Redesigning Wellness Podcast

The Redesigning Wellness podcast explores the world of corporate health to help employers build strategic wellness programs that engage employees. The Redesigning Wellness podcast is centered around what works and doesn’t work in wellness. In this podcast, Jen will interview experts in various worksite wellness specialties to demystify the common worksite wellness program. She’ll also spend time sharing common barriers to help get your wellness program moving forward. You’ll discover common sense approaches to wellness, tips for engaging employees and how to implement a program that your employees actually like.
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Redesigning Wellness Podcast








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Dec 21, 2016

You may have heard the word “corporate social responsibility” being thrown around but not really connected it to employee wellness. Corporate social responsibility, often abbreviated "CSR," is a corporation's  initiatives to assess and take responsibility for the company's effects on environmental and social wellbeing.

So you may be thinking “what does corporate social responsibility have to do with wellness”? Hopefully you are looking at wellness or well-being as moving beyond just the physical, and are thinking or have thought about ways to weave volunteering into your wellness strategy.

If you need more evidence than that, I’m a big fan of the Gallup-Healthways Wellbeing model that includes community as one of their 5 dimensions.

That's why I brought on today's guest, Isa Watson, founder and CEO of Envested, the next generation giving platform that makes it easy to inspire and engage employees.

In this episode we talk about:

- how she got from chemistry degree to a company founder

- what is Envested and what are the capabilities for both employers and employees

- how corporate social responsibility and wellness are connected

- common challenges employers face when it comes to corporate social responsibility

Finally, she leave us with not one but two tangible tips on how companies can increase their corporate social responsibility. 


Dec 14, 2016

Have you ever thought about how to sneak health and well-being to your employees? What about how to get your Managers to create engaged teams?

Today's guest, Laura Putnam offers guidance on both of these topics along with her thoughts on incentives, all the infighting within the wellness industry and her advice to wellness professionals.

Not to mention, we get a sample of what it's like to live in San Fransisco and we meet Laura's cat Minky.

Laura Putnam is author of Workplace Wellness That Works and CEO and founder of Motion Infusion. A leading authority on how organizations can promote well-being at work and how leaders and managers can inspire employees to adopt healthier behaviors, Laura is a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Laura is leading a pre-conference intensive workshop at the 2017 Art & Science of Health Promotion called Workplace Wellness that Works: A Smarter Framework for Designing More Effective Workplace Wellness Programs. For more information, visit this site.

Dec 7, 2016

Wellness initiatives are commonly known as "programs" which implies a start and an end, exactly what we don't want wellness to be. So, how can we pull away from pushing programs to influencing organizational culture?

Today's guest, Dr. Rosie Ward, is a thought leader who challenges the status quo, pushes boundaries, and engages people and organizations to find success through shifting old, ineffective thinking habits.

In this episode we discuss, how she got into organization management from fitness and public health, her advice for wellness pros to stay relevant, how there’s a missed opportunity in leadership development and we discuss those damn incentives!

Nov 30, 2016

Could you infuse more positivity into your workplace? I would venture a guess that we could amp up the positivity and optimism not only in our organization but also in our health and wellness programs. That's why I wanted to bring on MJ Shaar.

MJ Shaar was one of the first 50 people to graduate with a Master’s in Applied Positive Psychology from University of Pennsylvania. She has spent over 15 years studying, researching, coaching, and designing Applied Positive Psychology-based workshops for wellness professionals and organizations of all kinds.

MJ is a fun person to talk to and has a lot of great advice for integrating positive psychology into health and wellness promotions within organizations. In this episode, MJ walks us through the 5 pillars of positive psych, how we can apply it to health and wellness, gives us advice on moving the wellness industry past the traditional biomedical model and leaves us with a tangible tip. 

Nov 23, 2016

Dr. Michelle Segar is a motivational scientist who has been studying what motivates people to choose and maintain healthy behaviors, particularly around exercise.

We start with Michelle explaining what she does as a motivational scientist. Research suggests we tend to make daily health decisions based on emotions and in the moment instead of according to logic. We'll make the choice based on how we feel.

Wellness has come out of a medical model that's logical and makes sense but long term benefits of exercise don't influence people. The "feel good" benefits of exercise do drive long term exercise.

We need to look to marketers as we are trying to change health behaviors. Michelle compares this to Apple and how they guide us to feel in the moment.  We can help people see that if they move for 10 minutes they do have more energy. We also need to decrease the standards we give to people using a Kindergarten mindset. Let's shrink the goals we're asking people to achieve (at least at the beginning).

