As I was thinking about people to interview on this podcast, I wanted to get the perspective of wellness professionals in the trenches who are challenging the status quo with their companies and clients. The ones who can positively impact the wellness industry from their everyday practices.
I had the pleasure of meeting today’s guest, Rachel Druckenmiller, at last year’s Wellness Underground Workshop.
In February 2015, Rachel was recognized by the Wellness Council of America (WELCOA) as the #1 Health Promotion Professional in the U.S. which is quite the testament to her dedication to the field of wellness. In today’s conversation, she tells us what that award meant to her, her approach to wellness, lessons learned as she’s grown professionally and a bit about her blog, Rachel’s Nourishing Kitchen.
A few things that impressed me about Rachel – even at an early age she reached out to people she admired, she aims to learn and grow from her interactions with employers and employees and she actively seeks to learn (reading books outside the profession).
We start out the conversation with Rachel telling us what it meant for her to win the WELCOA #1 wellness professional award in 2015. She tells us about the application process and how she was notified she was the winner.
Rachel talks about her approach to wellness and how it’s changed over the years. She started her career presenting the business case of wellness but found it didn’t work. Rachel learned to listen and be open…seeking first to understand. She now believes in getting curious instead of making assumptions.
Here’s a question her dad asks when working with companies:
“If it were just right (for you), what would it look like?”
I ask Rachel what happens now when someone pushes back on wellness. She feels it gives an opportunity to ask some questions and have them explain their viewpoint.
Rachel tells us about the wellness program at SIG (for internal employees) and how she busted her budget in year one. Three years later, she started doing more around wellness with her clients.
Rachel walks us through the challenges she faces with clients. She believes employees want more than just a paycheck, especially with the millennials. She has started approaching how wellbeing efforts can help a company become an employer of choice.
Rachel tells her story about chronic health issues with allergies and acid reflux. She started making changes to her diet but ended up being underweight. After she started aligning with functional medicine doctors, she got healthy and gained some weight back. As the wellness person, she felt judged after gaining the weight back.
She offers her thoughts on the divide in the wellness industry and how it’s brought negativity, especially to those looking from the outside of our profession. It seems we can’t disagree without being disagreeable. We need to recognize people have a different view of the world and that’s ok. There’s no room for dogma in wellness.
Rachel feels the future of worksite wellness involves optimizing the employee experience. Wellness professionals have a lot of opportunities to expand their role.
Wellness is not just about yoga mats and apples.
Rachel has an active blog she started in January 2014 as an outlet to offer a refreshing approach to food. She focuses on whole body nourishment instead of just healthy eating.
She leaves us with her tips for wellness pros wanting to change the status quo:
Anytime I work with employees or employers, there are often complaints or requests about the physical environment. Whether it’s the air temp, air quality or noise level, the buildings where we work can either enhance or detract from our well-being. It isn’t until recently that there has been some attention to the impact of the built environment on employee health and wellness.
One of the people to credit for this spotlight on the built environment is Leigh Stringer. Leigh is a workplace strategy expert and author of the Healthy Workplace. Leigh and I talk about the impact of physical space on employee health, easy ways to create a healthy workplace and the inspiration for her most recent book, the Healthy Workplace.
I also want to thank Leigh for opening up about her experience when she was seriously drained at her job. She talks about what caused the burn out and what she did about it.
The Healthy Workplace (Leigh's book)
Have you ever thought about your approach to challenges? I’m not talking about those 8 week health challenges we love to run. But the challenge of trying to engage employees in their health at work, where they have a million other things to do. Not to mention, the many things we should consider…location, demographics, remote work, job function, etc.
Today’s guest has such a great approach to challenges and life in general. Today I talk with Patty Purpur de Vries. Here’s a quick bio on Patty. She went to the Olympic trials, started and sold a company, started a strong network of Health Promotion professionals, and found ways to engage a hospital staff of 10,000. She now has a new challenge of engaging physicians in their health and professional fulfillment.
I learned so much from Patty. In this episode, we talk about the company she created from $40 in business cards and how she’s engaged employees in her different wellness roles. Patty tells an impactful story about how she approached union nurses and got them to buy in to her wellness efforts. She also tells us about how she plans to tackle physician health and wellness in her new role as Director of Strategic Project for the Stanford Medicine WellMD Center.
Today, I talk with Mim Senft, co-founder of Global Women 4 Wellbeing and President and CEO of Motivity Partnerships, Inc. Mim is a positive force in our wellness industry, calling for collaboration to move our profession forward and often looking to bring in perspectives outside of our industry.
She's also a “get it doner” and you’ll hear how after a conversation at a conference, she co-founded Global Women 4 Wellbeing.
In this conversation, Mim and I discuss:
We start off with Mim telling us about how Global Women 4 Wellbeing (GW4W) started. Younger women were asking seasoned professionals why men were all at the front of the room leading the conversations. Then, a dinner at the SHINE conference sealed the deal.
It's important to focus on women's health because most research on health issues has been done on men, although women may have different symptoms (as in the case of a heart attack). GW4W also aims to support the next generation of women.
Mim believes none of us know everything and we need to strategically collaborate. She sincerely hopes that the forward thinking group gets louder and louder.
Mim tells us when she first realized the common approach to wellness was broken. She often sees the absence of a wellness strategy despite the importance of having one. I loved Mim's comparison of how a company treats wellness to how a company treats an IT security issue. Wellness is typically given to a lower level person and that would never happen with a security issue.
We discuss ROI and how spend in wellness is 1-2% of healthcare costs (if that much). Mim addresses two areas where companies can see an ROI. Putting in a bare bones wellness program won't give you a return. I like how Mim called that "magical thinking".
Mim and I talk about participation numbers and why participation doesn't equal change. She gives us a great example from a CEO and how his well intentioned perspective wasn't hitting the target with his population.
She tells us why a sense of delight is important and her thoughts on incentives in wellness. Mim believes they can be a strategic tool as part of a bigger strategy. They can be good for one time thing if they are culture specific. Again, Mim gives a great example that shows how important culturally relevancy is for incentives.
Those blasted emails! We get 140 emails a day every day (work only, not personal) and on average we check our email on average 36 times an hour. It takes your brain 20-30 seconds to refocus after checking email. Mim tells us what you can do instead.
Mim wants more of us in the wellness world to join together. We need to get louder if we want to address the problems. She believes the future of worksite wellness will bring more of a collaboration with other industries like the built environment. Also, a growing voice of people leadership that wants better answers.
Mim leaves us with a tip for the wellness professional who wants to challenge the status quo and for the employer who wants to build a thriving workplace culture.
Book Mention: Delivering Happiness byTony Hsieh.