Please see below selected recent wellbeing-related change.
- What's New? - Wellbeing
- What's Changing? - Happiness
- What's Changing? - Health
- What's Changing? - Therapy
- As workplaces started to eye post-pandemic normality, there was an urgent need for organisations to press forward with the progress made in employee wellbeing during the COVID-19 era. That's because after increasing to near 50% during the early months of the pandemic, the percentage of employees who strongly agree that their organisation cares about their wellbeing eroded, losing 13 percentage points in the US since spring 2020.
- Despite the fact that most organisations implemented cost-saving measures in response to the pandemic, the same survey revealed that 46% of organizations increased their 2020 well-being budgets relative to 2019, while 64% of organisations introduced a new well-being offering in 2020.
- The Intergenerational Solidarity Index is a measure of how much different nations provide for the wellbeing of future generations. The index was developed by Jamie McQuilkin and was first published in 2018 in the peer-reviewed journal Intergenerational Justice Review. In 2020, a revised and updated version of the index was published in Roman Krznaric’s book The Good Ancestor along with analysis by McQuilkin and Krznaric.
- The Society for Human Resource Management calls it the "turnover tsunami." Texas A&M Professor Anthony Klotz coined it "the great resignation." Whatever term one uses, the recent mass exodus of talent sparked by rebounding economic activity has organisations in a frenzy to keep their best people, claimed Gallup. Now more than ever, people are evaluating their lives and how and where they invest their energy -- and they want an employer that supports the lifestyle they aspire to. Many talented workers are leaving for workplaces that align with their personal belief system and show an authentic concern for individual employee wellbeing.
- COVID-19 taught governments is that societal well-being makes countries more resilient. Nations that invest across a range of development dimensions- such as education, health, infrastructure, and governance - were better able to cushion the socioeconomic fallout from the pandemic. BCG analysis showed that countries with improved abilities to convert wealth into well-being as well as those with high overall well-being tended to mitigate drops in economic performance and limit the growth of unemployment rates during the first year of the pandemic. In contrast, countries with lower levels have fallen further behind, particularly in GDP growth and employment. This aligns with previous BCG research that showed countries better at converting wealth into well-being were able to recover more quickly from the 2008–2009 financial crisis.
- Research suggested that swimming is better for the brain than other forms of exercise. It has a particularly positive impact on memory, cognitive function, and mood, but scientists aren’t quite sure why.
Gallup's global research found five elements of wellbeing that it claims add up to a thriving life:
- 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.
- Research distinguishes between two forms of wellbeing: people’s feelings during the moments of life (experienced well-being) and people’s evaluation of their lives when they pause and reflect (evaluative well-being). Drawing on 1,725,994 experience-sampling reports from 33,391 employed US adults, recent results showed that both experienced and evaluative well-being increased linearly with log(income), with an equally steep slope for higher earners as for lower earners. There was no evidence for an experienced well-being plateau above $75,000/y, contrary to some influential past research.
- Workplace wellbeing has become a more significant consideration for employers, research suggested. During the pandemic, several major companies, such as insurer Aviva, offered staff days off for wellbeing. In the UK, research from insurer Westfield Health showed the cost of mental health absenteeism increased in 2020, but also that the majority of employers plan to spend more on employee wellbeing in coming years. Long-term flexibility and mental health programmes at work were both cited as popular options by employees in the study.
- EY noted that, in 2020, a wave of startups focused on supporting psychological wellbeing emerged, fuelled by investment deals pouring into the space. Dr. David Mohr, principal investigator for IntelliCare, believes that the growth in the sector can be attributed to a societal inflection point accelerated by the global pandemic: a decrease in stigma combined with an increase in the acceptance of technology for mental health issues.
- Mindalt is a deodorant featuring blends of 22 essential oils that don't just smell good, but have been proven to impact the brain's nervous system and positively alter people's moods. The brand claim is that they've changed deodorant from a mindless function to a self-care moment. The product comes in four versions: ‘More Mindful’, ‘More Focus’, ‘More Energy’ and ‘Less Anxiety’, allowing users to choose what they're most in need of when they start their day. According to Mindalt, the product works throughout the day, as essential oils slowly break down and continuously release into the bloodstream via the armpits and through inhalation. Mindalt also lists the ingredients, including the source, purpose and EWG Clean Rating for each element.
- Along with others supporting social entrepreneurship such as Skoll, India Development Review and Stanford Social innovation Review, the Schwab Foundation is promoting a global movement, through its Wellbeing Series. The idea is to support the human aspects of entrepreneurship to unleash the potential for social change.
