The intersection between HR strategy and HR technology

Problems with Wellness?

systematicHR Avatar

I’ve listened to radio shows where the host clearly knows she is on the wrong side of mass opinion.  In fact, they are probably not on the wrong side of mass opinion, but instead just trying to get conversation and debate going.  Sometimes on the radio, they are actually just trying to piss off an audience.  While I can’t say for sure, I think occasionally the guy over at Punk Rock HR is doing the same thing.  In this post, she espouses why HR should not be involved in wellness programs.  While I do firmly believe in well executed wellness programs, that’s not what I’m here to argue today.

The best way to stop the financial hemorrhaging of our health care system? Invest in a nationalized approach to health care, remove the burden from employers, and make health care a human right and a personal responsibility.

I’d simply like to say that nationalized health care is not the way to stop the financial hemorrhaging of our health care system.  Instead, it’s about the population and our generally unhealthy ways.  Health of a population has less to do with who pays for it, and more about how people act.  So on that, I’ll go back on my word and talk about employer roles.

The employer is indeed the best place to have wellness programs.  Nationalized health care is simply too far removed.  The closer the contact and the more consistent and frequent it is, the greater chance that wellness will actually take hold.  I give PRHR that if we do get nationalized health care, employers will care less about employee wellness.  After all, if they don’t bear the brunt of the cost (at least if there aren’t actuarial services that calculate the cost of claims over a year) then wellness communications may decrease over time.  For now however, wellness for the time being is indeed best placed with the employer.
Successful wellness programs with a clear ROI  do not exist.

Does anything with a clear ROI exist in HR?  Perhaps in a few places, but honestly, if we needed clear RIO in HR, 90% of our function would not exist.  Is there clear ROI in talent management?  I think not.  We do what we do because we serve the employees as our customers, and somehow we tend to look out for their best interests.  In this case, we realized that their best interests also happen to be in ours if benefit costs can be decreased over time.

Tagged in :

systematicHR Avatar

7 responses to “Problems with Wellness?”

  1. Garrett O'Brien Avatar

    For more than 17 years, my business has taken me to more than half the states in this country and to several countries in North America as well as in Europe…

    When it comes to “governizing” anything not one of the states nor the countries have had positive results… National demoractic, republic or socialist governments are ill equiped for efficiencies and short term effectiveness unless… Dictatorships and facist are another matter…

    Massachusetts has attempted to make healthcare available to everyone — excuse, Taxachusetts… They are now considering a 19 cents raise in gasoline taxes and are looking at several other venues to raise taxes in order to maintain their budget as the healthcare system is stressing the limits of their buget…

    Canada and France have nationalized healthcare — and not doing so well with it… Both take 6 months or longer to see a doctor, I know — I’ve been there…

    We do not see U.S citizens going out of the country for treatment — we see everyone coming here for treatment… That alone tells you the efficiencies and short term effectiveness of your healthcare system is in high demand outside our country — our long-term effectiveness is just as stellar…

    Government regulation in any industry has been inflationary and ineffective — the healthcare does need regulation but would best performed by the private sector with requirements of such being experienced doctors and nurses that have a successful track rate behind them…

    There are LOTS of ideas and ideologies that look and sound great… Affirmative action was one of them — until you are caught in a fire and are praying that the guy coming for you did very well with his testing… At that point in time I do not care what color or nationality or gender that person is — I want to know and trust that the person coming for me has performed exceptionally well in his tests before performing the real thing…

    I would be expecting the same thing when visiting a doctor — one who had to earn his way to their position… not placed there because the government regulates his or her career…

  2. Howard Gerver Avatar

    Let’s face it – wellness is sick and needs to be fixed. The good news is wellness can work and HR can be an enabler. The less than good news is 1) for employers seeking to control costs, wellness is best-suited for low turnover employers 2) many of the sick do not participate 3) wellness vendors are not winning any best practice awards for effectiveness and efficiency 4) HR drinks the wellness vendor Kool Aid.

    While HR has the potential to manage wellness, the spectrum of care management including, but not limited to: wellness, case management and disease management has many moving parts such as, clinical, financial and change management. The last time I looked, HR was certainly lacking on the clinical side (not every HR department looks like Pitney Bowes) and the financial side was slightly better than the clinical aspect. So, that leaves change management. While HR is effective at managing change, change management is useless without the clinical and financial pieces.

    Trust me, I know. We’ve been auditing wellness, disease management and case management for several years now. At the end of the day, if HR really wants to do Wellness well it needs to take a look under the hood to see what’s really going on. Only then can HR be proactive and then embark on a journey to make wellness better. Without this critical step, it’s simply a waste of time and money.

  3. Jacqueline Kuhn Avatar

    Healthy employees actually do cost less and are more productive as they come to work daily and do thier job.

    Using labor metrics you can build a finanical business case for wellness and a healthy worker.

  4. Rob Scott Avatar

    Was a full supporter of your views until the last paragraph. One reason that HR cannot operate effectively at a strategic level is because they see themselves as a support function and want to be the place that employees can feel sorry for themselves and have a shoulder to cry on. I’m not saying HR should not be the custodian for legitimate employee well-being, but in todays organizations HR does need to stand up and be accountable for helping achieve the organizational goals and not just act in a support role.

    Otherwise all is good! – keep up the good blog


  5. systematicHR Avatar

    Nice conversation – thanks for the comments. I love it when I write about something I know nothing about. Inevitably I’m proven that my readers are much smarter than me.

    By the way – the comment about no ROI should have read no hard dollar cost savings – anyway – that is what I meant.

    I certainly appreciate the comments that there should at least be an attempt to measure the impact of wellness programs. Perhaps you are right in saying that it’s difficult to provide value if you are not attempting to measure impact. I still don’t know if you can really monitor wellness impact without 5+ years of trending, but I’m sure others know more about this than I do.

    Thanks for reading, and sorry for the typos.

  6. Is there clear ROI in talent management? I think not….

    Does anything with a clear ROI exist in HR? Perhaps in a few places, but honestly, if we needed clear RIO in HR, 90% of our function would not exist….

  7. Bruce Lewin Avatar

    The ROI fetish is perhaps something a red herring, not just in HR but elsewhere too?