Seven Golden Nuggets

An excerpt from The Healthy Workplace Nudge by Rex Miller, Phillip Williams and Dr. Michael O’Neal.

We all know that new eras do not leave the patterns of the past intact. Everything changes when the future comes into view. Most institutions just instinctively fight that process. The coming storm demands we not yield to that impulse. We should do all we can to hasten that transition.

I see seven mind shifts (paradigms, patterns, assumptions, and structures) that are essential to a new era of business. They all confirm a transition from complicated to simple, from wonky to common sense, from siloed to connected, and from bureaucratic to human. I believe they are all inevitable. But those who see and adopt them early will find better positions in the marketplace.

  • Change the environment: Trying to shift human behavior through rational approaches turns out to be expensive and futile. We will all save time and money when we see humans as they really are, irrational, but predictably irrational. If people naturally take the path of least resistance, it is infinitely better to design environments that make healthy and wise choices as natural and easy as possible.
  • Well-being comes before wellness: The corporate focus on physical health is pointless if employees hate their job, fear their boss, or feel isolated and lonely. As Sylvia’s story affirmed in Chapter 4, leaders and managers must reduce friction, provide competent and caring supervisors, and make work meaningful. Happiness and health follow. Naturally.
  • We must care for people before we can help them: And we can’t care for those we don’t know. Some things just take time; like wine, diamonds, and pearls. And knowing and caring for people. Wise leaders and managers know you can’t delegate or organize care. Leaders must be willing to be themselves and take the time to discover the gifts and life experiences the employees bring with them. That human touch will create a positive domino effect that radiates beyond the workplace, on out to the family and rolling right on into the community.
  • Building a healthy building: After reminding us how much of life is lived inside of four walls and a roof, Paul Scialla asked, “What if we could activate that space to provide a passive and constant delivery of preventative medical benefits that wouldn’t require the occupant to do a thing? An individual, just by being in the space, whether at home, office, or school…could have positive exposure to cardiovascular health, respiratory health, immune health, sleep health, cognitive health. This is a slam dunk!” That is one of the largest pillars of this book.
  • Design work for a person’s natural strengths: Perhaps the most compelling motivations behind this book is the need to allow people to work at what they do best and enjoy the most. So many stories in this book examine the wisdom of releasing people to work in their strengths. The hardest leadership, management. Or parenting habit we face is the twitch to fix what’s wrong instead of patiently building on what is already strong,
  • Building on social capital: Civilization has always required trust, reliability, connection, collaboration, and reciprocity. When those features are active in human relationships, they build hothouses of social networks, entrepreneurialism, barn raising, and devotion to the common good. That’s why human resources, corporate real estate, organizational development, facilities, occupational safety, and procurement function best when they work in harmony. Social capital is the least expensive and most effective asset an organization owns.
  • The age of balancing cost and wellness: Investing in people is exactly that, an investment. Like god seed sown in good soil, that investment produces an exceptional harvest. That may be the core insight shared by Apple, Google, and many of the companies we have profiles in this book; they see human resources as an asset to leverage, not a cost to contain.