“Proponents of wellness – the adoption of healthier diets, increased exercise and better adherence to treatment regimens for chronic diseases – say the concept holds the power to both improve the daily lives of Americans and stanch skyrocketing health care costs.” Haydn Bush, An Ounce of Prevention, H&HN, Hospitals And Health Network Report, The American Hospital Association, June 12, 2008
There you have it. The American Hospital Association (AHA) has described wellness as it is widely understood by the medical and business sectors, as well as the general public. At worksites across the nation, particularly in organizations with more than 50 employees, wellness programs are provided in attempts to stem the rising costs of medical care. But, though the term wellness is used, these programs are NOT wellness or life enrichment programs – they are risk reduction efforts, disease management exercises and a miscellany of activities designed to encourage healthier choices – to control medical costs.
All this is well and good – but given the nature of problems and challenges in society and throughout the world (e.g., global warming, economic crises, terrorism), perhaps it’s time for employers to offer something much more than wellness as medical risk reduction. How about another form of wellness or life enhancement education targeted to boosting quality of life for employees and their families – and even (dare I say it?) facilitating the evolution of better human beings?
Lately, I have been describing REAL wellness (henceforth, RW). RW is not primarily about medical issues or even health; it’s about well-being – optimal functioning for its own sake, because it makes life better, not because it lowers medical costs, reduces illness or extends longevity. (Though these could be attractive side effects.)
Of course, to justify RW as a corporate expense, it should prove beneficial for company profitability, provide an attractive return-on-investment and be constructive in other ways (e.g., boost morale, aid inter-departmental harmony and maybe enhance retention rates for top employees.)
A RW worksite initiative would offer education to all employees in topics such as ethics in business, the nature of happiness, the search for added meaning and purpose, common decencies, freedom and responsibility, the dynamics of human relationships, our role in caring for nature and the environment, keys to effective decision-making, an appreciation of science and similar topics outside the boundaries of medicine and personal health. Rather than offer answers or give advance positions on these topics that everyone should adopt, the emphasis would be on understanding the elements and principles of these topics that warrant understanding and integration into personal values.
Worksite wellness with this kind of RW agenda should be separate from existing worksite wellness. Today’s corporate wellness activities are and should remain under the leadership of health and medical officials, targeted as they are to the kinds of cost-saving objectives identified in the above AHA statement. RW must be about quality of life, not sickness avoidance, medical treatment or other matters linked to mitigation of the dramatic increases in health care costs (e.g., problems of obesity, lack of exercise, poor diet, etc.).
Wellness was always intended to represent the great states that follow beyond the prevention of bad states (i.e., illness and disease). Wellness was more than prevention when described by Drs. Dunn, Travis, Hettler, Allen and others in books, lectures, conferences and elsewhere. To be clear about this – there is nothing undesirable about helping employees NOT to get sick. Wellness promoters also favor improving the daily lives of Americans and stanching skyrocketing health care costs. But the risk reduction focus is qualitatively different from the life enhancement orientation. Promoting and otherwise addressing the former is entirely different, though complementary, to celebrating and pursuing the latter.
After a dozen or so essays on the nature of REAL wellness, some readers want to know: How can this come to pass? What should a company’s leaders do when there is some appreciation of the difference in RW and the normal kind? How can companies introduce RW?
Here are a few suggestions:
* Conduct forums and other discussions exploring the nature of RW for quality of life advances. Seek employee ideas about the best approaches to RW.
* Identify why current wellness programs are not intended or designed for RW promotion and will be continued separate and apart from the new RW initiatives.
* Establish a RW department. Rename the wellness program to reflect its medical nature.
* Develop a company statement describing the organization’s commitment to quality of life advances for all interested employees.
* Identify and describe the selected life areas that will be topics of continuing education as part of RW company initiatives. Include in this list such RW issues as ethics in business, the nature of happiness, the search for added meaning and purpose, common decencies, freedom and responsibility, the dynamics of human relationships, our role in caring for nature and the environment, keys to effective decision-making and an appreciation of science.
* Describe varied ways to engage employees in learning about and responding to RW educational opportunities.
* Choose one RW topic to develop in advance of going public with the RW program. This selection must be influenced by unique qualities of a given company and its leadership, area resources, the conditions in the community and so on, but an attractive topical candidate might be global warming/environmental sensitivity and global engagement, by whatever name such matters can best be addressed.
The reason for the latter suggestion is that our planet is known to be getting warmer, most likely because of human actions. There is tremendous information as well as varied resources readily available for addressing this RW issue. A RW context for discussions about global warming will quickly elevate corporate wellness beyond individual medical and health concerns.
Justly or not, one criticism of wellness is that it seems self-indulgent, focused on personal benefits. The embrace of environmental consciousness integral to other passions for life enhancement would eliminate this dubious complaint. In addition to personal well-being and higher life quality, wellness seekers would embrace a range of global priorities. These might include personal actions and even sacrifices that avoid exacerbating climate change problems by reductions of carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases, the embrace of new energy technologies and a wide range of behaviors that curb energy use.
There are dozens, even hundreds of steps that can and must be identified to move to RW, but this listing of a few might help initiate a process that is greatly needed and much overdue.
RW – it’s about quality of life.
Publisher of the ARDELL WELLNESS REPORT – an electronic newsletter devoted to weekly commentaries on current issues that affect personal and social well being from a quality of life perspective. The emphasis is on REAL wellness. REAL stands for the key issues embraced and advanced in Don’s philosophy, namely, Reason, Exuberance, Athleticism and Liberty. Sample copy of latest edition by request. If you like it, you can sign up – the price is right – free. email@example.com
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Donald_Ardell