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Smart Sheep Farmers Understand the Value of Employee Health Promotion

Employee health promotion is sometimes extremely undervalued in today's busy companies.

However, I'd like to help you understand it's critical importance. To do so, I will use this as a light hearted and fun example to clearly illustrate for you the value of a well thought out, employee health promotion plan.

(Photo compliments of

Let's begin...

A common sign of stress for humans and animals alike is the loss of hair.

Put your pretend hats on for a moment. Consider yourself a farmer of a livestock of 108 sheep.

One spring, a few months before the summer fleece sheering, which brings in the income required to keep you and your farm financially viable, there were a number of unforeseen stressors that crept into your herd.

For example, a new pack of coyotes moved into the neighbourhood and scared them. The sheep are now experiencing emotional stress, even though you have a secure fence around their entire grazing land, the sheep are fearful for their survival.

Physiologically in a chronic state of fear, stress hormones go through the roof and the sheep's immune system becomes compromised. Now, the small amount of mould that has grown on the hay due to the heavy spring rains, which is normally not an issue in a healthy herd, becomes a major problem and 8 of the sheep become ill.

With the initial 8 sheep ill, the farmer doesn't really notice that the sheep are losing hair due to stress and since it is only 8 sheep, it does not make a huge difference in terms of keeping the farm running smoothly. He quarantine's these 8 sheep and goes on with 'normal' farm life.

It just so happens that the 8 sheep in quarantine are mothers of the new flock's lambs. The lambs miss their mothers, and in a state of mild depression, create even more chaos in the rest of the herd as they cry all night long.

The rest of the flock, in addition to being afraid of the coyote, are now experiencing sleep disruption and one by one they become ill. In this particular case, the herd contracts scabbies and by sheering time, 50% of the herd have lost a significant amount of hair, creating a detrimental impact on the farmer's income and ability to survive.

Does this sound absurd? Perhaps, but it has all the elements of what happens in the workplace as stress related illness mounts a significant impact on individual workers, fellow co-workers, and bottom profit margins.

I choose the number 50% illness rate for the herd because it is estimated that at any one time, 40% to 50% of all adult workers are suffering from the adverse and often overwhelming effects of stress (Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation, 2000; American Psychological Association, 1997).

Being Proactive rather than Reactive is the mainstay of Employee Health Promotion.

What if the farmer was proactive right in the beginning when the coyotee's entered the picture? A smart and holistic sheep farmer would know to give the sheep rescue remedy to calm their causes of anxiety.

All would have been well if he knew an educated doctor to assist him in creating an employee health promotion plan. In this case his sheep are akin to his employees, as they are his greatest assets.

It all boils down to being pro-active rather than reactive. It is never too late, but it is always much more work to bring a sick company back to health than it is to keep a healthy company well in the first place.

If you have any questions about my services or about creating an employee wellness program in your workplace, please contact me at your convenience.

Yours In Wellness,

Dr. Lisa

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