WELCOA’s Evolved Benchmarks to Bridge the Application Gap
Evolving the 7 Benchmarks content that informed WELCOA’s Well Workplace Process was our very first priority and where the process for the evolution began. Back in 2015 when we kicked off this part of the project, it was clear that our core tools: the Well Workplace Checklist and Award were philosophically out of alignment with our vision for the industry, and ultimately also out of alignment with the emerging value story for the industry at large.
The How and Why: Evolutionary Benchmark Change
The landscape of the wellness industry is constantly changing and health promotion professionals have all begun to face the fact that, to be successful, we have to move beyond traditional medicalized models for wellness, and begin developing strategies that support the whole employee. WELCOA is leading the charge by emphasizing new ways of measuring and demonstrating the success of our workplace wellness strategies.
The evolved 7 Benchmarks are designed to help you shift from old programmatic approaches that aren’t engaging to your employees to helping you develop caring cultures for holistic wellness—to help make fostering the wellness of your employees part of your organizational DNA.
Since April of 2015, we’ve been putting our heads together with some of the best and brightest in the industry:
- Focus groups with Well Workplace Award winners
- Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro
- Influencers from the Human Resources Institute, Best Places to Work, Edington Associates and Kaiser Permanente.
We were noticing a gap between research and real life application. A great example is motivational theories that have been driving our wellness program strategies and using incentives to motivate people to change their behavior. Researchers have discovered that offering external rewards for an already internally rewarding activity can actually make the activity less intrinsically rewarding, a phenomenon known as the over-justification effect. If we give extrinsic rewards or motivators for things people would do without a reinforce, eventually the person’s intrinsic motivation will replaced by extrinsic motivation—which makes the behavior hard to maintain.
So we wanted to understand and help wellness professionals leverage the best of what is known about human motivation and human needs. So when developing the evolved 7 Benchmarks, we incorporated the science of self determination theory to answer important questions like “How can we motivate people to change their health behaviors?”, or “How can we create conditions that help employees really thrive?”
Driving Principles Behind the Benchmarks
An organization’s approach to supporting wellness should be:
- Compassionate and Empathetic
In Jennifer Pitts & Dee Edington’s book, Shared Values – Shared Results, they offer us this wisdom about the opportunity we have to create meaningful and engaging wellness initiatives in organizations, saying “Our solutions will require holistic, systematic, and systemic approaches and true collaboration among stakeholders worldwide. Improving the health and thriving of employee populations will require true cooperation among stakeholders of organizations.”
So, when developing the new benchmark items, we created a logic model that reflects a whole-systems view and incorporates principles and practices across many disciplines—from behavioral economics to self-determination theory, and of course the best and latest research from wellness and population health management. From these disciplines, we arrived at three guiding principles for the evolved 7 Benchmarks: the WELCOA approach to supporting health and well-being is, above all, strategic, systematic, compassionate and empathetic.
While the previous benchmarks were primarily focused on wellness programming, the evolution of the benchmarks is meant to help health promotion professionals align whole systems in support of wellness of employees, families, and communities.
2019 WELCOA Summit:
Creating Thriving Cultures of Wellness
Explore our roster of innovators, trailblazers, and leaders in health and wellness. Each keynote, workshop and intensive session will be inspired by our roadmap for building a wellness program that makes a difference in your organization. Receive tactical support for rolling out the 7 Benchmarks during two days of presentations from experts and thought leaders in various spaces from wellness to engagement to leadership.
In Jen’s keynote, From Critic to Champion: How to Effectively Engage Leadership in Wellness, she’ll be challenging us to explore new questions, flip common thinking on its head and help us walk away with at least one practical action item for effectively engaging leadership.
Listen to Jen’s podcast, featuring WELCOA’s Director of Strategic Initiatives, Sara Martin Rauch.