005: Changing the Wellness Conversation with Ryan Picarella, President of WELCOA

Ryan is President of WELCOA, otherwise known as the Wellness Council of America. WELCOA is one of the nation’s most-respected resources for helping business and health professionals improve employee well-being and create healthier organizational cultures.

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
  • The ROI conversation and how it’s put the wellness field in a precarious position
  • Moving away from defining wellness as a health assessment and biometric screening.

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 (spoiler alert – 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.

I ask him to tell us how WELCOA started and we talk about Warren “sightings” around Omaha?

Ryan's dogs-scaled

Finally, we’ll also learn about what Ryan does for fun. Hint – these two dogs are a big part of their family.