Employee wellness vs wellbeing: Are we all on the same page?
Wellness is everywhere - Facebook, Twitter, news and, more recently, in workplaces. Although we’ve been talking health and wellness for years, the ubiquity and intensity of the topic have grown significantly.
In an ever-evolving industry, deciphering the wave of information from disparate sources and service providers can be confusing and overwhelming for consumers & organisations.
Employee wellbeing is firmly on the agenda for most HR and business leaders. Our role is to help organisations recognise what's critical to deliver effective solutions for their most significant asset, their people.
Let's start with foundations like naming and a breakdown of wellbeing elements so you and your stakeholders can move towards a shared understanding.
+ Wellness vs Wellbeing: What's in a name?
The World Health Organization (WHO) define the term wellbeing as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.
The Oxford dictionary defines wellbeing as “the state of being or doing well in life; happy, healthy, or prosperous condition; moral or physical welfare” and wellness as “the state of being in good health”.
In short, wellbeing is a broader, holistic state of being. A positive state achieved by sustaining physical, emotional, spiritual, social and mental health - and overall contentment and balance in life. Wellness is generally more focused on physical health and the body rather than a broader state of being.
If we really scratched the surface, most workplace programs address wellness, few address overall wellbeing. While the two should not (we believe) be used interchangeably, their influence and outcomes are connected - when facets of wellness are addressed positively, these contribute, in part, to an enhanced wellbeing.
Verdict for organisations:
Now more than ever, organisations need to ensure that employee programs holistically service the overall wellbeing of their people.
Both wellness and wellbeing play a role in your employees’ health however in today’s hyper-connected world, the only way to help employees achieve optimal wellbeing is through a holistic framework. This requires programs to support all areas of wellbeing - emotional, social, mental and physical. The distinction between wellness and wellbeing is particularly important in two scenarios: 1) when selecting partners - ensuring they provide an integrated wellbeing solution - and, 2) when steering boardroom conversations as executives have become more savvy on the topic.
+ Mental Wellbeing
Positive mental wellbeing is when individuals can cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively and are able to integrate + contribute to their communities.
Mental health vs mental illness is where confusion can occur and, as a result, you often hear it described as a continuum:
Mental health at one end of the spectrum – the way we think, feel and develop relationships.
Mental illness at the other – represented by conditions like depression, anxiety and other symptoms that affect thoughts or behaviour.