Health and Wellbeing

Can Wellbeing be Defined?

While wellbeing is in part based on your own perception, it is also based on measurable statistical factors that contribute to the overall wellbeing of employees and leaders alike. This concept extends far beyond the individual and into every level of organizations. A successfully implemented wellbeing strategy results in a measurable performance boost for the individual as well as for the company. Read on for a deep-dive into the facts, stats and strategies of health and wellbeing.



What – Introducing Wellbeing

Ensuring the wellbeing of employees needs to be one of the core considerations for leaders. Working towards a high rate of wellbeing results in better outcomes for employees and businesses alike.

The concept of measurable wellbeing consists of five elements that are essential to most people across cultures and countries. These elements of wellbeing differentiate thriving from suffering.

Who – a business priority for Leaders

Escalated through the COVID-19 pandemic, employee wellbeing deteriorated as fast as anxiety, stress, physical and mental ill-health increased. Combined with unprecedented and unpredictable working conditions across industries and countries, burnouts and resignations were on the rise globally, with the US seeing 11.5 million employees resigning between April and June of last year. 

Amplified through the pandemic, wellbeing of employees has become a key business priority for leaders globally as it is directly linked to every organization’s overall performance. It requires dedication from leaders to implement or expand existing wellbeing offerings.

In order to achieve this, organisations have started to prioritize workforce wellbeing by creating a new role in their leadership teams. Chief Health Officers and Chief Medical Officers to their executive leadership line-up are appointed with the mandate to build and expand on the five elements of employee wellbeing. 

The Five Elements of Wellbeing

  • Career Wellbeing

    How you spend your time or simply liking what you do every day

  • Social Wellbeing

    Having strong relationships and love in your life

  • Financial Wellbeing

    Effectively managing your economic life

  • Physical Wellbeing

    Being in good health and having enough energy to get things done on a daily basis

  • Community Wellbeing

    The sense of engagement you have with the area where you live

Sources: Gallup

Why – a closer look at what creates Wellbeing

Research shows that 66% of people are doing well in one or more elements, however, the eye-opener for leaders is that only 7% of people thrive in all five elements. Strengthening Wellbeing in daily life means people have better days, which has a perpetuating effect and leads to better weeks, months and years. 

Fact is, people who don’t experience wellbeing in all five elements are not getting the most out of their lives. In turn, companies are not getting the best performance out of their employees. 

While the five elements of wellbeing are universal across cultures and countries, people take different paths to increasing their individual well-being in each area. 

Deep beliefs inspire their paths and motivate them and while they span religion, diet, passions and past-times at the beginning, the outcome is the same.

How - the conscious effort of creating Wellbeing

There are many ways to create Wellbeing across the five categories. Each of them is theoretically within the control of each person – thriving in one’s career, social interactions, financial planning, physical activity, and community involvement contributes to overarching wellbeing. 

Whichever one of these critical elements we’re not thriving in can be improved. More often than not, the reality is that short-term decisions override what’s best for our long-term well-being. 

This is where leaders can make a difference for the wellbeing of their employees.

Read also:


Enabling Wellbeing Means Empowering Employees

Creating a mentally healthy workplace needs to be as important for organisations as creating a physically healthy workplace. Ultimately, […] change must start at the top.  Organisational leaders play a critical role in driving policies and practices that promote mental health.

Source: HeadsUp

Leaders have the opportunity to create a post-pandemic workplace that focuses on employee wellbeing. Research shows that employee wellbeing will have the greatest impact on the workplace of the future.  But how can leaders find out what individuals on all levels of their organisation really need?

As a first step, understanding individual needs is crucial when determining wellbeing offers that resonate with employees. Missing the mark on this initial step will result in offers that do not benefit the individual and might therefore not be used. 

Offering ways for employees to safely share what they really need will allow leaders to provide the type and level of health and wellbeing support that is needed. As a result, companies can create a range of options and wellbeing offers that are as personalized as possible for their workforce.

What Matters in the Workplace of the Future

  • Wellbeing (74%)

  • Ability to work remotely (71%),

  • Mental health, stress, and burnout (70%)

  • Work-life management benefits and programs (72%)

Source: Forbes

How Leaders Can Achieve and Maintain Employee Wellbeing

Shifting the focus to employee wellbeing with its far-reaching impact on individuals and the company encompasses physical and mental health aspects. In addition, ensuring a healthy work-life balance as well as creating a workplace that offers more than the monotonous day-to-day tasks and measures and rewards individual growth are essential. 

How can leaders ensure that wellbeing for long-term individual and company growth is part of the company’s framework?

Step by Step Towards Wellbeing

Research outlines that the focus on all aspects of wellbeing requires fast and impactful change and integration within the company from the top down. Leading by example has never been more important.

