Insights from Gallagher’s Health & Welfare Consulting Practice

People often underestimate or fail to consider the influence their career has on their overall wellbeing. However, considering the amount of time many invest working towards a career, it could be the most important element. Since the introduction of the World Poll in 2005, Gallup has produced a significant amount of data and analysis on wellbeing. Gallup & Healthways created the Community Well-being Index, and it examines overall wellbeing and the factors that drive wellbeing for both individuals and communities. Overall wellbeing is more than just physical health and being happy, it’s how we feel about and experience our daily lives.

Career wellbeing is one of the interdependent elements of employee wellbeing that make up the comprehensive view of total wellbeing. (The others include financial, physical and emotional.) Think about how much our careers shape our identity. With career wellbeing, the defining question is “Do you like what you do each day?” Can you answer “yes” in response? Ultimately, what you spend your time doing becomes tied to your identity, and at its core, whatever you choose to do for a career is something that you ideally look forward to when you wake up each morning. Simply think about a time when you awoke energized and excited to face that day’s particular challenge.

In Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements (2010), Tim Rath and Jim Hart explore the idea of having the opportunity to regularly do something you truly enjoy. They also discuss the negative affect of not having that opportunity, and how the odds of an individual having high wellbeing in other areas lessens if one area is suffering. Think about how many times you may have heard a coworker complain about his or her job, and how that can affect a workplace culture and social relationships in addition to how that stress affects his or her physical health.

One way to strengthen career wellbeing is to identify and focus on the skills that intrinsically motivate you. Write down the things you consider “good career experiences,” the ones that you are proud of. Focus on the skills it took to accomplish those goals or activities and then identify areas of your career where those skills can be utilized. Find ways to put them into action. This increases engagement as an employee, improves the culture of your workplace and ultimately affects key business outcomes for your organization.

Without a doubt, engaged employees have an entirely different experience than those who are disengaged. Engaged employees are more productive, are more resilient when change occurs within the organization, and experience less stress. This experience leads to more profitable business outcomes. Focusing on career wellbeing can truly affect a company’s initiatives. Employers have focused on the physical and emotional wellbeing of their employees for years, but career wellbeing has not always been at the forefront. Helping employees focus on career wellbeing will likely help them identify strategies that promote their highest potential and allow them to better thrive within their organization.