by Dean Witherspoon   Dean's profile on LinkedIn  

Some wellness practices have made their way deep into the fabric of organizations and the industry with little if any solid justification for their ongoing use. For nearly 30 years the annual or biennial HRA was a mainstay until enough people finally asked why are we doing this? For too long the answer was so we could tell clients they need to move more, eat more vegetables, wear their seatbelt, and get 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Oh, and you’re outside the desirable BMI range — better lose some weight, too.

In the last 5 years, the wellness tool du jour seems to be portals, the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink websites that promise to solve all program delivery and communication needs in a 1-stop shop. That HRA? Check. Education modules? Check. Challenges? Check. Health coaching? Check. Self-care content? Check. Rewards system? Check. Everything for everybody… check, check, check.

You’d think that someone aware of their health risks (compliments of an HRA) would naturally want to change behavior. Uh, no. And similarly, if all the best resources for supporting health improvement were rolled up into a wellness portal, participants would beat a (virtual) path to your door. Not yet, they aren’t.

by Dean Witherspoon   Dean's profile on LinkedIn  

Wellness professionals sometimes languish in their careers because there’s no path leading up and out. To stay in wellness, but get ahead in your career, consider these steps:


  • Volunteer to head teams and take on new projects. People get promoted for a variety of reasons, including timing and visibility. If you get pigeon-holed as just the wellness person you may not be considered for added responsibilities.
  • Determine what roles must be filled in the next 1-3 years. Examine your organization’s human resource needs by interviewing managers, then set out to acquire any skills you’re missing. Don’t hesitate to propose an expanded role if you’re confident you can do the job.
by Dean Witherspoon   Dean's profile on LinkedIn  

Practitioners have for years been so concerned with wellness participation that we’ll do almost anything to keep the numbers climbing. Financial incentives? Yeah, that will work — until it doesn’t. Premium differential? Ooh… that’s a good idea — until it’s not. Lowering the bar on what, exactly, is “participation”? No one will figure out we’re gaming our own system — until they do.

In our never-ending quest to keep participation numbers high, we seem to have lost sight of the real goal of every wellness program on the planet: health and well-being of those we serve. Participation in your wellness programs and services may be less significant than you think, or even (gasp!) irrelevant.