Reassessing Wellness at Work After All These Years: Still Medical or Thriving in Real Well-Being?


An advantage of stay alive above expectations (i.e. reaching a state of perennialhood) is increased wisdom and sometimes witnessed desired changes. In any case, it is hope that can be attributed to decades of increasingly apparent observations and greater openness to alternative experiences. What better time than later life to re-examine opinions and beliefs? Why end with the old religion or other fossilized attached political, social and so on? Often these hardened impressions are outdated or otherwise ripe for reform. Or not.

In any case, many may benefit from periodic scrutiny of long-held views. At times, some statements, even biased ones, may need changes or at least improvements.

A personal example is a long-standing claim that wellness-wellness programming has been and remains far too medical, dating back to the modern restart of the wellness movement in the early 1980s. In particular, with regard to three of the four dimensions of REAL wellness, workplace programming has ignored systematic efforts to promote positive mental skills, such as reason (critical thinking), overflow (joy and added meaning), and freedom (extended personal liberties). The other, who deals with exercise and nutrition (Athleticism), has paid close attention to workplaces and other places.)

Is there credible evidence of a reversal of REAL wellness that recognizes that such initiatives may be addressed by other terms?

Some colleagues who are more attuned to best practices and innovations in the workplace have called for a new assessment. I am told that there are REAL wellness priorities and ongoing programs that promise results.

Spurred on by an invitation to appear on a webinar from a leading workplace wellness organization to discuss the book Not dead yet (NDY). I decided it right stay alive fashion, to explore what’s new in corporate wellness.


On October 30, I attended an hour-long webinar with Dr. Paul Terry, senior associate and editor of the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO). The theme was Flowering and flowering (of all ages)! The initial focus was the 56 tips for successful aging described in the book. Susan Bradley Cox, one of the eighteen world triathlon champions over 75 who shared the webcast podium with me, was NDY.


Under the best conditions, the impact of wellness at the workplace will necessarily be random in relation to the larger problems faced by employees. Social determinants such as inadequate educational levels, poor housing conditions, dysfunctional cultural influences, financial pressures, crime, mental and physical disabilities and much more are more consistent but cannot be shaped by workplace wellness. While important, it is helpful to realize that macro-change in society and the environment should be a priority, not to be overlooked while promoting the well-being of workers. A few health promotion classes and other initiatives to encourage good health skills and practices during the few hours a week available for workplace programming should not distract from the major issues affecting quality of life.

This point was made by economist Thierry Malleret in 2019 Global wellness summit in Singapore 15-17. October:

Skyrocketing healthcare, housing and education costs are decimating the American middle class and causing rising inequality and anxiety – and the phenomenon is not limited to the United States. But when it comes to social and environmental progress, the United States looks like a significant, underperforming outlier. According to the Social Progress Index, the United States is the only developed country in decline, both in absolute and relative terms, compared to its peers. It now ranks 26th in social progress, while Norway comes first.

Many (e.g. Benjamin Libet, Dan Wegner, Thalia Wheatley, Sam Harris, and a majority of contemporary scientists) marshal evidence to support the notion that free will is a myth that determinism prevails. If so, this zing takes out of often ballyhooed enthusiasm for self-responsibility and Vitticans like P.J. O’Rourke is cracking it no substance, not even alcohol, causes the basic disorders of society. If we are looking for the source of our problems, we should not test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power.


HERO is a national think tank whose mission is to promote best practices in employee health promotion. HERO is a leader in research and education on the impact of workplace well-being, on best practices for positive health outcomes, and on the role and nature of healthy cultures for successful employee performance.

Over the course of several years, Paul Terry has extended polite and always collegial invitations to consider more charity reviews on workplace well-being. In the weeks leading up to the webinar, while seeking to better appreciate positive (i.e. real wellness-like) programming, I reviewed HERO’s archived interviews with workplace leaders, as well as the organization’s annual forum discussions, research studies, think tank meetings, scorecard initiatives, briefs, blogs and news releases. All impressive, to be sure.

After receiving a preliminary partial draft of this article, Paul offered the following:

It is a long sequence to summarize all the ways in which workplace health is in line with REAL wellness as it has been occurring for a long time and has already apparently avoided your observant tales. I have posted an editorial below that will be published in January. I think the ‘Pillars’ are examples of freedom and reasoning in your philosophy. My editorial is open access. In the last years, I have written about voluntariness and autonomy (freedom), about parsing between facts, truth and empirical evidence (reason and freedom) happiness and meaning and life purpose in an interview with Richard Lieder and Vic Strecher (reason and overflow). In each editorial, I include cases and examples of how the private and public sectors are increasingly working together to achieve these REAL approaches.

All that seems to me is encouraging and welcome news. The theme of the recently concluded HERO forum was Future organizations that achieve well-being through collaboration. Much attention was focused on the federal government Healthy People 2030 initiative, a science-based rendition of 10-year national goals. The goal of healthy people continues to improve the health of all Americans.

