Why Holistic Isn’t Hokey

Growing up, my entire family went to Dr. Kelly. From 1979 until around 2014, he was the one family doctor we knew and trusted. I had no clue most kids went to a pediatrician. But, like with so many other things in life, I’ve come to realize my family did things differently. (Other kids were allowed to have soda in the house?!) This whole-family medical care was possible because Dr. Kelly was a doctor of osteopathic medicine (D.O.).


Historically, a D.O. differs from your garden variety doctor because they take a whole-person perspective on medicine. For the sake of not ruffling any feathers, I’ll point out it’s more commonplace today for even M.D.s to approach their care from a holistic viewpoint.


The upside to this holistic approach really came to light for me during freshman year of college.


I came down with something, but not the average college ailment – it wasn’t a hangover, nor the flu, nor mono. After several days of running a fever of 103 – not being able to eat or talk or even swallow my own saliva – I left my room for the first time and went to the university hospital for help.


They ran a few standard tests (flu, strep, and mono) and they all came back negative. They had provided the level of care that they felt comfortable with. They didn’t care to know my family history, any previous issues I’d had that could explain some of this, or anything beyond what the test results stated. I was sent home with no solutions, only instructions to get plenty of fluids and rest.


My roommates were so concerned that they called my parents. After hearing the details, I was picked up within hours and taken on the three-hour drive back home to Dr. Kelly’s office.


Because of his extensive knowledge of my medical history, including my parents’ history, he knew which tests should be run in order to rule out a more serious diagnosis. Once those had been ruled out, we had the peace of mind to then focus on the next best steps. After yet another round of tests – based not only on how I was presenting but also risk factors from my medical history, we decided it was most important to treat my symptoms so I could have some relief and get some nutrients in my body.


Because Dr. Kelly had invested decades into not just learning medicine, but learning my family, he was able to get to the bottom of what truly needed our attention first and foremost. With those concerns out of the way, he was able to prescribe the right medications to resolve the symptoms and get me back to my old self within a couple of weeks. His holistic understanding of the situation meant I was in the right hands. After all, the expert on EVERYTHING related to my physical well-being was now in control. With his help, everything was fine. The end.


Now, what’s a good story without a moral? Here’s what I’m getting at:

If you have a team that’s just asked to administer the basics (like flu and mono tests, for instance), the organization will likely stay afloat, but it will remain stagnant. If the same team is given access and support from leadership to execute at a higher, more strategic level (the holistic approach), the organization will likely enjoy quick, targeted results and long-term growth.


As a people operations expert who has served many years as an HR generalist, I fundamentally understand the business opportunity left on the table when owners only want to check the box on HR basics or use HR to simply treat issues as they arise. (We call this the whack-a-mole mentality.) I’ve been a part of companies like this. But I’ve also had the privilege of working at companies that did invest in a holistic people strategy – one that considers the full experience of team members and how they engage with product and process. And, whew, what a difference.


Don’t just explore the surface-level solutions; get someone on your team that understands the entire organization, knows which issues require quick attention, and when there’s a need to dive deeper to diagnose and target the root of a problem.


Holistic HR takes human resources one step further. It still involves executing the necessary and common HR-related tasks (payroll ain’t gonna run itself!), but then considers how else the business can meet the unique needs of their people so they feel more fulfilled and appreciated. It’s understanding your business inside and out so you can solve “people issues” at the root of the problem — not just apply band-aid fixes.


So how is your company uniquely investing in its people today? Has any team member been given the opportunity to become an expert on your people operations – so much so that they could confidently identify and resolve any people issue that may arise due to their breadth of knowledge? If you’re looking for people operations guidance and are interested in applying holistic HR practices to grow your business, Montani Consulting can help. Whether you need full people ops support or simply need your internal staffers to be trained to create and implement holistic HR strategies, contact us today.

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