Long Live The Employee!

OldManHave any 100-year-old employees on your payroll? Most likely, you don’t. Yet, what if your employees engaged in healthy lifestyles which enabled them to live 30, 40 or 50 years beyond retirement? I’m not advocating employing 95 year-olds. However, my hunch is if you have employees who will eventually reach the age of 100 then their current physical fitness is contributing to their productivity on the job.

Dan Buettner is the author of The Blue Zones, a New York Times Bestseller. The Blue Zones is a book providing “lessons for living longer from the people who’ve lived the longest.” Buettner does not target employers, but the principles shared certainly have implications for employee wellness.

The research is conducted among four groups of people who have a significantly higher percentage of inhabitants living to be centenarians, (100 years of age or older). The four Blue Zone communities are found in the Barbagia region of Sardinia in Italy, Okinawa in Japan, Loma Linda, California in the United States, and on the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica.

Studies have shown only about 25% of how long we live is dictated by genes—the other 75% is determined by lifestyle and choices. Buettner and his team paid close attention to the lifestyle similarities of these four Blue Zones and developed nine lessons to work into our lives if we desire to live longer…and more productive. What may be surprising to some, however, is many of the lifestyle choices are more “mental or spiritual” than “physical.” This supports a growing understanding of holistic wellness: Wellness programs focusing solely on nutrition and exercise lack essential elements of effective health promotion. Read more of this post

Who Qualifies to Be Your Corporate Wellness Champion?

ChampionThere is a significant misconception in many organizations who aim to birth an employee wellness strategy. This misconception revolves around the question of who qualifies to be the Wellness Champion for the organization. The prevailing opinion will often be that the only people worthy of leading the wellness strategies are either nutritionists, dietitians, nurses or fitness gurus. While having an understanding of nutrition and fitness certainly is helpful to whoever is leading the wellness program, it is not the primary qualification. I likened it to the latter section of a job description where the recruiter will list qualifications that are “a plus” but not necessary.

Effective Wellness Champions are first business oriented. They are equipped with a well-rounded set of business acumen skills. Holly Firestine, Manager for Wellness and Worklife at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, affirms this. She comments, “A business approach to wellness, where there is a true strategic approach to programming and measurement that aligns with corporate strategy, is critical to the success of anyone seeking to lead Wellness in the workplace.” She continues by adding, “The Wellness Leader must have the ability to sustain the culture through stakeholder engagement throughout all leadership and staff levels in order to establish credibility and authenticity with all employees.”

Your athletic trainer may be effective in a Zumba class, but can she effectively lead in helping the organization meet its strategic initiatives? Employers are wise to look outside the circles of Athletic Trainers, Iron Men and Nutritionists when seeking to fill the position commonly referred to as the company Wellness Coordinator. Read more of this post