Posted By NWI,
Tuesday, July 9, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, July 9, 2019
Great research by Deloitte showing how diversity and inclusion are making strides but still have a long way to go. One of the issues the NWI has uncovered is that most inclusion and diversity trainings fall short of strategies to incorporate the training into work culture. For this is why NWI developed the multicultural competency wheel.
Posted By Chuck Gillespie,
Monday, July 8, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, July 3, 2019
Burnout has been classified as an occupational phenomenon by the World Health Organization (WHO). Just to be clear, occupation is defined as a job or profession. For some, that profession might be unpaid like caregiver or stay-at-home parent.
Burnout occurs when physical strength, emotional strength, and/or motivation has reached a level of complete exhaustion, usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration. The issue of burnout goes beyond a treatment and diagnosis discussion. Certainly, understanding burnout is important and providing help is essential, but what strategies can be deployed to create a thriving environment at work or at home to reduce chances of burnout? What are employers, family members, friends, or you doing to determine how burnout occurs? Is it environmental or is it the culture of their workplace? Is it homelife? Maybe it is self-inflicted. Research shows a high percentage of people are disengaged at work and at home. Gallup’s Global Emotions Report indicates a high number of angry and unhappy people. These are statistics that should trigger action; but what are those actions?
Plenty of people will be happy to sell you a one-size-fits-all reactive program that promises high investment returns and allows the employer to check the box that they are doing something. A simple-to-implement-and-administer program might help individuals with burnout, but it will not solve the inherent problem. You are helping those people who have already burned-out—not resolving the reason it is occurring. Action like this is like fixing an oil leak in your car by adding more oil. It is easy to do, and you can say you are reacting to the problem. It is better than ignoring the problem altogether, but the problem still exists.
Enter your wellness strategy. How is burnout resolved? Ignoring it not the answer but is usually the course of action for many. It begins with looking at your environment and what can be done to make changes in the short-term and long-term. Are there opportunities to delegate workloads or allocate new methods that are more efficient? Are there ways to simplify the work? What training and education is available? These are all questions each individual, each employer, and each community must really analyze before taking action. But how do we go from burnout to thriving?
Consider attending the 44th Annual National Wellness Conference (NWC), October 1-3, 2019, in Kissimmee, Fla., where more than 90 presenters will share keys to thriving in all Six Dimensions of Wellness. For even more ways to prevent burnout, come early and attend one of the National Wellness Institute’s Certificate courses focused on Resilience, Elements of Thriving, Worksite Wellness, or Financial Wellness. Through your participation in NWC 2019, you will discover simple ways to make changes to daily routines, and gain valuable tools and connections, so that burnout does not become an occupational hazard for you and the populations you serve.
Transamerica Center for Health Studies® (TCHS) – a division of the Transamerica Institute® – is focused on empowering consumers and employers to achieve the best value and protection from their health coverage. TCHS engages with the American public through national surveys, its website, research findings and consumer guidance.
Grocery Store Bills Can Determine Diabetes Rates by Neighborhood
Dietary habits are notoriously difficult to monitor. Now data scientists have analyzed sales figures from London’s biggest grocer to link eating patterns with local rates of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar. Read more at MIT Technology Review
Employee wellness programmes have multiple benefits, both for employers and their employees, if it is well designed and effectively managed. In fact, there is no question that the health and wellness of employees is a critical component of a thriving workplace, but the key is in evaluating what the actual business benefits of employee wellness programmes are.
Prior to investing in employee health promotion, employers are encouraged to consider how their efforts will be measured, monitored, and evaluated. More importantly, they need to define the financial and non-financial objectives, target specific health risk conditions, and set employee wellness programme objectives that align with the organisation’s human capital management strategy.
Rather than holding employee wellness programmes up as an employer of choice initiative, organisations should reposition them as human capital development strategies. Poorly designed initiatives usually focus on “flavour-of-the-month activities” that rightfully create awareness and educate employees, but it fail to address specific organisational risks, or to capitalise on any organisation development opportunities. As a result senior executives become sceptical about the actual value of employee wellness programmes. They want to analyse the cost and calculate the return on investment (ROI) and the net present value (NPV) of employee wellness programmes. For them, it is important to quantify the effectiveness of disease, pre-disease, health, and wellness management in relation to the medical and economic cost that include aspects such as productivity, turnover, replacements, absenteeism, and presenteeism cost. Basically, senior executives want to follow an outcome-based approach that address specific regions, population groups, health risk conditions, and job functions in order to measure the impact of the interventions and their effectiveness on various diseases or health risk conditions. In fairness, they are looking for the evidence—as well as the link—between financial investment and improved work performance.
