Four Areas of Well-being (and Where Your Workplace is Falling Short)

A women sitting infront of a laptop looking to the right. She has illustrated images of a heart, conversation bubble, human body, and a light bulb with a brain in it hovering over her head like she is thinking about which area of well-being she should focus on

In today’s fast-paced and demanding work environment, prioritizing our well-being has never been more crucial. We spend a significant portion of our lives in the workplace, making it essential for organizations to foster an environment that supports our holistic health – whether we’re hybrid, remote or in-office.

According to research by Gallup¹, Employees who are thriving in their well-being are more than twice as likely as those who are struggling to be engaged in their jobs, leading to less absenteeism, reduced turnover (up to 81% lower), improved productivity and higher profitability.

Every workplace has an important role to play in elevating everyone’s well-being.

Unfortunately, many workplaces fall short in addressing key areas of well-being, leaving their people feeling overwhelmed, stressed-out, and exhausted. What’s the secret to creating a healthier work environment for everyone? It starts by understanding what it means to Be Well.

The Four Areas of Well-being

Emotional Well-being:

Emotional well-being is present when people are able to navigate emotional ups and downs, manage stress, practice self-awareness, collaborate effectively, welcome difference in opinions without spiraling into conflict, and are able to concentrate on difficult work despite the stress that might be present in other areas of life. Emotional well-being enables people to maintain mental health and makes it easier to have positive relationships with others even when differences arise.

Feeling emotionally well does not mean that you are always happy and cheerful; it means that you are able to experience a variety of emotions without getting stuck in any one emotional state. You are able to ride the waves caused by emotions without getting out of balance. People who score high on emotional well-being are better able to cope with stress, uncertainty, and challenging relationships.

To address this, leaders must foster an atmosphere of psychological safety, encourage open communication, and encourage the use of resources for emotional support, such as counseling services or employee assistance programs. But that’s not enough! The following three areas of well-being actually have a direct impact on a person’s emotional well-being. If you don’t pay attention to those three, you won’t succeed at improving emotional well-being.

Physical Well-being:

When physical well-being is at its best, anyone can be a high performer. Physical well-being has a positive impact on both mental health and on a person’s ability to sustain high performance throughout the workday, throughout the year, and throughout their career. People who score themselves high for physical well-being can concentrate on difficult tasks at any time of day, be free from aches, pains or physical discomforts, and avoid recurring illness. They also retire with more energy and vitality for the next chapter of their lives. Physical well-being is maintained with regular exercise, proper nutrition, and sufficient rest. However, in today’s work culture, long hours, sedentary behavior, and unhealthy eating habits have become the norm.

Organizations must promote physical well-being by encouraging walking and moving during the work day, providing access to nutritious food options, and implementing policies that support work-life balance. Simple initiatives like walking meetings, standing desks, and flexible working hours can make a significant difference in employees’ physical health.

Intellectual Well-being:

When your intellectual well-being is at its best, you are truly engaged in your work, you have opportunities to contribute in ways that feel significant and that use your cognitive skills, knowledge and talents. You are able to focus, remember important details, generate new ideas, learn new things, make smart decisions, and sustain cognitive engagement evenly throughout the day. Intellectual well-being enables individuals and teams to solve problems creatively and be productive throughout the day regardless of whether they are working from home or at the office. It results in active engagement, job satisfaction and commitment to the larger vision and mission. A person whose intellectual well-being is high is productive not for the sake of productivity but as a result of the satisfaction they get from their productivity. This is the opposite of the phenomena we see in the Quiet Quitting movement. When people are “living for the weekend,” it’s a sure sign that their intellectual well-being at work is low.

Intellectual well-being requires opportunities for continuous learning, skill development, and personal growth. Unfortunately, many workplaces focus solely on immediate tasks and neglect intellectual development.

To foster intellectual well-being, leaders should create a culture of learning, provide training and development programs, and assign projects and responsibilities that match a person’s talents and interests. By nurturing intellectual growth, organizations not only enhance employee engagement and satisfaction but also boost innovation and creativity within the workplace.

Social Well-being:

Social well-being is all about how connected we are to other people. Humans need to have a sense of belonging and psychological safety in order to thrive and perform at their full potential. Most importantly, we need time to connect at a personal level with colleagues at work in order to build a foundation of trust, which is essential for team agility and efficiency.

Social well-being doesn’t only improve your performance on a team; it also has a positive impact on your overall health, emotional well-being, and resilience to illness. Many research studies have shown that your social well-being is an important factor in maintaining brain health and supporting your immune system.

On teams, social well-being is extremely important. When social well-being is strong on your team, team members are more collaborative, creative and lift one another up.

Social well-being revolves around building positive relationships and a sense of connection within the workplace. However, all too often, workplaces fall short in fostering social connections, leading to isolation and disengagement.

To address this, organizations should promote teamwork, encourage social interactions, and provide opportunities for team development. Cultivating a sense of belonging and camaraderie creates a positive work atmosphere where employees feel valued and supported.

Where Your Workplace Might be Falling Short on Well-being

Now that we’ve explored the four areas of well-being, it’s essential to assess where your workplace might be falling short. Take a moment to reflect on the following questions:

  • Does your workplace prioritize open and honest communication, allowing employees to express their emotions without fear of judgment or reprisal?
  • Are there initiatives in place to support physical health, such as flexible work hours, opportunities for exercise, and access to nutritious food options?
  • Does your organization encourage continuous learning and provide resources for personal and professional growth?
  • Is there a strong sense of camaraderie and teamwork within your workplace, fostering social connections and support?

If you’ve identified areas where your workplace is lacking, it’s time to take action and make well-being a priority.

A World of Well-being – Where Going to Work Energizes You

At Neolé, we understand the importance of creating a workplace that prioritizes employee well-being. Whether it’s addressing emotional, physical, intellectual, or social well-being, our team of experts is here to guide you.

Book a free consultation with us today and let’s discuss how we can support your organization in fostering a healthier and more fulfilling work environment.

Don’t forget to download our new, FREE Ebook “From Exhaustion to Balance” for more information on building a holistic self-care routine that can transform your entire hybrid team.

Ginny Santos MSc. CEO, Well-being Advocate, and Adjunct Professor.

[1] Gallup, “State of The American Workplace Employee Engagement Insights for US Business Leaders,” 2014.

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© Neolé 2024

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© Neolé 2024