Based on brief (less than six minutes) expert interviews conducted at the last HERO National Business Wellness Conference, a further glimpse of REAL wellness-related enterprise programming initiatives can be sensed.


Krystal Sexton, Head of Human Performance and Care at Shell, identified the psychological characteristics of employees that have the most impact on organizational performance. Such individual attributes include hope, optimism, resilience, and confidence; team dynamic factors that matter most are those that tend to lift people up, provide clarity and find common ground.

Unfortunately, this and the other interviews did not identify specific firmware programs that address these drivers for business success. I look at the bright side and assume there needs to be training for everything that promotes specific agendas.

A video of and follow-up on telephone and email communications with Jessica Grossmeier, HERO’s vice president of research, revealed the nature of the HERO scorecard. The instrument is designed to help organizations find best practices for promoting workplace well-being. It identifies opportunities to improve and measure progress.

However, Grossmeier noted that the current version of the tool relates only to the Athleticism element, but invited suggestions for future iterations of the scorecard. One resource was cited as an attempt to help professionals develop more critical thinking skills. HERO has since provided more detailed examples of how to apply these critical thinking tips to findings in a number of research studies.

The expert interview series on HERO’s YouTube channel features additional short videos of national leaders speaking at the recent HERO Forum 19 ‘gathering on well-being through the Collaboration theme.

• Nico Pronk, Dushanka Kleinman and Mary Pittman on Healthy People 2030: Goals for the Nation and Business Role.

• Sara Singer, Stanford professor of four pillars in a health culture and the role of internal and external collaboration.

• Brian Castrucci, President and CEO of the DeBeaumont Foundation on business case partnerships and collaboration in the private sector and community.

• Andrea Walsh, JD, president and CEO of HealthPartners, on the benefits of community health business, on reducing the stigma of mental illness and the need for partnerships.

• Matt Steifel, Kaiser Permanente on the relationship between social health determinants and the role of these factors in workplace health and well-being initiatives.

• Karen Moseley, President, HERO on the role of collaboration and measurement development on the next and mission-critical for HERO.

• Paul Terry, Senior Fellow, HERO, on new survey results released for the first time at HEROForum19.


Before I go any further, let me express my thanks to Paul Terry for exceptional assistance that enabled this rapid tour of modern development and meaningful advances in the arts and sciences in the field of health promotion in the workplace. Links alone should be of value to many who might not otherwise have discovered these informative resources.

What is astonishing is that Paul provided this guide as he wandered down and out of the Grand Canyon, communicating only with carrying pigeons and mirrors to pass data to HERO’s Minneapolis headquarters. (The section about hiking in the Grand Canyon is true.)

So did I take advantage of this periodic review of my perception that workplace wellness has done too little to promote well-being while focusing too much on identifying and changing risky habits? It seems. As all study authors note at the conclusion of their research reports, further research (and generous grants to fund the same) is imperative.

It was certainly beneficial to learn more about the work of the HERO organization in this field. HERO must work wellness what the National Wellness Institute once was to promote the wellness concept and the Global Wellness Institute is for the concept today – a worldwide promoter of research, initiatives, roundtables, annual summits, discussions, collectors of wellness certificates and sponsor of bold initiatives such as Wellness MoonshotTM: A world free of preventable disease. In their own words, GWI informs and connects the key stakeholders who are able to influence the overall welfare of our planet and its citizens. Not coincidentally, GWI provides all of its valuable information and resources at no cost, giving anyone, anywhere, access.

In conclusion (last), this review has made me more informed and much more interested in learning more about new developments in workplace well-being in relation to REAL wellness. Again, thank you to everyone who contributed directly and otherwise.


Wellness initially started rooting as a way of life, a way in which individuals make informed choices to establish and maintain positive levels of mental and physical health in addition to the absence of illness and illness. The lifestyle is based on personal responsibility, disciplined habits and skills related to effective decision making, joy of life, exercise, nutrition, stable emotions, personal liberties of mind and body, rich meaning and purpose, a supportive culture and environmental awareness among. other life-enriching properties. In a work environment, security can also be promoted in the form of freedom to speak freely without fear of retaliation.

This meaning of the word is consistent with REAL wellness, with the difference being that the REAL modifier introduces four specific categories or dimensions in which vital skills and positive outcomes are organized. These four dimensions can include all the places in which we operate, such as the social, business and other areas of life, often presented as wellness dimensions. (As if different skills are required for optimal functioning in different spheres of life.) The four REAL wellness dimensions are reason, overflow, athletics (training and nutrition), and freedom.

REAL wellness should encourage and guide people to think and function rationally, to live exuberantly, to maintain physical fitness, to eat wisely according to actual nutritional knowledge, and to live as freely as possible. The latter means being freed from cultural or circumstance elements such as superstition, irrational dogma and other mental and social restrictions that add restrictions to personal liberties.

And that’s about it, folks.

The end.