Before implementing an employee wellness programme, and from a strategic human capital management perspective, organisations should first endeavour to develop a proper business case for employee wellness. In developing the business case, successful employee wellness programmes set out to determine what the burden of disease for their workforce is. With health risk assessments that are usually conducted at the annual wellness-day, employers aim to determine what the health risk prevalence and incidence of the organisation's workforce are. The intention is to determine the health status of employees, but much more can be gained from these assessments.
Health risk assessments typically measure and report lifestyle indicators such as physical activity, nutrition and diet, body fat, sleep patterns, and clinical preventative biometric measures that include, for example, blood sugar and cholesterol levels. This management information is then used to help the organisation determine the collective or organisational health risk. However, the organisation's ability to predict future disease risks, and of course, to calculate the ROI and NPV for specific wellness and disease management interventions are still lacking. More advanced organisations accurately access the immediate and the future health risks of employees, as well as measure and manage the probability and severity of these adverse effects. With the use of innovative health risk assessments and predictive analytics, they translate large quantities of wellness and disease management information into business intelligence and actionable insights. By understanding the financial and non-financial (business) risks, and the potential rewards related to employee wellness, organisations are able to manage it more effectively as a business imperative.
Both the health risk conditions and the costs associated with the health risks of employees are important sets of management information. To determine the wellness programme objectives, organisations first need to identify the health risks of employees and similarly, determine the high, medium, and low risk population groups. Secondly, they need to forecast what the medical and economic costs for each risk group could be. When employee health risks are accurately assessed and monetised, appropriate wellness and disease management interventions target specific organisational outcomes.
When employers take more control over health risk assessment data and the recording and reporting of their employee wellness and disease management information, they are better positioned to determine the impact of their management interventions. The more sophisticated the wellness and disease management information is, the more advanced the predictions are that the organisation will be able to make about the future onset of pre-disease and disease, as well as the various pathogenic stages of diseases, aiming to deliver cost effective, targeted, and appropriate interventions. The real value of the appropriate use of wellness and disease management information lies in the fact that the organisation can better manage and control disease morbidity and its associated costs. Furthermore, by understanding the different stages of disease development, organisations are able to effectively manage the impact of the identified occupational and non-occupational diseases. Management intervention, and more specifically the employee wellness programme, should then be utilised to tolerate, terminate, transfer, or treat employee health risks towards an acceptable level.
In these instances, the intention is to focus on employee health and organisational risk mitigation strategies that prevent and treat health risks, pre-disease, and disease, as well as promote employee health and wellness. These organisations adopt a combination of curative (disease management), preventative, and health promotion (wellness management) interventions. In addition, well-executed programmes use wellness and disease management software to help with data gathering, predictive analytics, document control, and to manage absences and claims effectively.
By enabling employees to feel good and to function well at work, best-practice employee wellness programmes add significant value to the performance, quality of life, and longevity of employees. In this regard, we should consider the difference between the consumption of health care services and an investment in employee wellness or health promotion. For example, when a temporary health condition such as a neck pain is treated and resolved at the onsite clinic, this treatment does not contribute to the employee’s longevity. But when employees change their lifestyle or manage their health risk appropriately, and their life expectancy increases as a result, and the benefits of the employee wellness programme produce compounding effects from one term to the next. Furthermore, when employee wellness programmes incorporate wellness coaching that focuses on the development of employee engagement, resilience, self-efficacy, agility, hope, and optimism, it also supports the development of the emotional and social wellness of employees. For this reason, organisations should follow a dual process by managing the health risks and the wellness of employees. This means that a true investment in employee wellness will always mitigate health risks and prevent disease but, more importantly, also promote the overall health, longevity, and wellness of employees.
By embracing a holistic, integrated wellness and disease management approach, enlightened organisations broaden their views on human capital management and the extent to which it supports, creates, and promotes business value over time. When the health of employees is compromised, either by the employer's misconduct or by the employee's own doing, it is to be expected that the organisation's risks will also increase, promoting the probability of actual harm or loss to the organisation. These organisational risks can be accurately measured in the organisational performance and the medical and economic costs of the organisation. In contrast, when the health and wellness of employees is valued and promoted through appropriate management interventions, it appreciates in value. With a robust employee wellness and disease management programme in place, organisations can commit to help those employees who are sick better manage their health, prevent those who are at-risk from developing costly chronic conditions, and support the healthy to be well.
