Where is the “Why” of Well-Being…?

The other day one of my customers sent me a newsletter with an article on strategy that featured the following section:

“Businesses are realizing the importance of developing a compelling Purpose that resonates to its consumers – indeed, not just being about the “What You Sell” or the “How You Do It” but the “Why” (see a great Ted Talk by Simon Sinek for examples of why we actually buy iPhones and why Polaroid missed their golden opportunity by not defining the WHY).”

The_Why_of_Well-BeingSounds smart, right?  Well, Simon’s TED Talk is worth viewing.  It is thoroughly enlightening, yet stunningly simple.  His recent book, “Start With Why” offers insight about perhaps the most essential element in business:  why we do what we do.

 Simon’s talk also provided me a true “aha” moment on a topic that I’ve been wrestling with for some time.

 Where is the “Why” of Well-Being…?

A couple years back, while working as Director of Sustainable Engagement at Healthways, we were looking to take a leadership position in the well-being market and had put together an impressive strategic platform.  The company had:

  • Co-created the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index
  • Published a significant body of research on correlations of well-being to health
  • Developed and marketed their Well-Being Assessment as a “new and better” HRA

But what always got me was that we weren’t doing enough to convince people to participate.  I would say that we need to provide more “context” for them.  That was my word – context – and I’m not sure it really conveyed my issue.

Watching Simon weave his message on strategy and purpose and “why”, however, provided the perspective that was missing.

Where is the “Why” of Well-Being…?

We all know by now that corporate well-being has passed “The Tipping Point.”  No longer are internal advocates having to pitch management on the rationale for promoting health improvement and wellness solutions at their companies.

We’re there.

Some 87% of Buck Consultant employer survey respondents said they believe managing worker health to be their role, up from 75% two years ago.

We all know there is tremendous opportunity for employer-delivered well-being programs

But the Engagement Gap continues to fester, despite higher-level, incentive-driven participation figures.  The problem is that too many people are just “checking the box” – doing what they need to do to get their rewards.

This participation may or may not lead to better outcomes. And most sponsors just don’t know – that same Buck Survey found that only 36% of employers measure the outcomes of their well-being programs with:

- 68% saying they don’t have the resources, and 34% saying they don’t know how

So, what’s missing?  We are focused on the WHAT and the HOW, but not on the WHY.

Why should employees care about well-being?

We haven’t done enough to educate and inform then; to provide relevance and rationale; and to deliver the compelling story about the why well-being should be adopted as a core personal value.

We believe that by filling this gap, both engagement and outcomes can dramatically improve.

But it will take more than a head nod.  It will take the hard work of getting to WHY.

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