Wellness Doesn’t Work. And It Won’t Work. Until It Does.

in Employee Wellness Programs, Uncategorized

Out of OrderNew study findings from the University of Illinois confirm that an employee wellness program doesn’t improve health or healthcare costs.

Here’s what will happen next:

  • Wellness critics will argue that wellness programs must cease at once.
  • Wellness profiteers will, once again, falsely claim that the studied program was atypical and that the researchers failed to report on measures such as mental health, energy levels, quality of life, or job satisfaction.

Here’s what should happen next:

  • We should be prepared to accept, based on a growing body of evidence, that typical wellness programs don’t deliver on their promise.
  • We should collaborate with employees to figure out how we can effectively support their wellbeing.

Research should be leveraged to improve employee wellbeing strategies. Circling the wagons around the status quo or interpreting studies simply as a yay/nay on employee wellbeing are both unproductive.

See the abstract/article:

Effects of a Workplace Wellness Program on Employee Health, Health Beliefs, and Medical Use: A Randomized Trial

 

Research: Stable Work Scheduling Succeeds; Behavior Change… Not So Much

in job design, total worker health, Uncategorized, Wellbeing

In the early going, a typical employee wellness program doesn’t have much impact on healthcare costs, health, quality of life, or job performance. This, based on data from a cluster-randomized study of employee wellness at BJ’s Wholesale stores. (Cluster randomization means the worksites, not the individual participants, were randomized.) Get the lowdown in my article, The 4 Factiest Facts Overlooked in the Latest Wellness Study Kerfuffle.

But rumors of wellbeing’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. A cluster-randomized study of Gap stores showed that stabilizing worker schedules led to increased sales and — while it’s no panacea — enhanced employee wellbeing, especially sleep. (A separate major study confirmed that unstable schedules are strongly linked — more strongly even than low wages — to workers’ psychological distress, sleep disruption, and unhappiness.) The contrasting results from these studies, building on previous research, surely will persuade business leaders to prioritize organizational strategies over health behavior modification products.

Stable schedule infographic