Dr Dicky Els is an Employee Wellness Consultant who specialises predominantly in wellness and disease management strategy development, programme design, and the evaluation of outcome-based health promotion programmes.
Posted By Wellsource,
Friday, June 21, 2019
Updated: Monday, June 17, 2019
This is the fourth post in a six-part series focusing on the Six Dimensions of Wellness: emotional, occupational, physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual. Each post features a different dimension of wellness. This post will discuss social wellness and the importance of building meaningful connections with others.
Some people have close friendships that span a lifetime. Those trusting, comfortable, and positive relationships add quality to a person's life. For Bob Green, a bloody nose during a kindergarten reading circle led to a 50-year friendship that ended prematurely with his friend’s untimely death. Reflecting on the decades that spanned both good times and bad, Green wrote, “There are a handful of people, during your lifetime, who know you well enough to understand when the right thing to say is to say nothing at all. Those people—and there will be, at most, only a few of them—will be with you during your very worst times.”
Some people meet someone for the first time and feel an immediate bond. Patricia Coler-Dark met her good friend Mary Lou in a most unusual place—a cemetery. Years later, she shared their story with Reader’s Digest. “I met Mary Lou 14 years ago, while tending the grave of my 34-year-old son Kevin just weeks after he passed,” Coler-Dark recalled. “Mary Lou was visiting her son Gary. She smiled, and soon we were sharing our stories—not only about our sons but about life in general. On my next visit with Kevin, I saw a piece of paper sticking out from under a rock—an inspirational note from Mary Lou. I wrote her back and put my note under the same rock. A week later, I returned to find another note from Mary Lou. We went back and forth like this for years. Today, we still see each other, but usually over a hot fudge sundae. We talk and laugh and rarely feel the need to discuss our deep pain. That’s why we are friends for life.”
We need food and water to survive. And we need people we can count on and who will help us feel like we belong. Think about the movie, Castaway. A guy is stuck on an island. Alone. And he gets lonely. Very lonely. He wants to be around other people, but no one is around. So he names a volleyball "Wilson" and treats it like a person. Why? He needs contact with others. It's tough to be fully cut off from other people. That’s why social wellness—the ability to interact with people around you, use good communication skills, have meaningful relationships, respect yourself and others, and create an effective support system—is so important. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs lists social needs immediately after physiological and safety needs with good reason.
The science of loneliness
Psychiatrist Frieda Fromm-Reichman observed, “Loneliness seems to be such a painful, frightening experience that people will do practically everything to avoid it.” She clarified that solitude and aloneness aren’t necessarily loneliness. Some people “experience the infinity of nature” and find peace. For others, seclusion can “yield creative artistic or scientific products.” It is also possible to be surrounded by people and yet feel lonely. Humans are “born with the need for contact and tenderness”—and mental and physical health suffer when the longing for closeness with others is unfulfilled. Research shows the health risks of social isolation are comparable to the risks associated with obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure. In fact, lack of social connections can increase the risk of death by at least 50 percent.
Two out of five American adults feel alone (40%) and isolated (43%) according to a recent survey, and that can leave them feeling disconnected, misunderstood, insecure, and stressed. These feelings spill into the workforce and impact employers by:
As the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) reportThe Future of Wellness at Work observed, “wellness and work can create a mutually enhancing virtuous circle. When we feel healthy and balanced, we bring energy, focus, and motivation to work, and we are more productive…. Having friendships and trust at work not only increases our productivity as workers, but also improves our personal wellbeing.” That’s why it is imperative that employers expand workplace wellness programs to foster social interactions that promote healthy office friendships.
The social salve
Positive social connections at work mean that people get sick less often, recover twice as fast from surgery, experience less depression, learn faster and remember longer, tolerate pain and discomfort better, display more mental acuity, and perform better on the job. Productivity improves 20-25% in organizations with well-connected employees. They tend to have healthier habits. And they are more loyal and less stressed.
