The body of knowledge around wellness is evolving into a broader concept; it includes simple, physical health, but goes beyond it, to treating the whole individual.

Multifaceted wellness

This integrated “well-being” approach typically includes several components:

  • Physical health (enhancing one’s physical fitness), which includes many programs typically seen in a traditional wellness program.

  • Mental or emotional health, which includes resources to balance one’s self, situations and others. Programs in this area include features such as an employee assistance program (EAP) and work-life related initiatives, such as workplace flexibility, child and eldercare, work overload, encouraging the use of vacation time and building resilience.

  • Financial health focuses on tools to attain financial freedom and success, with a focus on day-to-day financial needs, such as budgeting, debt management and college assistance, to name a few.

  • Spiritual health, which is defined as one’s strong sense of self or purpose through beliefs, principles, values and ethical judgments. Initiatives in this area could focus on connecting the culture of the organization to the strategy of well-being.

Empowered employees

There are aspects of one’s self that, when tended to, eliminate stressors that may otherwise affect one’s ability to focus and contribute to his or her job. By adopting this broader approach, organizations are focusing their programs and initiatives in these areas and communicating them under a “well-being” umbrella. In turn, employees better understand the value of addressing their holistic health.

Organizations benefit as well, in the form of lower turnover and higher employee engagement and satisfaction. Among organizations that have experienced the greatest success from their well-being programs and initiatives, there are four key areas they have in common.

Organizations that have seen the most success:

  • Have been working on a well-being strategy longer than those with just wellness programs; strategies have been in place for at least three years.

  • Prominently feature their well-being programs in their recruiting efforts.

  • Communicate their programs on a frequent and ongoing basis.

  • Empower managers and supervisors to support employees who participate in well-being initiatives.

In addition to drawing the key talent they want and keeping that talent in their ranks, these organizations say their employees tend to be more highly engaged and satisfied with their work. Plus, the focus on well-being helps reduce health-care costs: a common strategic objective for all U.S. organizations.