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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Employee Buy-In: The Power of Leadership in Wellness

Sometimes I read an article that's so good, I want to throw copyright to the wind and post the whole thing on the blog, verbatim! While I won't go quite that far, I do hope you'll take in this excellent article from Inc. Magazine on how to start an employee wellness program. It's full of great information.

I will quote one eye-opening statistic: "The University of Michigan Health Management Research Center (HMRC) estimates that an organization saves $350 annually when a low-risk employee remains low risk and $153 when a high-risk employee's health risks are reduced." This is an often-overlooked benefit of wellness -- keeping your healthy employees healthy.

One section of the article discussed employee buy-in -- a topic that grabbed me. Our good friend Janet McNichol has a different point of view on this topic, but I've always argued that executive leadership needs to be on board in a visible way from the beginning.

If you've ever worked for a large company, you know how sensitive employees are to the comings and goings of management. If the executives aren't setting a good example, the rank and file will notice -- believe me! I agree with Quan Campbell, who is quoted in the Inc. article: "If I had a manager who was maybe overweight and I knew he smoked five packs a day and was a heavy drinker and yet he was telling me that I need to start this wellness program, it just doesn't flow very well."

One of our current clients is a prime example of the power of positive leadership. Their CEO not only vowed to quit smoking and lose weight: He did it publicly. As a result, he has become the face of the program, and I've seen first-hand how his direct involvement has driven participation.

So what do you think? If your company started a wellness program, would your boss's level of commitment affect your decision to participate? I'd love to hear your views.

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