Program Design

Organizations Need an Interconnected Health and Wellness Approach

Can we compartmentalize health, wellness, and employee development?
At the end of the day, you can't control the results; you can only control your effort level and your focus.
- Ben Zobrist

When it comes to health and wellness, there is no idea or concept we reiterate more than understanding what we can and cannot control. However, at WellVisor, we know more is needed than teaching essential concepts; if we are to achieve our goals of empowering individuals, we must also help them develop the other skills necessary to live the ideas every day.

Illusion of Control

Nothing detracts from one’s well-being more than focusing on those things over which we have no control. Holding onto false beliefs in our powers of sway, direction, or direct impact and venturing to change what is beyond our abilities is self-defeating and exhausting. It's a futility that leads to many outcomes, including depression, anxiety, anger, and substance abuse.

The nightly news is a glimpse into the damage to the victims and perpetrators of this unfortunate illusion. Most, however, can best understand the ideas of control through their experiences driving. Whether getting on someone’s tail to move them out of the way or yelling at someone for cutting us off, neither is a healthy expression of accepting those things over which we have no control. Moreover, both can lead to catastrophic consequences. 

For an organization, employees can manage; however, those with an unhealthy attachment to control are a risk to high-performance cultures and productivity. Some with control needs will fail to meet expectations as they double down on their efforts to dictate actions. We often see this in intelligent and capable employees who struggle to expand their duties as they become consumed by perfectionism and micromanaging. At the same time, an organization can lose talented resources to the stress, exhaustion, and depression that come with continually pursuing things beyond one's reach.

Understanding Control

Our struggles with control date back to the earliest writings of civilization. Almost 2,500 years ago, Confucius said, “What the superior man seeks is in himself; what the small man seeks is in others.” Around the same time, 2,800 years ago, the ancient Greek philosophers spoke of “enkrateia” which refers to “power over yourself, power over your own passions and instincts, self-control and self-mastery.”

The ideas of control and self-control have hindered man throughout history because it is not easy for knowledgeable beings to accept limitations. And yet, “emotional self-regulation,” the psychological term for self-control, is considered one of the most critical life skills for success and well-being and a pinnacle of emotional intelligence. 

Consider how the most effective employees typically control their emotions and maintain a calm demeanor when challenged. They do not personalize the actions or comments of others; they stick to facts and focus on the issues. In the same way, managers who are well-versed in control excel at guiding their team in focusing on company goals and not individuals, personalities, or excuses.

Productivity and Wellbeing

Organizations reap high returns through education and training employees to understand our limits of control. Organizations that effectively practice empathy and leadership will seek to understand the challenges their employees face while at the same time helping employees take personal responsibility for what is within their control - and, most importantly, recognizing, accepting, and moving past what is not.

One way an organization can help employees understand control is through proper accountability. 

  • Management and leaders help employees set goals that accurately account for what is and is not within their control.
  • Project plans and annual reviews are open and clear about addressing expectations and control, and limits. 
  • Employee discussions focus on their personal actions and expectations. 

Further, an organization can model and promote healthy control through sound business procedures:

  • Realistic expectations and planning. 
  • Involving employees in the risk management process.
  • Training leaders to let go and lead.

Wrap Up

Understanding the concepts of control and self-control is fundamental to an organization’s success and an employee's well-being. While health and wellness efforts traditionally focused on a limited set of skills like exercise and nutrition, employee and organization success requires a more integrated approach. 

  • Consider how control and self-control relate to diversity. It is far easier for someone to appreciate differences when they can let go of trying to control what they cannot. Instead of seeing things through a safe and controlled lens of what’s already known, being able to "let go" empowers the individual to see different perspectives and possible outcomes.
  • Consider how control and self-control relate to organizational goal setting. Those with a greater awareness of what we can and cannot control will not only be better at planning, but they may also be more agile and innovative through improved risk awareness and mitigation.

Individuals, and the organizations they support, thrive when employees have a well-rounded set of life skills. While traditional approaches disconnect health, wellness, and employee development, organizations will find the most cost-effective and impactful way to grow their employees is through a personalized, interconnected solution that "scaffolds skills development." For example, developing the self-confidence to practice letting go of those things we cannot control.