Inc – Wellbeing vs. Wellness


By now, most employers understand that wellness needs to play some role in their employee engagement strategies. While fitness trackers and healthy snacks programs are good steps forward, there’s more to be done. We need to move away from thinking about wellness and think instead about overall wellbeing.

Wellness as we currently think of it falls short. Most wellness initiatives today focus on a person’s physical health, not their overall wellbeing, which can lead to lack of engagement and wasteful spending. An effective approach to overall wellbeing begins with understanding the barriers that employees face in their everyday lives that prevent them from finding their healthy.

The following three components are key to overall wellbeing: 

Physical Health: Having the health and energy to get things done on a daily basis.

  • While this is the most obvious component of employee health and wellbeing, it should be noted that traditionally healthy choices and actions help us avoid preventable chronic conditions. Chronic conditions can ultimately affect your financial health (medical bills/debt) and your emotional health (stress). Employer-sponsored benefits and wellness programs that drive education and engagement are critical components in driving physical health. Employees need to understand how and when they should access healthcare to ensure they remain on track to achieving their heathy. For some, it may be hitting 10,000 steps on their Fitbit, while others would like to see a decrease in their A1C levels.

Financial Health: Effectively managing your economic life.

  • Physical health affects financial health and vice versa. An employee – even one with a moderate salary and benefits – may be unable to afford or access care, healthy food options and more. Similarly, an employee who can’t cope with financial pressures at home may develop health issues down the line. Employers should offer employees access to financial services and resources to help them understand and overcome financial obstacles.  

Emotional Health: Being able to cope with the ups and downs of life without it impacting your day-to-day.

  • Emotional wellbeing is impacted by both financial and physical health, so employers should not overlook it when establishing their programs. Employers can offer mental health services like mental health days, Employee Assistance Programs and even mindfulness incentives to encourage employees to take care of their emotional health. 

Bottom line: Employers play a huge part in their employees’ overall health and wellbeing; and ultimately, they’ll feel the impact if something is wrong or goes wrong. Physical, financial and mental health are all intertwined and must be addressed if you want to have better outcomes and productivity while lowering costs.