- According to the Financial Times, the highest value for money comes from treating mental illness. There are many reasons for this. Empirically, mental illness accounts for more of the misery in our society than any other factor, including poverty. Under Covid, mental illness, became on average nearly 10 per cent worse for those already mentally ill, especially for women and young people. Excellent psychological treatments exist for most mental illness, and they are not expensive. But they reach fewer than one in five of those who need them. Finally, the economics. Mental illness is the main illness of working age, accounting for half working-age morbidity, and half of all disability and absenteeism. When people recover, they go back to work, come off benefits and pay more taxes.
- Physical health is not the only component of well-being - mental health is key as well. It was already a pressing workplace issue before COVID-19 struck, with large numbers of workers suffering from anxiety, burn-out, depression and stress. The pandemic further elevated the importance of mental health. During the crisis, people struggled with grief at the loss of a loved one, isolation and loneliness, general anxiety about the future, and overload caused by working long hours or juggling work with other commitments such as childcare. They may also have worried about losing their jobs. A survey by Qualtrics in April 2020 found that 44.4% of newly remote workers said their mental health had declined since the outbreak of the pandemic.
- Even before the coronavirus crisis, employers were concerned at how hard organisational change was hitting employees’ wellbeing. The Reward & Employee Benefits Association (REBA)/AXA PPP Employee Wellbeing Research 2020 found that the share of employers citing organisational change as a risk to wellbeing increased 235 per cent between 2019 and 2020, with more than half of employers dentifying it as an issue.The coronavirus crisis then concertinaed a decade’s worth of ongoing workplace trends into just a few weeks. Those who run employee wellbeing strategies found their programmes front and centre as they tried to help workers to cope during the most extreme collective change since the two world wars.
- "A life well-lived" means something different to every person. By studying 98% of the world's population, Gallup uncovered the common elements of wellbeing - physical, career, social, financial and community - that need to be fulfilled for people to thrive. Gallup believes that COVID-19 called the world to embark on a new journey. A journey focused on wellbeing. If leaders effectively redefine their partnerships with employees, the post-pandemic world could sustain high performance like never before. People will look at their places of work as places of wellbeing like never before.
- A UK YouGov poll found eight out of 10 people would prefer the government to prioritise health and wellbeing over economic growth during the coronavirus crisis, and six in 10 would still want the government to pursue health and wellbeing ahead of growth after the pandemic has subsided, though nearly a third would prioritise the economy instead at that point.
- "Wellness" is now an industry that the Global Wellness Institute values at US$3.7 trillion. Of that figure, $999 billion can be attributed to beauty and anti-ageing, $648 billion to healthy eating, nutrition and weight loss, and $542 billion to fitness and mind-body therapies. However, Raconteur warns that until now, the most visible wellness warriors are "white, Fitbit-wearing millennials" who prefer to spend their money on experiences rather than things.
- The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) partnered with multiple wellbeing apps to offer free access for all staff. NHS workers could use Headspace, Unmind, Sleepio, and Daylight for free until the end of the year. Through these apps, users could improve their wellbeing through meditation exercises, mindfulness guides, sleep aids, and nutrition programs. The partnership aimed to support the mental wellness of healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- However, there may be a widening gulf between health and wellness. Even as the coronavirus pandemic exposed healthcare systems; inadequacies, Instagram’s wellness influencers thrived. “There is something disquieting about the slick translation of the crisis into the logic of branding,” wrote the New York Times, examing the dissonance hiding behind influencers’ glowing skin and plush bathrobes. And yet, the NYT acknowledged, “the promises of strange elixirs and fine powders feel more deranged and seductive than ever.”
- Employee wellbeing is a vital component of a healthy workplace, improving workforce engagement, productivity and happiness. Yet a misunderstanding of what staff want and need can mean initiatives aimed at wellness often miss the mark and are solely seen as a business expense.
- The Wellbeing Economy Alliance is a network of countries developing frameworks to measure social, economic and environmental factors in an attempt to move beyond GDP being the sole measurement of economic success. Governments and organisations supporting this approach include New Zealand, Iceland, Scotland and the OECD.
- Gallup research revealed five interconnected elements of wellbeing -- career, social, financial, physical and community wellbeing -- that affect everything from our job performance to our health status. But just one out of 14 people is thriving in all five elements.
- Focusing exclusively on GDP and economic gain to measure development ignores the negative effects of economic growth on society, such as climate change and income inequality. A number of countries are starting to acknowledge the limitations of GDP and expand our measure development so that it takes into account a society’s quality of life. India, for instance, is developing an Ease of Living Index, which measures quality of life, economic ability and sustainability.
