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Research Triangle Business Advisors

February 2013 Newsletter


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.

Bob De Contreras






  1. 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 workday.

  2. 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 disengaged.

  1. Those who were actively disengaged in their careers were nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression over the next year.

  2. As workers become more engaged, their physical health improves in parallel.



  1. 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.

  2. 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 39% higher.

  3. 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%.



  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.

  2. 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 job.

  3. 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.



  1. Odds of being happy increase by 15% if a direct connection in your social network is happy.

  2. A salary increase of about $10,000 in annual income is associated with just a 2% increased likelihood of being happy.

  3. If our best friend is very active, it nearly triples your chances of having high levels of physical activity.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.



  1. The amount of money you have is not the best gauge of your Financial Wellbeing, let alone your life in general.

  2. Wealthier countries have citizens with higher wellbeing.


  1. Spending money on oneself does not boost wellbeing.  However, spending money on others does.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Which would you choose? 

    1. An annual income of $50,000, while the people around you earn $25,000 a year.

    2. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.



  1. 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.

  2. 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 other people.

  3. 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.

  4. Well-doing inoculates us against stress and negative emotions.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. People who are engaged in their careers are 20%-30% more likely to give back to their community

  8. Workers who were the most engaged in their jobs donated 2.6 times more than those who were not engaged in their careers.



  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. In employees asked a question about whether their manager cares about them as a person, we found that people who agree with this statement:

    1. Are more likely to be top performers

    2. Produce higher quality work

    3. Are less likely to be sick

    4. Are less likely to change jobs

    5. Are less likely to get injured on the job

  5. 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 organization.

  6. 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.

  7. Turning your attention to employee wellbeing is a way to gain an emotional, financial, and competitive advantage.


Cary | Raleigh | Research Triangle Park | Greensboro | North Carolina
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