Wellness Works!

Follow the Leader

In the quest for creating a culture of wellness in the workplace, it is imperative that senior level management take the lead.  From an early age, we are conditioned to follow the positive examples set by our parents, older siblings and teachers.  It is very difficult to get employees to “buy into” a wellness program if senior management isn’t also participating and showing improvement in their personal goals. 

 How can you expect employees to participate in a program that management doesn’t also participate in?  Just writing checks for screenings and incentives does not exhibit the type of commitment and example of leadership that employees expect. Management needs to be visible during the kick-off meetings.  Subsequent reminders and program updates should be sent from the emails of senior management.  If there are team challenges and competitions, there should at last one manager on each team. 

 The trend today is for employers to implement corporate wellness initiates as a means to create a culture of wellness.  Healthier employees are happier and more productive.  Absenteeism declines.  Customer service becomes a positive experience as stress levels become manageable. 

J. Barry Griswell, chairman and CEO of the Principle Financial Group, implemented a wellness program for his employees.  Mr. Griswell advocated and participated in the company wellness program.   In the first year, he personally lost 50 pounds, lowered his cholesterol from 204 to 182, his triglycerides went from 130 down to 61 and he lowered his LDL (bad cholesterol)and increased his HDL (good cholesterol). Mr. Griswell made exercise a daily routine and changed his eating habits. 

When asked his opinions about convincing CEOs that investing in a employee health and wellness program is the right thing to do, Mr. Griswell stated, “I think tenacity and persistence go a long way.  Take a chance.  Go out on a limb and be assertive, calling to the attention of senior management the need for a health promotion program.  Keep at it.  We know that the message of health and wellness resonates with people at different times in their lives, so the key is to be there when the time is right.  You never know when that time is going to be, so you have to be persistent.” 

Remember the old adage “do on to others as you would like them to do on to you”.  In this case, you can’t sponsor and advocate for a wellness program if you (Manager) are not doing it yourself!  “Follow the leader “really applies when striving for a healthier employee population.