changes to lifestyle can begin to reverse even severe health prob-lems
without drugs or surgery. He points out that stress causes
your arteries to constrict. It can cause arterial blockages to build
up faster, your heart to beat irregularly and blood clots to form
that can cause a heart attack.
The good news: It’s not the stressors that are important so
much as how you react to them. If you practice some simple stress
management techniques you can be in the same job, in the same
environment and not have it affect you in the same way.
That’s important because when employees are highly stressed
it can lead to more absenteeism, sickness and medical drugs, and
eventually to short-term disability, long-term disability and so
on. Healthy employees who can effectively manage their stress
require fewer dollars spent on their health and benefit programs.
By integrating wellness into an organization, it helps employees to
gradually change unhealthy behaviours, which can lead not only to
reduced health-care costs, but also a healthier and more produc-tive
In your book, you emphasize the importance of work-life
integration. Why is that important for personal and
GV: In today’s fast-paced business world, life is a blur between
work and home. Workers might simply be stressed out with too
many hours of overtime and not enough physical activity or sleep.
They might be struggling to meet a project deadline or attempt-ing
to support an ailing parent. Whether they are under stress at
home or at work, when they switch environments, their stress car-ries
over. If the environment at work is not a healthy one, it wreaks
havoc with their health and their ability to be a high performer. If
the pressures at home are too great – and there’s no support from
the organization by way of an employee assistance program, for
example – then performance will suffer, as well.
When an organization hires someone, they hire the whole
person. Whatever challenges or problems that person faces can
directly or indirectly impact the culture, teams and performance
within the organization. That can require purposeful action to
Lifestyle management involves getting in tune with yourself and
making choices. Most people will always have stressors in their
lives. However, employees who master lifestyle management and
put a priority on personal wellness will have a much greater resil-ience
to respond to or reduce stress.
How does a wellness culture impact
recruiting and retention?
GV: In general, the younger generation is taking more of an
active interest in improving their health. They are seeking orga-nizations
that are willing to support and invest in health care. In
fact, the new generation is familiar with the phrase “our health is
our wealth.” As a result, it’s now even more of a priority for pro-gressive
organizations hiring senior-level staff to not only provide
executive coaching services for leadership development, but also to
provide executive coaching services in lifestyle management and
wellness to attract and retain top talent.
Likewise, the organization needs to do its due diligence in the
selection process to ensure that the employee not only has the
knowledge and skills to excel, but also has a positive, healthy atti-tude
and is a good fit for the organization, is supportive of wellness
and will be a role model for staff.
This growing focus on health and wellness isn’t exclusive to
younger employees. Executives today are more health conscious
and educated about health issues. They are more knowledgeable
and better equipped to understand and appreciate the value of
work-life integration to attain a high quality of life and sustain
high levels of performance at work.
Who is responsible for organizational wellness?
GV: Sometimes corporate executives think the human resources
function should be responsible and accountable for organizational
wellness. HR is often involved in researching topics related to
organizational wellness, especially in leading edge organizations.
More importantly it is the role of HR to strategically position
organizational wellness. However, it’s the CEO and the entire
senior management team who are responsible and accountable for
organizational wellness, from buying into the concept to support-ing
organizational wellness, to being role models in integrating
their decisions into the day-to-day business operations.
How can an organization ensure they’re
making strides toward better wellness?
GV: The only way to ensure progress for better wellness is to mea-sure
the impact of your corporate wellness culture. An effective
corporate wellness culture is highly customized, based on what
works best for each individual organization and its employees.
Some examples: It can include measuring the impact of the past
versus current wellness culture of your existing employees, based
on data gathered in an employee survey. You can also measure the
ability of your organization to attract and retain talent; measuring
results of activities and participation linked to corporate wellness.
The important thing is to have all the areas of corporate wellness
embedded in the strategic business plan.
For the most part, making strides towards better wellness is a
process of continuing to build on corporate wellness and it takes
time and patience. That is, whatever aspects work extremely well
for your organization, you then want to do more of. Along the way
you’ll also consider what adjustments have to be made to make
The progress is most apparent when wellness becomes part of
the strategic business plan and the personal visions of the lead-ers
are solidly linked to an organization’s vision. That’s critical
“LEADERS NEED TO HELP
BETWEEN WORK AND HOME
LIFE, THEIR SOCIAL LIFE,
SPORTS AND HOBBIES.”
– GAIL VOISIN
32 ❚ FEBRUARY 2019 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL