The Five Elements of Wellbeing
The five elements of wellbeing are:
- Career wellbeing: You like what you do every day.
- Social wellbeing: You have meaningful friendships in your life.
- Financial wellbeing: You manage your money well.
- Physical wellbeing: You have energy to get things done.
- Community wellbeing: You like where you live.
Key Points About the Wellbeing Elements
Work and life influence each other.
Most people spend one-third or more of their waking time working. Gallup’s analytics and academic research show that there is a reciprocal relationship between work and life overall — that is, people take their work experience home and their home experience to work. Organizations demand a person’s full energy at work. It is in both the individual’s and the organization’s best interest for people to thrive in all aspects of their life.
Wellbeing can be transformed.
Some people seem to be naturally happier than others, and heritability studies do suggest that about half of individual wellbeing is due to genetics. These predispositions are often referred to as “set points.” Your environment and your choices influence a wide variation above and below those set points. This means no one is doomed by their DNA. Recent research in the field of epigenetics even shows that the expression of DNA codes can be altered by the choices people make. So individuals have a lot of opportunities to change their wellbeing
Which element is the most important?
Individuals and organizations often ask Gallup where the best starting point is — where will we get our biggest impact in the shortest amount of time? This is a crucial question because neither individuals nor organizations can improve all five elements at once. The simplest answer is career wellbeing.
All things being equal, thriving in what you do every day makes for stronger relationships, a more secure financial life, good health and greater community involvement. But the answer for where to start depends on where you are on each of the five elements.
The five elements are intercorrelated — they are independent dimensions of life but also interdependent.
Focusing on just one area of your wellbeing usually leads to failure. It is nearly impossible to continually improve on any wellbeing goal if you don’t consider the other elements. For example, who you spend time with has major implications on your goals to improve your eating habits and manage your finances.
Organizations that acknowledge and apply this interdependence can transform their employees’ suffering and struggling into a culture of net thriving.
Career Wellbeing: You Like What You Do Every Day
Make sure everyone in your organization knows their strengths. Use a strengths-based strategy to design an employee experience — from attraction to hiring to onboarding, engagement and performance — that leads to a culture of high development.
Remove abusive managers. No organization should tolerate managers who destroy the lives of the people you rely on to get work done. In today’s workforce, bad managers are your highest risk.
Upskill managers to move from boss to coach. Use proven methods to transition your managers’ mentality from boss to coach. Think of this as a yearlong journey that starts with learning about high-performance teams. Each manager should become an expert at setting goals and providing meaningful feedback at least once a week.
Make wellbeing part of career development conversations. Once they establish trust, managers and teams can dream big together — not just about career goals and development but about life and overall purpose and wellbeing.
Social Wellbeing: You Have Meaningful Friendships in Your Life
Include socializing in your onboarding program. When onboarding new employees, make socializing an important part of their orientation. Everyone needs to know who their partners are and who they can rely on. Successful onboarding should lead to friendships and partnerships within the first year. Try to build in some in-person time during onboarding — trust develops much quicker in person.
Talk to your employees and get to know them. Ask employees who they enjoy working with, who has common goals and who they would like to partner with on future projects.
Integrate. Find ways to combine social wellbeing with your other wellbeing goals:
Career wellbeing: Publicly recognize your team’s most productive partnerships.
Financial wellbeing: Encourage people to share ideas for reducing financial stress and building long-term security.
Physical wellbeing: Ask coworkers to share their health strategies and successes. People will connect naturally as they learn more about each other’s processes and goals.
Community wellbeing: Use community volunteering as employee socializing time — encourage people to work together on shared community goals.
Financial Wellbeing: You Manage Your Money Well
Provide financial planning, tracking, investing and savings resources and tools. Ask internal financial experts to advise your employees. These experts can help employees reduce short-term financial stress, increase long-term security and use their financial resources to take care of basic needs.
Encourage long-term savings and retirement investments. Employers can set a default into 401(k) plans, for example, where employees have to make an effort to opt out. Defaults increase the probability that your employees will do what is in their long-term best interest.
Train managers to have effective pay conversations with employees to improve perceptions of fairness. These are some of the hardest conversations managers have. Give them the tools, support, information and education they need to set them up for success.
Use team incentives. Consider how your incentive-based pay is aimed at team performance. Individual incentives can work too, but make sure you design them in a way that doesn’t increase financial insecurity and work against team goals.
Consider employee wellbeing in your overall compensation package. Including competitive benefits can increase employee wellbeing. Gallup’s recent study of benefits indicates that they fall into three categories:
basics that are must-haves to be competitive, such as health insurance, 401(k) plans, paid leave and other insurance
benefits such as flexible working locations and monetary bonuses
benefits that differentiate whether employees are engaged and have higher wellbeing, such as flextime and opportunities for professional development
Encourage giving to the community. Promote financial giving that is tailored to fit each person’s passion and goals.
Physical Wellbeing: You Have Energy to Get Things Done
Reinforce behaviors that have long-term benefits. Getting better sleep, eating healthy and exercising frequently have immediate daily benefits to building resiliency. Emphasize these short-term benefits to your employees to encourage healthy choices.
Make communicating the importance of physical wellbeing an expectation for managers. Coach managers to share relevant corporate programs and to celebrate team members’ personal wellness successes. And because there is a contagion effect, managers should model and recognize best practices too.
Make sure your managers and employees have the facts. Ask nutrition experts who stay up to date with the scientific literature to summarize it in a way that can be easily applied. There is no end to nutritional advice from special interest groups or media who pounce on one small study. Amid all the noise, your employees need facts based on meta-analyses and randomized controlled trials.
Community Wellbeing: You Like Where You Live
Be aware of the community issues that are most important to your employees. People’s availability and purpose change over time. For example, when employees have children at home, they may be more interested in programs that relate to kids. As life changes, so do opportunities for involvement.
Encourage employees to choose community programs that are personally meaningful to them. Service projects can be great team-building experiences. But also look for ways for your employees to use their unique talents and expertise to give back. For example, a sales team might help raise money for a local nonprofit, or a marketing team could donate its time to provide graphic design or general strategy to promote a community event.
Give employees opportunities to share what they are doing in their community with coworkers — and reward their involvement. Publicly recognize the community contributions of your employees and their teams.