It might be an overused term these days, but there are real-world tools for measuring and improving the well-being of yourself and your employees.

Do you remember, or can you imagine, an experience of feeling safe, confident, purposeful, competent enough to face adversity, independent and indomitable? Couple this with a sense of peace and genuine joy for yourself and others. Take a moment. The circumstances are different for everyone, but the feeling is the same. This, my friends, is the experience of well-being.

Well-being has become one of the most talked-about ‘buzzwords’ in business and leadership circles. Many claim it’s a solution for all things performance and engagement related and always have neatly packaged ‘solutions’. Does weekly yoga really help sales staff? Will kombucha in the fridge boost engagement? How about wellness days and rewards and recognition programs?

Rescuing the word ‘well-being’ from obscurity and clarifying it for professionals is a big part of what I do. So, I want to cut through the noise, get to the chase and help executives understand the why, what, and a bit of the how of wellbeing in organisations.

First, let’s understand the real ‘why’. Without boring you, I will sum up the most relevant findings. Business leaders and leading researchers have found that employee well-being and happiness has significant positive impacts on performance, creativity, innovation, resilience, collaboration, employee engagement, retention and employer branding.

In addition, when whole teams or work environments exhibit this quality, we see improvements in mental and physical health, innovation and problem solving, decision making, profits, competitiveness and rebounding after a catastrophe. It also greatly improves physical and mental health, largely by lowering stress. In short, it can optimize the functioning of the individual and thus maximize their organisational output.

We’ve had a brief look at the why, so how about the ‘what’ of well-being? As a definition, well-being entails the cultivating of positive emotions to ensure the optimal functioning and experience of individuals. Long story short, let’s further distil the definition of well-being into two parts: Happiness and Psychological Capital, or PsyCap. There is plenty of evidence showing that, when we improve them, we see substantial improvements in overall well-being.


A practical definition of well-being is: “Happiness at work involves an overall sense that we enjoy our time, feel personally driven and know that what we do matters.’’ Furthermore, it can be developed at the personal, interpersonal and organisational levels. Organisational happiness researchers have identified four pillars of happiness in the workplace. They are Purpose, Engagement, Resilience and Kindness. We can remember “P.E.R.K.” for short.

Purpose: Knowing that your work matters to you, your organisation and the world

Engagement: A positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind. The professional has a strong sense of vigor towards, dedication to and absorption in work activities.

Resilience: The ability to handle adversity with grace, face challenges, recover from setbacks, be accountable for failures, and resolve conflict at work

Kindness: The tendency to show compassion, empathy and prosocial behaviors towards colleagues.

Each one of them can be developed and co-created to build more optimal employee experiences and thus, greater organisational performance.


Let’s explore the second pillar of well-being which is PsyCap. It is also made up of four key pillars – Hope, Efficacy, Resilience, and Optimism; let’s call them H.E.R.O. Research shows when people have all four, the positive effects are greater than the sum of each effect. So, how would you measure these four criteria within yourself?

To understand how developing PsyCap helps with well-being let’s review a working definition of stress. Stress is the feeling that the demands or threats at work outweigh your mental resources and reserves. PsyCap allows leaders and employees to boost mental strength in the face of change and to address difficulties effectively, thus improving their state of wellbeing. It’s like a ‘pool’ of mental resources that people draw from to face challenges, and if the pool is low we feel far greater levels of stress. As the Indian spiritual leader Sadghuru said, “No work is stressful. It is your inability to manage your body, mind and emotions that makes it stressful.”

So, we’ve covered the why and what. The ‘how’ is the challenge and requires more than just an article. PsyCap can be developed directly by emotional intelligence training and development. It is more indirectly built by having environments that are high in psychological safety – the belief that one will not be punished for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes – high levels of trust, and maintaining standards that challenge the individual and the team.

Taking measures of P.E.R.K. in your team and organisation is a good place to start. Do you know the purpose of your organisation? Do you feel strongly about it? Do the people in your organisation even know what the core values are or feel connected to or identify with them? How engaged are your employees? What is being done to improve resilience and how kind are people to one another?

I opened this piece by asking you to remember or imagine a state of being. What was it for you? What might it be in the future? Now I close with the question, “What would that be like for your staff?” How could an improvement in well-being transform your organisation? [C]

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Tim Burrill
Membership Manager & Executive Assistant
If you would like to learn more about our events and membership, or have other questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.