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VOL. 126 | NO. 17 | Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Susan Drake

Wellbeing: The New Buzz

SUSAN DRAKE

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The book “Well Being” describes a new Gallup research tool called the Wellbeing Finder that measures what they propose are five essential elements of “a life that matters.” The elements are career, social, financial, physical and community wellbeing. Ideally, we would experience high levels of satisfaction in all those areas. It doesn’t take a scientist to know that this isn’t often the case.

The area that concerns us here is career wellbeing, because it is becoming a topic more frequently addressed by forward-thinking companies. One of those is Roberts Golden, a San Francisco-based consultancy. Founder Sara Roberts says, “Our team’s focus is on creating mindset shift and engagement as well as the environment and programs for success.” They are becoming known for their thought leadership as they begin to focus more heavily on wellbeing as a significant aspect of how employees adapt to change.

“Well Being” authors Tom Rath and Jim Harter explain that one of the most basic questions they ask is, “Do you like what you do each day?” Remarkably, only 20 percent of those surveyed said, “Yes.”

As the saying goes, “If it wasn’t hard, they wouldn’t call it work.” True. But what the comprehensive survey results show is that more than two-thirds of the workers around the world are just counting the minutes until they can go home. Translated, that means they’re not very engaged in their jobs.

What does this mean for companies like yours and mine? It reminds us that if we want employees to be inspired and motivated to deliver great performances at work, we have to take a serious interest in their career wellbeing; that is, how much they like what they do.

How can a manager contribute to employees’ work wellbeing? From my experience, it’s all simple stuff.

Take advantage of their talents. Take a genuine interest in what they are doing and how they feel about it. Seek input and listen to new ideas. Offer feedback and praise. Yes, these are Management 101 activities. But as the Gallup research shows, we need to be doing more of it, because having only 20 percent of workers say they like what they do is sad.

According to Gallup, there are peripheral issues too. Career wellbeing can contribute to workers being physically and emotionally healthier and happier, having fewer heart attacks and suffering less depression. Serious stuff.

It’s exhilarating to do something you love and feel good about. It’s thrilling to be on a successful team. It’s glorious to be excited to tell people what a great day you had because you’ve done something worthwhile at work. If we can do simple things that help people feel that way each day, I guarantee that as managers, we will experience a tremendous sense of career wellbeing. And I, for one, want that myself.

Susan Drake is the President of Spellbinders Internal and External Marketing. Contact her at susand@spellbindersinc.com.

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