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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May 22, 2019

To evolve the wellness industry, we need leaders in positions of influence who not only see the need for change but balance it with the positives aspects of our profession. One of those leaders is today’s guest, Marissa Kalkman, Executive Director of the Wellness Council of Wisconsin (WCWI). Marissa leads with the mindset that holistic employee wellbeing is good for the organization and the people, and it’s the right thing to do.

As Executive Director, she leads WCWI to support 700 professionals from over 500 member organizations of all industries and sizes across the state, in developing and sustaining results-oriented strategies to impact employee wellbeing.

In this interview, we learn about what WCWI does, Marissa’s wellness experience pre-WCWI and her wellness philosophy. We also talk about the wellness industry as a whole, Marissa leaves us with a tangible tip, and we discuss their upcoming conference. Not only are there excellent speakers at this year’s conference but I’ll be leading this year’s Pre-conference session at WCWI. You can find out more here.

Thank you to our sponsor, Workplace Money Coach. Workplace Money Coach’s 4-week, Living Paycheck to Purpose financial empowerment program, helps employees address the root causes of their financial challenges so they can better align their financial choices with their purpose and the life goals that matter most to them. You can find out more at

For links mentioned in today's episode visit:

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.

Jul 28, 2016

Dee Edington, CEO of Edington Associates, has been in the wellness field for 40 years and reveals the wellness questions he asks CEO's when he's working with organizations. He has great advice on how to talk to leadership even when they're not bought into wellness. 

Dee gives a ton of value in this episode. He talks about why we shouldn't walk away from the word "wellness", how we can help employees get to their highest potential and how we should always start with what's going well first.

He also talks about the standard approach to wellness, including biometric screenings and financial incentives.

Finally, Dee talks about the value of caring and gratitude. There's an amazing amount of knowledge Dee imparts on us in this episode and I know I learned a ton.

Jul 26, 2016

Jennifer Pitts is the founder of the Institute for Positive Organizational Health, and co-founder of Edington Associates. She and Dee Edington recently coauthored a new book, Shared Values - Shared Results, a book that proposes a systems view for designing healthier cultures in organizations.

In this podcast, we talk about:

  • The Institute of Positive Organizational Health and how it co-exists with Edington Associates.
  • How we need better collaboration through opening up and being vulnerable about where we're not succeeding within our organizations and also being proud of where we are.
  • How poor health is a wicked problem because of it's interconnectedness with the other 8+ dimensions, such as social health, emotional health and occupational health.
  • The value of becoming a caring organization.

This was my favorite quote from Jennifer and great advice for anyone having trouble starting a wellness movement:

"Start a movement wherever you can get a foothold or leverage in your organization."

I also pick her brain on a focus on disease management vs wellness, systems thinking, characteristics of healthy organizations and mistakes employers make with evaluation.

Finally, Jennifer answers this question:

How do we shift the thinking from a wellness program to whole organizational health?

Jul 22, 2016

This is a 4 minute quick tip where Jen talks about what to consider in the environment when putting in a weight loss program. 

Jul 20, 2016

Dr. Rebecca Robbins conducts research at the NYU School of Medicine on the critical role sleep plays in our waking lives. She co-authored a book called Sleep for Success! in 2011 with Dr. James B. Maas.

Dr. Robbins published peer-reviewed literature in publications including SLEEP, the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, and Preventing Chronic Disease. Her work has also appeared in the New York Times, The Financial Times, Condé Nast Traveler, and Martha Stewart Living.

Dr. Robbins has appeared on many news shows, including Fox Business News, ABC World News Now, CBS This Morning, and ABC Nightline. She speaks on the topic of sleep to audiences ranging from academic to corporate, including Google and General Electric (just to name a few).

Today Rebecca and I discuss:

  • The key benefits of sleep
  • Breaks down circadian rhythm and REM sleep
  • How we can make getting good sleep more normative and make sleep part of the conversation in corporate environment

Rebecca talks about her time at the Cornell Food and Brand Lab where she published a few papers on employee wellness. One was the 10% solution around management involvement in wellness and workplace health codes of conduct. It's a very interesting approach to employee health.

Dr. Robbins talks about a powerful approach to technology, tangible tips for getting a good night's sleep and what night shift and split shift workers can do to get better sleep.

When talking sleep, of course we talk about sleep pods, nap rooms and what's up with being sleepy between 2 and 4 p.m.