Socialization, positive interactions, and authentic relationships—in other words, having friends at work—is a factor in whether an employee feels the employer cares. In fact, 71% of millennials want to build close relationships at work. But simply stocking the lunchroom with table games in hopes of boosting socialization won’t work. According to The Future of Wellness at Worksurvey, “Only 25% of employees believe that their company offers a wellness program because they care about workers’ health and wellbeing. Fifty-eight percent believe their program exists only to cut company health costs, while another 17% believe it’s in place to make employees work harder/be more productive.” Employee productivity, satisfaction, and wellness are influenced by how employers cultivate social networks and authentic caring.
So what’s the formula for social wellness?
Specific methodologies and approaches depend on the employee population. But here are six ways you can foster a positive work environment where employees can develop social wellness.
Make it easy for employees to talk to each other. Encourage employees to step away from their devices and interact with each other. Provide an area at work for employees to eat lunch together and interact during breaks. At holidays, treat employees to a healthy meal. And plan optional social events both within the workday and outside the workday, including team-building activities like going to an escape room, wellness challenges like taking an exercise class together, and volunteer opportunities where coworkers can socialize while giving back.
Encourage team collaboration on projects. Your company benefits in at least two ways when employees interact with personnel from other departments who they may not work with on a daily basis. First, they will come up with creative ideas and solutions that might not have been imagined in isolation. Second, employees will develop mutual trust. Be sure to utilize video conferencing to include remote workers in all meetings.
Make it easy for employees to feel good about themselves. It’s easier to trust and feel good about someone else when you feel good about yourself. So recognize employees for hard work. Praise them for acts of kindness. And encourage employees to bring in pictures of themselves doing things that make them proud, like their backpack trip last summer or their recent marathon finish.
Help new employees integrate. An office bingo or Who’s Who Challenge that requires new employees to find out interesting and important information about their co-workers encourages conversation. So do weekly team potlucks, walk groups, and stand-up meetings that begin with collective discussions that help individuals identify with the team. And consider organizing your employees into small groups to for wellness program initiatives – integrating “newbies” with more seasoned staff – and using online social platforms to increase social interaction and boost engagement in healthy habits as well.
Create a culture of care. For GenX employees (born 1965-1978), that includes having friends at work and being able to enjoy work-life balance. For Millennials (born 1979-1996), the primary factors are a wellness program that encourages healthy eating; a positive work environment where people know they are respected, valued, and heard; career autonomy and recognition; and time to socialize with co-workers and managers. Showing compassion can help managers prevent staff burnout in these populations. Many Boomers (born 1946-1964) are looking for positions within organizations that have social purpose and that provide them with a robust wellness program to increase their physical wellness. Encourage employees to provide feedback on what type of social interactions they would like to see at the company, as well as the kinds of social causes or community outreach resonates with them.
Practice social skills. You can't make good feelings or positive friendships happen, but you can help employees practice the skills that lead to friendship. Hold seminars on how to build and maintain quality relationships. Give them opportunity to build their social connections and track their progress daily by sharing our Strengthen Social Bonds health challenge with them. You can even turn it into a month-long Health Challenge™ as a part of your wellness program.
A basic quiz for participants to find out whether they have a healthy social network
An example illustrating the importance of social connections
The benefits of social wellness for physical and mental health
Tips on how to build strong bonds with friends, family, and coworkers
A calendar to track how many days each month participants take action to strengthen their bonds with others
This is the fourth post in a six-part series focusing on the Six Dimensions of Wellness: emotional, occupational, physical, social, intellectual, and spiritual. Below are links to the other published in this series.
Wellsource, Inc. has been a premier provider of evidence-based Health Risk Assessments and Self-Management Tools for four decades, making us one of the longest-serving wellness companies in the industry. With a strong reputation for scientific research and validity, we offer an innovative family of products that empower wellness companies, health plans, ACOs, and healthcare providers to inspire healthy lifestyles, prevent disease, and reduce unnecessary healthcare costs. Our assessments connect lifestyle choices with healthy outcomes, measure readiness to change for maximum results, and drive informed decisions with actionable data.
Valtorta, Nicole, et al. “Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for coronary heart disease and stroke: systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal observational studies.” Heart, British Medical Journals, July 2016, 102:1009-1016, heart.bmj.com/content/102/13/1009.
Sutin, Angelina, et al. “Loneliness and Risk of Dementia.” The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, gby112, Oxford University Press, 26 Oct. 2018, doi.org/10.1093/geronb/gby112.
Cacioppo, JT, et al. “Loneliness as a Specific Risk Factor for Depressive Symptoms: Cross-sectional and Longitudinal Analyses.” Psychology and Aging, American Psychological Association, Mar. 2006, 21(1):140-151, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16594799.
