Across all walks of life, the idea of performance, especially “peak performance” is a marker of success.
There are machines – luxury cars, mountain bikes, high-end computers – “built for performance,” that claim competitive superiority because they let you achieve more, be more – and, as a result, they often sell more.
For lovers of music and team sports, stellar performances are always in demand and appreciated, whether it’s the talent and orchestration of a fine classical concert or the successful game plan execution of a high-profile football game. Sold out venues and loyal fan support are their rewards.
Performers can also stand alone, whether soloists in music, or those with singular efforts in golf, tennis, or track. Each player does what they do best to achieve their own clear and defined purpose, and each has their own rewards.
For success in business, high performance is also essential, both on a team basis and for individuals. For the total organization, earnings that exceed expectations are rewarded with increased valuation. For employees, achieving goals that contribute to team or division successes can be incentivized in various ways.
In each of these scenarios, positive behavior leads to peak performance and results in meaningful rewards.
Another key is that the entity that “performs” must be free of hindrances or barriers to achievement. Said another way, participants need to be healthy, and oriented to good well-being practices so they can put forth top efforts and deliver optimal results.
So, here’s a potential conflict with today’s employee health promotion model.
For years now, employers have been concerned about their health and medical expenses, and have instituted health improvement programs to help lower costs (increasingly with incentives), with varying degrees of success. Some have had good outcomes, and data are beginning to show productivity gains as well (performance, per se, is rarely studied).
But, consider those top performers that may come to mind as you think of professionals at the top of their game. Do they need “health promotion” plans in place in order to take better care of themselves?
They know that the only way to achieve peak performance is to ensure that their body, mind and spirit are in tip-top shape. For them, purpose is the underlying driver, superior health is mandatory, and the rewards they accrue are generally commensurate with their efforts.
For employees struggling to reduce medical costs and improve health, one may wonder how the situation might be difference if their emphasis was on purposeful behavior rather than cost avoidance.
When leaders provide their enterprise with a strong sense of purpose and make certain that all participants know their role and understand how and why their contribution is integral to the achievement of results, employees are then more likely to match their health and lifestyle behavior with those of top performers – i.e. they don’t need a health risk assessment and telephonic coaching to do what’s right.
By providing individuals the necessary resources and support, and by more creatively designing rewards (and penalties) that are proportionate to their achievements, they might just work harder and smarter at taking better care of themselves.
Imagine if all those new innovations in health promotion such as team competitions, gaming concepts, reward points, and others were channeled toward improved organizational performance…
The employer market is not yet ready to embrace this philosophy, but as health promotion continues to evolve and encompass total populations, more enlightened organizations will begin to rethink the emphasis on cost avoidance, and increase their strategic focus on promoting and rewarding peak performance.