How to Prioritize Well-being Over Wellness
Sean Higgins
corporate wellness

Organizations are inseparable from the employees who spend their 9-to-5s working toward a common goal. And every organization must think about the culture that it cultivates to enrich, rather than deplete, the lives of its members. Enrichment includes upholding a standard of health – mental, physical, and emotional. How to prioritize well-being over wellness is a critical component to making this a reality.

While an organization is not fully responsible for the overall health of its members, it is important to assess whether or not the environment cultivates or diminishes health. Steps can then be taken to offer members clearer opportunities to uphold and uplift their overall well-being. 

Looking at the difference between well-being and wellness is a good way of examining the mental, physical, and emotional habits your organization instills. To start, let’s define the two concepts. Well-being is holistic health that involves well-rounded care of the individual. Outwardly, an individual with a high level of well-being will display happiness, satisfaction, and comfort. 

On the other hand, wellness is the process of achieving a sense of well-being. This can come with heightened self-awareness and working towards health goals. This concept can single out parts of a person’s health like mental or physical, rather than looking at the whole picture. Wellness can also have some implications of “attempting” to reach a state, whereas well-being has the word “being”, and suggests a current state. 

How to Tell If Your Organization Promotes Well-being

An organization that encourages a sense of well-being in its members will make clear attempts to involve them in wellness activities. Now, we’ve determined that wellness consists of separate health goals. For example, a gym that only offers exercise classes promotes physical wellness And depending on the culture promoted at the gym, the benefit of working out in a group setting can help with emotional wellness. 

Well-being is a balance of health beyond singular aspects – it looks at the whole package. If your organization offers a wide array of services that address mental, physical, and emotional needs, it is promoting the overall state of well-being. Not only this, but organizations that encourage well-being will have a clear understanding and empathy towards members who require additional leniency or accommodation during hardship or circumstances that require time away. Well-being looks at the human aspects of involvement in an organization, and doesn’t just look at a member as a cog in the wheel or another number among many. 

Well-being Outside of Your Organization

There is life for members outside of their attachments to organizations. Members have families and themselves to tend to. Part of well-being goes beyond what an organization can do for an individual, but extends to what an individual is able to do for themselves with minimal organizational interference. At an office, this could mean giving employees several days off to recover from surgery or a traumatic incident. 

But well-being is more that giving members the minimum requirements to continue to participate. It’s about enabling them to create a happy, healthy life that’s enriched by the services given by the organization. 

Who is Responsible for Well-being

At the end of the day, organization members are free to make their own decisions when it comes to their mental, physical, and emotional health. These decisions have a tremendous impact on their well-being. It is the responsibility of organizations to be cognizant of the type of environment that is being fostered. To encourage and prioritize well-being in its members, the environment should offer reasonable accommodation for member needs.  

When To Tell If Your Organization is Skimping on Well-being

If members of an organization are able to cultivate and maintain a sense of well-being, the organization greatly benefits. If your organization isn’t doing the best job of promoting well-being, you can see it clearly in member morale. You can also tell from the overall atmosphere. Or, if it’s difficult to tell how members of your organization are doing, you can always send out a survey. Ask them to assess their overall satisfaction with various parts of their lives. Being open about improvement is the first step to cultivating well-being. 

To encourage a culture of well-being, your organization can focus on encouraging wellness in different aspects of its members lives. This can include reimbursing members for visiting a gym at least 10 times a month, thereby encouraging physical health. Your organization can also promote mental health. You can offer discounted mental health services or pay for a yearly subscription to a meditation mobile app. For emotional health, your organization can allow members perks like working from home two days out of the week. Additionally, your organization can host inclusive social events that will instill a sense of belonging. Well-being looks different for every individual. An organization can offer the tools and resources to promote overall health, and in doing so, benefit from happy members. 

The BetterYou app uses behavior science to improve digital health and make it stick.

Want to learn how?