Cole, Steven, et al. “Myeloid differentiation architecture of leukocyte transcriptome dynamics in perceived social isolation.” PNAS, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 08 Dec. 2015, 112(49):15142-15147, doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1514249112.
Karimi, Saeed, et al. “The relationship between sociability and productivity.” Journal of Education and Health Promotion, 28 Aug. 2014, 3:104, 10.4103/2277-9531.139696.
Lincoln, James and Bernadette Doerr. “Cultural Eﬀects on Employee Loyalty in Japan and The U.S.: Individual– or Organization-Level?” IRLE Working Paper No. 116-12, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, University of California, Berkeley, Jan. 2012, irle.berkeley.edu/workingpapers/116-12.pdf
Posted By Samantha Diedrich,
Friday, June 21, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, June 18, 2019
Don't miss Samantha Diedrich's one-minute video on the importance of "practicing what we preach"!
Samantha Diedrich, MS, CWP, is a Certified Wellness Practitioner and Health Coach with Aspirus Business Health - Wellness. She is passionate about engaging business partners and clients to improve their lives through health and happiness. She is a member of the National Wellness Institute's Emerging Wellness Professional task force.
Posted By Chuck Gillespie ,
Friday, May 17, 2019
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2019
Each May for Disability Insurance Awareness Month, Unum releases its top causes of disability to shed a light on what causes one in four workers a career derailment. What are the top five disabilities? The trend you will see is how much lifestyle plays a major role in disability. What can we do better? A lot, but it begins with good training and education.
Let’s review the top causes of a disability:
5. Joint disorders
Biggest prevalence of these types of claims are the result of higher rates of obesity and the aging workforce.
4. Back Disorders
Over the last decade, long-term back injuries have decreased 14%. The fact that treatment has reduced the problems. At the same time, the biggest causes of back strain are a lack of strength and poor lifting habits. Still in that lifestyle category.
90% of accidents and injuries are caused on the job. Typically, this will cause insurance hits on your workers comp claims as well as hitting your health insurance. Accidents will occur, but good safety program and keeping a focus on having employees, no matter their job, fit for duty.
This is the #1 cost factor for both short and long term disability. Many cancers are lifestyle related, but the biggest concern is that cancer claims have increased 10% over the last decade.
This one is a “disability” that all of us should be excited about and a great way to help new parents out. Technically, it is a lifestyle related disability, but the good kind.
Lifestyle plays a huge role in your disability insurance coverage, but changing lifestyles goes beyond smoking cessation, physical activity and diet programs. Leaders in health and wellness to understand how poor choices are affected by social, environmental, cultural, and personal issues that limits the ability to make these changes. These social determinants of health have become a cornerstone in how insurance carriers are predicting outcomes. How are you using social determinants of health?
Expecting and realizing fiscal impact on heath and workers compensation claims by just offering a program is not going to net you substantial savings – the research is clear on this. The programs must coincide with a healthy atmosphere at work and (if possible) at home – that is when you see the positive budgetary outcomes. Wellness works, but only when wellness is a culture strategy and not a health care cost savings program.
Chuck Gillespie is Executive Director of the National Wellness Institute.
Posted By Ferroudja Meghenem,
Friday, May 17, 2019
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2019
Systemic regulation has been widely used in the medical sector where it means the entire network of pathways by which the various systems of the body interact in order to allow an organism to live, move, and remain healthy.
It is also the term selected and used by the French company Wellness Values to address and explain the primary intended benefit of wellness approaches deployed within organizations.
Wellness model, individuals and organizations
In 1976, Dr Bill Hettler, co-founder of the National Wellness Institute (NWI) developed the wellness model based on six dimensions (Occupational, Intellectual, Emotional, Social, Spiritual, Physical).
Individuals are always seeking an appropriate balance between the multiple dimensions because each dimension contributes to individuals’ fulfilment. The importance attached to any one dimension depends on context and individual characteristics (identity, personal experiences and interests, culture etc.).
Through this Wellness model, individuals become aware of the interconnectedness of each dimension and are more likely to make some beneficial decisions to serve their health and well-being.
While this wellness model was contextualized for individuals, it can also be relevant to organizations:
Individuals want to achieve a certain level of fulfilment with respect to a given context;
Organizations which are "Wellness oriented” want to foster a culture of health, promote healthy behaviors in the workplace and support employees towards a common goal of achieving a healthier lifestyle. This will have a positive impact on the teams, which will in turn contribute to the development of the organization (growth, customer experiences, etc.)
