiences, knowledge, skills and abilities.

  • Become a Master of Change - Being a change agent is core to the worksite wellness field. Be prepared and able to address change at both the individual and organizational levels. Change is complex, challenging and certainly not easy to accomplish. Study the research and science behind both personal and organizational change. Facilitating change certainly requires knowing and understanding more than Prochaska's Stages of Change (Transtheoretical) model.
  • Become a Student of Organizations - Worksite wellness is all about delivering programs and services in the workplace. Workplaces are organizational units. Be a student of organizational science, interpersonal dynamics and organizational development.
  • Become a Master of Communication - Communication is a foundation of success. You need to be able to communicate across the whole organization, from the Board Room, to the C-Suite and on down. You need to be able to converse in the language used at each level of the organization. Being a master of communication also means being able to successfully utilize all the various communication channels available to you - print, audio, video and electronic.
  • Maintain a Broad, High Level, Comprehensive Perspective - Being able to adequately address employee and organizational health, wellness and wellbeing requires a broad depth of knowledge, skills and abilities that cut across many different fields and disciplines. Life is complex and so will the solutions be to its problems and issues.  Avoid having a single focus. This may very well be a field where success depends upon your being a jack of many trades and a master of none.
  • Stay Current - In order to maintain the highest standards of practice, it is critically important to keep abreast of the research, trends and changing practices. The times they are a changing and the need to stay current and abreast with the changes has never been truer than today. Given the breadth of our field, I believe it is important for us to remain current in the life, behavioral and organizational sciences. Thanks to all the Internet has to offer, is much easier today to remain current than ever before.
  • Become a Collaborator - Like other employee benefit programs (safety, work-life and EAP), worksite wellness programs have remained, for the most part, entrenched in their own individual silo. As the workplace environment changes and available resources diminish, so will the isolation and independence of benefit programs. Begin now to learn the skills of collaboration. I believe we have a reached the point where it has become critical that we collaborate across program and discipline lines to enhance what we do for the good of all. As the wellness programs of today evolve towards employee wellbeing programs, collaboration skills will become a key to the success of future program coordinators.
  • Have Clarity of Purpose - As a worksite wellness professional, you need clarity of purpose at two levels: personal and professional. On the personal level, be clear as to the meaning and purpose the field holds for you. Be clear as to why you work in the field. Professionally, make sure your program has clarity of purpose. Be sure you know the "big why" behind why your program was created and the purpose it is serving today. Remember that a worksite wellness program can bring many different types of value to the organization.
  • Become Fluent in Business Principles - It is well recognized that successful and sustainable wellness programs are not stand alone programs, but programs that are integrated within their organization's overall structure and operational systems. For this to happen, the program coordinator needs to be fluent in business principles and operations. This means the program coordinator needs to learn how their organization operates and generates revenue. True integration is possible only when the program coordinator knows what sustains the organization and makes it successful. Only then can the wellness program's strategies be closely aligned to support the organization.
  • Develop Program Evaluation Skills - What gets measured gets managed. What gets managed can be continually improved. As resources continue to tighten, it becomes all the more important to be able to justify your program's existence. You need to be able to unequivocally demonstrate your wellness program's value and able to substantiate your program's contribution to the organization. Not evaluating your program is no longer an option. Actively seek out help to evaluate your program and learn evaluation skills and strategies so you can conduct basic evaluation and measurement strategies yourself. There is much to measure within a worksite wellness program. There is a lot more than just ROI to demonstrate value to the organization.

Dent's research has revealed that when a bubble bursts, things go back down to where they started or lower. This leads me to conclude that when the wellness bubble bursts, organizations will radically rethink wellness as a business strategy.

When the wellness bubble bursts, you want to be in a position to have the skills necessary to maximize your contribution to the organization and to be able to demonstrate that your program is not a nice to have, but a necessity to sustain the organization and significantly contribute to its success. The wellness bubble will burst, so start your preparations today!

About the Author:

As an independent contractor, William McPeck is a worksite wellness and wellbeing program thought leader, strategist and mentor. William is dedicated to helping employers and program coordinators create successful, sustainable worksite wellness and well-being programs, especially in small employer settings. William can be contacted at:

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