0 Comments | May 17, 2010

Wellness, Travel, and ‘Wellness Travel’

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Which is which, and what do they mean? Here’s our two cents. And a story.

Employee Wellness: An employment cost mitigation effort designed to reduce employee healthcare expenses, improve employee motivation, increase workplace safety, and further a host of health-related goals. Many different employee health and wellness programs fall under the “wellness” umbrella, but all are aimed at helping employees live healthier lives.

Travel: In the context of a vacation, travel is inherently a wellness activity. As Da Vinci said, “Every now and then go away and have a little relaxation. To remain constantly at work will diminish your judgment. Go some distance away, because work will be in perspective and a lack of harmony [will be] more readily seen.” (with thanks to Anne Dimon of TravelToWellness)

Wellness Travel: A subset of both wellness and leisure travel, the wellness travel concept involves picking destinations and activities with the specific purpose of furthering physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being.

Perhaps the concepts are best illustrated allegorically.

Suppose Jane is the human resources employee benefits officer at ACME Roadrunner Traps, Inc. Jane has recently heard ACME’s CFO, Mr. Coyote, lament the ruinous cost of employee turnover (which is fast becoming another business crisis), bemoan rising healthcare costs (which is already a business crisis), and remark how he wished someone could hatch a few worthwhile employee wellness program ideas to help control rising employee turnover and healthcare costs.

Having recently read Zoescent’s amazingly informational and brilliantly crafted (ahem) white papers on both healthcare costs and employee turnover rates, Jane has become aware that most employee benefits related to health/wellness shoot for the wrong target, and miss. Jane also used Zoescent’s Savings Estimate Calculator and discovered that Vacation Wellness™ can save ACME a bucket full of cash every year. Vacation Wellness™ reduces health care costs and employee turnover rates by leveraging the inherent wellness properties of destination vacations. Jane learned that taking a vacation is an employee wellness activity, because:

  • Vacationers are three times less likely to develop depression, which is the costliest employee health condition.
  • Taking regular vacations makes you 32% less susceptible (men) and 53% less susceptible (women) to heart attack.
  • Going on vacation reduces stress, which has been linked to each of the six leading causes of death.
  • Regular vacationers are eight times less likely to die prematurely than their non-vacationing counterparts.
  • 82% of executives agree that vacations improve employee motivation and productivity.

Naturally, Jane was happy to show the numbers to Mr. Coyote, who, never satisfied, thundered “then why don’t we have Vacation Wellness RIGHT NOW!?!?” (he’s a tough boss). Luckily, Jane was able to enroll all of ACME’s workforce in a matter of moments right from her computer.

Almost immediately, ACME’s employee motivation and engagement shot through the roof, absenteeism and turnover plummeted, and roadrunner trap engineers began designing and building a better, er, roadrunner trap.

But it didn’t stop there. In any group, there are those who take things the extra distance, who put in the extra effort to make an even bigger difference. So was the case with ACME’s world-traveling, highly motivated, highly productive workforce. Many of them didn’t stop at just enjoying the inherent wellness benefits of travel. They went even further, and became devotees of the growing practice of taking wellness vacations.

Instead of just relaxing on the beach, these wellness travelers exercised, practiced yoga and pilates, and played sports on the seashore. Instead of merely soaking in the resort sights, the wellness vacationers enjoyed massages, meditation, hot springs, and healthy gourmet cuisine. And in place of just gazing at picturesque mountain scenes, wellness travelers hiked and scaled the peaks in the summer and skied down the mountains in the winter. They discovered a wealth of enjoyable, relaxing wellness activities at all of their destinations.

Best of all, thanks to Vacation Wellness™, even the finest of gourmet wellness vacations fit comfortably within ACME employees’ budget.

Was anyone unhappy with these developments? The roadrunner population protested vehemently.

As for Jane, she was promoted to the coveted corner office, though she chose the corner opposite Mr. Coyote’s.

The moral of the story? Whether your employees choose wellness travel or just enjoy the health benefits of leisure travel, your business wins when you leverage the “wellness power” of vacations.