However, regarding organizations, wellness should be addressed as part of a rigorous approach which considers the particular features of the organization (activities, culture, etc.) and the complexities of dealing with human beings and human relations within organizations.
Appreciate the complexities of organizations
Research conducted by theorists from the Palo Alto group, suggest organization to be considered as a system composed of individuals which interact with each other; they have some form of hierarchy and their personal logic is sometimes contradictory.
The system (the organization) evolves in a "change” environment composed of other actors (customers, competitors, etc.), and constraints (market, policies, etc.).
This means human systems are very complex by nature, and complexity mainly results from the multiple interactions which might exist between the different actors; a change to one component of the organization can have an immediate effect on another component.
Wellness approach and systemic regulation
So, it is clear that if we implement a wellness approach at a strategic level of the organization (for instance, Managers), this can have immediate and significant impacts on the behavior of team members. In particular, we might find that team members work in a more serene atmosphere, and as a team achieve greater productivity (collective efficiency improvement).
Within the human body all components cooperate in one individual’s life. Physiological mechanisms come into play in order to coordinate their functions, so that they meet the whole body’s needs at any time. This is what is termed "systemic regulation”.
The business case analogy here is that systemic regulation of the implementation of a wellness approach in an organization contributes to the dynamic achievement of the organization’s strategic and business objectives (organization’s needs).
Ferroudja Meghenem, CEO of WELLNESS VALUES, is an Engineer of the highly reputed “Ecole Nationale des Mines” (France), who started her career in audit and consulting, advising groups for several years. She founded F@ME Days®, a wellness and fashion event concept, and also founded the company WELLNESS VALUES, a strategic consulting firm specializing in wellness, which assists companies to define and implement a wellness approach within their organization.
Posted By Suzanne Hunt,
Friday, May 17, 2019
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2019
It’s no secret the wellness industry is growing at a rapid pace. Can you remember the last time you logged onto social media, glanced at a magazine, or went shopping (online or in a mall) and didn’t see some type of health and wellness ad? Whether it’s for a new health supplement, access to better wellness-related services, or ‘getting ready for bathing suit season (que the eye roll),’ there seems to be an increased push in marketing about pursuing holistic wellness throughout the world.
Though “wellness” itself is a broad term, it can be highly complex for each of us. Oftentimes our personal wellness and how we care for ourselves can be cultural, intrapersonal, interpersonal, and even dependent upon our surrounding community. Wellness is a journey for each of us, and ironically, so is the wellness industry. I won’t bore you with the history of how we have transitioned in the past few decades to get to where we are now, with a shift to focus on holistic wellness (finally!). Although I am biased because I work in the industry, I do think it’s important to understand the wide range of professionals in the field that are shaping the way we take care of ourselves both now and in the future.
The great thing about the wellness industry is that it doesn’t necessarily always require a straight and narrow path to become a professional in the field. It does however take time, knowledge, passion, and being willing to take chances in order to help others. On the flip side, the challenge with the wellness industry is that it often gets confused with bad marketing schemes and ‘fluffy’ work. I’ll admit, I have a tendency to walk around with a bit of a chip on my shoulder because I have worked with a lot of wonderful people who think what I do in higher education is simply ‘fluff’. I work to build and maintain collaborative partnerships to influence a culture of wellness on college campuses. Let me assure you—this requires a lot of time, data, and developing intentional initiatives that will empower people to change behaviors and make healthy choices. “Fluff”? I don’t think so! I can bet that many people in the industry have been mislabeled in similar ways as well. For example, as a Certified Health Coach and Weight Loss Management Specialist, I work with a lot of wonderful fitness professionals. Unfortunately, they often get perceived as people who just work out all the time. Again, this is not the case! It takes proper training, practice, passing difficult certification exams, and continuous learning about the wellness industry, as well as being on top of new evidence-based training methods.
Even though I had a pretty typical rise into the wellness industry by pursuing my Master of Public Health, many people bring outside scopes and experiences into the field, which positively influence the rapid changes we have seen in the industry in the last few decades. From workplace wellness to teachers and scientists who focus on research, to doctors, mental health providers, and more, the industry proves the benefits of holistic wellness by providing professionals in a field that help us connect and make sense of our personal health.
