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Corporate Wellness Programs…Do They Really Work?

sphygmomanometer free imageImagine if your employer asked you what your cholesterol level is, your BP (blood pressure), how often you exercise, what your reproductive plans are, if you’re happy at home…oh wait, they do!

Corporate Wellness programs often include questionnaires with very personal questions that seemingly have nothing to do with your work life. Employers want to reduce health care costs and, with good intentions to improve employee health, they engage corporate wellness firms to put wellness programs in place. Do these wellness programs improve well-being?

Some say yes:

Open Letter… Dear CEOs,

Corporate Meditation Rooms

Dear CEOs,

If it’s true that actively disengaged workers are costing the US $550 billion (Gallup) in economic activity annually and stress is costing American businesses $300 billion per year (World Health Organization), doesn’t it follow that even if we make slight improvements in employees’ lives, the net savings or contributions to economic activity could be in the hundreds of millions, if not in the billions?

How do we do this? There’s no pill…no single solution; however, small steps add up to big changes. One small step is tweaking how we view our employees. Whole beings who have whole lives walk through the office doors each morning with whole stuff going on…stuff from home, stuff from yesterday at work…emotional stuff, mental stuff, physical stuff, spiritual stuff, social stuff (some add environmental). How can you, as a CEO, address each of these facets of health in each of your employees?

You cannot. What can you do?

Creating Third Spaces within the Workplace

Woman on phone lying on couch w booksWhat are Third Spaces? And how do they affect you?

The first space is home. The second space is work. All other spaces in between that build community are often called Third Spaces.

In The Great Good Place, urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg discussed the power of third places, “informal public gathering places  [like]…cafes, coffee shops, bookstores and bars.”  According to Oldenburg, “social well-being and psychological health depend upon community.”

We spend most of our waking hours at work, so it follows that we incorporate these Third Spaces into the work setting to encourage social and psychological health.