- Boston Consulting Groups created its Sustainable Economic Development Assessment (SEDA) to track the relative well-being of a country’s citizens and to provide insight into how well a country converts its wealth into well-being. The development of SEDA was a response to the growing consensus that GDP is a limited metric for assessing a country’s performance; the tool built on the work of prominent economists and international organisations to broaden the lens beyond economic indicators. SEDA can be used to identify countries that outperform relative to peers or the rest of the world in certain dimensions, thus revealing best practices and lessons that can guide policies and programs in other countries.
- As researchers have found, there is more to experiencing a healthy, fulfilling life than just being physically healthy. Gallup's approach to measuring wellbeing includes four other elements in addition to physical health: career, social, financial and community wellbeing.
- With an increased awareness of how our surroundings can impact health and productivity, and its potential to cut healthcare costs and help businesses flourish, many companies are focusing their attention on how to use architecture for mental health and wellbeing. Buildings designed to make us happier and healthier, however, can be costly and while technology unicorns and high-net-worth individuals have the firepower to spend millions on creating wellbeing-centric havens, it's an open question as to whether creative mental health and design be implemented at scale. Considerations for improving the health of people working inside buildings, include air, water, nourishment, light, movement, comfort, materials and sound.
- One problem with GDP is that it is an incomplete measure of wellbeing. It does not include the increase in the scope of goods and services delivered at negative incremental cost, nor the non-material side of individual wellbeing or social progress more generally. Looking ahead, most medical professionals will soon have digital assistants to offer diagnoses (particularly for certain cancers and other chronic illnesses), perform non-invasive surgeries, or find pertinent published research. And many of these services will be available remotely to people around the world, including in poor or otherwise vulnerable communities.
- The development and adoption of advanced technologies including smart automation and artificial intelligence has the potential not only to raise productivity and GDP growth but also to improve well-being more broadly, including through healthier life and longevity and more leisure. Alongside such benefits, these technologies also have the potential to reduce disruption and the potentially destabilizing effects on society arising from their adoption, argued McKinsey's Tech for Good: Smoothing disruption, improving well-being, which looked at the factors that can help society achieve such benefits and tried to calculate the impact of technology adoption on welfare growth beyond GDP.
- Dying for a Paycheck tried to show how two critical contributors to employee engagement - job control and social support - improve employee health, potentially reducing healthcare costs and strengthening the case for them as a top management priority, while describing some examples of organisations that are succeeding at providing the autonomy, control, social connections, and support that foster physical and mental well-being.
- The Global Wellness Institute estimates the value of the global wellness economy to have hit $4.2 trillion in 2017, growing nearly twice as fast as overall economic growth from 2015 to 2017.
- Capita’s Workplace Wellness Report 2019 revealed that 79% say they have felt stressed in the last year, with 47% admitting it is normal to feel stressed and anxious at work - but the transition to wellness being a predominantly mind rather than body-related condition may be worrying for employers, as not only are staff themselves clearly suffering, but the business impact of this is severe.Those with wellness issues linked to stress take an average of 25.8 days’ absence a year compared with 7.1 for those with other ill-health.
- Modern-day utilitarians, foremost among them Richard Layard of the London School of Economics, argue that it is both possible to define and measure happiness, and to discover what determines it. Policy can at last do what Jefferson called for. This is the argument of an important book, The Origins of Happiness, co-authored by Prof Layard. Wellbeing can thus be viewed in two different ways. The broader path is to reconsider all government policy against its contribution to social wellbeing, as New Zealand is trying to do. The narrower is to shift resources, at the margin, towards areas of spending most likely to reduce the causes of great harm, such as mental ill health and loneliness, suggests the Financial Times.
- An idea from the Centre for Progressive Policy is, for an inclusive growth index that takes the amount of consumption and leisure enjoyed by the citizens of a country and weights them by life expectancy and inequality, thereby trying to create a measure of the actual living standards enjoyed by all citizens.
- Another approach is to focus on national wealth, including measures of environmental and social capital to see if a country’s current rate of growth is running down the ingredients of future prosperity.
- The Financial Times pointed to a growing belief in the value of "clean eating". Having devoured food and drink products promising to provide us with balanced and healthy bodies, we are now thirsty for ones that claim to create balanced and healthy minds. According to a 2018 “Mood to Order” report published by the market researchers Mintel, three quarters of women and 58 per cent of men now agree that what you eat has a direct impact on your emotional wellbeing.
