Not too long ago, a Harvard Medical School study came out that suggests worksite wellness is not effective. Subsequently, an online debate ensued on social media sites (think LinkedIn articles) with folks on both sides that supported or argued against the findings. If you have an interest in worksite wellness you no doubt came across all of this and wondered what the heck is going on. So, what is up with worksite wellness?
I believe both sides of the argument. The JAMA article findings show that behavioral changes can be a short-term outcome from a wellness program but that they don’t always translate to, and are not directly correlated to, the sought-after return on investment (ROI) that would be evident in lowered medical plan spending. I am more interested in seeing the long-term outcomes from Dr. Song and Dr. Baicker when and if they continue their research with their employee sample group.
I think what’s being missed in this study is the value brought to your workforce by strategizing, educating and creating an actionable opportunity for wellness in the workplace. A good wellness consultant can assist you with the strategy and there are many programs and providers out there that can assist you with the education.
Actionable opportunity refers to the culture and work environment established for your employees and staff. Intertwining your company’s mission and vision statement with that of your wellness program is the right way to build a foundation for your worksite that allows people to be supported in healthy lifestyle decisions. The expression “practice what you preach” is fitting here.
I hold strong to my conviction that worksite wellness is not just about screening your employees and cost-shifting your medical plan’s premiums. This is a chance to invest in attracting and retaining employees and watch your organizational culture become one of health and wellbeing.