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What is Wellness?

The key to creating healthy, thriving organizations starts with healthy, thriving employees. It starts with getting clear about what employee well-being is. While many institutions are launching new definitions of well-being in the wake of the pandemic, WELCOA produced this definition in 2018. And it is as relevant today—if not more—in a post pandemic world. This definition sets the standard for employee well-being at the national level. All of the resources, trainings and evaluative tools that we provide our clients serve this definition.

In the past, much of the focus within the workplace wellness profession was primarily on physical wellness and driving measurable outcomes in that area. While those traditional markers of wellness had previously driven much of the work in the industry, what actually contributes to individual wellness is much broader and more profound. If employers want to grow and stay competitive, they must broaden their understanding of what makes individuals well and actively seek to make a positive impact within the workplace.

WELCOA’s Definition of Wellness

Wellness is the active pursuit to understand and fulfill your individual human needs—which allows you to reach a state where you are flourishing and able to realize your full potential in all aspects of life. Every person has wellness aspirations.

Successful workplace wellness initiatives require supporting employees in fulfilling their needs in these seven areas:

  1. Health  Beyond the absence of mental and physical illness, health is a feeling of strength and energy from your body and mind.
  2. Meaning  Feeling part of something bigger than yourself. Knowing that your work matters. Having purpose in your life.
  3. Safety  Knowing that you are safe from physical and psychological harm at work. Feeling secure enough to take calculated risks and show vulnerability. Free of concern about meeting basic life needs.
  4. Connection  Experiencing positive, trusting relationships with others. Feeling a sense of belonging, acceptance and support.
  5. Achievement  Feeling you have the support, resources and autonomy to achieve your goals. Succeeding at meeting your individual goals and work aspirations.
  6. Growth  Feeling like you are progressing in your career. Learning and being challenged to use and expand on your strengths.
  7. Resiliency  Viewing life with optimism. Feeling grateful and expressing appreciation. Feeling validated and encouraged.

What the industry has seen over time is an awakening and recognition within organizations and individuals alike that all dimensions of wellness matter.

McKinsey Health Institute conducted a study in 2022 on how health is perceived around the world. Their findings suggest that, “people define their own health much more broadly than the presence or absence of a disease—physical and mental health matter, but so does the degree to which people feel connected, socially valued, or have a sense of purpose.”

This finding is not news to the organizations like WELCOA Members that have been pursuing employment and workplace culture excellence and actively seeking to better the lives of working people.

WELCOA will continue to set new standards for employee wellness initiatives and organizational cultures by quantifying the value of healthy, happy employees and by recognizing and celebrating the healthiest places to work. We strive to improve the health and well-being of all working people, and we’re here to support the success of organizations that wish to do the same.

Download WELCOA’s Definition of Wellness

Learn How to Achieve Workplace Wellness