How can we move exercise from a chore to a gift? When you frame exercise as fun instead of physical activity, we get them to see it differently. Hook people to re-frame exercise by the quicker benefits like feeling happy, better sleep, stronger sex drive, connecting with your love ones, etc.

We need to shift people's perception that healthy behaviors from logic health reasons but instead as a vehicle to feel better immediately. Encourage people to notice how they feel differently when they make healthy choices. Ultimately, increase their self-awareness. The most challenging aspect is sustaining the health change because of the ongoing self management around the behavior.

Michelle gives her thoughts on external motivators like gift cards and financial incentives. She leaves us with a tangible tip to assess the reasons we give employees to participate....are they based on logic?

Nov 16, 2016

When it comes to the Corporate world, we tend to shy away from practices like meditation, deep breathing and using our intuition to make decisions. Today's guest, Jonathan Winn, gives us good reasons to incorporate these practices into our everyday lives.

As a warning, we start out talking about the U.S. election. Regardless of how you feel about the outcome of the election, I encourage you to listen to Jonathan's reaction and encouragement for us all to not feed the divisiveness. He urges us to seek the grounds where we have common space and warns us that whatever we focus on, we welcome it to continue.

Jonathan tells us about the benefits of incorporating focused breathing into your day and how your feeling is directly related to how you're breathing. 

The steps to using your breath are to observe without worrying about changing it, to slow down your breath and finally to deepen your breath.

Jonathan talks about how to incorporate breathing into your wellness program (first, don't describe it as a breathing program because that's the how) but rather on increasing focus, productivity and well-being. For example, it's what can you do to maintain your calm when you're on the phone with a difficult client.

He talks about the imbalance in the corporate world between creativity, intuition (going with your gut) and using logic/analytics (data driven pieces). Jonathan teaches clients how to listen to their own inner guidance and body intelligence. He also tells us how employers can help tap into employee creativity and innovation.

Finally, Jonathan tells the story of how he came into this world and why it influenced his company focus (and name).

Nov 9, 2016

As a wellness or HR professional, how often do you think about, research or identify organizational trends? It's easy to get caught up in our day to day and ignore how the world of work is changing.

That's why I brought Jacob Morgan on today's episode. Jacob’s one of the world’s leading authorities on the future of work, employee experience, and how the workplace is changing. Jacob also hosts the weekly podcast titled ”The Future of Work”.

In this episode we discuss:

  • trends employers need to pay attention to
  • #1 challenge employers face
  • his thoughts on open workspaces
  • characteristics of progressive companies

Jacob walks us through his Future of Work Forum and Community and fills us in on his new book, due out March 2017.

Finally, he leaves us with great advice for what health and wellness pros can do to move their organization forward.


Nov 2, 2016

Workplace wellness programs tend to focus on obesity and ways to get employees to lose weight. Unfortunately, many organizations rely on weight loss methods that don't work and may reinforce restrictive eating, yo-yo dieting and ultimately, more weight gain.

Today I talk with Rebecca Johnson, Director of Workplace Wellness for Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Programs and Training.

In this conversation, Rebecca and I talk about how she got her start into the health and wellness industry, how we can help push the wellness profession forward and the tenets of the Am I Hungry training. Rebecca also leaves us with tangible tips for employers who want to address weight at the workplace.

For more information visit


Oct 26, 2016

As wellness and HR professionals, we tend to get focused in our bubble of where we work and how we can make an impact on our employees. There are many forces outside of the worksite that impact individual's total health. That's why I wanted to expand our worksite lens and talk to Dr. Kelly Brownell.

Dr. Brownell tells us about the work he oversees as the Dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. 

He drops some interesting facts about how the world population is expected to double in the next 50 years and that will put a tremendous strain on agriculture. China is now having a problem with obesity...more than with malnutrition.

We talk a bit about the agriculture subsidies for corn and soybeans and how they are complicated issues. He gives me a history lesson on why they were put into place in the first place.

We discuss how Philadelphia recently passed the soda tax and Dr. Brownell gives his input into the effect on other cities. He compares these soda taxes to tobacco taxes.

I ask him what he thinks of the angle Philly used to pass the soda tax (using bringing in more revenue vs. health implications) and what he thinks of the personal responsibility story when it comes to junk food?

Finally, I ask him if the soda tax replicate for the worksite, if obesity in adults can be solved or if we need to focus on prevention and how can cities/communities/employers can start a movement around health and wellness?

