Jerome is feeling the heat; a big project is due this week, and he’s not sleeping well. He hasn’t been himself since recovering from an illness a few months ago, and drags through most days feeling exhausted. His family and job have always been top priorities, but he hasn’t been enthusiastic about either lately. Feeling stuck, Jerome keeps going through the motions at work and at home, hoping things will eventually get better.
$92 million. $28 million. $15 million. These are the venture capital investments in wellness companies we’ve heard about in just the last 3 months. It makes you feel like chump change if someone is offering you only $5 million for a piece of the action (thanks, but no thanks).
What may surprise you (or may not, if you’ve been paying close attention) is that for all the hype around workplace wellness, the quantified self, Affordable Care Act endorsement of wellness rewards, mobile medicine and health, skyrocketing sales of fitness fashions, mindful-everything… we don’t seem to be getting any healthier.
According to the new Gallup-Healthways Well-Being poll, obesity continues its rise unabated. Not coincidentally, diabetes is increasing. And with the exception of just a couple states, the vast majority of the country doesn’t get enough physical activity to have a positive effect on health. If you don’t trust the data, just take a walk through the airport or your nearest mall on a Saturday afternoon.
The mountain of evidence for the beneficial effects of walking is too high to ignore. The data is so overwhelming that you could make a case for wellness programs to narrow their focus and direct the most resources toward getting the population to take a daily 30-minute walk (read our white paper: Walking: The Health and Economic Impact, v2.0).
Walking is probably the easiest, most cost-efficient activity any organization can support for better health. Almost 100% of the population can do it — requiring only comfortable shoes, a place to walk, and the time. If you’re not putting a major emphasis on walking in your well-being program, do it now. Here are some ideas to get you going:
In 1905, John Eagan founded Birmingham, Alabama’s American Cast Iron Pipe Company. His vision was to build his business based on a very simple rule: Treat people as you would want to be treated. From the earliest days, Eagan’s company provided equal pay for all workers regardless of race or gender — something almost unheard of in those days. Because bathrooms were a luxury for many, he built a bathhouse with hot and cold running water behind the main building so employees could shower after work. The company offered onsite medical care and hosted frequent social activities. Eagan walked to and from work each day, frequently stopping at employees’ homes to ensure they and their families had everything needed to thrive.
Upon his death, he placed the company in a trust administered by members of management and elected workforce representatives. To this day they share in the profits as well as continue his vision of making employee well-being an integral part of operations.