Wellness vs Well-being: More than a Number

Wellness vs Well-being: More than a Number

It wasn’t that long ago that worksite wellness simply focused on physical health. Remember all those walking contests? What about the “no-soda” pledges? Food diaries and calorie tracking?

Thankfully, the experts have come around to a more rounded approach. Today, wellness departments are paying attention to social, financial, community, career and physical well-being.

Sure, eating healthy and regular exercise will always be important. It's only one element, though. Plus, everyone is different with different concerns and worries on their minds. One size simply can’t “fit all” – especially when it comes to engaging people about their health.

Employees, it turns out, welcome this approach. After all, if you’re struggling to pay your bills, going through a divorce, grieving the loss of a loved one, or experiencing some other major stressor, the last thing you want is to be nudged about something that isn’t top of mind.

Jim Harter, PhD, author and chief scientist for Gallup’s Workplace Management and Well-Being Practice gets it. His book, Well-being: The Five Essential Elements, reveals there are actually five core aspects of well-being (career, community, financial, physical and social).

Consider Each Core

What’s the focus of each aspect? Why is each one so important? And how can mastering each core help us live our best life? First, let’s look at what each core entails.

  • Financial well-being means banking enough money so you can spend your life doing the things you want free of crippling money worries.
  • Community well-being centers on feeling positive about the areas and neighborhoods where you live, work and socialize.
  • Social well-being ensures you have friends, family and other support structures in place to bolster you in good times and bad.
  • Physical well-being nurtures the body to build the good health, energy and stamina that fuel an independent and active life.
  • Career well-being transforms the “9-to-5 grind” into interesting, rewarding and personally enriching work.

Click on the links in our story to read more about each of the five core elements of well-being. You’ll find ideas about ways you and your family can make small changes to improve your health, happiness and overall life.

Sources: Career Wellbeing with Jim Harter, Chief Scientist for Gallup’s Workplace Management and Well-being Practiceleaving site icon 49% of Millennials Would Quit Their Job Within 2 Yearsleaving site icon Forbes, 2019.

Originally published 5/5/2016: Revised 2017, 2022