Oct 19, 2016

Today we talk a lot about the criticism that Jon and others have faced when challenging the status quo. Jon walks us through how he gained a newfound respect for WELCOA, the wellness organization that has previously been stuck in the past.

Jon tells us how him, Al and Rosie wrote up Employee Health Code of Conduct to prevent harmful practices done to employees. They want brokers, consultants, wellness vendors and companies sign the Code of Conduct.

Jon has a lot of respect for people will admit they were wrong. In fact, Jon used to run an Optifast program.

I jab Jon about his Linked In commenting and he talks about the continuum of snarkiness. He's received negative comments on Linked In as well but admits he's occasionally stepped over the line.

When you are speaking out about strong paradigms and challenging the status quo, you may need to be more direct.

Jon gives advice to his younger self/wellness pros getting out of school today and tell us about The Fusion, an upcoming conference in 2018 that includes Wellness, HR, safety and Organizational Development.

Jon leaves us with his advice for a company who wants to start a wellness program and tells us about their Thriving Workplace Culture certificate.

Oct 12, 2016

Jon Robison has been stirring the wellness pot for the past 30 years. He's co-founder of Salveo Partners, an expert consulting and professional development firm that guides organizations to create thriving workplace cultures, enhance organizational performance, and cultivate employee wellbeing.

We start off discussing Jon's philosophy around wellness/well-being. I ask Jon what got him thinking outside the traditional wellness program model. He answers the questions what's right and wrong with the wellness industry.  

Jon then talks about the Safeway Amendment and how the average incentive is $693 per employee per year. He feels incentives promote cheating, lying and taking short cuts.

Finally, we talk about weight loss programs in the workplace. The majority of people lose weight and 90-95% gain the weight back, most gaining back more weight than they lost. 

Because we end up going well past an hour, I ended up making my conversation with Jon two parts. Next week, I continue my conversation with Jon.

Oct 5, 2016

Financial wellness is all the rage in these days but what does it really mean? It seems like it can be pretty squishy and unclear just how to help employees with their finances. That's why I brought on Dave Jacobson, financial coach and national speaker.

Dave describes financial wellness as having peace and security around your finances. 

In this episode we talk about:

  • His typical client
  • Strategies for an employer to address the financial wellness of their employees.
  • What questions an employer should ask a financial wellness vendor
  • Stories and stats from people he's helped.
Sep 28, 2016

You’ve probably heard the staggering numbers around diabetes. In the U.S. there are almost 30 million people with diabetes and 89 million with prediabetes. As many as one in three by 2030 will have diabetes.

People with diagnosed diabetes, on average, have medical expenditures approximately 2.3 times higher than what expenditures would be in the absence of diabetes. 

It’s a bit of a problem in the U.S. but how can an employer address the disease?

Today I talk to Dr. David Marrero, who’s an expert in the field of clinical trials in diabetes and translation research. His career in diabetes research got started when he was diagnosed with diabetes 40 years ago and couldn’t find any research on the subject.

David and I discuss: the risk factors for diabetes, the Diabetes Prevention Program, treating the whole patient and what employers need to understand about their employees with diabetes.

As always, thanks for listening!

Sep 26, 2016

Welcome to a special bonus episode of the Redesigning Wellness podcast! If you’re a regular listener, you know myself and past guests have mentioned the Wellness Underground. This organization was created by Brian Passon and Evin Cole (along with 2 other members who are still underground). They also started an “unwellness” workshop in 2015

Today, I talk to Evin and Brian about the 2017 workshop. I also go into a speed round that asks them questions from the organizers perspectives.

I went to the workshop this past January and found it to be a refreshing approach to the standard conference. In particular, I liked the small atmosphere, speakers and time and ability to connect with almost all workshop participants.

For more info on the 2017 Wellness Underground workshop, you can visit

Sep 21, 2016

Although this podcast interview is about Marketing and in particular, Word of Mouth Marketing, Geno Church opens up about a recent diagnosis with Type 2 Diabetes. He talks about the judgement and stigma that comes along with diabetes and how the food, celebrations and travel at work affect him.

Geno Church is the Word of Mouth Inspiration Officer at Brains on Fire. Brains on Fire is a tribe of passionate humans and creative rebels who get out of bed each day on a mission: to help their clients become stories people want to be a part of.

Around the 13-minute mark, Geno talks about Word of Mouth Marketing and how it starts with people not tactics or campaigns. In essence, whoever tells their story best wins. 

