Posted by: healingtheworkplace | July 31, 2010

The Secret to Productivity in the Workplace?

Hi there, recently I read an article in Business in Vancouver (BIV) about how health and wellness programs improve the bottom line.

“There’s plenty of evidence out there supporting the idea that a healthier workplace is a more productive workplace.”

The author then went on to tell his readers how B. C. companies are investing in health and wellness programs. The content of these health and wellness programs vary but the more successful ones seem to include some type of “incentive program”.

For those of you unfamiliar with “incentive programs” the idea is to reward employees for engaging in healthy behavior. Some companies even see a drop in sick time and/or a raise in productivity after introducing one of these incentive programs.

So, the million dollar question then, “what happens when the incentives stop?”

Human resources professionals will have you believe that providing wellness programs will increase productivity. Sorry, but I’m not convinced. Incentive programs alone are not enough!

In fact, recent research has shown that, productivity is tied to such things as employee training and making sure that employees have enough of the right resources to do their work.

Here’s an interesting story about wellness programs.

The Cityof Vancouver has had an employee wellness incentive program for years and years and years.  I know because I participated in it over twenty years ago. It was a good program and provided a lot of nice benefits for employees. The program is called “Fit City” and is still going strong today.

According to the City of Vancouver website,

Fit City is our employee initiated, developed and promoted program. Supported by our Corporate Management Team since its inception in 1987, Fit City facilitates the education and motivation of all City employees to lead healthy and active lifestyles.

How does Fit City accomplish this goal? Through sport and fitness opportunities, health screening, lunch hour lectures and workshops, discounts on fitness facilities, special events, plus a comprehensive incentive program. Monthly newsletters and a website featuring health and fitness information are also a regular feature of our program.

 But I happen to know that the City of Vancouver has a bit of a problem with high absenteeism. The problem is so bad that the City has hired an external firm to help them deal with it. So, on the one hand you have this great wellness program and on the other hand you have high absenteeism and a loss of productivity. Interesting eh?

This gets back to my earlier comment about “incentive programs”. I have nothing against them, however, on their own their are doomed to fail. Why? Because creating a healthy, productive workplace is complex and requires the following:

  • leadership
  • a workplace culture that is based on values of respect, collaboration, excellence etc. 

Have a safe, happy and healthy summer!




  1. Interesting !!

  2. Interesting indeed! Thanks for your comment!

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