There is a movement happening in the wellness industry and it is one rife with controversy. Those in the industry are beginning to using the term “wellbeing” in lieu of wellness. Wellness and wellbeing really represent the same dynamics of a person’s health, but the term “wellness” has been diluted. Google the term and you will get everything from supplements to dog food. As a result, there has been a conscious effort to refer to wellbeing efforts instead of wellness.
That’s not the controversy. The debate centers on traditional wellness programs:
- how they have been delivered,
- their effectiveness (or lack thereof),
- their promises to lower health care costs, and
- the use of incentives to try to influence or change behavior
For purposes of this blog, I am defining “traditional wellness” as the programs most employers have implemented: a health risk appraisal questionnaire, on-site screening, maybe some health coaching, and health education.
I have grown up in the wellness industry. I live it as best I can personally, but certainly not perfectly. I believe that being healthy, not just physically, is critical. I wrote in a previous post that Gibson’s mission to Protect What Matters Most starts with a person’s individual wellbeing. My own thinking regarding the current way we are doing things in the wellness industry began to evolve during my Intrinsic Coach training a couple of years ago. As a result of that, I started doing some homework by reading the work of the naysayers, as well as the literature on motivation, intrinsic and extrinsic rewards, and organizational health. I’m convinced now more than ever that if we truly want to help individuals and organizations be healthier, we have to think differently.
Now, before you start to think you or your organization have done everything wrong, know that there has been a lot of good born out of these efforts. Employee lives have been saved from early detection as a result of screenings, some have been successful in maintaining and improving health, and many workplaces have become more supportive of health and healthy lifestyles. Like many industries that have been around for awhile, the wellness industry is evolving.
Over the next several months, I will be addressing the most recent research on workplace wellness, how traditional wellness programs can and should evolve, and the role of incentives.
The status quo is being challenged. That’s a good thing! If we can learn from the things that haven’t produced the results that were expected, we can chart a new course. Easier said than done, I know. Change is difficult, but as it relates to traditional wellness, it’s very necessary.