November 14, 2019

What’s the biggest misconception about wellness?

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I think the biggest misconception is that well-being programs don’t work.

And, where is this misconception often coming from?

Leadership.

 

The research proves that well-being programs DO work. Just this month another great study was released, this one from Deloitte looking at the significant ROI of mental well-being programs. Any leader would embrace these levels of ROI, yet one of the biggest barriers to implementing a wellbeing program was found to be leadership buy in. And if a wellbeing program is implemented, what is the biggest reason it doesn’t reach its ROI potential? You guessed it - leadership buy in.

So you enter into this vicious cycle where programs may not work as desired because leadership didn’t support the initiative. A sabotaged program can’t meet expectations, but then unfortunately, it is used to validate that well-being is a waste of time and money.

So what do you do? How do you break free of the cycle? Leaders ultimately want what is best for their company and employees, and this is your opportunity to educate your senior leaders and challenge their old ways of thinking.

One thing I learned recently was that it wasn’t very long ago that what we know of today as the “weekend” did not exist. In fact, it was Henry Ford who was the first leader of a mainstream company who announced the weekend as an employee benefit - and because of that he got an onslaught of potential employees knocking down his door to come work for him.

There were legitimately so many people outside the Ford plant the day this benefit was announced that a huge riot broke out, the police were called and some people were even badly injured. But it shows something really important - employees were literally willing to risk life and limb to work for a company that thought big and offered competitive, human centric benefits.

It still took 50 years after Henry Ford's announcement for the two day weekend to be a benefit offered by all employers. But old Henry got a massive head start on that talent war - and I’d argue that taking big risks to provide programs and benefits that promote work life balance as well as health and happiness are one of the reasons that Ford is going to celebrate their 120th anniversary soon - and that’s a pretty awesome ROI story.

So, long story short, if your leaders are skeptical about investing in a wellbeing program, let them know that well-being is just the new weekend. They can get a head start (like Mister Ford) or they can fall decades behind until they are eventually required to offer this benefit anyway because the demand from employees is not going to change any time soon. In an age where unemployment is at record lows and employees have so many job opportunities that they’re literally ghosting you on their first day of work because they got a better offer elsewhere, you want those people to be knocking at your door, not your competitors’.

 

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