Jul 13, 2016

Meet Amy Grazen, Corporate Resilience Trainer and Intrinsic Health Coach. Amy and I met a couple years ago when I was brought her training to my last employer. From the first time I was exposed to resilience training, I was hooked because it made such an impact in my life both personally and professionally.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Amy's definition of resilience and how it relates to stress management
  • Her reflections from trainings thousands of employees in corporate America
  • The different dimensions of resilience, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual, and examples of each
  • Why multi-tasking is the enemy of resilience
  • The importance of planning recovery throughout the day

Amy also shares a hard time in her life when all of her resilience practices went away. She tells us how she got back on track with practicing resilience.

As with every episode, Amy will give us a tangible tip for both employees and employer's health and wellness practices.

Jul 6, 2016

Ryan is President of WELCOA, otherwise known as the Wellness Council of America. 

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Ryan's career at the Blues of Tennessee and the wellness initiative that seemed to work best with their employees.
  • Why you don't need a large budget to have a successful wellness program
  • How he got to be President of WELCOA and a friend that nudged him to apply
  • His first 6 months on the job and his aggressive course for changing things
  • How the ROI conversation put the wellness field in a precarious position

Ultimately, Ryan thinks we're having the wrong conversations around wellness.

He gives us advice on:

  • How to change the culture
  • Where the wellness function should sit within the org (hint - it's not in benefits)

Ryan is very transparent about the changes he's making within WELCOA and gives us a behind the scenes recap of their brand redesign. He also shares the 3 words that represent WELCOA's brand.

Jun 28, 2016

Matt Lund, was named Executive Director of the National Wellness Institute (NWI) in October 2015.

In this episode, Matt walks us through NWI's creation, the 6 dimensions of wellness and why they aren't adding any other dimensions. 

Matt weighs in on why an employer shouldn't take "a check in the box approach to wellness". He reveals that the National Wellness Institute didn't have their own wellness program and talks us through how he created a personalized approach to wellness for his employees.

Matt not only leave us with his tangible wellness tip but also shares the advice he got from his mentor on the two things it takes to be a great leader.

How to get in touch with Matt:

Jun 23, 2016

Brian’s motto is to “be a facilitator and help others experience success”. This motto is evident in his co-creation of the Wellness Underground.

 As I continue my conversation with Brian Passon, he talks about how Wellness Underground got started and his experience with the two first conferences. His main objective was to create an amazing experience for participants (which he did). Although one participant thought they may be getting scammed!

Brian also walks us through his new venture, Quantified Habits. He focuses on the importance of the right message at the right time in the right place. Not to mention, how a random high 5 can brighten someone else’s day.

Brian tells us about a person who challenges his thinking and tells him nothing’s impossible. For example…robots at the office anyone?

 Brian leaves employers with one tangible tip when starting a wellness program and how we may be getting sick of the word “habit” in the near future.


Mentioned in this podcast:

Book mention: Drive by Dan Pink

Get in touch with Brian:

Twitter: @BrianPasson


Jun 22, 2016

Brian has been around the field long enough to have done some crappy wellness programs and some great ones too.

With a graduate degree in sports psychology, Brian wants people and organizations to achieve optimal work and life performance.

He’s worked within the insurance environment, formed a consulting company, co-created the Wellness Underground and now also working at Quantified Habits.

Brian aims to develop habit forming technologies and solutions for individuals, organizations and health coaches. He has a desire to be constructively disruptive in order to maximize success.

In our chat, we talk the wide gamete of the wellness industry. Some highlights include:

  • The problem with the question “what are other companies doing around wellness”.
  • The sham of worksite wellness awards
  • Why hiring a staff person may trump hiring a wellness vendor
  • Wellness ROI – what you can expect
  • Signs you’re not ready for a wellness program

We also get to hear how Brian got into the wellness industry and how why he wants to disrupt it (constructively, of course).

Since we talked for a good hour or so, I split this episode into two parts. We continue our chat in the next episode.

Links mentioned in this podcast:

Blog post: Why I hate worksite wellness best practices

Feb Inc. magazine article

Jun 22, 2016

This is the very first episode of the Redesigning Wellness podcast. Your host, Jen Arnold, will walk you through the main three reasons she's starting a worksite wellness podcast. She'll give you a brief background on her experience in the worksite wellness industry and she'll walk you through the 5 Key Ingredients of Successful Wellness Programs.

Future episodes will include interviews from experts both inside and outside of the wellness industry so employers, HR teams and wellness professionals can learn how to improve employee health.