Bob Merberg and Jen Arnold Strikethrough the Year 2020 in Employee Wellbeing

in Commentary, Uncategorized, Wellbeing

Scene from Fury Road

At the end of each year, a hush falls over the world, as it awaits the arrival of…

…the annual end-of-year wellness wrap-up that Jen Arnold and I record for her Redesigning Wellness podcast! It’s here!

This year was no different.  Of course, this year was completely different, but Jen and I still managed to offer some reflections on 2020 in employee wellness. Unlike previous years, this time we forgot to prepare for took a pass on the nerding out on analysis of peer-reviewed studies that have tested the patience of delighted audiences in years past.

Predictions? Oh, we have predictions. We’ve got nothing. Our best shot at predictions were: Continue reading »

Why Does My Organization Need Mental Health First Aid Training?

in Featured, Mental Health First Aid, Uncategorized

Mental Health First Aid logoSince I first discovered Mental Health First Aid a few years ago, I’ve recognized it as an ideal cornerstone of any organization’s employee mental health strategy. As an interactive face-to-face program, it’s a much needed foundation for digital mental health solutions and other remote services. It’s a surefire way, in fact, to increase awareness and use of mental health benefits, like the often under-utilized employee assistance programs. Help employees get the support they need…when they need it.

I’ve advised most of my employer clients to offer Mental Health First Aid training — to their managers or their entire workforce — and now I’m thrilled to announce that, as a certified Mental Health First Aid instructor, I’ll deliver this training myself. Use this website’s Contact form for more info about how Mental Health First Aid will boost your employees’ wellbeing and, consequently, your organization’s performance. Continue reading »

2020’s Trends and Transactions Foretell the Wellness Industry’s Future

in business, Employee Wellness Programs, Uncategorized, Wellbeing

Work-from-home, social connection, telehealth, social justice, mental health… and, of course, the COVID-19 disease itself have been the hot topics of 2020 in the employee wellbeing world.

Meanwhile, the US wellness industry — the business of employee wellbeing — grinds on, with a slew of trends and transactions that foretell its future. Here, I’ve summarized the commercial patterns and milestones that signal which doors are closing and which may open. Continue reading »

A Successful Work and Family Stress Program — Looking Back

in EAPs, Stress, Uncategorized, Wellbeing

health care worker with stress

I’ve fessed up about two of my employee mental health flops. But I’ve had successes, too, including providing health care workers with one of the best-proven opportunities to get stress under control.

The scene was a large population of employees at a major medical center, where I served as employee wellness program manager, and partnered with our internal Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to offer the Yale Work and Family Stress Program. EAP counselors went to Yale to get trained on the program, and made a few adaptions suitable for our health care worker population. Continue reading »

Here’s How Employee Mental Health Strategies Can Perpetuate Stigma

in Featured, Uncategorized, Wellbeing

Mental HealthWell-meaning employee mental health advocates, including wellness leaders, may — in our zeal to address mental health — inadvertently reinforce or perpetuate mental health stigma. Here’s how:

1) Viewing stigma too narrowly, especially seeing it only as failure to seek treatment. Mental health stigma includes public stigma, characterized by lack of information (and stereotyping), prejudice, and discrimination, and self stigma, which includes internalization of social stigma stereotypes, reduced self-esteem, and reduced self-efficacy. Reluctance to seek treatment (or not being aware of treatment opportunities) is a critical consequence of stigma. But people who receive treatment, and people who don’t need treatment, experience stigma, too.

2) Not understanding how to address stigma. Anti-stigma campaigns are based on protest (e.g. speaking up against stereotyping); education (like the communication tactics employers commonly implement); and contact (interacting with people who have “lived experience” with mental health problems). Continue reading »

Meaning and Purpose at Work — Recommended Reading

in industrial organizational psychology, Uncategorized, Wellbeing

Nietzche quote: He who has a Why to live can bare almost any How.Meaning and purpose at work go far beyond the simplistic “Find your why” self-help trend that’s made millions for certain marketing gurus (though it would be more properly attributed to Nietzsche) or the appropriation of ikigai that’s the latest buzz.

There are no simple answers to meaning, only explorations. I suggest seekers take a look at Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning” and, for contrast, Maslow’s “A Theory of Human Motivation.” Then bring it into the modern work context with Job Crafting and Cultivating Positive Meaning and Identity in Work, by Amy Wrzesniewski et al.

Teladoc and Livongo Merge

in business, Uncategorized

Merge Ahead signToday’s big news in the employee health industry is the merger of telemedicine company Teladoc Health and virtual disease management company Livongo. Both have been high flyers in 2020, with their revenues and their stock prices (Livongo just celebrated the one-year anniversary of its IPO and has been a Wall Street darling since then) skyrocketing. Each of the two  companies stock prices are up by more than 100% year-to-date.