Geno talks about the importance of employers paying attention to their employees being brand ambassadors and how to empower them to have a conversation on your behalf.

He tells us the signs you are starting to create a word of mouth wellness movement and leaves us with his advice on how to get employees involved in their health.

Sep 14, 2016

Love them or hate them, wellness vendors are common in the employer market. There are a ton of wellness vendors out there and chances are your employer is currently using one or has used one in the past. Often wellness vendors are seen as filling a needed gap but how do you wade through all of your options?

There are so many of them it’s hard to keep track and understand the key value propositions of each company. The standard process for employers selecting a wellness vendor is a very painful process, where there’s a long set of questions the vendor completes and an employer or consultant tries to compare each one and make a recommendation. If you’ve ever done this it’s a truly painful process that today’s guest set out to solve.

In this episode, I talk to Joe Miller. Joe ran a wellness company from 2003 to 2013 and felt that as a vendor that the RFP process didn't tell the whole story of what his company did. Also, he realized the process brokers/consultants were using to keep up with wellness vendors was inefficient. Joe left that company to start the Wellness Institute.

Joe describes his company as the or eHarmony of vendors, using a matching survey with 20 questions including goals, message, philosophies, and demographics.

In this episode, Joe and I talk about:

  • How the vendors aren't moving as fast as the market wants it to.
  • What an employer should look for when selecting a wellness vendor.
  • The key things to do to create a successful partnership
  • His advice for vendors to distinguish themselves from other vendors
Sep 7, 2016

There's so much to know about the many different laws and regulations surrounding worksite wellness programs. To help us work through the many nuances of the laws, I brought on Attorney Barbara Zabawa, owner of the Center for Health & Wellness Law, LLC.

You almost have to sit down with a pen and paper for this podcast because there's a lot of caveats and scenarios that you'll need to consider, especially if you are collecting health information (think Health Assessment and biometrics), offering an outcomes based program or offering incentives.

I start off asking some pretty basic questions to set the groundwork for the conversation. Barbara starts off explaining that the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) is the federal agency that enforces the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).

Barbara then breaks down the EEOC's final wellness rules in May 2016, what an employer should consider when collecting health info, the first question employers should ask when designing a wellness program and the tobacco penalty limit.


Aug 31, 2016

If I asked you the #1 source of stress in your lives, what would you say?

A recent article I read, says 83% of workers say they’re stressed about their jobs, nearly 50 percent say work-related stress is interfering with their sleep, and 60 percent use their smartphones to check in with work outside of normal working hours.

That’s why I brought on today’s guest, Brian Luke Seaward. Brian Luke Seaward is a renowned and respected international expert in the fields of stress management, mind-body-spirit healing and health promotion. 

In this episode we discuss stress in the workplace, mindfulness, meditation, healthy boundaries and digital toxicity. 

Towards the end, he talks about compassion fatigue of caregivers. So, if you’re in the caregiving industry, like nursing, nursing aids/assistants, etc. you’ll find some helpful tips.


Aug 24, 2016

A common statement you may hear from your employees about your wellness program is "but I didn't know". You may chock that up to the employee just making an excuse because you feel you've communicated clearly. Besides, you're sick of communicating the message so everyone must be aware, right?

In a survey by Prescient Digital Media, only 13% of employees reported participating in their intranet daily—31% said they never do. If you are using your intranet as your sole communication method, you are missing a large part of your employees. That's why it's so important to get your wellness communications right.

What's the point in investing your time and money on a wellness initiative if no one knows about it? That's why I'm spending another podcast on effective communications.

This episode features Wendy Haan. Wendy is a worksite health and wellness marketing professional with more than 20 years of communications experience. 

Wendy oversees all of the content and inbound marketing for Hope Health, providing cutting-edge tips and information to wellness professionals and committees on the latest in wellness communication trends. 

In this episode, we talk about:

  • Tells us about Hope Health and what she does for them
  • Common barriers she sees when working with clients
  • The reasons why communication is so important when it comes to worksite wellness (and life in general)
  • Why you shouldn't solely rely on email (or Open Enrollment) to communicate.

Wendy walks us through the 8 Secrets to Effective Employee Communication and tells us the #1 thing you need to do to get employees to read your communications.

Aug 18, 2016

I hope we can all agree you need to make sure wellness programs are adequately communicated so how are strategic communications different?  Strategic communications are one that educate, motivate, market and build trust. They are also designed to achieve well-defined objectives.

