Workplace Wellness Plans: Buyer Beware!

workplace wellness

I set my foot in the corporate world in 1997, holding my phone (the size of my shoe), wearing my large lapelled, purple dress-suit with so much pride, enthusiasm, and naivety.  Since those heady days, I have seen more corporate trends come and go than mobile phones.  Ok small exaggeration, but I feel you get me.

The new kid on the block is employee wellbeing.  I have embraced this baby so fully, I have done a PhD in it.

So – do I think there is anything in any of these management trends, given they have supported my career? Yes, no, and it depends…

  • No: some trends are a ‘load of old tennis shoes’ to quote my father.
  • Yes: I have seen some make a real difference.
  • It depends: a ‘bad’ trend well implemented is probably equal to a great one, poorly implement (aka rubbish).

So think carefully before you invest your time and money in a wellbeing initiative is the take-out of the article I am discussing today as part of our quick reads series.  So here it is ….

Money to Behave ‘well’, WT?

Some US corporations jumping on the wellbeing craze are hooking financial incentives to wellbeing initiatives.  They are giving actual $$$ incentives for the likes of cholesterol screening.   Does that sound like it will motivate you and increase your work performance?  It would seem not, this turns out to be just another stress, just another task to do.  Not to mention the resentment at having to do this.  Shades of George Orwell’s classic, 1984 isn’t it?

What do employees want then?

Easy – a culture that includes; trust, kindness, forgiveness, and respect.   Such a culture is apparently shown to lead to loyalty, engagement, productivity, performance, and creativity.

No brainer right? Maybe not as 75% of the US workforce are disengaged at work.

It’s all about the leaders

Leaders who are supportive, empathetic and inspiring have more engaged employees. On the other hand, a harsh boss is linked to heart problems in employees (ouch).

The author goes on to suggest: “checking in with employees about their families once in a while may help more than offering a mindfulness class at lunchtime”.

My thoughts on the matter

I found this brief and clear read – thought-provoking.  I am not sure I agree with throwing out your wellbeing baby with the bathwater and focusing only on your leaders.  If supporting your leaders to create a culture of kindness, and forgiveness was that simple – we would have fixed that in the 1990s.  We would have placed a few calls to leaders, rested our shoe phones on our large shoulder pads and told them; be kind and all that stuff eh mate?  Bam problem solved! We would have completely short-circuited the 2020 wellbeing craze.

I suggest a different approach*.  What about ensuring your wellbeing plan has yoga at lunch as well as a focus on the culture your leaders are creating.  Just maybe that is a culture where your leaders are also at the yoga classes.

Yours as ever,

The Wellbeing@WorkDr

Links references and all that Jazz

FYI: This is part of our quick reads series; helping you stay informed without hogging your precious time. This post covers an article on Harvard Business Review by Dr Emma Seppala.  You can find it here

*Maybe I am biased – or maybe my PhD is in wellbeing and Dr Seppala’s research is in compassion, altruism etc.  The truth is we are all biased, it’s how humans work (I’ll save that topic for another day).

Confession: this quick read was a lie – the original article is actually super short.  I just could not resist discussing it.  Forgive me? Friends? I’ll do better next time.

Photo Credit:

2 thoughts on “Workplace Wellness Plans: Buyer Beware!

  1. Totally agree. A small band of vocal employees want buddy systems, activities, events and rewards but it seems the vast majority just want to get on with their job in a culture as you describe and then go home. Thank you.

    1. Yes workingsbm, true … so important to consider what people really want before just offering ‘solutions’. Thanks for stopping by.

Leave a Reply