Step 1: Advocate and lead by example regarding the importance of wellbeing

Wellbeing programs that originate from the company’s leadership team initiate change in the company culture. Clear and consistent communication solidify the message that this is not a trend, but an essential pillar of the company with the goal to improve wellbeing on all levels. 

Keep in mind that the five elements of wellbeing are interdependent and individual needs are paramount to include. This will ensure a mix of programs, offers and practices that cover more than one element while focusing on individual employee needs.

Step 2: Define Wellbeing for your company

Gallup research suggests that all Wellbeing initiatives result in greater improvement of employee wellbeing when the entire workforce knows exactly what is meant by “wellbeing”. As a highly individual need, it will otherwise result in highly individual interpretations and possibly disappointment, if the company fails to clearly communicate what wellbeing means.

Clarify how wellbeing leads to thriving individuals personally and professionally. Consider adding the five elements of wellbeing to show the core pillars of wellbeing and align the programs and offers available in your company.

Step 3: Constant, Open, Two-Way Communication

While this point may seem obvious, it is one that needs to be taken seriously. Improving and maintaining wellbeing requires conversations. From in-depth talks to quick, regular check-ins, regular communication around employee wellbeing is essential. Review the five elements of wellbeing, and open the conversation to ensure that employees are receiving what’s needed to improve the areas they require more support in. 

Ultimately, in the regular check-ins a positive trajectory for each individual and for the company as a whole should start to show.

Step 4: Lead by Example

While the concept is not new, it is important to take this into the topic of wellbeing as well. Besides the fact that people often adopt wellbeing practices through social contagion, wellbeing is just as important for leaders as it is for all other employees of a company.

The successful implementation of wellbeing standards in a company means leaders need to model the implementation into their lives. 

Step 5: Push Existing Wellbeing Offerings

In the post-pandemic workplace, re-promoting the already existing wellbeing programs and offerings is an important aspect. As employees return to the office, in-house offerings should be reintroduced and brought back to mind. 

Encourage and invite family members to show you care for them as well to promote wellbeing of families. 

Step 6: Evaluate the Impact of Wellbeing Programs

Reviewing and evaluating the uptake, effectiveness and value of wellbeing offerings is essential. Ensure a scientific approach in reviewing how many individuals are participating, which programs they chose, and how their wellbeing improves over time. 

Understanding what’s working, where the impact isn’t as expected, and what’s missing is essential as the wellbeing offering in a company is fine-tuned.

Step 7: Employee Engagement drives Employee Wellbeing

Research conducted by Gallop has shown the dependence of employee engagement on employee wellbeing. The engagement of individuals is a powerful influence for others. Including wellbeing goals in goal setting and rewarding participation are only some of the components that integrate wellbeing into workplace culture. 

Fostering social belonging and developing supportive work relationships is at the heart of this aspect of wellbeing.

Step 8: Find Wellbeing Experts for Your Company

Once you have identified the programs and events you need to establish or add on to your organisation’s existing wellbeing offering, it is time to hand it over to experts. From coaches to trainers and organizations to accredited specialists, the goal is to have access to professionals across the five elements of wellbeing.

Step 9: Identify Strengths to Succeed

Working on your wellbeing can mean working on habits. By starting conversations around wellbeing through a focus on the individual’s strengths, identifying suitable wellbeing initiatives becomes easier. Each person has preferences and tendencies that translate into ways of improving their overall wellbeing.

Again, frequent check-ins help leaders and employees evaluate their successes and ultimately build a thriving organization.


Health and Wellbeing for Leaders

For leaders, the core principles of the five elements of wellbeing remain the same. Make sure your leadership team is aware of where to find resources for themselves. Whether it’s seeking advice or support.

As a senior leader, your actions have a disproportionate impact on the behaviour of others. Being seen to invest in your own wellbeing – like “leaving loudly” or making time for exercise – gives others permission to do so as well.


How do you start modeling wellbeing behaviours? Your leadership team and team leaders should be able to name some of the things you do to lead by example – what are you doing to invest in your own wellbeing?

Key Search Helps Leaders Hire their Chief Health Officers

At Key Search, we help some of the world’s most exciting startups and fast-growth companies in Europe and beyond, hire their leaders. This includes the fairly recent position of Chief Health Officer or Chief Medical Officer.

To enable fast-growing startups and businesses to scale, employee health and wellbeing needs to be represented at the boardroom level. Key Search helps companies find and hire the right talent at the right time. A knowledgeable team of experts at Key Search has helped the founders and CEOs find, hire and expand on their first-line leadership team.

Going beyond recruitment for every client, Key Search Executive Search brings an in-depth knowledge of the company’s needs and company culture to the process of attracting and hiring candidates with the right talent for every leadership position.

About the Author