We need to take a different approach and ask: “Do you want more energy?” That’s what matters to employees, and they understand it. Energy reflects how they feel. It’s an internal barometer for their overall well-being, daily stress levels and amount of fatigue. And it’s the key to achieving their personal mission in life—to what matters most to them.

Human resource

I see this in my work, having collaborated with thousands of business leaders and working with executives at 25 of the Fortune 100 companies, to increase their mental toughness, emotional resilience, nutrition and fitness.

Our most critical resource is human energy, but we fail to manage it correctly. I call it the “human energy crisis.” It’s well known that our physical health is declining, but we’re also experiencing a loss in engagement and focus. In 2014, Gallup reported that obesity had continued to trend up, meanwhile less than one-third of the workforce reports being engaged at the job.

Seeing every side

The most effective antidote to our exhaustion and distractedness is energy management. Energy management is grounded in the sciences of performance psychology, exercise physiology and nutrition. The goal is to train, expand and manage energy capacity to improve health and performance in both work and life. Human energy is the foundation of all experiences in life: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Picture the energy management model as a four-level pyramid, where the bottom—and foundation—is physical health, followed by emotional, mental and spiritual health at the pinnacle. We need to think of health holistically, by paying attention to all four dimensions.

"The energy management principles lead us to focusing on what matters most, emotionally connecting more effectively, eating more nutritionally and moving strategically throughout the day."

Let’s take a closer look at the dimensions. Physical energy is derived from nutrition, fitness, sleep and recovery. Emotional energy is associated with opportunistic emotions and resilience; what inspires engagement, confidence and interpersonal effectiveness. The mental domain consists of focus, awareness, mindfulness and having positive stories about yourself and your life. Spiritual energy is associated with your personal mission, or what matters most to you. When we invest energy in these dimensions, we get a higher return.

Supporting stats

Could energy management be a primary tool to get people healthier, more engaged and more productive? I believe so, and we have data to back it up. Take being more physically active during your workday as an example. In different organizations we asked people to simply move every 25-30 minutes (not necessarily taking a break, but working while moving) and found improved focus, better engagement, heightened energy levels (both at work and at home) and improved intrinsic motivation.

Through energy management, we learn the “how” to get more energy and the “what to do,” to live a life with more of it. Organizations can help individuals shift from seeing healthy behavior as a task to seeing it as a means to achieving what they want in life. The energy management principles lead us to focusing on what matters most, emotionally connecting more effectively, eating more nutritionally and moving strategically throughout the day.

The results

I’ve witnessed clients lose weight, become more active, improve relationships, enhance their social well being, handle stress better and be more engaged in their lives.

It’s important to note, however, that employee wellness begins with leadership. When leaders clearly define and invest in their own purpose and mission, they serve as role models for their organization. By managing your energy you not only have more of it, your healthy behaviors can rub off on your employees and lead to a fully-engaged and energized organization.