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Are Corporate Wellness Programs Helpful?

Are Corporate Wellness Programs Helpful?

Wellness as a subject enjoyed considerable discussion and debate in the 1990’s but the subject seems to have slipped to the edges in recent years. Is this because wellness programs have been implemented in as many quarters as were deemed to be necessary and are working as well as can be expected, or is that they have not fulfilled expectations and are slowly receding from corporate life?

Although it is difficult to be pejorative about the above question, as different organizations will have taken individual approaches, in general, even though some workplaces are still clearly run in high pressure/high stress kinds of ways, we can say that employee wellness and work-life balance issues are higher on the agenda today than they used to be with organizations being much more aware that a happy and well employee is likely to be a better performing and more productive one. For example, in some relatively new but well-known technology companies in particular, such as Apple, Google, Yahoo etc., employee well-being is taken extremely seriously with a number of creative approaches to getting the most out of employees (including not only access to good preventative and as-needed healthcare, but with lots of options relating to relaxation, reducing workplace pressure and even play).

So, what approach are these employee wellness-centric organizations commonly doing in terms of approach in order to be successful? It seems as if we can derive four key quadrants or clusters that seem to be most critical to wellness success. These are that high performing organizations, and the managers/leaders at all levels they employ:

  • Think in a ‘balanced’ confidence way, act in a mature and grounded manner, in reasonable control of any fears, frustrations and failings; respond to and manage pressure; deal fairly and assertively with people; hold views / opinions / beliefs / values which can be articulated and communicated to colleagues; are mentally agile and able to think ‘out-of-the-box’ and in positive terms; maintain and sustain good physical health at all levels.
  • Avoid being aggressive, out of control, and/or causing harm to individuals or groups; recognize when to say ‘no’, when to admit errors or failings; manage difficult people appropriately and deal with conflict constructively; encourage emotional adaptability within their team; communicate well and ‘connect’ consistently with others to achieve results.
  • Understand and value their own and other’s unique personal behavior, performance ability and goals at work; value other people’s needs and preferences within the context of work-life; empower themselves and others to have an aligned and healthy meaning and ‘purpose’ to work and life.
  • Encourage ‘performance’ to peak capacity, while evaluating when personal competency levels are challenged beyond capability; are keen to learn consistently and continuously; are creative and innovative in their approach to work; are resilient and resourceful under time pressures and heavy workloads.

These wellness “best-practices” or clusters can be plotted on a circular wheel or circumplex graph as shown below.  This gives cluster headings to each of the above four practices (Balance, Connection, Purpose and Performance and then creates three individual sub-categories under each of these clusters. 

Balance, Connection, Purpose and Performance

By plotting these best-practice wellness approaches on a graph like this, we can start to think about how well any organization might be performing in each of these clusters or their sub-categories. In this way, corporate wellness as a key issued can be measured and steps taken to make changes where necessary.

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About Dr. Jon Warner

Dr. Jon Warner is a prolific author, management consultant and executive coach with over 25 years experience. He has an MBA and a PhD in Organizational Psychology. Jon can be reached at OptimalJon@gmail.com

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About the Editor and Primary Author

Jon Warner

Jon Warner is an executive coach and management consultant and in the past has been a CEO in three very different companies. Read more

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