Sitting is going to kill you
Most of us have seen the news, blog posts, and the infographics that have popped up recently about how sitting is going to kill you! Problem is, we are required to sit for most of the waking hours of our lives. You commute to work, sitting. You spend 8-10 hours at your desk cranking out sweet new disruptive technologies, sitting. You commute home, sitting. Then finally, once your busy day has come to an end and you get to relax, you sit on the couch to wind down. The problem with these news stories is that they don’t help you actually improve your life because honestly, we just don’t care.
How many of you have flossed you teeth today? Why not? Don’t you know that if you don’t floss your teeth everyday that your teeth are much more likely to fall out of your face at some point in the future? Sure you know this. The problem is that flossing your teeth, no matter how good it is for you in the long run, doesn’t measurable improve your life tomorrow. Ever wake up and say yourself: “Man, I feel great today! I bet it was all that flossing I did yesterday!” Didn’t think so.
So why is sitting going to kill you?
It’s not. Sorry to disappoint you but the fact of the matter is that you just aren’t going to drop dead from sitting. Now that isn’t to say that sitting is bad for you. In fact I’d go out on a limb and suggest that if you lead a completely sedentary lifestyle your quality of life is going to be reduced in the laters years of life.
We’ve seen the growing elderly population, shuffling from sample table to sample table at Costco on Saturday morning. How many of them look happy? How many look healthy? Sadly, not many.
This is one of the big problems with changing your lifestyle, becoming more “healthy”, or running a successful corporate wellness program. The benefits are not immediately visible. An we are lazy Americans who want it now!!! or we get bored, give up, and really just end up not caring…
Why we don’t care
Because working out isn’t fun. Because I don’t have enough time. Because I don’t know what I’m doing. Because that donut tastes soooo good! Because my company pays for lunches and I just eat what they give us. Because I’ve tried to diet in the past in it didn’t work. Because I saw an article on the inter-webs that says workout program X is just a fad and probably a scam. Because I have never gotten the results I wanted. Because the weight I lost last time just came right back. Because I like to go out with my friends. Because my sister had an eating disorder and I don’t want to be neurotic about food. Because it’s hard. Because I just don’t care.
What did I miss? These are all true statements. They are also all complete bullshit excuses for not taking control of your life and responsibility for your actions.
It is easy to just not care and it is hard to find something that works. So we choose the path of least resistance. Unfortunately, more time than not, that path of least resistance leads us right to the doctors office. Which has a dramatic effect on the workplace.
What not caring costs the average employer.
Now this is a great question. The data out there suggests a few hundred to a few thousand dollars a year per employee in increased healthcare costs. It suggests thousands of dollars lost in productivity, missed time due to doctors appointments, sick days, etc. Unfortunately, like most research out there now-a-days, there is a study proving the exact opposite. So the best you can do is guess. I would guess that most would’t argue against this statement: There is a significant cost of an unhealthy employee compared to a healthy employee.
How about employee happiness? Can that be improved with a good wellness program? I’d argue it could be if that program is fun, engaging, and exciting. I would argue that happier employees can reduce employee churn at your company. Which, in turn, should reduce recruiting and training costs significantly. My experience, speaking with dozens of developers in Phoenix, also shows that happier workplaces also attract top talent.
So what do we know so far?
We know that sitting is not really going to kill you. However it will probably lead to a low quality of life in the future. We also know that we should probably do something about this…
We know that that ‘future’ is far enough away from the average person that most of us just don’t care to change our habits.
We know that having a bunch of unhealthy employees around the office is bad for business.
We also know that a fun engaging wellness program is likely to be successful.
We know that this can lead to an overall happier workplace that does two things: Keeps talent and attracts new talent.
So what is a fun engaging wellness program and how do I make it happen at my office?
So I’ll lay out two answers to this question and you can choose your own adventure:
The traditional wellness program:
- Is managed by either someone in human resources who got stuck with the task or by a “Certified Corporate Wellness Specialist” (Typically a former nurse or someone else with loads of formal education and zero practical experience coaching real people).
- Focuses on “High-Risk” employees such as those with pre-existing conditions (i.e. heart disease, diabetes, and smokers).
- Pays out, on average, $450 – $521 per employee for participation.
- Typically includes the very popular Health Risk Assessment Questionnaire that gives you valuable insights on your health (i.e. smoking is bad for you…).
- Boasts ROI in the $2 – $10 dollar range with very little proof of what actually caused the savings.
- Can qualify you for government incentives via the Affordable Care Act
- Has spawned some recent debate (here and response here) about whether or not the bang is worth the buck.
- Is boooooooring.
- Has a hard time getting people to participate even if you are paying them to participate.
- Is managed by someone with loads of practical experience actually making people healthier, fitter, and happier.
- Is managed by someone that understands that you can’t just throw money at the problem.
- Runs a wellness program like a Lean startup. Constantly iterating on each part of the program to get maximum participation and maximum result.
- Understands that running a wellness program is much like running a successful small business; You’ll never get everyone to buy what you are selling and, in fact, everyone is not in your target (wellness) market.
- Cares about actual measurable health data so much that they’ve built a relationship with a company like WellnessFX to bring a comprehensive health tracking and consulting (from a real physician) right to your office.
- Is fun, engaging, and innovative (Just like your company).
- Is run by people who are fun to be around, genuinely care about your employees, and can think outside the box to make positive changes in people.
The non-traditional wellness program:
Okay, so I cheated a little there to sway you over to my side, however…
The point is this: What we’ve been doing isn’t working and it’s time for a disruptive solution.
Eventually the market is going to figure this out and you don’t want to be left in the dust. Do you?