Wellness Aproach, Why do we invest so much money in these programs then?
A couple of reasons. One is simple: They’re aggressively marketed. Corporate wellness is a huge industry pushing this idea on companies. Another reason is that, collectively, we buy into the idea of wellness. Some sociologists believe that in an increasingly secular society, wellness fills a void that religion used to. Companies promote wellness because it fits with a common ideology that healthy people are productive people.
It’s obvious that someone who’s ill may not be as productive, depending on the job and the type of illness. However, there’s little evidence that superfitness correlates with leadership, good management, or even productivity. And that’s a major problem with how wellness programs are developed and marketed. In the past 20 years there has been a shift. The demands of wellness have become more stringent. A reasonable weight range isn’t as good as being superfit anymore. We talked to public health policy experts who have demonstrated that to exemplify the well employee, governments and companies use extreme images of superfit runners and very thin and muscular people rather than images of “normal” people. What happens then? Relatively healthy people feel that they’re not measuring up. They see those images and say, “I can’t imagine reaching that,” and give up.Meanwhile you have this superfit class, who become the ideal and also judge others who don’t meet their standards, making those spurious connections between fitness and capability. Experiments have found that an overweight job applicant is less likely to be positively assessed than a candidate of an average weight—even if the two applicants have exactly the same CV.
It cuts both ways. The superfit often become obsessed with wellness because they fear slipping into the other class. They see their fitness as an indicator of professional success.
Are successful businesspeople more fit?
They want you to believe they are. I came across a remarkable trend: In the past two decades the number of CEOs who mention fitness in their bios has spiked. They seem to think that if you want to be a leader, you have to show your wellness.