Business of Well-being

The Tip of the Iceberg: How a Wellness Culture Can Prevent the Healthcare Crisis From Impacting your Company

The concept of wellness is something that almost everyone would like to achieve in their lives but struggle when it comes to actually deciding what it will take to make it a reality. We hear about fast food chains offering wellness options, various diets or enhanced supplementation and even new and improved exercise programs that can be done in the confines of your own home. All of these resources definitely fall under the umbrella of wellness but I firmly believe that the biggest misconception associated with attaining this goal is that we do not know exactly what it takes to get "well."

We live in a world where our sick care system (aka Healthcare) has the potential to negatively impact our country in a far worse way than the recent economic recession. Studies show that for the first time in history, the current generation of children will not outlive their parents: type II diabetes is growing at a rapid rate, corporations are seeing double digit increases in  health insurance costs, and the irony of it all is that this is simply the tip of the iceberg and what lies beneath the surface is far worse than what we are currently experiencing.

What perturbs me the most is that prior to the economic crisis, which became apparent at the end of 2008, we were still headed in the direction of a healthcare predicament within the next five or more years. But once the recession began, consumers started cutting back in all of the wrong places: gym memberships were cancelled, personal training was on the decline and fast food chains were having a record breaking year. Therefore, if people were still spending money on "wellness needs" prior to the beginning of the economic recession, then there is a good chance that now that consumers have cut back, the healthcare crisis could be approaching at an even greater speed due to our poor lifestyle choices.

The results of this catastrophe could be severe, as corporations would be forced to close their doors as a result of increased costs associated with our "sick" culture. But with all of this being said, there is a solution that would not only impact the existence of corporate America but also save the lives of people who are in dire need of help. Workplace wellness is becoming a sustained business strategy that is literally tied to the fabric of the existing health benefits plan. When workplace wellness and the health Benefits plan are properly integrated, the resulting 'synergy' improves employee health and produces measurable results that CFO's demand of any type of significant investment of corporate resources" (WELCOA ORGANIZATION, Embracing Workplace Wellness).

This statement, which was published in a recent article by the Wellness Council of America, is a growing belief among corporations, especially since Starbucks spends more money on healthcare then it does on coffee and GM spends more money on healthcare then it does on steel. Many people associate weight loss with wellness and although having a body fat percentage that is within the normative range of someone your age, height and weight is important, losing weight is not truly the underlying principle of wellness. In order for an organization to profit from a corporate wellness program, there needs to be multiple aspects of each individual's life working simultaneously to achieve a newly established level of wellness.

With this being the case, Creating Wellness Alliance, a corporate wellness provider, defines the term "wellness" as the degree to which an individual achieves health and vitality in any dimension of life, where the dimensions consist of being fit, eating right and thinking well. Employees need to not only focus on exercise and nutrition but also must learn how to handle and adapt to stress in their lives. We live in a 24/7 world and although I do not foresee that this will be coming to an end any time soon, I do believe that we need to learn how to control our psychological well-being, while maintaining a balanced nutrition and exercise regime. But the most comprehensive wellness program will not be profitable without these six key areas:

  1. Support from Senior Management
  2. Three Year Time Horizon
  3. Diverse Wellness Committee
  4. Incentives
  5. A Way to Measure Results
  6. Sustained Participation

All of these components are a piece to the puzzle of corporate wellness, and in order to truly see profitable results, it is critically important to include a three-dimensional wellness program as well. Diet and exercise are important factors to profitability, but they are not enough if you are looking to sustain this level of performance because without focusing on the "space between your ears," results will not be everlasting. Therefore, it is time to take action and begin to offer a wellness model to your company because your employees need your help and their health dictates your future.

About the Author

Jared Yellin, the Director of Corporate Wellness at Creating Wellness Alliance, a wellness company that provides a customized corporate wellness solution based on the needs of each organization. The Creating Wellness Assessment Station (CWAS) enables wellness coaches and doctors to visit corporations and assess employees in order to find each individual WQ or Wellness Quotient, which is a number that represents each individual's personal level of well-being.

Creating Wellness Alliance also has over 300 wellness centers throughout North America, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK. Beyond being the Director of Corporate Wellness, Jared is also a national motivational speaker/writer, personal trainer, and life coach which enables him to recreate the culture of each company, while achieving high levels of sustained participation by means of motivation, empowerment, and an educational process.

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