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Holistic Wellness Programs, Widespread Participation Drive Lasting Change

According to The Chairman's Blog, Jim Harter, Gallup Chief Scientist for Workplace and Wellbeing, argues that deploying effective workplace wellness initiatives depends on two factors: a holistic approach and across-the-board participation. His May 1, 2012 post states outright that most wellness programs aren’t working, but that integrating multiple fields, including the workplace, psychology, economics, and sociology, can foster wellbeing.

Based on research dating back several years, Gallup has found five generalizable elements that individuals and organizational leaders can act on:

  • Career Wellbeing: How you occupy your time and liking what you do each day
  • Social Wellbeing: Having strong relationships and love in your life
  • Financial Wellbeing: Effectively managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security
  • Physical Wellbeing: Having good health and strong enough energy to get things done on a daily basis
  • Community Wellbeing: Engaging with the area where you live

“The problem is that while 69 percent of people [Gallup] has studied are thriving in at least one of the five wellbeing elements,” Harter writes, “only 9 percent are thriving in all five.”  He continues, “Those thriving in all five elements in year one accumulated less than half the health-related costs in the following year compared with those thriving in only one of these elements. Thriving employees have fewer unhealthy days, are less likely to be obese, and have a less chronic disease burden.”

Harter argues it’s impossible to achieve sustainable change through wellness programs by focusing on just one of the areas mentioned. But, he claims, if organizations cut across all five areas of wellbeing and encourage their employees to do the same, they may see the results of real and lasting wellbeing.

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