Business of Well-being

Wellness is not Static, Wellness Programs Should Not Be Either – An Interview with Dr. Samantha Denson

Certified Corporate Wellness Specialist

The Certified Corporate Wellness Specialist (CCWS) program upskills business leaders and managers in building the corporate wellness program that truly identifies and meets the needs of their employees.  

Following the massive shifts in the workplace dynamics in the last few years, with the pandemic and the Great Resignation, employers and managers are beginning to realize the inadequacies of their workplace wellness infrastructures and how these structures failed when employees needed them the most.  

Dr. Samantha Denson, in this interview with the Corporate Wellness Magazine, shares her experience learning from leading wellness experts in the Certified Corporate Wellness Specialist (CCWS) program and shares deep insights into the dynamics of corporate wellness and the missing link in building an effective wellness program. Dr. Samantha Denson has over a decade's experience as a leader in the corporate wellness industry.

How important is well-being to you personally?

Well-being is not only a professional passion but also a deeply personal value for me. I am acutely aware of the intricate connection between physical health and mental well-being, and I recognize the profound impact that various dimensions of wellness can have on my overall quality of life. So, I maintain a holistic approach to my own well-being by conscientiously prioritizing self-care on a daily basis. My take on self-care is that it must be multi-dimensional and leveraged as a preventive necessity. So, rather than waiting for indicators of distress in my life, I view well-being as an ongoing and integral aspect of my daily routine, making self-care proactive instead of solely reactive. This commitment to myself allows me to bring genuine enthusiasm and empathy to my work in the field of corporate wellness. While I am not perfect in my pursuit of well-being, I do realize that by embodying the principles that I advocate for, I am better equipped to authentically contribute to the well-being of others within the corporate wellness space. 

What change have you noticed over the last year with corporate wellness?

Over the past year, I've observed significant shifts in the corporate wellness landscape. As in previous years, employers are increasingly recognizing that well-designed wellness programs contribute not only to the health of their workforce but also to organizational success. Additionally, there is a growing emphasis on personalized and inclusive approaches to well-being, leveraging technology for remote engagement, and addressing mental health and social determinants of health as central components of wellness initiatives. There is also an increasing number of corporations demonstrating a growing interest in leveraging data to inform their wellness strategy and refine their approach to health communications.

Where do you see the industry headed?

The corporate wellness industry is inherently poised for continued evolution, with a greater focus on innovation and adaptability. I anticipate a greater integration of data-driven insights, artificial intelligence, and increased utilization of wearable technologies in an effort to customize wellness programs to meet individual needs more effectively. Companies will likely seek comprehensive well-being strategies that encompass not only physical health but also several other dimensions of wellness, including emotional and social well-being. It would be remiss of me to discuss employee wellness without acknowledging the integral role of employee benefits. In the industry, I anticipate more employers moving toward a seamless integration of benefits into their overarching employee wellness strategy. This strategic alignment between benefits and well-being fosters a more tailored approach that meets the diverse and evolving needs of their employees. Lastly, mental health support will continue to be prominent, perhaps with more employers moving away from traditional employee assistance programs towards more innovative EAPs.

What are the most important focus areas for you in corporate wellness for the upcoming year?

In the upcoming year, my key focus areas in corporate wellness include enhancing digital and virtual wellness offerings, fostering a culture of well-being through leadership education and engagement, and refining strategies to address the unique well-being challenges posed by remote and hybrid work environments. Additionally, I aim to continue prioritizing mental health in the workplace and incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion within the wellness strategy to ensure accessibility and relevance for all employees.

If you could give our readers one piece of advice regarding wellness programs, what would it be?

Wellness is not static. Therefore, your wellness strategy shouldn't be either. Wellness is dynamic and ever evolving, and wellness initiatives should be too. A wellness program strategy should be informed by data and best practices. This is a reliable way to meet the diverse needs of the population being served. Data should not only be used to implement a wellness program, but it should also be used to regularly assess the program's impact. As a result, the wellness program will be responsive to feedback and continue to adapt to the needs of the population being served. Lastly, at the core of a successful wellness program is alignment with the organizational culture, authentic engagement with employees, genuine leadership investment, and agility and adaptability to changing circumstances, to name a few.

Why did you go through the CCWS program?

My background includes clinical experience, public health research, and wellness program coordination within higher education. When I transitioned into the corporate wellness space during the pandemic, I wanted to deepen my knowledge and expertise within that field. My manager and I felt that completing the CCWS program was the logical resolution for that need. The program's curriculum was comprehensive, included real-world scenarios, and emphasized a focus on evidence-based practices. The recertification process enhances my skills and encourages me to stay abreast of the latest developments in the field year over year. Attaining the CCWS credential has bolstered my professional credibility and equipped me with valuable insights to make a meaningful impact in the corporate wellness field.

What was the most valuable takeaway of the CCWS program for you?

The most valuable takeaway from the CCWS program was gaining a better understanding of what constitutes an effective wellness strategy. The scenarios and case-studies in the training curriculum underscored a crucial point—there's no one-size-fits-all solution in wellness program design. While many professionals recognize this, practical constraints such as budget limitations or the challenge of being the only person managing a wellness program within a silo often hinder the implementation of more tailored approaches. What sets the CCWS certification apart is that it goes beyond being a mere credential; it serves as a gateway to a network of experts. This network becomes invaluable when seeking guidance on innovative solutions and best practices. The program's emphasis on practical, real-world applications, coupled with the extensive network I gained access to through my CCWS credential, empowered me to bridge the gap between the theoretical knowledge gained through many years of education and driving positive change in the workplace by implementing actionable wellness strategies.


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