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Moving from Controversy to Collaboration

I wake up every day and am incredibly grateful that my career and the company I work for has one sole purpose – to help improve the lives of all working people. In fact, our vison at WELCOA is to “Be a transformative force that improves the health and well-being of all working people.” To me this is not a job; it is a life calling. I remember being young and dreaming about my future as an adult. I wanted to be a veterinarian, a doctor, a firefighter—the truth is I never knew exactly what I wanted to “be.” The one thing that I knew I wanted to do is help people.

“We should not be distracted from our mission and let our differences drain our energy from finding a solution to a problem that we are all trying to solve.”

I have been in the field for over 15 years during which I have had the privilege of meeting some of the most kindhearted and dedicated people on the planet. We as wellness practitioners have a big responsibility – our job is to create a better workplace for all working people and craft the work environments of tomorrow.

Several months ago, I was asked to comment and provide feedback on a wellness program code of ethics. Do we need a code, is there a code, what would a code look like? Though I’m not sure if I know the answer to all of those questions, WELCOA does feel that it is a valid pursuit to create something that would serve as a standard the industry can use to continue delivering on our promise. As wellness practitioners, we should create programs that are designed to help people be their best selves, to keep confidential information confidential, to report outcomes with transparency and follow the recommended government guidelines for screenings and other procedures. These simple principles shouldn’t be controversial, but a minimum standard. Wellness is not a clinical measure or number; it is much bigger and encompasses so many other dimensions. People’s motivations for living a healthy life are as unique as the individuals themselves and can’t be mechanized or summed in one program or strategy. This is what makes our field complicated and exciting at the same time.

Over the last several months it has been disheartening to see the division in the world, our nation and now in our beloved field. I have seen many public conversations that are wrought with controversy, intimidation and aggression. We should not be distracted from our mission and let our differences drain our energy from finding a solution to a problem that we are all trying to solve. There is no place for—nor need for—bullying, and WELCOA does not support such tactics. Our aim is listen to everyone and create an open dialogue where all are welcome to share their successes, ideas, critiques, and anything else that will help further our field and ultimately improve the lives of those we all try so hard to support.

We all know the statistics. People are getting sicker – everywhere—period. I believe that as wellness practitioners we are more relevant now than ever and that we will have a greater chance at improving the lives of all working people when we focus on the things about which we do agree. It is our job to be the example and continue to pioneer as a group.

Ryan Picarella, President