Corporate wellness programs are a valuable benefit that can no doubt help you along your path to true wellness. But you can’t outsource all of your wellness needs to your employer. There many good reasons to develop your own personal wellness program. Here are 11 of them.
Reason 1: Your personal wellness goals are loftier than your company’s wellness-program goals.
Your company’s wellness program manager is doing their best to do the right thing for you and your health and well-being. But ultimately they are beholden to a different agenda than your personal wellness goals. While you may (and arguably should) care about your body mass index (BMI), health risks, glucose and cholesterol levels, and blood pressure, those hallmarks of corporate wellness program metrics are just the tip of the iceberg. Your personal wellness goals, I hope, go beyond disease prevention and basic fitness and include an intention to strive for optimal wellness.
Reason 2: The luck of the draw.
Regardless of the loftiness of your personal wellness goals, the odds are low that your career choice, your geographical location, and your company wellness program will all converge to meet your wellness needs. Even if right now you have landed a good job in your chosen city with a company that provides a cutting-edge wellness program, your supportive boss or the progressive wellness-program manager could leave tomorrow. Only with a wellness plan that you develop and manage yourself can you begin to tame the vagaries of fate.
Reason 3: Your wellness needs differ from the benefits that your employer offers.
What good is a free gym membership if you hate gyms and prefer instead to run outdoors? What if you enjoy making your own healthy lunches and don’t need the fancy, subsidized company cafeteria? There are many points at which your wellness needs and what your employer has to offer may diverge.
Reason 4: Your learning style doesn’t mesh with your employer’s wellness activities.
Quick show of hands: Who has never sat through a corporate team-building or communication-skills-building workshop that didn’t include at least one activity that someone in the room found silly, inappropriate, or otherwise uncomfortable? Not a single hand. So you already know that you don’t necessarily have to be the grumpy guy from finance to find your needs inadequately addressed in a corporate training. Disconnects between your learning style and your company’s teaching style are another good argument for a personal approach to wellness.
5. You’d rather motivate yourself.
Corporate wellness program managers spend half of their lives trying to figure how to motivate you to stop smoking, lose weight, and accomplish other goals that will reduce the company’s health-care expenditures. Whether it’s old-fashioned carrots and sticks or newfangled social-media and gamify-ed motivations, they are professionally motivated in their position to get you on board with the company’s big-picture wellness goals. Granted these goals will often line up nicely with yours, but if you are intrinsically driven at all, then you’d probably rather motivate yourself.
6. You want to take your wellness program with you wherever you go.
The typical U.S. worker changes jobs about every four years. So you’re likely to work for several different companies over the course of your working life. Each of those companies’ wellness programs will probably operate differently, but you and your mind and body and spirit would like to continue to chug along on a consistent wellness course. You can smooth out the bumps in this corporate-wellness road by creating your own personal wellness program that you can take anywhere.
7: You want to protect your privacy.
Ostensibly, there are laws and regulations that protect your privacy at work, but corporate employees routinely forego this protection by opting in to wellness programs that request medical, biometric, health behavior, and other personal information in exchange for financial and other incentives. Having a personal wellness program in place can help you feel better about opting out of privacy-intruding programs.
8. Show your boss what you want.
Many corporate wellness programs are becoming genuinely more responsive to their employees’ wellness needs. By taking the initiative with your own wellness-improvement efforts, you can demonstrate to your boss your seriousness about wellness and be more likely to have your needs addressed in new and updated company wellness programs.
9. Ever-shifting corporate priorities.
The focus of corporate wellness programs is a moving target. One year they’re focusing on the healthiest employees, urging them along and using them as role models. The next year they’re focusing on the least healthy employees, aggressively treating their symptoms to get medical costs under control. One year weight loss is the big push. The next year it’s exercise promotion. These ever-changing priorities become less disruptive of your personal wellness path when you have your own program.
10. Economic and management volatility.
As the economy ebbs and flows and the managers in your company’s executive suite change, financial and other support for human resources departments and wellness programs can come and go. One particularly troubling aspect of this issue is the likelihood that your company’s wellness program will be cut back when there is a downturn in the economy, just when you are likely to need wellness help the most.
11. You’re probably on your own anyway.
Even the best supported, most progressive wellness programs lack the staff and other resources to consistently and completely address all of your wellness needs. For example, Nike, a very supportive and progressive company has only four full-time employees in its wellness program to serve its 60,000 employees.
What Does Your Personal Wellness Program Look Like?
These are my 11 reasons for creating your own wellness program. What are your your reasons? Let us know in the comments below.