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black president in the White House, a global depression not known for the best part of a century and the Japanese are going to the moon – the times they are changin’ and business had better catch up. There’s a revolution in wellness coming and those companies built on fear, threat and control may soon be too sick to survive it. Revolution, you say? Doesn’t that mean anarchy? Dictatorship? Bad beards? Before you grab your Che Guavara T-Shirt and copy of ‘Das Republic’, let me explain...

The Coming Revolution in corporate Wellness

For more than 200 years, companies have been built like profit machines. Their topdown management systems were designed to standardise and control, encouraging the retention of rigid organisational structures and archaic management practices that saw revenue come first and people’s needs come second. Thankfully, the growing public trend towards wellness, health and spirituality has expanded beyond the sphere of hippies, gurus and spiritual quacks and exploded into the global consciousness. The result? More and more employees are realising that a business with healthy profits can still be a very sick place to work.

unicycle businessman outdoor balance ©

writer Michael Stevens


AsiaSpa 2009

LOOKING BACK During the industrial revolution the average workday was between 13 and 15 hours, the work week often seven days and children as young as seven commonly cleaned machinery because they could crawl into smaller spaces than adults. What seemed normal at other historical epochs today seems cruel, exploitative and even criminal. In 50 years time, when we look back at the businesses of today, perhaps we will feel similar bewilderment at companies that built their fortunes on stress, anger and little appreciation of the connection between emotional and physical wellness. The Role of Peptides Peptides are short chains of amino acids that communicate emotions in the physical form. They are secreted by glands and are distributed throughout the body, attaching to receptors in all the major organs. If a person is habitually angry or stressed, for example, the anger or stress peptide will be repeatedly released into the body and stored by the receptor. In short: negative emotions transform into a physical reaction. This

ultimately means that long-term exposure to negative occupational environments can result in extreme physical dysfunction. If you want proof, here it is. In 1973, Dr. Grossarth-Maticek conducted a self-regulation test with almost six thousand 40-66 year-old German participants. The test measured whether people were able to create a positive sense of wellbeing in their life by adapting negative habits, behaviors and influences. 15 years later, quite incredibly, 86 percent of those people who ranked themselves as highly adaptable were still alive compared to only 1.6 percent who ranked themselves as unadaptable. Indeed, higher death rates from cancer, coronary heart disease and virtually all other causes correlated directly with lower self-regulation scores. Dr. Grossarth-Maticek showed that people who cannot adapt to negative influences live approximately eight years less than those who can. It proves what many of have suspected for a long time. Companies that are stressful, fear generating, shaming environments are poisoning their employees. Fact. The Wellness Revolution The modern business leader is as responsible for creating a healthy occupational environment as providing the right safety gear. In future, people are increasingly going to naturally select companies that nurture them emotionally and spiritually, not stress them out. Sounds simple enough but for environments to change, business leaders first need to realise that the occupational environments they have created aren’t up to scratch and that wellness policies aren’t just a passing fad. New Business Models In the not-too-distant-future, businesses are going to find it increasingly difficult to hire the ‘best’ people because employees

will be demanding healthy spirit-based environments that are people-driven, not ego-based companies that are profitdriven. Consequently companies seriously pursuing a long-term future will need to seek professional guidance to cure their spiritual ills in the same way that they once hired TQM and ISO experts to fix their systems. no quick fix Wellness programmes are a great start but there is a key difference between well companies and companies that are merely investing in wellness programs. “So many companies are jumping on the wave of wellness but few of them are learning to surf,” agrees world renowned healer and holistic consultant Roger Moore. “In many companies wellness is skin deep but wellness, by definition, is concerned with everything that makes a person whole.” Moore (whose client list includes Madonna, U2 and Sting) describes a shift from a ‘What’s in-it-for-me?’ culture to ‘What can I do for you?’ culture. “The profit-focused business is a fearful business because it is motivated by survival and destroying opponents,” says Moore. “The alternative is a business focused on achievement. When people are aligned, entrained and working for something that is more emotionally appealing than profit, the synergy created is simply awe-inspiring. If we could take our eye off the bottom line for a moment, we would see the incredible power to be explored within higher ideals.” This implies that a ‘well’ business is one that creates the right environment because they understand human needs, not because it will affect their bottom line. This is illustrated by statistics recorded by the National Business Group on Health in 2008, which indicated that while companies with wellness programs increased productivity

2009 AsiaSpa



“There needs to be a paradigm shift in the way employers take care of their workers”

Work Life Balance signpost © RTimages

by eight percent, the resulting increase in morale was 56 percent. changing values A recent report conducted by the society for Human Resources Management in the US declared that 62 percent of companies are now offering wellness programs. This trend is supported by employees across the globe and in 2003 the Association of Occupational Health Nurses Inc. reported that more than 50 percent of those surveyed stated they would remain at their current job if their employer offered a health and wellness programme. “Wellness should become an essential part of new business models. Successful businesses will one day rank staff wellbeing alongside the other drivers of a successful business – including financial profit and customer satisfaction,” testifies Bryan Hoare, Director of Wellness at Six Senses Destination Spa. A Spiritual Connection Renowned author Dr. Steven Covey once said, “We are not human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey.” One of the greatest challenges of business is to make occupational environments more ‘human’.


AsiaSpa 2009

When asked how this might come about, Hoare says, “There needs to be a paradigm shift in the way employers take care of their workers, not a top down approach – but an all encompassing approach where care really means having empathy, creating actionable programs, leading wellness from the top, ensuring that people get the right levels of physical activity, stress management support, healthy eating options and guidance, education in a variety of wellness related arenas, developing communication skills, promoting their emotional intelligence and inspiring care for each other and the development of a business culture where wellness is absolutely essential for the business to operate.” Wellness within Wellness No other business sector has greater potential to be wellness revolution leaders than the spa and wellness industry – particularly in Asia. It is absurd that Asia should fall behind the North American and European wellness trend when we consider that its spiritual traditions have for millennia been steeped in generating personal peace and contentment. Asia needs only apply the power innate within its own heritage to realise that its companies are sitting on a

competitive gold mine that is the next quantum leap in the way all businesses will run. Getting Philosophical Buddha said “If you knew what I know about the power of giving, you would not let a single meal pass without sharing it in some way.” What a powerful concept to extend to business. By engaging and including people, motivating and inspiring, developing and spiritually exploring, the potential of a workforce expands exponentially compared with the dated onedimensional environments of the past. There is a fundamental difference in philosophy between a business organised around a return on salaries and a business investing in people. One gives because it wants its money back. The other gives because it knows the power of giving. Everything a business does expands out from this philosophical choice. It is not an easy choice for minds that have until now, been locked into management, not wellbeing. While some leaders may not see the other side of the chasm, those who have their eyes fixed firmly on the horizon, can see a horizon of human potential that stretches on forever. And it feels good.

Article: Occupational Hazards  

An article published in Asia Spa Magazine in July 2009 discussing the transformation of corporations from business environments into wellnes...