The Generosity of Wellness

Published: January 16, 2012

Often, the most powerful gift simply elevates the recipient. It's given from behind the scenes without the need for gratitude. The sole purpose is an investment in the well-being of the partner. The knowledge of your impact on their health, energy, quality-of-life, efficiency, productivity and outlook consummates the exchange. More than just a random act of kindness, generosity is an investment.

If you truly care about a partner, whether in interpersonal or business context, you find a way to remain tuned in to their needs. Their strength, in turn, becomes your power. An investment in the wellness of another ensures the endurance of the connection by surrounding it with resources. While most often visible in one-to-one transactions, the benefits of such altruism become exponential when delivered in teams.

It was nearing the end of a disappointing season when a local professional sports team approached the Team Clock Institute last fall with a proposal for the generosity of wellness. While the impact of the gift might actually have a benefit to the players on the field through many degrees of separation, the motive was to thank a corporate sponsor for their partnership. The question was refreshingly simple: how can we best enable the strength and wellness of the partners who provide strength and wellness to our organization?

When you imagine the clusters of talent that typically surround the success of a professional sports franchise, you don’t typically consider the impact of the dedicated health care workers who train and repair the bodies of the athletes. The formula was clear: if we make an investment in the health and well-being of our trainers and healers, we significantly empower the likelihood of our own wellness. Everybody wins.

Initially, the surprised recipients of the corporate gift wanted to clarify the motive for the generosity. “Who’s paying for this?” “Let me get this straight, they are purchasing wellness services for us as an investment in our team health?” The givers had become the takers in this reversal of fortune. A business predicated on enhancing the health of professional athletes was being provided with a comprehensive team wellness program – on the dime of the professional sports franchise.

The fun began promptly. Word traveled quickly as dozens of professional caregivers participated in the baseline assessment of their team’s effectiveness. Armed with a data-rigorous summary of their strengths and vulnerabilities, they strategically plotted actions designed to leverage their power and mitigate their weakness. Areas of team consensus were celebrated while discoveries of team disparity were transformed into change opportunities. Eventually, their team effectiveness metrics would get mapped to their business goals. Healthier teams get better results.

Who can you elevate with your generosity? Who should be the next target of your gift?

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst University where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.