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Workplace Wellness Trends: Find the Bright Spots

UW Extended Campus October 18, 2016
Four people in a circle sitting on blue fitness balls.

By Theresa Islo, program manager for UW Health and Wellness Management

Within our health and wellness management degree program, our faculty are continually researching trends in workplace wellness. The wellness field is rapidly evolving, so there is always plenty to study. One of the most notable recent trends we’ve observed is the movement toward a more positive wellness model; a step away from the traditional model of numbers, stats, and metrics. That isn’t to say that we don’t need numbers in wellness models—it’s just that statistics don’t tell a full story.

As human resource and workplace wellness managers, we must all learn how to reframe the way we think about health and well-being in the workplace. Yes, risk factors matter, yes, health risk assessments matter, as do biometric screenings and “knowing your numbers.” But as Laura Putnam, author of “Workplace Wellness that Works,” says, the numbers are only part of the picture. Simply knowing one’s numbers doesn’t inspire change. In fact, the numbers often tell us what we already know: We are at risk! So if numbers alone don’t matter, what does?

Doing matters. Getting active matters. Inspiration matters. Engagement matters.

What doesn’t matter? Terror tactics. Scary statistics. Paralyzing penalties.

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To understand this shift in thinking, let’s revisit the roots of the traditional wellness model. The classic wellness model is built on a medical foundation. As such, the focus has always been on diagnosing problems. But today, Laura says, the “make these lifestyle changes or you will die” approach has the opposite effect and actually turns people away from wellness activities.

Instead, Laura advises the wellness community to focus on what’s right. Find the bright spots and encourage positive change. Identify the bright spots in your wellness program by asking these questions:

  • What has the organization already done to create a strong company culture and enhance employee health and well-being?
  • What are some positive things happening that are worth noting and celebrating?
  • What successes can you build on?

Then, leverage these strengths to set the tone for your wellness programming. Remember, a positive spirit fuels the wellness movement.

Want to learn more about how expert health and wellness professionals, like Laura Putnam, contribute to the courses within the UW Health and Wellness Management online program? Check out the program’s curriculum or contact an enrollment adviser at 608-800-6762 or

Programs: Health and Wellness Management