The Well-Being Journal

Is Well-Being an Integral Ingredient in Your Organization’s Cultural Recipe?

Madison Agee

This cake may look pretty, but if you left out an essential ingredient - like sugar - it's probably going to taste awful. Similarly, omitting the key element of the right kind of organizational culture can inhibit the success of your well-being improvement program.

More organizations are looking to wellness and well-being improvement programs to help them improve productivity and manage ever-growing healthcare costs. As they invest in these types of programs, organizations logically want to maximize their returns and improve outcomes as much as possible.

But what happens when programs aren’t creating the results organizations want to see? The easy scapegoat is the design or implementation of the wellness program itself, but what organizations may underappreciate is the critical role that their own culture plays.

Consider, for a moment, baking a cake without sugar. Although it may look like a cake, it certainly wouldn’t taste like one. It’s a similar situation with culture, which is an essential ingredient in the overall recipe for well-being improvement. If you’re expecting your employees to prioritize high well-being, but your culture is working against you (for example, leaders aren’t participating in offered activities or engaging in a well-being dialog), then you’ve likely set yourself up for disappointment.

Ask yourself the following questions to better understand how well you’re actually baking well-being into the very recipe of your organization:

  • Are our underlying attitudes and assumptions reflective of a true commitment to well-being? A crucial element in a culture of well-being are the very values and rituals that are important to your organization. How is well-being actually “folded into” your core values and the ways in which colleagues interact with the organization, your leaders and one another? For instance, does your organization have an annual volunteer day that encourages employees to give back to their community?
  • Are we structurally aligned to well-being? A culture of well-being requires that your organizational structure reflect it, with programs, benefits and activities that encourage and enhance well-being. If you’re not offering these kinds of things, you could be at risk of simply “talking the talk” and not “walking the walk.” What kinds of things, such as providing a tobacco cessation program or launching an organization-wide “steps challenge,” are you doing to improve well-being within your organization?
  • Are we actively supporting our employees’ well-being? In the absence of continuous support for your employees’ individual well-being journeys, your employees could actually perceive you as actively discouraging them. Real encouragement takes place in an environment where people are not only openly talking about well-being improvement, but actually caring if their colleagues are working towards it. If co-workers aren’t saying “good for you” when a team member decides not to check email on a long-awaited family vacation, you may have an unsupportive culture.
  • Are our leaders modeling the right behaviors? The role of leadership in creating and supporting a culture of well-being can’t be understated. Take a close look at what your leaders are saying – and doing – on a regular basis to better gauge whether they’re shoring up or undermining your culture of well-being. Are they, for example, always wearing a suit on days when you allow your employees to wear workout clothes?
  • Are we properly incentivizing or encouraging well-being behaviors? Behavior change is not easy for most people – typically employees may need to be urged or incentivized to participate in activities and programs that enhance their well-being. What’s your organization doing to create this sense of excitement and desire among your employees that helps them along on their journey to better well-being?

By asking yourself the questions above, you can get a much better sense of how truly integral well-being is to your organizational culture. We’ve assembled some additional questions you can use to better benchmark where your organization currently stands, as well as guidance to help you develop your own action plan for creating a culture of well-being.

In a June webinar, experts from Gallup and Healthways explored the topic of well-being cultures in more detail, and shared some great insights into how organizations can create start or enhance their own journeys. Download the webinar recording to learn more.

Topics: Well-Being Workplace Well-Being Engagement Business Performance Competitive Advantage Productivity

"Population Well-Being" Capabilities Come to Independent Physicians in North Texas

Sandy Cummings

gty_dallas_kb_140321_16x9_992Imagine, for a minute, what it must be like to be a physician. You spent all those hard years in school because you wanted to help people live long, healthy, productive lives. And then you start practicing medicine, and probably fairly quickly come to realize that there is only so much you can do to fulfill your mission because you can't sustainably influence what is often the underlying cause of illness: lives lived short of their potential.

Physicians see the impacts of stress, loneliness and isolation. They understand that their patients don't need another lecture on losing weight or stopping smoking because they already know these things are bad for their health. They're well aware that once their patients leave their office, their attempts to change their lifestyles to improve their physical well-being will often fall short. Pressures at work, financial worries, lack of support and encouragement, and so many other concerns create barriers to change that physicians typically are powerless to address, particularly across their entire patient population.

Healthways has teamed up with the largest independent physicians association in North Texas, Genesis Physicians Group (GPG), to directly address this issue. You can read about it in HealthLeaders, or read our press release here. We just wanted to take a minute to share how excited we are about our new joint venture, GenHealth.

Ben R. Leedle, Jr., Healthways' president and chief executive officer, summed up the news:

“Not only are physicians the most trusted, credible influencers of individual health behaviors, but an individual’s bond with his or her physician is one of the most enduring. As healthcare continues to transform in response to untenable healthcare costs, poor overall health, and weaker competitive positions for American companies and communities, innovative healthcare providers such as GPG are assuming more financial and quality outcomes risk for their patient populations. In so doing, they are embracing a scientifically proven approach that has well-being – not sick care – at its core. We firmly believe that by directly supporting the patient-physician relationship with well-being improvement solutions, we will create faster, more sustained engagement in order to proactively reduce the causes and effects of disease and achieve significantly greater impacts on medical savings, productivity and performance.”

