An employee struggling with their health isn’t just a person with a weight problem or a diabetes diagnosis.
Factors like support systems, mental health issues, socioeconomic struggles, and cultural differences, to mention a few, can seriously affect someone’s health. A lot of wellness programs ignore these factors that make up the totality of a person’s life. They may try to fit people into a one-size-fits-all box. But we know this isn’t the best way to go about making lifestyle changes that last, in this case, for everyone.
Everyone, and every job, has a different culture. With culture comes unique languages, diets, schedules, environments, beliefs, and general practices. So, when wellness programs introduce a ‘one size fits all’ program for a workforce, how do we expect these programs to succeed for everyone? Everyone’s health is their own. It’s personal. Every program designed to help people get and stay on a healthy path needs to connect with each individual’s life.
At WellSpark, we believe that to engage people in health programs, you must make the program relevant to that person’s culture and life. Nutrition education needs to be about what people eat in their everyday life, not just lessons about the standard programming of the western American diet. Typical exercise and activity programming needs to be more than going to a gym. It could include things like dancing with your extended family after a holiday meal. And while you might conjure up thoughts of a holiday meal served on plates, at a table gathering, with everyone conversing, for others, it might look different – served in a communal bowl, sitting on the floor, with minimal conversation – creating a connection to one’s culture.
What is culture? When we think about the culture of a workforce at Wellspark, we go beyond what, when, and how employees may eat or exercise. We think about culture in terms of the workplace, the workday, and the actual work itself. Is it conducive to living a healthy lifestyle? Does the work itself make a person sick? Is the work sedentary? Does it impact a person’s sleep patterns? Is it lonely?
The physical workplace also factors into our cultural programming. What if you don’t work in an office? What if you are in a delivery truck, on a shop floor, or working the night shift doing patient care? Programs must be relevant to a person’s life AND accessible during the day to fit a person’s lifestyle. At WellSpark, we’re focused on reaching these economically diverse, multicultural, hard-to-reach populations. WellSpark is committed to the cause of developing culturally relevant and accessible health programs to connect with a culturally diverse workforce. Given these statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health:
- 42% of Black or African American adults have hypertension
- 22% of Hispanic Americans over the age of 20 have diabetes
- Indigenous Americans have the highest rate of cigarette smoking compared to all racial/ethnic groups in America
- Asian Americans are 40% more likely to have diabetes compared to non-Hispanic White Americans
WellSpark connects programs with the people we are endeavoring to serve.