Getting Serious About Workplace Wellness

Posted by Joel Bennett on

Evidence-based consultation

Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.” Albert Einstein


Is it possible that the current state of workplace wellness has stalled?  Employers have been sold health promotion as a singular program, an individual commodity, even a SmartPhone "app." But studies show that the most effective programs--the ones that have a good return-on-investment--are comprehensive, based in consultation and systematic customization. With over 20 years of providing such evidence-based consultation, our team is convinced that an "integral" approach is needed, one that integrates individual, team, and organizational strategies.

Vision is Needed. A colleague in wellness programming, Dean Witherspoon, recently blogged a call to wellness providers to be visionary, to shake things up, think outside the box, and do things in new ways to gain better engagement and participation. Dean suggests that the field has really had no new ideas for quite a long time and we need to be bold, think of things in a new way: "If the concept doesn’t make you pretty uncomfortable, it’s not bold enough and likely too safe to create any big impact."

All of Us. We really do have to ask ourselves why...even with wellness "best practices" known to work...why health problems continue to plague workers, businesses, and the economy. The failure is not in the practices, or how we implement them. Rather, it requires a willingness to see beyond the individual level of person health. No, it requires more than willingness, we must embrace the entire system within which the individual (all of us) lives and works--coworkers, the team, managers, the department, senior leaders... and the community... and the physical and social environment.

The Greater Good. This may sound like a huge task when all you are trying to do is increase INDIVIDUAL participation rates. Actually, it is a bit easier when the focus changes from the level of the individual to the level of the greater good. This new, bold, out-of-the box focus involves slowing down, developing presence, compassion, service, social entrepreneurship, resilience, virtue, and thriving WITH others in the face of challenge.

Go Integrated. An integrated or "integral" Organizational Wellness refers to the relationships between all these factors: the individual worker, his/her team, and his/her environment, and at all levels--including hourly staff, champions, managers, and senior leaders.

  • integral: belonging to the whole; essential, indispensible; a synthesis that cannot occur through any single practice or line of pursuit
  • organizational wellness: physical & behavioral health at multi-levels, each supporting the other: champions, teams, leadership, and the culture


We are convinced that this integral approach can work with all types of business, small and large. It is all about relationships, always speaking to the greater good with whomever you are speaking, and inviting them to be part of the innovation.

Positive Energy. A tremendous amount of positive energy and power is released when people really believe and feel that they "belong to the whole" and that they are an integral part of their working community. Instead of just focusing on "one single practice" (e.g., biometrics and coaching), the integral approaches call for doing any number of things because there is a deep realization that there is no "silver bullet" for the problems we face. Wellness and health is not delegated to a single champion or a line item. It is woven into everything because everyone you work with or for is at some level of health that impacts how they relate to you, to the wellness program, and to their work.



Relax. be visionary, to "shake things up," the radical step is to relax the need for any single formula (e.g., health appraisals > biometrics > coaching > wellness challenges). Be in relationship with others. Listen. Consult. Think creatively together. You WILL create an impact greater than anything you could have imagined alone.

Note. OWLS consulting brings a wealth of tools and practices that we have used for the past 20 years with clients from corporate, non-profit, governmental, and military agencies, reaching over 30,000 workers. This includes research, training, workshops, program design, and more. To learn more about our consulting capacity, check us out or give us a call.

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