As business leaders (and executive coaches) we often help co-workers with aspects of their personal / emotional wellbeing such as: thinking through professional and personal goals, managing relationships, managing transitions and so on. One area that lacks focused attention is Wellness! Wellness coaching at an individual and organizational level is becoming a strategic priority for many organizations and businesses in the US (U.S.Department of Health and Human Services, 2010; World Economic Forum, 2012).
At the simplest level we think of Wellness as the absence of disease. This is not true! This type of thinking has its roots in the early study of medicine rooted in pathogenesis (the scientific study of origins of disease). So, the prevailing, primary thinking in health management (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual) is ‘what is wrong?’ And, therefore, ‘how do we fix it?’ A Wellness approach focuses on creating positive health through conscious thinking and actions in physical, mental, emotional and spiritual areas. The aim is more than just eliminating problems; it is to create optimal health so that people achieve well-being and reach their best potential (Becker & McPeck, 2013).
Wellness does not mean that a person is perfectly healthy and happy – like the models on a glossy fitness magazine cover. It’s a way of life: making choices and developing awareness that move us towards optimal health and reaching our best potential.
Wellness – or rather a lack of it – has a direct bearing on performance and productivity at the workplace and in our personal lives. Research summarized by the World Economic Forum states that being absent from the job (absenteeism) or underperforming while working (presenteeism) is estimated to cause productivity losses worth US$ 389 billion due to cardiovascular disease and US$ 1.6 trillion due to mental health conditions (anxiety, stress, mild depression and so on). The performance and productivity of the current workforce is dramatically threatened by two factors: ageing and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease.
Shockingly, NCDs are already the leading global cause of death! NCDs contribute to productivity loss via presenteeism (underperforming on the job) and reduce capacity by causing absenteeism. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) and mental health disorders are the main drivers and account for almost 70% of lost output (World Economic Forum, 2012).
Given this alarming trend in our society and environment, wellness coaches employed by organizations can help minimize these losses by introducing wellness strategies that target NCDs by targeting the underlying behavioral risk factors such as: tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, lack of physical activity and an unhealthy diet. Furthermore, workplace wellness initiatives can be used to attract and retain talent. There is emerging data that shows an average ROI of US$ 3.27 for every dollar spent on wellness programs (World Economic Forum, 2012). In essence, investing in employee wellness programs makes sound business sense because these initiatives can decrease costs and improve productivity. As a leader make a start by focusing on your own wellness and setting an example!
To sum up, there exists an alarming danger to one’s life and health due to current lifestyle choices and coping mechanisms. And, there is an impact on productivity and profitability of business because of lack of wellness in the workforce. Business leaders need to take the first step by focusing on their own wellness and then encourage their co-workers to integrate wellness in their lives. It makes business sense!
More information on our website www.thewellnesstrust.com or happy to work with you as your leadership and wellness coach; email me at email@example.com
Becker, C., & McPeck, W. (2013). Creating positive health: It’s more than risk reduction. National Wellness Institute.
U.S.Department of Health and Human Services. (2010). Healthy People 2020 (Vol. B0132).
World Economic Forum. (2012). The Workplace Wellness Alliance Investing in a Sustainable Workforce. 2014. http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_HE_WorkplaceWellnessAlliance_IndustryAgenda_2012.pdf