Below, you’ll see a variety of professionals with varying backgrounds and experiences who all contribute to the wellness industry in unique ways. Think you knew what the wellness industry encompassed? You might want to think again.
Peter Rives: Assistant Director of Wellbeing, Alcohol & Substance Abuse Prevention
Starting with an undergraduate degree in Psychology, Peter completed four years of doctoral study in Social Psychology. From there he worked in community-based public mental health, substance use, and intellectual/developmental disabilities services. Over the course of his career, Peter became an expert and consultant in integrated healthcare and Motivational Interviewing (MI), which is utilized in health and wellness coaching, among many other wellness fields of work. Recognized as one of the “Top 40 Under 40 Business Leaders” by the Business Journal in 2013, he now leads wellness and prevention efforts around alcohol and substance abuse prevention to reduce high risk behaviors and empower healthier lifestyles for students in higher education.
Jillian Neil: Psychologist, Outreach Coordinator
Jillian has a unique background with starting out with an undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Psychology. After graduation she completed her masters degree in Early Childhood Special Education and Human Development to teach special education in the area. It is during this experience that she realized her true interest was working from a psychology perspective—which led her to apply for and complete a Clinical Development Psychology doctoral degree. After a few moves around the country to complete her internship and postdoctoral experiences, she now works as a Clinical Psychologist and Outreach Coordinator in higher education. While she continues to make an individual impact in one-on-one sessions, she also works extensively with campus partners to develop and implement initiatives, programs, and awareness campaigns around mental health, resilience, bystander intervention, and more; which further impacts the campus community at large.
John Lyon: BS, MA
Completed his undergraduate degree in Neuroscience, while playing football at Harvard University. Throughout this experience John knew that health and wellness was an imperative factor both academically and physically. Upon graduating from Harvard, John began to work to combine both his interests and academic pursuits into a reality, by assisting in the study and development of nutritional supplements. After several years, he felt led to pursue his other passion: spirituality. While in the process of finishing up his Master of Arts in Religious Studies, John continued to pursue his passion for health and wellness, helping others as a Certified Personal Trainer while working as a Graduate Assistant in the Office of Wellbeing. After graduation he plans to continue to empower others through a combination of wellness and spirituality as a pastor.
Romy Antoine: CEO, One Stop Wellness
With a background in biology and exercise science, Romy started as a personal trainer and nutritionist who witnessed his clients in corporate jobs struggle with work-life balance. This experience led him to make a transition to be in the employee engagement industry, where Romy builds technology to improve workplace happiness and incentivize behavior change for holistic wellbeing as the CEO of One Stop Wellness. His innovative work has led to many accomplishments, including being the inaugural Young Wellness Professional Award winner from the National Wellness Institute in 2018.
Suzanne Hunt, MPH, CWP is a public health practitioner focused on working within higher education. She is a Certified Wellness Practitioner, Certified Health Coach, and Weight Management Specialist. She recently worked as the Assistant Director of Wellbeing, Health Promotion at Wake Forest University, and continues to serve as an Associate Editor for the Education in Health Professions Journal. Suzanne contributes to research on health behaviors of graduate students in her role as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the N.C. College of Veterinary Medicine, as well as growing her experience in consulting work for various universities in the U.S.
When thinking about the terms wellness or well-being, multiple definitions come to mind. Wellness, according to the National Wellness Institute (NWI), is an active process of becoming aware of and learning to make choices that lead toward a longer and more successful existence—in other words, toward a life worth living.
So, how to achieve wellness? According to Gallup well-being research, physical activity provides adults ages 65 and older with a 32 percent higher positive emotional outlook than for those who are not active. But to have a life worth living, it is critical to look beyond physical wellness; Gallup research also identifies how there can be too much emphasis placed upon the physical dimension of health and well-being.
For example, Steven Hawking had been told in his 20s that he would never see age 30. In 2018, he died at age 76. In 2016, he noted that “however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.” Hawking exemplifies someone whose physical health did not deter him from living. While doing his best to maintain his physical health, he also cultivated intellectual, social, occupational, spiritual and emotional purpose—a life worth living.
The Six Dimensions of Wellness
The basis for such a life begins with focusing on the six dimensions of wellness, which were developed by past and present leaders of the NWI. These dimensions—physical, occupational, social, intellectual, spiritual and emotional—strongly influence human well-being.
