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Wellness is “out!” Human Performance is “in!” by Suzanne Elshult/Your Executive Coach with HRNow

Today my group of HR executives revisited “wellness” in a fascinating discussion which started out by declaring “wellness” a tired and antiquated concept. Somebody said “it feels like a checkbox.” In keeping with our commitment to challenge conventional thinking and ride the crest of the wave of what is new and exciting in our meetings, we proceeded to discuss how we can broaden the value proposition to “human performance” and look at the whole person as a way to move the needle and infuse new energy and achieve results.

Our discussion catalyst, Matt Duncan (who is the VP of Marketing with Aduro and a member of my Marketing Executive Peer Group) suggested that this – think the WHOLE PERSON –  has perhaps been the missing component in health discussions in the past several decades, which is ironic if you think about it: after all we spend 8 hours or more at work every day. How often do you hear friends and colleagues tell you they are drained at the end of the day? What if you could leave work with the same energy as you brought in when you arrived to the office – or more? What if work energized you and allowed you to be more present and mindful with your family in the evenings. Forget “happy hour!” What about “happy 8 hours.” Sound utopic? Well, the reality is that discussions are trending in this direction – think Levi Strauss. The healthcare industry is all over this broader well-being concept right now – a dimension of healthcare they have historically neglected and been bad at. Here are some of the key strategies I am taking away from this session:

  1. Extend the value proposition from “wellness to “human performance” and helping individuals and organizations realize their potential with four interconnected elements: a) Health and fitness, b) Growth and development, c) Money and prosperity, and d) Contribution and sustainability.
  2. Coercion does not work. How can well-being and health offerings tie in to the individual employee’s “why” – failure to do so likely will result in poor sustainability and a lack of commitment. Focus on intrinsic motivation, engage in new ways, and be creative in how success is evaluated.
  3. Engage through choice and opportunity. Use a multi-channel approach to connect with employees. Ideas mentioned including having a concierge to help employees navigate offerings, more and better use of digital platforms, gamification, group webinars, live virtual and face-to-face coaching and more.
  4. Approach your workforce as you are approaching your customers/consumers. In other words, use a marketing approach, leverage data, do well—being surveys, pulse surveys and segmentation studies. Target your offerings to what individuals and groups of individuals want and need – strive to create a personal experience for each employee. For example, the athletes in your organization that regularly run marathons are likely having drastically different needs than your baseline employees. Think Amazon and how they are targeting consumers. Get rid of the cookie cutter approach.
  5. Target both external and internal offerings. It was suggested that admin. staff often has a keener interest in internal offerings, while management  tends to lean more towards external offerings.
  6. No one management model will work for all. Successful models have a mix of dedicated staff, executive sponsorship and distributed ownership. Each organization has to come up with the mix that works for them, their business model and culture.

What’s big right now?

  • Sleep
  • Presenteeism
  • Being present and mindful
  • “Happy 8 hours”
  • Your personal why – this is where the magic happens
  • Pulsating
  • Happiness score


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