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Wellness Coordinators, let’s do both Worksite Wellness and employee health status improvement

A lot of employers are today creating wellness programs for their employees at work. Are they really health programs? Check out the reasons how they could not be.

When it comes to the realm of worksite wellness, I often find ourselves thinking of problems as either/or instead of being inclusive. The majority of worksite wellness programs present today do not focus on wellbeing in any way instead, they are focused on improving the health of the employees. While we are focusing our attention on the health of employees but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t begin to provide wellness-related programs and interventions , too.

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What’s the difference?
While there are a variety of definitions of wellness to look at, I’ll adopt the definition and model that is provided by the National Wellness Institute (NWI). NWI define wellness to be “an active process by which people learn about and take actions towards an improved quality of life.” This NWI concept of wellbeing is comprised of six interconnected dimensions:

  • Social
  • Intellectual
  • Spiritual
  • Emotional
  • Work
    Similar to well-being, health is typically described as an all-encompassing concept. The definition of health is typically using the following criteria:
  • Physical problems like disability, pain, or any the condition that is likely to cause death.
  • Emotional disorders
  • Social functioning
    Health status is a picture of health at any particular time. The health status of a person can be assessed in both individual and the population levels. Health status of individuals can be evaluated objectively using:
  • The presence or absence illness
    It is the presence, or lack risk factors
    It is the severity and extent of illness found
    Health perceptions of the general public.
    At work, an employee’s health is usually assessed by using biometric screenings.
    As far as I am able to discern, there isn’t an exact measure of health. Since the measurement of health status includes general perceptions of health, the concept of health status is also a bit subjective.

When we compare the above definitions with the way that worksite wellness is practiced today and we can see that what’s being referred to as”wellness” today is not actually health, but rather improving the health of employees (EHSI). In my opinion it is time to not call what we do as worksite wellness, and instead call it improvement in employee health status and employee health enhancement instead. Instead of creating fake workplace wellness programs, let’s instead concentrate on creating solid EHSI programs that are effective and efficient.

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With today’s workplace wellness programs that concentrates upon physical wellness, a lot of the practices and concepts currently in use can easily be incorporated into the EHSI model. Because the health of a person is a result of risks and general perception of health Let’s concentrate the focus of EHSI programs to prevention of chronic diseases, management medical self-care and assisting employees better understand and manage their health condition.
As we’re not confronted with a binary choice now, let’s begin with wellness programs simultaneously we’re implementing EHSI programs.

EHSI programs cannot be tied with wellness since they were not intended to. In their ideal form EHSI programs are intended to prevent health issues. The mere act of prevention or avoidance is not enough to achieve health. To achieve wellness, you must take a series of intentional actions to go beyond the level of health prevention or zero risk. Prevention and avoiding are built on the model of pathogenesis which cannot, by itself, be able to make you healthier.
Remember the definition of health. It is about creating opportunities to live “a better life.” The process of wellness is one in which the health of employees is an indeterminate snapshot at the exact time. Wellness is closely connected to the notion of salutogenesis which means the creation of new opportunities to improve health.

Because wellness encompasses many dimensions Here are my current thoughts on what constitutes wellness-related programming at the workplace to address all of the dimensions of wellness:
Physical - This domain can be covered in the EHSI program.

  • Social - Promoting positive, positive, and supportive first or employee-centric workplace cultures and climates Random acts of kindness or employee-led volunteer programs
  • Health of the brain - intellectual and fitness
    “Spiritual” - Allowing staff to discover the meaning and purpose of their work and in life
  • Emotional-related - Workplace mental health promotion, managing stress and building resilience
  • occupational - Integration with employee safety and training and development of employees

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I believe that salutogenesis and pathogenesis are two distinct segments of the health-wellbeing continuum, and they can coexist by leveraging each other’s fundamental principles. Employers should and can offer both EHSI and wellness programs for their workplaces.