 

Topics: Healthy Living Well-Being In the News Healthcare Motivation Healthways Genhealth Population Well-Being Genesis Physicians Group

Bringing the Promise of Well-Being to New Markets

Madison Agee

Once upon a time, if you thought about a person pursuing “well-being,” that may have generated a certain image in your mind: someone who has lots of disposable income, shops at Whole Foods, lives in a suburban community conducive to outdoor exercise, attends exclusive yoga classes in expensive workout wear, is likely under the age of 50 … and so on. Insight from the recent Healthways 2014 Well-Being Summit indicates that this image is rapidly changing.

At the Summit, the founders of Feel Rich, Quincy Jones III and Shawn Ullman, discussed their company’s mission to bring the message of better well-being to minority and urban communities. These markets have historically been underserved with authentic, connected messaging that educates and excites them about taking steps to improve their well-being.

To achieve their mission, the two entrepreneurs utilize engaging multimedia content delivered by hip-hop artists who are considered trustworthy messengers of change. These artists – many of whom are committed to healthy lifestyles (did you know the rapper Common is a vegan fitness enthusiast?) – promote better well-being to the African-American and Latino markets through relatable imagery and authentic language.

Jones and Ullman’s approach also allows well-being brands that are looking to gain entrance into or further penetrate these markets to connect to their target consumers in a more genuine way. For example, they spearheaded the Johnson & Johnson “Text4Baby” campaign, which provided expecting and new mothers with health advice and information for both themselves and their babies. The mothers were inspired to receive the texts with a promise of a personal lullaby for their new baby sung by actor-model-musical artist Tyrese.

Older adults, too, are tuning in to well-being in growing numbers. Joseph Coughlin of the MIT AgeLab provided the Well-Being Summit audience with an interesting overview of some of the demographics and trends of this expanding population. Generally speaking, this market:

  • Considers itself ill, but not sick — e.g., “I may have high blood pressure, but I’m doing just fine”
  • Has at least some college education
  • Values having health and ability and freedom to still live active lives
  • Is skeptical of information, preferring testimonials and advice from others like them
  • Is committed to working or required to work as long as they can — 40 percent plan to “work until they drop”
  • Is overloaded by information, which is often contradictory
  • Is relatively isolated — 30 percent of people 60+ live alone, and 70 percent of 50+ live in rural areas

Coughlin pointed out that traditional methods of delivering a well-being message to seniors, which are predicated on facts, fear and a prescriptive “this is what’s good for you” approach, don’t work. Instead, organizations and brands trying to reach this demographic should use a more fun, social-oriented framework that:

  • Leverages social networks
  • Speaks in terms of solutions, not just data
  • Encourages life performance instead of illness management
  • Is personal and authentic
  • Is constructed to enable a longer life span versus getting a senior through this life stage

Connecting with these two “non-traditional” markets for well-being products and services – urban/minority and seniors – requires that brands take a new approach. In both instances, authenticity and social engagement are critically important.

Topics: Well-Being Aging Seniors Consumers urban Well-Being Summit Minorities

Should You Be Emphasizing "Feminine" Values at Your Organization?

Madison Agee

According to New York Times best-selling author and corporate consultant John Gerzema, the values that we traditionally associate with femininity – such as nurture, empathy, collaboration and flexibility – are the “operating system of the 21st century.” As he recently discussed at Healthways’ 2014 Well-Being Summit, where he connected well-being to leadership and consumer trends, most people already think these feminine values are of great importance, a trend that will only continue to grow in the future.

In the book, The Athena Doctrine: How Women (and the Men Who Think Like Them) Will Rule the Future, which Gerzema co-authored by Michael D’Antonio, the authors explore this idea in detail. Their research, which took into account surveys of 64,000 people in 13 countries around the world, reveals some interesting insight into what people believe to be important and the values and approaches they feel will benefit themselves, their families, communities and workplaces, and the greater good.

Results from the surveys indicate that two-thirds of people think the world would be a better place if men thought like women. More than half (57 percent) are also frustrated with the conduct of men. The authors then split their original survey group of 64,000 into two halves and asked the first half to classify 125 human traits (e.g., “confident,” “visionary,” “adaptive”) according to whether the traits were masculine, feminine or neither. They then asked the other half to rank the same 125 traits (which were not given any gender association) based on how those traits relate to leadership, success, morality and happiness.

Conclusions from their research led the authors to assert that people all over the world are looking for more “feminine” leaders – leaders whose power stems more from gentle influence and persuasion than autocratic control. Gerzema and D’Antonio also concluded that feminine values are on the rise, and that people now prefer these values to those historically associated with masculinity.

Gerzema provided Summit attendees with both the results of their research and examples of how this rise of feminine values is being played out in far-flung corners of the world. He discussed how businesses and organizations all over the world are rejecting traditional models associated with masculinity and instead emphasizing these more feminine approaches to leadership, work and productivity – and achieving incredible success from doing so.

Traits such as empathy, collaboration, inclusion and humility are helping organizations achieve their business goals. As surprising evidence of this shift in thinking, Gerzema shared that 67 percent of survey participants indicated that they would work for less money at a company in which they truly believed, upturning the classic model that people are primarily motivated by money. Clearly, liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals — in other words, having a sense of purpose — is a significant contributor to well-being. To learn more about the importance of well-being, download the Gallup-Healthways State of American Well-Being Report.

Topics: Well-Being Wellness Program Leadership Women Well-Being Summit Feminine