Most worksite wellness programs today are not making a difference. And you do want your program to make a difference, right?Some are arguing that worksite wellness needs to be killed, while others are arguing that it is already dead and are giving it a post-mortem. While I believe worksite wellness is broken, I don’t believe it is dead or needs to be killed for that matter.I would argue that the reason things are broken today is not due to a faulty concept, but due to faulty application or execution instead. Conceptually, I am not sure there is a significant difference between health, wellness and wellbeing, yet there is argument within the field that there is a difference and wellness is dead, so we need to be focused on employee wellbeing. Here is what I mean:A commonly used definition for health is the World Health Organization definition from 1948. “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”Wellness is commonly depicted as being a multi-dimensional concept. A common wellness model often referenced is the National Wellness Institute Model from 1976 which includes the dimensions of physical, social, intellectual, occupational, emotional and spiritual.Wellbeing is commonly depicted as being a multi-dimensional concept as well. A common wellbeing model is the Gallup or Rath – Harter model from their 2010 book Wellbeing. This model includes the dimensions of physical, social, financial, career and community.They sound pretty similar don’t they?Here are five reasons why I think it is the application or execution of wellness in the workplace that is broken and not the concept:Employee Health Focus OnlyMost worksite wellness programs today focus solely on employee health. What about organizational health? Does anyone really believe employees will become healthy in a toxic (psychosocially speaking) work environment? It is well established that organizational culture will ALWAYS trump strategy. We need to devote as much time, energy, and resources to addressing organizational health (environment, climate and culture) as we do employee health (risk identification, risk reduction and condition management).Superficial SolutionsMost worksite wellness programs today are poorly designed, poorly implemented, under resourced and poorly evaluated or not evaluated at all. As I understand the research, effective programs are comprehensive in their approach. They address awareness, education, lifestyle management, condition management and organizational health. In a nutshell, the issue lies in the application or execution of the concepts, not with the concepts themselves. Programs and their programming need to be unique to each organization and based on its needs. One program fits just one!Inadequate AssessmentFar too many employers rush to the implementation stage, completely by-passing assessment. Programs need to data driven and built upon a solid, comprehensive, organization wide assessment. All programming should be implemented with an outcome or end goal in mind. Programming should be for a purpose, not to just deliver a wellness related activity. Far too many programs also fail to collect data and information as they go. On-going data is need for adaptability and continuous improvement. No programming should be implemented without having a built-in planned assessment or evaluation strategy attached to it. What gets measured can be better managed.Misunderstood MotivatorsEssentially, motivation comes down to external (extrinsic) and internal (intrinsic) motivators. Typically today, external motivators are used in the belief that they will change behaviors when, in reality, only intrinsic motivators will sustain lifestyle related changes for the long-term. There is widespread confusion between participation and engagement. Extrinsic motivators are great to facilitate participation, but real, sustained change comes from engagement which is facilitated only by intrinsic motivators. Paying for health is a non-starter, no matter how much you pay.Outdated BeliefsFar too many of our program related actions today are based on outdated beliefs, rather than the available scientific evidence. We have already addressed the outdated belief surrounding motivation to change. Another outdated belief is that wellness is just about physical health. As noted in the beginning of the article, wellness is multi-dimensional and all the dimensions impact employee engagement and subsequent performance. And engagement is our goal, is it not? Employees and organizations are complex systems and not mechanistic in construct. Individual and organizational change requires addressing the technical, as well as the emotional sides of change and not just fixing or replacing the “broken” part.Call worksite wellness whatever you want. Program effectiveness and success come from the application or execution of the concept, not the name of the concept.