Telemedicine has been all the rage among employee benefits directors for at least five years, but utilization remained lackluster until this year, when the COVID-19 pandemic radically accelerated consumer uptake.

Benefits of the merger include “joining two leaders in consumer behavior change,” according to a joint news release.

Speaking of behavior change, both companies’ stocks made it onto the markets’ Biggest Loser list on the day of the merger announcement, with Teladoc down 19% and Livongo off by 11%  —  the second and fourth biggest losers for the day, respectively.

Teladoc Health reaches agreement to buy Livongo in a $18.5 billion deal

 

Wellbeing: Did I Say Pizza? I Meant Lava Lamp.

in Uncategorized, Wellbeing

Lava Lamp — reflecting the model of employee wellness and wellbeing promoted by employee well-being consultant Bob MerbergWellness (or wellbeing, if you will) is usually illustrated as a perfect circle divided into uniform wedges. Gallup’s 5 wedges, for example, represent Social, Financial, Physical, Community, and Career Purpose wellbeing. National Wellness Institute has its Occupational, Physical, Social, Intellectual, Spiritual, and Emotional dimensions.

There’s no end to how circles can be sliced up into the elements of wellness, whether there are 6, 7, 8 wedges, or — even as some models have it — 12 wedges of an inner circle surrounded by 8 pastel sections that join to form 2 concentric circles. (Stop this ride, I’m getting dizzy!)

Many models of wellness and wellbeing with circles and wedges to show the elements or dimensions of wellness and well-being.These wellness merry-go-rounds are mostly the product of an American spin on wellness. Elsewhere, especially Europe, the focus is on what wellness is — something related to happiness and life satisfaction. You know… wellbeing! In the US we obsess over the components of wellness — no time to fret about what they add up to — as you may recall from my post “Wellbeing and Pizza: In Search of the Secret Sauce.”

These tidy geometrics are a swell way to say that wellbeing goes beyond physical health. But a handful of static, one dimensional, and evenly distributed wedges — crammed into a flawlessly circular vessel — don’t resonate with my experience of wellness. And I wonder if they’re an ideal way to describe what other people’s wellbeing — ultimately their lives — are or can be.

Meet My Globules

My wellness is more like a lava lamp: An ever-changing bunch of free-floating globules of different shapes and sizes. I’ve got fitness globules, mental health globules, spiritual globules. Some rise to the surface for as others submerge. They’re fluid. They expand and they contract.

Some globules, like my health globule and my financial globule, merge for a while. My emotional globule occasionally smothers my intellectual globule; other times, it’s the other way around. Look: My creativity globule and logic globule are going at each other right now!

But even the lava lamp analogy eventually runs dry. Ultimately, I want my globules to be set free, to be unbound by time and space, and to interconnect with others’ globules — those of people who love me and those of people who don’t. Any model of real wellbeing has to show our globules interacting and interconnecting. You heard me right: We must have global globules.

The change starts within. To paraphrase an ancient sage: Be a lava lamp unto thyself.

Copyright 2020 by Bob Merberg. All rights reserved. (My globules may be your globules. But my work is not.)

Wellbeing and Pizza: In Search of the Secret Sauce

in Employee Wellness Programs, Uncategorized, Wellbeing

pizza[Originally published on LinkedIn 2018-03-15]

“It’s the damnedest thing, hahaha” my father-in-law would say, his thick Irish brogue muscling its way forward through his baritone laugh. “I hate tomato sauce and cheese, and I don’t like bread, but I like pizza. Hahahahah!”

As a Brooklynite weaned on pizza, this really was the damndest thing I’d ever heard. But the corporate world’s newfound adoration of “wellbeing” gives me insight into my father-in-law’s pizza predilections. And vice versa.
Continue reading »

Get the Facts: University of Illinois’ Randomized Controlled Study of an Employee Wellness Program

in Employee Wellness Programs, Uncategorized, Wellbeing

dice suggesting randomized controlled trial

In her incisive Redesigning Wellness interview with Julian Reif (principal investigator of the Illinois Workplace Wellness Study), Jen Arnold elicits answers to controversial questions like how the research team defined “comprehensive program” and why they believe their randomized study design “cancels out” most previous wellness program study findings.

Thanks Jen (and thank you for the shout-outs), and thank you, Julian Reif.

Essential listening for wellness leaders who care about results. Click below to go to the podcast episode page:

198: Research on the Effectiveness of Traditional Wellness Programs with Julian Reif, Assistant Professor of Finance and Economics at the University of Illinois