Physical wellness is the dimension often used to define wellness. Eating right and being active is the rallying cry. Young and old must get a yearly checkup by a primary care physician, a dentist, and an optometrist. People with chronic conditions must manage them, and everyone should avoid tobacco. But there is so much more to wellness.
Anyone who has experienced the stress of being in an unsatisfying job, or who has been employed by a company with a psychically poisonous work environment knows those situations consume significant amounts of energy; poor physical working conditions also cause harm. Thus, occupational wellness is critical to well-being. For some, occupational wellness involves whatever work makes them happy. For others, a paid job provides their desired financial and material life, but a working hobby such as gardening, wood-working or fixing cars also can provide satisfaction and enrichment.
The social dimension involves connection to friends and family. Lack of a good social network, loneliness, feeling isolated and not fitting in at home, at work or in a community are major barriers to achieving wellness.
The intellectual wellness dimension means expanding knowledge and skills while allowing time to discover the potential for sharing one’s gifts with others. Humans must be constant learners, not necessarily in the sense of “book smarts,” but in learning to find their own unique ways to learn and to teach.
The spiritual and emotional dimensions both are critical to happiness and health. The spiritual dimension recognizes the human desire to search for meaning and purpose in life—exploring the ubiquitous question, “Why are we here?”
The emotional dimension aligns with the other five dimensions by recognizing how each person must try to cultivate a positive outlook—to create enthusiasm about one’s self and one’s life.
Each dimension holds equal value in a life worth living. But the concepts for each dimension need to be understood in the right perspective. For example, as Hawking overcame his physical obstacles, it is imperative for individuals to understand their own obstacles to overcome.
Social Determinants and Wellness
According to the recent survey by Waystar, “Consumer Perspectives on How Social Determinants Impact Clinical Experience”, 68 percent of respondents had social risk-factor obstacles. Healthcare access, housing insecurity, transportation access, food insecurity, safety, and health literacy lead the list. The survey shows that much more than medical care affects health and wellness. “The most commonly reported social determinants of health issues are financial insecurity and social isolation,” the report’s authors write.
Research by the National Institutes for Health shows that with aging, individuals often decline in physical and cognitive function, causing a narrowing of social networks. Further, social isolation is prevalent among individuals who are far from family and friends or who are not near a cultural center to which they feel connected.
Not “fitting in” is an issue many people face. Civil rights legislation in the United States created legal precedent regarding discrimination (i.e., around race, religion, gender, disability, etc.) for protected classes, but prior to 1990, people with disabilities were not covered. Thanks to the American’s with Disabilities Act, wheelchair users now have access to many venues to which they were previously shut off; this legislation opened up new avenues of social, emotional, and intellectual well-being.
Other factors such as geography (where one lives), healthcare access and personal priorities also play a part in individual well-being. For instance, workplace and community wellness initiatives may promote the need to prioritize 60 minutes of exercise per day, but for people living in unsafe neighborhoods who are worried about putting dinner on the table, exercise moves down on the priority list.
A Multicultural Perspective
This type of situation is why the NWI developed the Multicultural Wellness Wheel. The wheel encourages individuals to look beyond their spheres of influence to understand how others might view life. How and where a person grew up, what they do for work, their family environment and “life moments” all influence individual perspective.
The Multicultural Wellness Wheel helps people to understand, without negative judgments, the worldviews of culturally different peoples, and to have respect and appreciation for human differences that enable more positive and effective encounters. NWI Board President and CEO of Alturnative Linda Howard says, “One of the biggest issues we face across the globe is that we do not have a strong multicultural competency model from which to learn. Practitioners and organizations use models that are too focused on one particular issue like race or gender, and as such, fail to reach large segments of the population due to a lack of cultural competency. We see the opportunity to learn from each other through a wider lens that also incorporate such things like religion, disability, language, age, geography and other cultural factors that are a leading causes of social isolation.”
If people can become aware of their beliefs and assumptions about human behaviors, values, biases, stereotypes and personal limitations, they can open up and learn who different cohorts are as “cultural beings.” They can better see how cultural socialization shapes worldviews and enhances their ability to connect to and work with culturally diverse populations.
Wellness is a simple, though multi-pronged, concept, which emphasizes a mission of connection. Now more than ever, it is critical to consider overall well-being from a more holistic perspective—in terms of our social connections, physical health, intellectual capacity, occupations, and emotional and spiritual coping skills.
Chuck Gillespie is Executive Director of the National Wellness Institute.