The Seven Elements of Wellness that Drive Engagement

by Ryan Picarella

One of the top challenges for almost every organization is engagement. This ubiquitous problem has cost organizations billions of dollars in productivity, but even worse it has impacted the health and wellbeing of millions of workers across the globe. Wellness programs have become a common fixture in most organizations, as organizations have begun to realize that when people are sick and stressed, they are not engaged with their jobs.

On this surface, this seems like a good thing, but the wellness industry is also suffering from an engagement problem - arguably a crisis. Only 24% of employees in organizations who offer a wellness program actually participate in it. We have all begun to face the fact that no one wants to consume the programmatic approach to wellness that our industry has historically offered. Research by the Harvard Business Review found that the top reasons employees don’t participate in wellness programs are perceived inconvenience, un-supportive company cultures and lack of trust in their employer.

Presenteeism, absenteeism, and unhealthy cultures that breed distrust are sicknesses that many organizations suffer from. Fortunately, there is a cure. WELCOA has partnered with organizations around the globe for over 30 years to understand what works, what doesn’t and develop best practices for creating more thriving cultures of health for all working people. Our mission then was the same as our mission now: to help employees be happy, healthy and high performing. As the research evolves and our understanding evolves, we have to evolve.

At WELCOA, we believe that healthy, happy employees are the key to creating thriving organizations. We believe that organizations that prioritize the wellness of their people should be recognized and celebrated. Part of the important work of positioning wellness front and center is being clear about what we mean when we talk about wellness. The wellness that WELCOA is interested in is specifically the kind that we believe can be accomplished through employers, workplace wellness programs and organizational cultures.

We believe there are seven distinctive elements of wellness that if focused on can led to high performing engaged employees and thriving organizations. While we acknowledge the traditional markers of wellness that have driven our approaches to date, what actually contributes to individual wellness is much broader and more profound.

What is Wellness?

Wellness is the active pursuit to understand and fulfill your individual human needs - which allows you to reach a state where you are flourishing and able to realize your full potential in all aspects of life. Every person has wellness aspirations.

To fully maximize human potential there are seven key areas that need to be front and center in any organizational strategy:

  1. Health: Beyond the absence of mental and physical illness, health is a feeling of strength and energy from your body and mind.
  2. Meaning: Feeling part of something bigger than yourself. Knowing that your work matters. Having purpose in your life.
  3. Safety: Knowing that you are safe from physical and psychological harm at work. Feeling secure enough to take calculated risks and show vulnerability. Free of concern about meeting basic life needs.
  4. Connection: Experiencing positive, trusting relationships with others. Feeling a sense of belonging, acceptance and support.
  5. Achievement: Feeling you have the support, resources and autonomy to achieve your goals. Succeeding at meeting your individual goals and work aspirations.
  6. Growth: Feeling like you are progressing in your career. Learning and being challenged to use and expand on your strengths.
  7. Resiliency: Viewing life with optimism. Feeling grateful and expressing appreciation. Feeling validated and encouraged.

This is wellness. This is how we define it. Everything that we are creating stands to measure and achieve that definition. WELCOA’s vision is to set new standards for employee wellness initiatives and organizational cultures by quantifying the value of healthy, happy employees to recognize and celebrate the healthiest and most engaging places to work.

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