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Health Economist Blasts Wellness Programs

Chelsea Rice, for HealthLeaders Media, July 15, 2013

You can subsidize healthier food in cafeteria. Build fitness centers. Make it easier to ride a bike to work, have a walking path. Essentially, allowing people to pursue their own interests is a very valuable way to do a wellness program. Instead of penalizing employees if they don't do things, replace that philosophy with 'If you build them they will come.'

HLM: So making it easier to exercise and eat healthfully at work is enough? What about those workers who are so stressed they still don't think they have time to participate?

Lewis: You still have to push the concept of wellbeing. It's like wellness, but it's also looking at the quality of management to make sure it's trickling down that the company cares. Telling somebody they're sick won't reduce [their] stress. A company should want employees to think that the employer cares about them. You have to expand it to things that involve more than just building the physical environment.  

People don't quit companies, they quit managers. Want to change wellbeing at the workplace, look to see if people are regularly quitting underneath certain people, and then change the manager. Wellbeing requires fundamental changes to the workplace structure.


Chelsea Rice is an associate editor for HealthLeaders Media.
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6 comments on "Health Economist Blasts Wellness Programs"


Bryan Noar (7/17/2013 at 8:12 PM)
This was just published today ... based on the numbers, perhaps it should be considered for workplace wellness programs: http://markets.cbsnews.com/cbsnews/news/read/24655964/Workplace_Wellness_Cost_Analysis

Al Lewis (7/16/2013 at 7:35 PM)
Thank you for the thoughtful comments. Mr. Broner, perhaps it won't surprise you to know that many hospitals serve junk in their cafeterias AND have wellness programs. The goal of the hospital is for employees to eat on-site rather than spend time going elsewhere, so they serve what people like to eat.

Steve Lippert (7/16/2013 at 2:52 PM)
Author paints with such a broad brush. After telling us what a waste most wellness programs are, he then suggest building trails, workout facilities etc. Now who benefits from that? Of course, all the motivated healthy people that probably aren't your problem anyway. Bottom line to me is that if people choose to live unhealthy, no amount of coaxing may change that. But at least they can PAY more for their unhealthy behavior. Our author doesn't seem to consider/understand that.