WELLNESS PROGRAMS DON'T WORK - LET'S "NUDGE" THEM IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

BY JULIE SAYERS, SENIOR PROJECT MANAGER
 

We in the design and contract furniture industries know there is a slow-moving storm in this country that has an overwhelming impact on today’s modern workplace. It is an epidemic in our population of unmanaged stress (mostly from work), overeating & poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, alcohol & drug abuse, and smoking, resulting in an unhealthy, disengaged workforce. In an effort to address and correct these afflictions, corporations have leaned their ladder against the wrong wall by investing in corporate wellness programs - which research shows do not improve employee health, lower healthcare costs, reduce stress & chronic disease, or change unhealthy behavior. 


Haworth Chicago Showroom - Wellbeing Room - NeoCon 2018

WHY WELLNESS PROGRAMS DON'T WORK

In a new book written by Rex Miller (Principal of MindSHIFT and author of Change Your Space, Change Your Culture), Phillip Williams (President of Business Development at Delos), and Dr. Mike O'Neill (Director of Global Research & Workplace Strategy at Haworth) entitled The Healthy Workplace Nudge, we learn these programs are failing because:

  1. People with chronic disease are less likely to participate, while healthier people self-elect into these programs.
  2. Education and incentives don’t change unhealthy behavior. 
  3. They lack the continuity and accountability to address long-term health. 
  4. Chronic diseases take years to develop and years to manage or reverse.

Adding to already unhealthy habits, workplaces traditionally expect employees to be at the top of their game, agree with everything they're told, and be happy and smiling eight-plus hours a day, five-plus days a week. As human beings, not robots, succeeding at this is basically impossible and incredibly stressful. Nowhere in these corporate wellness programs are we addressing what people actually need to reduce stress and flourish, putting the humanity back into the workplace. Positive psychology calls these needs PERMA:

 
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POSITIVE EMOTION:
The ability to be optimistic and view the past, present, and future from a positive perspective. Feeling pleasure and enjoyment.

 
 
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ENGAGEMENT:
Being entirely absorbed into the present moment, a ‘flow’ of blissful immersion into the task or activity. Having fulfilling work and interesting hobbies.

 
 

RELATIONSHIPS: 
Connection, intimacy, emotional & physical interaction, and trust with other human beings. 

 
 
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MEANING: 
Understanding the greater impact of your work. Having a purpose in life.

 
 
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ACCOMPLISHMENT: 
Having ambition and realistic goals, important achievements, and pride in yourself.

 

The less a company focuses on meeting the PERMA needs of their employees, the more stressed their employees will be. And stress can physically tax a person's system just as much as an intense workout does, but in addition it adds all the harmful effects of metabolic syndrome,  which Mayo Clinic defines as "a cluster of conditions — increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels — that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes." 

Happiness does not come from a job. It comes from knowing what you truly value, and behaving in a way that’s consistent with those beliefs.
— Mike Rowe

Focus - Wellbeing - Wellness - Haworth - Archibald

WHAT CAN WE DO AS DESIGNERS?

As the WELL Building Standard has already begun to show, a workplace CAN be an instrument of wellness. The Healthy Workplace Nudge takes this concept a step further to examine how addressing stress as the chief cause of chronic disease and employee disengagement through "nudges" could be the key to unlocking healthier, happier workplaces. 


WHAT ARE NUDGES?

A nudge is a simple way to guide people towards desired behaviors, making the better choice automatic or easy. For instance, economist Richard Thaler's research motivated Congress to change 401(k) enrollment from a defaulted opt-in structure to an opt-out structure. This increased 401(k) participation from 30% to 90%, ensuring way more of our population will actually be able to retire at some point in their lives. The nudge concept can be applied to workspace design as well. Check out the video of Dr. Mike above for some examples.


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WANT TO LEARN MORE?

In October, one of The Healthy Workplace Nudge's authors, Rex Miller, will join us in our showroom for a Healthy Workspace Nudge workshop, where we'll discuss how “designed nudges can influence policy, programs, work design, workplace strategy, purchasing decisions, physical environments, social networks and other features of contemporary life.” Download the research brief below and let us know if you'd be interested in attending one of the workshops!

4 WINE & FURNITURE PAIRINGS TO CELEBRATE NATIONAL WINE DAY

4 WINE & FURNITURE PAIRINGS TO CELEBRATE NATIONAL WINE DAY

Recently, Haworth announced the addition of four gorgeous pieces to the Haworth Collection. This just happened to coincide with my delighted discovery that today is National Wine Day, so naturally, as I clicked through the images of the new, hand-crafted furniture, my mind wandered into a daydream of coming home after a long, hard day's work to pour myself a nice glass of wine and curl up on a beautiful Poltrona Frau saddle leather-wrapped GranTorino sofa that I totally can afford to own.

INNOVATION ≠ PING PONG TABLE

INNOVATION ≠ PING PONG TABLE

"Our people need privacy! Can you surround them completely in fabric screens? Just don't let it look like a workstation because that makes people feel terrible.

Wait, but they also need to collaborate. So the screens can't be too tall. Maybe we need 87 conference rooms?

While the above might be just a tad exaggerated, everyone who comes through our doors these days does seem to have their own slight variation on this list of requests. As furniture ninjas, we know what they're actually asking for is an environment that strikes that oh-so delicate balance of fostering creativity and innovation for both individuals and groups.

Oh yeah, and we also want to be like Google, so can you suggest a nice ping pong table and a sectional sofa?"

DOES YOUR COMPANY HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO INNOVATE?

DOES YOUR COMPANY HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO INNOVATE?


A few years ago, IBM conducted a survey of 1,709 chief executive officers in 64 countries about which looming business challenges keep them up at night. Unsurprisingly in today's fast-paced global economy, a whopping 94% of the CEOs listed continual innovation as their most critical pressure.

We all know innovation is the process of making a novel and useful idea into a reality, and that coming up with a slew of small ideas that lead to an innovative breakthrough is called the creative process. But how can you actively drive your employees towards creativity? Why do some companies seem to innovate effortlessly, while others lag behind? Where can we find more of that sweet, sweet secret sauce?