Think about the last wellness communication you put together. If it was a laundry list of what your employees had to do, then that’s not exactly a strategic communication.

Mark Dessauer is an expert in strategic communications and VP of Learning at Spitfire Strategies. Although Mark has always been in communications, he worked at Active Living by Design (ALBD) for over 10 years and offers his expertise around the built environment and culture.

In this episode, Mark and I discuss:

  • Barriers to effectively communicating with employees
  • How wellness can be infused into the culture
  • Point of decision prompts to help your employees make healthy choices

Mark answers the questions:

  • How do you figure out on who to focus your communications?
  • What to do with those employees who aren't engaged in your wellness program?

Finally, Mark gives us his tangible tip to effectively communicate their wellness initiative.

Aug 11, 2016

With all of the talk about the culture of organizations, I wanted to talk with someone who has experience in improving organizational culture and not just around wellness or well-being.

Today I talk to Michael Sabbag, President of Partners4Performance. His career has included HR leadership in many organizations as well as a consultant to help create great places to work.

Here’s a spoiler alert – Michael is offering my listeners a free 30-minute consultation all around culture. Details are at the end so I encourage you to hear what Michael has to say.

Today we talk about:

  • The forces that are driving attention to company culture
  • What happens to companies who don’t focus on culture
  • What a leader can do to make a difference
  • Michael tell us how often he sees wellness or well-being infused within a company’s strategy.

Michael defines culture as behaviors that drive the experiences in the workplace and walks us through the elements of workplace culture.

He tells us why being a workplace maverick may not be a good thing and gives good advice for what leaders can do to enhance the well-being of their team.

Finally, Michael gives his viewpoint of where wellness falls within most corporate strategies.

Aug 9, 2016

Today I talk with Lindsay Boccardo. Lindsay is a nationally recognized Millennial expert, working with young talent and the organizations who employ them.

You may be wondering…what do millennials have to do with wellness? First of all, If you are planning any worksite wellness initiatives, you need to consider what your employees want. Millennials already form 25% of the workforce in the US and by 2020, millennials will form 50% of the global workforce. So, it would make sense to learn about what will be the bulk of your future workforce.

Secondly, a big part of liking your job comes from good relationships with your co-workers and managers. If you don’t take the time to understand how the different generations like to work and receive feedback, then it will be harder to avoid relationship conflicts.

In this podcast Lindsay and I discuss:

  • the multi-generational workforce
  • what's going to happen when Baby Boomers retire
  • the characteristics of a millennials

Lindsay describes the conflict  she sees in the workplace such as expectations on feedback, all life balance and freedom in how and where to do work.

She tells us what employers should consider when attracting and retaining millennials and why money isn't the answer for millennials.

Lindsay also tells us how she coaches millennials to change in their thinking.

Aug 4, 2016

Evin Cole is Director of Strategic Customer Engagement at Kaiser Permanente and is also a founding executive member of Wellness Underground.

In this episode, we talk about:

  • What her and her team see when they consult with employers on wellness
  • Why employers can't force employees to change their behavior
  • Where Evin would like to see wellness go and the ROI conversation
  • Her role in Wellness Underground and how she was nervous about coming out as the co-creator
  • What's wrong and right with the wellness industry

Evin has a great approach she calls "wellness by subtraction" built on the concept of making life easier for employees and not harder.

Finally, part of Evin's role is onsite clinics and she gives us the main reasons employers buy into them.

Aug 2, 2016

Al’s been a very vocal critic of the wellness industry and certain people in it.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • How Al got into the disease management and wellness fields.
  • What caused him to get blacklisted from industry conferences.
  • Why it's cool to like Al Lewis again.
  • What's wrong and right with the wellness industry.

Al also names companies and vendors that are "doing" wellness right and how Al and WELCOA mended fences due to Ryan Picarella's leadership.

We talk Quizzify and why Al wants employees to cheat when using Quizzify.

Finally, we end on the future of worksite wellness and Al gives his tangible tips for employers when starting a wellness program.

Although I don’t always agree with Al’s tactics, he has some valid points to his criticism that’s worth a listen.

Jul 29, 2016

This episode is a summary of this week's podcast interviews and focuses on what to say when you talk to leadership about wellness. Jen recounts her struggles talking to CEO's when she was just starting out in her career. She summarizes advice from Dee Edington and Jennifer Pitts on what to say when your leadership could care less about wellness.

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