- Debilitating mental illness that wrecks lives and careers is increasingly being addressed as a workplace issue. Increasingly, business leaders are speaking out about how workplace mental health issues, such as anxiety, affect their lives, even when they appear to be successful and at the top of their game, responsible for decisions that affect thousands of people.
- New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern argued for a “wellbeing budget,” which will require government departments to show how they are going to improve living standards in order to spend public money.
- Wellness is now a big issue in the business world, claimed Raconteur. Health professionals warn about it, employers talk about it and workers worry about it. The subject’s sudden topicality is not without good cause. The costs to business of ill-health and stress, especially in terms of absenteeism and low productivity, are huge. Recent research in the international retail sector, for example, calculated that one in every 10 hours of working time are lost to unplanned time off.
- Consumers don’t just want to avoid physical ill health. Many have now consciously embraced an ever-expanding notion of health that promises lasting, holistic physical, mental and social well-being. Which means that businesses can be actively thinking about how to improve the wellness of its customers. For example, Nestlé's "Wellness Ambassador" programme had Japanese consumers submit their DNA and share pictures of their food to receive tailored diet supplements and advice. Countries ate acting too: Chile stepped up as a leader in the battle against sugar, imposing a series of harsh sanctions on junk food producers and advertisers.
- A researcher who studies risks to human civilisation embarked in 2018 on an amateur macrohistory project, collecting and graphing data for six different metrics of human well-being, to get a picture of how the world has changed over time. The six metrics were life expectancy; GDP per capita; the percentage of the population living in extreme poverty; “war-making capacity,”“energy capture,” which reflects access to food, livestock, firewood, and, in the modern day, electricity; and the percentage of people living in a democracy.
- As consumers become increasingly focused on personal well-being, companies are jumping on the wellness trend, offering everything from on-demand fitness solutions to vitamin-infused foods to non-toxic beauty products. CB Insights explored how wellness is affecting nutrition, apparel, sleep, and more in its wellness report.
- World Economic Forum research found that wellness is suddenly everywhere in the business world. Health professionals warn about it, employers talk about it and workers worry about it. The subject’s sudden topicality is not without good cause, as the costs to business of ill-health and stress, especially in terms of absenteeism and low productivity, are huge. Recent research in the international retail sector, for example, calculated that one in every 10 hours of working time are lost to unplanned time off.
- The School of Life argued that we know how useful it can be to have a first aid kit to hand. A kit naturally can’t solve everything, but what counts is that it is immediately present and at once highly effective. It contains what’s most urgently needed to contain a situation - until calm returns or more substantial help can be called for. TSOL's Emotional First Aid Kit was designed as a counterpart to that medical first aid kit, an emotional kit that claimed to provided a set of useful salves to some of life’s most challenging psychological situations.
- More parents are naming their babies after groceries. The rise of Kale, Sage, and Saffron suggests parents are finding inspiration in the wellness movement, claimed Quartz.
- The Montreal Museum of Fine Art (MMFA) partnered with the Médecins francophones du Canada doctors’ organisation to let doctors write prescriptions for museum visits. Medical professionals can write a maximum of 50 prescriptions, which will grant each patient an admission-free trip to the museum. The doctors involved in the collaboration cited the ability of art to improve mood, help patients take a respite from serious illnesses, and more - all, of course, with zero side effects.
- For TrendWatching, this example shows how the pursuit of health and wellbeing is increasingly breaking free from traditional channels and formats: from cardio-meets-CPR fitness classes in Thailand to STI testing at music festivals in New Zealand to Costa’s low-budget loneliness-fighting coffee tables.
- As regards the relationship between wellbeing and work, Raconteur believes that two schools of thought seem to be emerging: one says wellbeing policies should comprise everything and the kitchen sink, while another suggests they should centre on business-led issues with some attempt to measure a return on investment.
- Raconteur explained that a host of recent research has shown the impact of financial wellbeing issues in the workplace. For example, a recent report by the Reward and Employee Benefits Association showed that 25 per cent of employees say that financial concerns affect their ability to do their job. The 2017 Willis Towers Watson Global Benefits Attitude Survey also highlights a direct correlation between employees’ financial concerns and performance at work through sick days, productivity or engagement. The survey says employees are looking to their employers for support. Some are responding with programmes that support financial wellbeing, but employees are lukewarm about what they have seen so far and engagement remains low.
- Giving people more control over their work life and providing them with social support fosters higher levels of physical and mental health, a Stanford professor told McKinsey Quarterly. A culture of social support also reinforces for employees that they are valued, and thus helps in a company’s efforts to attract and retain people. Job control, meanwhile, has a positive impact on individual performance and is one of the most important predictors of job satisfaction and work motivation, frequently ranking as more important even than pay.
