Healthiest Employees Champion A Wellness Culture

Benefits Canada posted an interesting article about the Benefits Canada 2012 Benefits & Pension Summit, where Dee Edington, director of the University of Micigan Health Management Research Center, gave a keynote address with a surprising message: workplace safety and quality initiatives that focus on behavioural changes for high risk groups don’t work… what?
His point is that these types of approaches should be lower on the list of priorities.  Instead, the focus should highlight the healthy employees.
From the Article:

“Rather than concentrating resources on people in poor health, he said corporations should focus on their healthiest employees and reward them accordingly. In other words, “help the workplace stay healthy, rather than waiting for defects and then treating [them].”

According to Edington, about 60% of employees are at low risk of major diseases. “What do corporations do for these low-risk people?” he asked. “In most cases, it’s zero. But these people are your champions. Typically, champions are rewarded in business. Why not reward them for health and wellness? These energetic people can lead a change in corporate culture.””

The article also has a couple of examples of companies who have implemented such initiatives to great success.  The Economical Insurance Group’s program aimed to “build awareness of individual health; enhance employee engagement; reward employees for a broader range of wellness behaviours; enhance organizational health; develop a wellness program designed to evolve over time; and reduce group benefits costs and absenteeism within three to five years.” This included individual screening sessions where “employees got to see how close or how far they were from ideal ranges. In some cases, the feedback was life-changing.” And “the aggregate data gave us a snapshot of our organization’s health and made it possible to set goals.” They are seeing the impact of the cast savings after only 3 years after launch.
This type of thinking is what we see over and over again when we do our programs at Well Street. Many of the participants in our group programs and seminars are those who are already interested in living in a healthy and holistic way. They are passionate about sharing their wellness attitudes with those around them, including their families, friends and co-workers.  When we run subsequent programs or seminars at these companies, these wellness champions are often the strongest promoters to their less-well colleagues.  Focusing on healthy wellness champions is a fantastic way to build a strong wellness culture.
Read the article from Benefits Canada here