Wellness Goes Beyond Just Physical Health

May 5, 2015

Jacqueline[Written by Jacqueline Perreault]

There is an evolution of the term wellness to include much more than our physical health and encompass our entire being. This includes emotional agility, resilience, environmental, and financial wellness.

Wellness also goes beyond taking care of ourselves and touches on everyone around us – our family, our co-workers and our communities.

How we approach wellness at work has just got a lot more personal. Top employers are no longer viewing wellness programs as ticking a check-box on their employees benefits’ list; they are creating whole brands built on a culture of humanity and responsibility.

I attended the Virgin Pulse Thrive Summit in Boston last week with my Colonial Medical team.

The conference, only in its second year, is transpiring into an industry standard for experts and leaders who wish to create thriving work environments and businesses that perform at their peak.

Themes throughout the conference were truly inspirational with the overall take-home message that wellness is not just something that we need to do for our workplaces; rather it is the ‘right thing to do’.

The world where the number of hours we work is worn like a badge is no longer working for us, with stress and burn out fast becoming the new epidemic. It is time that we shift the emphasis to the quality of our energy and create thriving environments at work.

Great companies build their brands on a culture of wellness and humanity. Names like Virgin, Google, and Jet Blue Airlines all elicit an emotional response in us as fun, engaging and energetic places to work. This isn’t by accident.

Ann Rhoades, keynote speaker at the conference and co-founder of Jet Blue, built her company on a values-centric culture. Taking care of her staff’s overall well-being is front and center.

She attributes Jet Blue’s success to its culture, stating that high performing cultures will out perform their competition. When her staff lost their homes in a hurricane they woke up the next morning with money in the bank. This spills over to how their employees take care of their customers.

One Jet Blue pilot personally held a plane so that a son could get home to say his last words to a dying family member. Individual values become the collective values of the company.

Robin Roberts, co-anchor of Good Morning America kicked off the conference, sharing her story of her struggle with breast cancer and a rare blood disease throughout her career.

Many argued that her willingness to share her journey with viewers led to the shows rise to number one. Robin attributed it to the ability of the audience to now identify with the cast who chose to reveal their authentic selves.

Good Morning America fought with Robin during her battle, taking care of her medical expenses, her overall wellness and then offering the same wellness services within their organization to all of their employees.

They sent a message to their staff that they cared for them and by default sent a strong message to viewers who tuned in to watch them every day.

Colonial Medical chose Arianna Huffington, Editor in Chief of the Huffington Post, to speak at its wellness event last month based on this very philosophy. She made a similar call to action for employers and employees to take care of one another.

She challenged us all to “change the collective delusion that burn out is the way to success”. She urged all of us to go beyond the metrics of money and power and start re-connecting with our well-being, wisdom and wonder.

When we feel anxiety, time deprivation and stress, it’s so important that we have the ability to re-center and quickly course correct.

Employers have a role in helping their employees with this re-connection in their working lives. The Huffington Post, for example, has sleep and meditation rooms in their offices and uses the Virgin Pulse wellness program.

Arianna cites Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Einstein as having attributed their moments of creativity to their moments of stillness and connectedness to themselves. The worst decisions, she proclaims, have been made due to lack of sleep. Arianna comically attributed her moment of weakness of falling in love with a Member in Parliament in London as a time of sleep deprivation.

If you wish to shift the culture within your family or in your corporation there are small changes that you can do in your behavior or within your organization to create this movement.

Below is a list of resources that may bring some inspiration for creating a thriving environment at home or at work.

  • 1. Robin Roberts: Everybody’s got Something
  • 2. Ann Rhoades: Built on Values: Creating an Enviable Culture that Outperforms the Competition
  • 3. Arianna Huffington: Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder.
  • 4. Based on the metrics of her book, Arianna is offering her six-week e-course to Colonial clients at a discounted price. The course starts May 3rd on at the following link.

Members can sign up online until May 10th.

I would urge everyone who reads this to commit to trying to change the way you and your colleagues work, before it is too late.

- Jacqueline Perreault [pictured] is the Corporate Wellness Director for Colonial Medical Insurance.

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