009: Wellness Rock Star, Dee Edington’s Advice on Talking to CEOs about Wellness

Dee Edington Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus, School of Kinesiology, University of Michigan and Founder and Director Emeritus, Health Management Research Center.

In 2009 he published a capstone book of 30-years at the HMRC: Zero Trends: Health as a Serious Economic Strategy. Edington co-founded Edington Associates (2011) and co-authored a book (2016) with Jennifer Pitts: Shared Values and Shared Results: Positive Organizational Health as a Win-Win Philosophy.

In this conversation, Dee and I talk about:

  • How one question inspired the book “Shared Values, Shared Results”.
  • Why a framework is needed to be built into the business, not just benefits.
  • Helping people live to their best quality of life and to their highest level of performance.
  • Why we shouldn’t walk away from the word “wellness”.

Dee also makes insightful comments about culture and how there’s only one culture in an organization. The questions becomes “is health a part of that culture or not?”. Ultimately, everything that happens in an organization affects the wellness of people.

We need to help CEO’s see the connection between positive organizational health and the business. Dee thinks short term outcomes are much better to focus on than lagging indicators, such as healthcare cost containment.

Dee makes a great point about asking the question “what is the best thing we’re doing around here to do our best work?”. In other words, ask for the positive things first.

What can you do if senior leadership is not bought into the concept of wellness? The #1 rule is don’t assume you know what the CEO wants. He imparts more wisdom around this subject that I personally found helpful.

Dee also addresses:

  • The value of caring
  • Are biometric screenings worth it?
  • Why financial incentives discriminate against the lowest paid people in the organization.
  • Infighting among wellness professionals

Finally, Dee grants me permission to forgive myself for past wellness mistakes and talks about incorporating gratitude as part of wellness.

Dee’s email: dwe@edingtonassociates.com