I just got back from a 3-day Corporate Wellness Conference put on in Los Angeles, CA by Corporate Wellness Magazine. I met some interesting people – mostly corporate wellness company execs, along with some insurance brokers and other wellness-related companies. There was a lot of discussion on the topic of “biometrics”. Wellness companies are obsessed with monitoring their employees body mass index (BMI), cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels and blood pressure. The idea is that heart attacks, stroke, diabetes and cancer are increasing company health care costs. This was my first time at a wellness event and what I found out is that the term “wellness” is reserved for treating and preventing chronic DISEASE, while the term “health” is used when referring to chronic PAIN. Now, here is the interesting thing about the corporate wellness people I met – No one recognizes the fact that you cannot separate “wellness” from “health”. Well, OK, they recognize that the two aspects of health are related, but they simply do not want to deal with it. There is this sort of “that is another department” attitude.
The bottom line is that no employee is going to have the motivation, drive or willpower to eat right and exercise if they are in pain. In order to reduce and manage the incidents of diabetes, heart problems, stroke and most cancers, employees need to get more active, lose weight and eat right. But sticking to an exercise program and staying away from the chocolate bar in the vending machine takes energy and persistence. If you have headaches, neck pain, back pain or knee pain from the work that you do, it will be unlikely that you will have it in you to participate fulling in a corporate wellness program.
From my PT perspective – working with patients everyday who complain about pain that is work-related – the first step is to make sure employees are comfortable at their desks and on their feet. Then you can focus on wellness issues. A company that combines both wellness and health initiatives in the workplace and makes sure that both facets of employee well being work together, will have better benefits all around. Not only will health care costs be reduced, but so will absences. There will be an increase in productivity, presenteeism and morale. Everybody wins!