In my last post, I shared my thoughts about why I think Wellness programs are becoming an increasingly important part of our work in HR. I’m relatively new to the field. It wasn’t until I joined my current organization that I become really familiar with this notion of wellness within the organization.
The Wellness Obstacle – The Leader’s Health
Aside from all of the corporate benefits of wellness programs done right, I have experienced some very personal and specific benefits. Since the corporate wellness function exists within HR at my organization, I am the executive champion for wellness by default. For me, that meant that I had better start acting the part. After all, who would want to hear about wellness from an overweight, out-of-shape HR guy–hardly a credible source on the subject (it’s like getting medical advice from an unhealthy doctor). Since taking on this role, I’ve started eating better, exercising more and generally being far more conscientious about my health because I feel that it’s a requirement of the job. I love this pressure because it’s a great motivator to stay in shape. However, I suspect that not everyone would feel the same way.
As I have thought about this circumstance and the personal changes implied by being associated with leading a wellness strategy, it occurred to me that this might be why wellness is such a challenging thing to get right or to get adopted. An unhealthy leader might consider that wellness is an intriguing program for their organization until they realize that the act of putting in a program like this might mean that they must personally change. I suspect that many a wellness program has died before even starting due to this factor. Generally, it’s been my experience that people won’t voluntarily put themselves into a position where they knowingly take on significant accountability for personal change. Instead, it’s just easier to argue that wellness programs haven’t been proven to work or that company’s have no business telling people how to manage their health. All surface arguments that are hiding a more complicated truth, many of us are insecure about our own health and our ability to manage it successfully.
So, if you are considering presenting a wellness initiative or strategy for your organization, take time to consider the implications on yourself and the other leaders within the organization. In order for your program to work, you (as the champion) and the key leaders in your organization must not only support the strategy but they must also walk the talk by modeling healthy lifestyles. Don’t overlook the very personal impact this has on each individual leader. By acknowledging this in the process, you are more likely to get a clear picture of the obstacles that must be overcome on your way to implementing a successful program.