3 min read

From Wellness To Wellbeing

Apr 15, 2015 6:30:00 AM

Wellness_to_Wellbeing“Wellness” and “wellbeing” are synonymous. But “wellness” has been diluted in the marketplace. Traditional workplace wellness is flawed. It has an intense focus on physical health and unrealistic expectations. It’s often based on ineffective incentives. Incentives may help encourage participation, but are they leading to engagement in the wellness programs? Doubtful.

Shift To Wellbeing

This shift from wellness to wellbeing requires focus on the whole person health, not just their physical health. Based on the Gallup-Healthways Wellbeing Index, the following should be considered when looking at wellbeing:

  • Career – Purpose in your work, liking what you do each day
  • Financial – Managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security
  • Social – Having supportive relationships and love in your life
  • Physical – Having good health and enough energy for daily tasks
  • Community – Liking where you live, feeling safe, and having pride in your community

Why Should Employers Care?

All aspects of wellbeing influence each other. Physical health is a poor predictor of who will actually get sick or have claims.

According to research by Gallup, adults who are thriving in all 5 areas of wellbeing have 41% fewer unhealthy days, are 65% less likely to be involved in a workplace accident, and are 81% less likely to look for a new employer. Additionally, when studying the increasing and decreasing levels of engagement at work, it was discovered that total cholesterol and triglycerides decreased significantly as engagement increased. And oppositely, decreased engagement resulted in increased levels of total cholesterol and triglycerides.

There is an energy crisis! 74% of employees are experiencing a personal energy crisis. The result? They are less engaged, exhausted, less focused, less efficient, and overwhelmed…yikes!

Connecting The Dots

Wellbeing also affects disability & workers’ compensation. Trust is a key predictor in whether or not a return-to-work program is successful. Strains/sprains are key indicators that workplace culture could be the culprit.

Research by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) demonstrates that claims with comorbidity diagnosis generally cost more than other claims. Diabetes, depression, hypertension, obesity, and tobacco usage are the conditions that most affect the outcome of injury.

So Now What?

We’ve identified a problem, but what is the solution? It depends on culture.

Culture is a way of life of a group of people. The behaviors, beliefs, and values they accept, generally without thinking about them. They are passed along by communication and imitation. Simply put…the “normal” way of doing things.

In order to create your desired workplace culture, you have to start by considering what the current culture is, what you want it to be, and if your leaders are a help or a hindrance. Ask yourself:

  • Does health and safety commitment start at the top?
  • Are sufficient resources allocated?
  • Are health and safety goals on the “managerial dashboard”?
  • How has morale been lately?
  • What are relationships like between management and employees?
  • Do managers and supervisors “walk the walk”?
  • Are your employees happy? Are they engaged?

You also need to involve your employees. Perhaps by a 3rd party initiated survey. Consider asking:

  • How would you describe our culture?
  • Do you know how the work you do impacts the company’s mission/vision?
  • Do you feel the leadership of the organization supports your individual health and wellbeing?
  • Do you have the resources to do your job effectively?
  • Do you feel valued at work?
  • Do you trust leadership/your supervisors to do what they say they will do?

After asking the questions, you can use this data to craft a plan. But this will not be a 1 or 2 person project. It must include multiple people from various work groups. Don’t expect immediate change; be prepared for it to occur slowly. Understand that achieving workplace and employee wellbeing is an ongoing effort. 



Nicole Fallowfield

Written by Nicole Fallowfield

Nicole is a Principal, Director of Administration, and part of the executive leadership team. She is accountable for the entire employee experience, from interactions with human resources and technology to the facilities in which our employees work. Nicole previously served as the Director of Wellbeing and EB Operations at Gibson. She is also a member of Gibson’s Board of Directors Additionally, Nicole is responsible for the health and wellbeing strategic leadership for Gibson’s clients. She is also a member of Gibson’s Board of Directors. Read Nicole's Full Bio