- A McKinsey article described some examples of organisations that are succeeding at providing the autonomy, control, social connections, and support that foster physical and mental well-being and argued that any company, in any industry, can pull these levers without breaking the bank. Today, though, too few do.
- McKinsey further argued that as cities get smarter, they are becoming more liveable and more responsive - and today we are seeing only a preview of what technology could eventually do in the urban environment. The firm believes that talent, technology, climate, and globalisation will be key shapers of the city context and that citizen well-being will be the future metric of success.
- Further reading:
- Too often we take for granted and neglect our libraries, parks, markets, schools, playgrounds, gardens and communal spaces, warned the RSA, but decades of research now show that these places can have an extraordinary effect on our personal and collective wellbeing. Why? Because wherever people cross paths and linger, wherever we gather informally, strike up a conversation and get to know one another, relationships blossom and communities emerge – and where communities are strong, people are safer and healthier, crime drops and commerce thrives, and peace, tolerance and stability take root.
- Europeans are worried, first and foremost, about their own economic wellbeing, reported GZEROMedia. In 14 countries within the EU, respondents listed unemployment or health and social security as the top challenge facing their national governments, according to the latest Eurobarometer survey. But perceptions of economic wellbeing vary widely within the Union.
- According to Vanessa King, positive psychology expert at Action for Happiness, learning is actually a “core need for psychological wellbeing.” Speaking to to the website Psychologies, King said: “Learning can help us build confidence and a sense of self-efficacy. It can also be a way of connection with others too. As human beings, we have a natural desire to learn and progress.” By accomplishing this early in the morning, it means the day begins with self-growth - which will also improve your mood, she claimed.
- Further reading:
Questioning the methodology behind the Economist Intelligence Unit's best cities to live in report, The Guardian asked how lonely are the people who live in the cities ranked highest? How high are the levels of anxiety in these cities? How likely are strangers to come to your aid if you are in distress? It adds, to paraphrase Benjamin Disraeli, there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and global liveability indexes.
Big Think reported on a new study published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience which claimed that just 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation can improve a person’s cognitive abilities, provided they’re not too neurotic to begin with.
Since 2012 The Boston Consulting Group has used its proprietary diagnostic tool, Sustainable Economic Development Assessment, to produce a score that measures the relative well-being of countries and also relative scores for 10 dimensions. The 2018 report, Striking a Balance Between Well-Being and Growth: The 2018 Sustainable Economic Development Assessment, revealed that countries which lead in generating well-being for their citizens tended to post faster economic growth over the past decade.
While African countries on the whole have maintained their overall wellbeing rankings, many have made positive strides towards improvement. Twenty-six out of 40 countries (65%) have enhanced their ability to transform wealth into wellbeing and nearly a quarter (nine of 40) are now above the world average ability to do so.
Noting that modern-day “wellness” refers to holistic healthy living characterized by physical, mental, social, and spiritual well-being, CB Insights analysed 150+ companies that are promoting wellness in nutrition, fitness, business, travel, and more,
Quartz wrote about how wellness became a new religion, arguing that at some point in recent history, we decided to use ‘because it makes me feel good’ as a key metric by which we determine truth. Truth has become, in essence, anything that makes us feel good about ourselves. That shift created the perfect conditions for the wellness industrial complex to flourish.
- Air pollution causes a “huge” reduction in intelligence, according to new research, indicating that the damage to society of toxic air is far deeper than the well-known impacts on physical health. The research was conducted in China but is relevant across the world, with 95% of the global population breathing unsafe air. It found that high pollution levels led to significant drops in test scores in language and arithmetic, with the average impact equivalent to having lost a year of the person’s education.
- Imagine that it were possible to measure well-being...at both the personal and wider societal levels. Apropos, seeThe Well-Being Agenda from The School of Life on Vimeo.
- The OECD has its "Your better life index" covering housing, income, employment, relationships, education, environment, institutions, health, general satisfaction, security and work/life balance. Its How's Life survey offers a comprehensive picture of what makes up people’s lives in 40 countries worldwide and assessed 11 specific aspects of life – ranging from income, jobs and housing to health, education and the environment.
- Many are now not only imagining but also actively working towards "an economy designed to promote not unchecked growth, but a steady state of wellbeing", characterised by gratitude. They believe that such an economy must come to realisation through the most far-seeing entrepreneurs of our time, from people who dare to think beyond the confines of the old box.