The Wellness Emperor Has No Clothes is the theme of Al Lewis’s and Vik Khanna’s writings, and it gets a new treatment in their latest book, Surviving Workplace Wellness.  This spin on the theme is meant for the employees whose dignity, finances and major organs are at stake.  The target audience will get a few laughs and some basic understanding of wellness’s flaws.

The chapters go through the employer rationale, the typical health risk assessment (HRA), the downside of preventive screenings, and the very slim upside of superficial health advice.  It paints a stark unflattering picture of the wellness sales industry.  One chapter is titled, “It’s Time for the Wellness Industry to Admit to Doping”.  Indeed, math and science seem to be largely absent from wellness program design and implementation.  In fact, the book coins a nifty new phrase to describe wellness worshipers: “ignorati”, those who are deliberately, selectively immune from science. 

The innocent bystander employee will find several of the chapters interesting and useful.  One chapter goes through the medical tests typically recommended by HRAs, giving the real science.  This is ready-made for a layperson.  It explains in plain language why over-testing is more harmful than helpful. 

Some chapters are more for analysts, which Lewis and Khanna are.  Why would average Joe employee be interested in Nebraska’s wellness program and its flimsy justification? 

Surviving Workplace Wellness is a rollicking account of an entire industry that rests on invisible threads.  Kudos to Lewis and Khanna for calling it as they see it.  

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