Program Design

High-Performance Culture and Health & Wellness

How to align health and wellness programs with developing a high-performance culture.
We tend to overvalue the things we can measure and undervalue the things we cannot.

- John Hayes

Business is about return on investments. For a business to survive, it must generate a profit - while some like to believe predominately in altruism, everything a business does is ultimately designed to generate value for the business. 

High-Performance Culture

One of the ways a company can benefit from investing in its employees is to cultivate a high-performance culture, which includes some of the following characteristics:

  • Empowered
  • Proactive
  • Growth Mindset
  • Leadership
  • Ownership

Most importantly, a high-performance culture is one where everyone is part of something “bigger.” There is a higher purpose and calling to their efforts. They are not just working for a paycheck, as much as being rewarded both intrinsically and extrinsically for building something meaningful. 

Intrinsic Motivation

The key to building a high-performance culture is intrinsic motivation. Individuals are working together and driven by their goals to do something important. They feel ownership and feel personally responsible for helping the company succeed. 

It’s not to say they don’t see the extrinsic value of their efforts. Building job security, increases in pay, and recognition by their peers are of course valued; however, when the tough times come, it’s the internal drive that is needed most. 

Extrinsic Motivation

If employees are primarily extrinsically motivated, they lack a feeling of control. There is more stress in an externally motivated environment because individuals are constantly balancing fear and reward. They are worried about making mistakes and losing their job. They are driven by saying the right things at the right times to get the best pay increase or promotion. 

Ultimately, it’s impossible to build a high-performance culture solely through extrinsic rewards. The two concepts are contrary to each other. A fear of making mistakes is the anthesis of the growth mindset. In the same way, toady employees are contrary to an environment with open and honest communications and feedback. 

Health & Wellness Investments

Unfortunately, one of the most important investments being made by companies in their employees is contrary to the goals of building a high-performance culture. Health and wellness programs designed around reactivity and extrinsic rewards are not fostering the values of a high-performance culture. 

Take the reward for health activities chosen by the company as an example. The hope here is the employee will ultimately learn to make better choices by being paid to do activities that are considered by their employer as more important than other activities. In this model, employees have no sense of ownership in the decision-making.

Another example is how programs all too often promote reactive versus proactive behavior. A high-performance culture has employees looking for problems and ways to solve them before they negatively impact the business. And yet, most of the health and wellness programs are built around investing in individuals once they’ve already become sick. Many programs are also focusing on managing conditions through reactive device monitoring. 

High-Performance Health & Wellness

If an organization wants to foster the traits of a high-performance culture, all its investments should align with the high-performance traits, which includes investments in health and wellness. 

Instead of activities that may or may not be meaningful to employees, the high-performance health and wellness (HPHW) program fosters proactivity, personal responsibility, and a growth mindset. 

When considering an existing program or designing a new program, the following can help in determining if it promotes the values and skills needed for a high-performance culture:

  • Does the program promote problem-solving and personal responsibility?
  • Does it recognize the individual and their personal needs?
  • Does the program promote a consistent process and framework that can also be applied to problem solving and leadership in the workplace?
  • Are rewards tied to accomplishing personally meaningful actions?
  • Does it promote collaboration and learning life skills that may not be recognized as traditional exercise or nutrition skills? 
  • Does it focus on growth (pursuing a better future) or maintenance (correcting the past)? 

Wrap Up

Return on investment is a tricky thing. There is always risk involved in making investments, but one of the best ways to invest with confidence is by aligning all investments with the overarching goals of the organization. If empowering employees and developing high-performance traits are important to the organization, then health and wellness ROI is best maximized when investments align with those values and goals.