We have the good fortune to work with hundreds of highly motivated wellness professionals every year. And from time to time we connect at an industry event and spend some time over coffee or dinner, when we really get to know them.
One thing we’ve learned over the last decade: There seems to be a direct relationship between happiness and work fulfillment with a big life outside of work. Some real examples (but not real names):
- Kim has exceptional rates of completion for wellness campaigns (60% or more) without offering any rewards. She’s on a first-name basis with probably a third of her organization’s 4000 employees by being highly visible in both formal and informal settings. She’s happy in her job and her life outside of work, where she serves on the community center board, volunteers for a women’s domestic abuse shelter, participates in several charity fun runs each year, and is in a neighborhood book club. Oh, and she has twin teenage daughters playing competitive volleyball that takes up 2-3 evenings a week. “My community involvement inspires me and gives me energy for my job. I do almost no work from home and think about work only on my drive to the office, so I show up refreshed and ready to tackle the day’s challenges.”
- Nicole is in charge of wellness for a large health plan’s division. Her participation numbers exceed those of her peers by 5%-40% on almost every intervention. Unlike Kim, her dispersed workforce makes it hard to get to know as many people, so she’s created possibly the most dynamic wellness champion network team we’ve ever witnessed. “It comes down to ownership. I invest more than half of my work time cultivating champions and making sure they get the recognition they deserve. 40 fired up people can do a lot more than 1.” Nicole experienced the power of ownership through her involvement in several community charity causes, including United Way. “I love to work with people who are passionate about a cause. I’m on 2-3 committees outside of work in a typical year; I’ve found when you combine purpose with the right training and tools people often surprise themselves with what they can accomplish.”
- James is a former college athlete. He finished third in the state meet in high jump at 6 feet, 6 inches in 1998. After graduating from college he began coaching part time at both local high schools as a way to stay involved with the sport and was introduced to Matthew, the younger brother of a student he coaches. Matthew has Down syndrome and would attend every one of big brother’s practices, pacing the sidelines and cheering on his brother and everyone else. Knowing Matthew led James to volunteer for a Special Olympics meet, then another. Today he’s an area director for Special Olympics in his state (in addition to being full-time wellness coordinator at work). “The unbounded joy of these athletes gives me perspective I don’t think I could get any other way. My whole attitude on the value proposition for workplace wellness changed after about a year working with kids with disabilities. Now I’m focused on helping our employees improve quality of life through our well-being program. I’m trying to help everyone find joy in living a healthy, fulfilled life. I have no idea what the ROI is on that, but it sure makes me want to dive in with all my energy every Monday morning.”
The common denominator of our 3 friends and many other highly successful wellness managers isn’t 60-hour work weeks. It’s a full life outside of work, often spent in the pursuit of helping others.