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4th Key Observation – The 2 Most Important Words in Worksite Wellness: “So What?”

Wellness in the Workplace 2.0

What Got Us Where We Are Today…Won’t Get us Where We Need to be Tomorrow

10 Key Observations from Thirty-Five Years in the Field


4th Key Observation:

The 2 Most Important Words in Worksite Wellness:  “So What?!”

presented for your intellectually driven consideration, emotionally driven engagement and—most important—your viscerally driven action



Or, another way of putting it:

Until you stir my soul and shake my bones you’ll only have half of my attention, at best.”



Until management experiences “THE GREAT AH-HA!,” the answer to the grand, existential question: “SO WHAT?” will remain suspended out in Vaporland, just beyond grasp.  Something left for another day.

Here’s how it works:

The Intellectual Phase is where credible data is collected and presented to management in a logical and rationale way.

  • “According to JAMA …”
  • “The American Journal of Health Promotion reports…”
  • “Latest studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine…”
  • American Dietetics Association recommends…”
  • et cetera, et cetera, et cetera…

Information is critical, of course—awareness is the first step in the education process— however, global reports sans personal context are nothing more than numbers on a page, sound bites from a Chamber of Commerce speech.  Interesting, but fairly quickly filed away or pushed aside by more immediate pressing needs.

Refer back to my posting on rational vs. emotional thinking…

The Emotional Phase kicks in when the information strikes a neighborhood cord; something close to home but not actually MY HOME.   You have a greater piece of management’s attention but if the news doesn’t directly impact your shop, the boss will quickly defer to the “I’m really very busy right now…someone else will take care of it … and it probably isn’t that bad, anyway” School of Denial.

  • “According to WSJ the ________ industry (our industry) continues to suffer as a direct result of rising healthcare costs…”
  • “Industry experts say that beginning Q2, 2014, the cost of healthcare will be double the cost of all other employer budget items, combined…”
  • Financial Times reports that the unattended wellness needs of today’s older employees will force the end of pensions for younger employees and place an even higher strain on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
  • “The Economist predicts that entitlements and employer mandated health benefits will drive more companies to pursue off shore operations and partnerships resulting in an even tougher job market for American…

All pretty scary stuff and I sure hope THEY (whoever THEY are) fix it.  Meanwhile, we’ve got a major  shipment to get out by Friday so let’s get back to work, people…

The Visceral Phase kicks you in the teeth and lodges in the belly when the “Boogie Man” smashes through your corporate front door.  No more theoretical. No more: “There but for the grace of God… .” No more tomorrows.  It is your shop, your health, your money, your family, your job, your life.

NOW you have my full attention.

“I’m sorry, what was it you were saying about… and, what do you need?  What action can I take…NOW?”

CEO Memo to All Employees:Due to expanding costs and shrinking revenue, it is with great sorrow and deep concern that I make the following announcement…”


Months Before the Memo…

Wellness Coordinator:Boss, all the studies show that obesity is on the rise,  stress levels are going through the roof, and that the World Health Organization puts the red, white and blue way down on the list of healthiest nations.

Boss“Um, interesting, but, so what?   How are those new treadmills working out?”

Weeks Before the Memo…

Wellness Coordinator“Boss, obesity leads to joint problems, higher absenteeism, depression, and increased healthcare cost and lower productivity.”  And, did you hear, Johnson & Sullivan Company said that their Q4 record loss was directly tied to increased healthcare costs and lost time on the line due to lifestyle-related illness?  If these losses continue they expect to close two plants and lay off up to 200 workers.  All because of healthcare costs! ”

BossSorry to hear that about J&S.  Good folks, but so what?  I still see black ink, here.  By the way, how much do we pay you?

Days Before the Memo…

CFOBoss, could I have a word with you.  Next year’s forecast figures have just been revised and there is a significant problem.”

Boss:  Yeah, sure; so what’s up?  WTF … #&%^#$%+ !!!


Okay, dramatic but you get the point.  When it comes to health and wellness, NEVER present information or make a budget request without first asking and answering the SO WHAT? question.  Get to the visceral action stage before it’s too late.  Align your information and requests with your company’s business objectives and COME WITH A PLAN…not just with a problem.

more at a later date…


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