Health and Wellness in the New Year - A Holistic Approach

by Sandy Cross, the PGA of America's Chief People Officer

It wouldn’t be the new year without a conversation around health and wellness, but as with many things these days, the conversation has changed—due in no small part to the pandemic. It’s no longer about dieting or getting your six-pack abs or bikini beach body dialed in. Health and wellness, to be effective, requires a holistic approach. If you’re religious about working out but can’t get out of bed to do much else because you’re depressed, then that’s not really the picture of health. If you’re generally happy but have no energy because of a lack of exercise, then that happiness is compromised. If you have to drag yourself to work because the work itself feels meaningless or unrewarding, is that really wellness?


Approaching health and wellness holistically means using a multi-lens approach. It needs to include not only the physical but the mental and the needs of the community as well as a sense of purpose and belonging. At the PGA of America, we not only use this multi-lens approach, but we do so across a diverse population containing multiple generations—or, as I like to say, “for all ages and all stages.”


We have a nationally distributed workforce, and this is true for many companies, as remote work became the norm during the pandemic—and it, for all intents and purposes, will continue to be part of the landscape. The PGA’s approach in building a program that meets the needs of a diverse population is characterized by the motto: “Always on, always listening.” This is not only good for companies and leaders, it’s an approach we can apply individually when tuning in to our own health and wellness needs and making sure those needs are met.


Tuning in to the Physical
I was lucky because my brother was an athlete and I followed in his footsteps. Fortunately, our parents supported us. Perhaps it’s because of that support that I am so passionate about providing the resources that people need to stay healthy. Physical fitness, for me, is foundational, and if I miss it, I feel it professionally and personally. 


At the PGA, we are in the process of partnering with platforms for which a fitness benefit is readily accessible no matter where our employees are located.


Despite this, a real concern for many is a lack of time. Without diminishing the reality of that obstacle, I have found that even a ten-minute walk can powerfully hit the reset button so that I can better deal with whatever is happening in my life—and everyone has ten minutes.


Tuning in to the Mental

We all, at one point or another, need extra support. That’s not weakness; that’s being human, and I’m glad to see that mental health has become a national conversation. Our Employee Assistance Program offered mental health services, but we suspected that there was room for improvement, and looking at the engagement numbers (or lack thereof), our suspicion was confirmed. We turned our focus to finding a national platform and are now working with Tava Health. Tava Health’s platform provides therapeutic support, including a selection of therapists to choose from and a customized approach. If the therapist isn’t a fit, there is no problem in selecting another based on individual needs. Getting support should be easy, and we are finding that employee engagement is increasing.


If your company doesn’t provide these benefits, there are many resources available. If you are currently experiencing mental health challenges, you are not alone. The National Alliance on Mental Illness offers a HelpLine at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) and can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., ET.  

Tuning in to Community
There is a caregiving crisis in our country, which has been accelerated by the pandemic. The “Sandwich Generation” is struggling with taking care of children while at the same time taking care of elderly parents. How do we support people during their most stressful caregiving moments? When my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer, my siblings and I were not only dealing with the emotional impact of that but also with the overwhelm of questions we had. Everyone, at some point, will be a caregiver—so we, as an organization, are looking at how to support our people when that happens.

Tuning in to Purpose and Belonging
Research consistently shows that when you’re giving back, you’re giving to yourself in more ways than one. Volunteering provides a sense of purpose, lowers stress, and may even help you live longer. One of the things we recently did as a company was launch the PGA Cares program that offers paid time off for employees to volunteer at a charitable organization of their choice. Additionally, we conduct pulse surveys regularly to find out how engaged and rewarded our employees feel, and if we’re not asking the right questions, we make sure to leave room for any other feedback because as they say, you don’t know what you don’t know—and we want to know.

Tuning in to the New Year
My New Year’s resolution is that we expand our health and wellness approach to include the entirety of what it means to be human. Not only does it benefit us individually, it benefits us communally. Tuning in to where you are now is a good place to start. 

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