I apologize for a rather long message
this month, but I think you will enjoy and appreciate the value. I just
completed reading the book “Wellbeing” by Tom Rath and Jim Harter,
published by Gallup Press. This book is a summary of surveys and research
completed over the past 50 years and around the world. This research was
completed by Gallup, the “Gallup Poll” people. The finding of the research is
that our overall wellbeing is determined by the sum of our: Career Wellbeing,
Social Wellbeing, Financial Wellbeing, Physical Wellbeing, and Community
Wellbeing. This newsletter contains highlights from the book that I think are
relevant to business professionals. I highly recommend buying the book and
reading the complete story.
Remember being in school and waiting
for the bell to ring so you could get out? More than two-thirds of workers
around the world experience a similar feeling by the end of a typical
For workers who were engaged in their
work, happiness and interest throughout the day were significantly higher.
Conversely, stress levels were substantially higher for those who were
Those who were actively disengaged in
their careers were nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with
depression over the next year.
As workers become more engaged, their
physical health improves in parallel.
Of all the categories people ranked,
from friends to relative to coworkers to children, they rated the time they
spent with their manager as being the worst time of the day.
Those who deemed their managers to be
the least competent had a 24% higher risk of a serious heart problem. For
those who had worked for that manager for more than four years, the risk was
If your manager ignores you, there is
a 40% chance that you will be actively disengaged or filled with hostility
about your job. If your manager is at least paying attention – even if he
is focusing on your weaknesses – the chances of your being actively
disengaged go down to 22%. But if your manager is primarily focusing on
your strengths, the chance of your being actively disengaged is just 1%.
Paradox: work is something we are not
supposed to enjoy. But, as workers near “retirement age,” they realize how
dull life would be if they were not working at all. By the time people
reach their 50’s nearly two-thirds want to keep working.
Career wellbeing is one of the major
differentiators that help us live into our 90’s. While the standard
retirement age for men in the 1950s was closer to 65, men who lived to see
95 did not retire until they were 80 years old on average. Even more
remarkable, 93%of these men reported getting a great deal of satisfaction
out of the work they did. And 86% reported having fun doing their
Essential to having fun at work is
getting the opportunity to use your strengths every day. Workers who have
the opportunity to use their strengths are six times as likely to be
engaged in their jobs and more than three times as likely to report
having an excellent quality of life.
Odds of being happy increase by 15% if
a direct connection in your social network is happy.
A salary increase of about $10,000 in
annual income is associated with just a 2% increased likelihood of being
If our best friend is very active, it
nearly triples your chances of having high levels of physical
The sheer amount of time we spend
socializing matters. To have a thriving day, we need six hours of
social time. The six hours includes time at work, at home, on the phone,
talking to friends, sending email, and other communication.
For people over the age 50, for those
who were socially active, their memories declined at less than half the
rate compared to those who were the least social.
Just 30% of employees have a best
friend at work. Those who do are seven times as likely to be engaged
in their jobs, are better at engaging customers, produce higher quality
work, have higher wellbeing, and are less likely to get injured on the job.
Those without a best friend in the workplace have just a 1 in 12
chance of being engaged.
The amount of money you have is not
the best gauge of your Financial Wellbeing, let alone your life in general.
Wealthier countries have citizens with
Spending money on oneself does not
boost wellbeing. However, spending money on others does.
We spend the most when we feel the
worst. Don’t use “retail therapy” to make yourself feel better. People who
were shown a video designed to induce sadness offered to pay nearly four
times as much for a product when compared with a group that did not
watch the video.
Buying experiences such as
going out to dinner or taking a vacation increases our own wellbeing and the
wellbeing of others. Material items lose their novelty, but we can
relive memories indefinitely.
Which would you choose?
An annual income of $50,000, while the
people around you earn $25,000 a year.
An annual income of $100,000, while
the people around you earn $200,000 a year.
Using a classic economic model, everyone should choose an income of $100,000
over $50,000. Instead, nearly half the people presented with these options
pick the lower salary of $50,000 a year. They choose to make half
the total income as long as it is double the income of their peers. It
seems that the amount of money we make or the size of our home is less
relevant than how they compare to others’ income and possessions. This
plays out in the decisions we make every day, and that poses a real dilemma.
When a company requires employees to
explicitly opt-in to a retirement plan, most workers do not participate.
But when the default is for employees to be automatically enrolled, more
than 80% participate in the retirement plan.
The perception that you have more than
enough money to do what you want to do – has three times the impact
of your income alone on overall wellbeing. Further, a lack of worry about
money has more than double the impact of income on overall wellbeing.
When we asked people with thriving
wellbeing about the greatest contribution they had made in their life, with
few exceptions, they mentioned the impact they have had on another person,
group or community. Not only had these individuals made a substantial
contribution to something bigger than themselves, but they also had been
recognized for their community involvement.
No gift is as valuable as our time.
Volunteers get a “helper’s high” – they feel stronger, more energetic, and
more motivated after helping others even in the smallest ways. Nearly 9
in 10 reported “getting an emotional boost” from doing kind things for
When we do things for others, we see
how we can make a difference, and this gives us confidence in our own
ability to create change.
Well-doing inoculates us against
stress and negative emotions.
The basic structure of a form, a
pre-filled check box, or an automatic enrollment process shapes our
decisions a lot more than we realize.
In countries where citizens are
automatically enrolled to donate their organs as the default, the vast
majority choose to do so. However, when citizens are not automatically
enrolled, very few choose to donate their organs.
People who are engaged in their
careers are 20%-30% more likely to give back to their community.
Workers who were the most engaged in
their jobs donated 2.6 times more than those who were not engaged in
Just one day when we eat poorly, skip
exercising, are stressed at work, don’t get enough social time, and worry
about money leads to a host of negative outcomes. On days like this, we
have less energy, we look worse, we don’t treat people well, and we get a
lousy night’s sleep. As a result, we miss the reset provided by a sound
night of sleep, and the cycle continues.
If you lead or manage people, your
actions have a direct impact on the wellbeing of others. When leaders
embrace the opportunity to improve employees’ wellbeing, they create more
engaging places to work and greater returns for the organization. And, they
even help strengthen their employees’ families. Dismissing it as something
that’s “none of their business” – they erode the confidence of those who
follow them and limit their organization’s ability to grow.
The world’s best managers see the
growth of each employee as an end in itself, instead of as a means to an
end. They realize that each worker’s wellbeing, and in many cases the
wellbeing of the worker’s entire family, is largely dependent on their
ability to lead and manage.
In employees asked a question about
whether their manager cares about them as a person, we found that people who
agree with this statement:
Are more likely to be top performers
Produce higher quality work
Are less likely to be sick
Are less likely to change jobs
Are less likely to get injured on the
This all adds up to a more efficient and higher performing organization.
What’s best for the employee isn’t at odds with what’s best for the
It’s easier to attract top talent if
you can show a prospective employee how working for the organization will
translate into better relationships, more financial security, improved
physical health, and more involvement in the community.
Turning your attention to employee
wellbeing is a way to gain an emotional, financial, and competitive