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Human Wellbeing: is Care for Employee Wellbeing a Real HR Trend?

Jan 25, 2021 4:35:18 AM / by Yva.ai

In a 2016 The Awesome Office Show released a podcast interview1 How Optimism Turns 200 Bucks into $100 Million with Life is Good co-founder Burt Jacobs. Burt noted that focusing on things like optimism and employee's wellbeing is an underappreciated source of financial performance for organizations.


“Employees can be more effective if they believe they’re not working for slave owners but for someone who treats them like a human being” Jacobs said. Caring for employees not as a business resource but as living people in need of support is called Human or Employee Wellbeing.


What is Employee Wellbeing? How does this relate to the company's productivity? How can you influence the performance of a company with the modern wellbeing approaches and technologies? Read the new Yva.ai article!


What is Wellbeing?


The study of the wellbeing aspect came to HR from philosophy and psychology. Various definitions of the term particularly presented in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, are associated with such concepts as prosperity, security, and a quiet and sufficient human life.


Attempts to model wellbeing using a science-based approach have generated a wide variety of theories and approaches.


So, in 1984 an American psychologist at the University of Illinois, Edward Diener, derived2 a three-way model of subjective well being, according to which it is determined by three components:


  • frequent positive affects,
  • infrequent negative affects,
  • and cognitive evaluations such as life satisfaction.


The American writer, professor at the University of California (San Diego) Michael Lawson Bishop presented a causal network model of wellbeing in the book The Good Life: Unifying The Philosophy And Psychology Of Well-being3.


According to this model, wellbeing is the product of many factors: feelings, beliefs, habits, resources and motivation of a person. These factors are linked by causal relationships and collectively affect the growth of wellbeing and ill-being of the individual.


Another American psychologist, professor of the University of Pennsylvania Carol Diane Riff4 proposed a multidimensional model of psychological wellbeing, including 6 criteria:


  • Self-Acceptance,
  • Personal Growth,
  • Purpose in Life,
  • Positive Relations With Others,
  • Environmental Mastery,
  • Autonomy. 



There are also Corey Keyes' flourishing theory, Martin Seligman's concept of positive psychology where the central concept is wellbeing and a number of other scientific models.


Summing up research and the impact of various factors, Gallup5 identified 5 key components of employee's wellbeing. These components are:


  • Physical
  • Career
  • Social 
  • Financial
  • Community


What do Yva.ai People analysts think about the components of well-being? It’s close to Gallup.



So, according to the practice of company management, employee's wellbeing can be defined as the cumulative of a number of working and non-working factors on a person's condition in terms of 5 main aspects: finances, career, health, emotions and relationships. How does wellbeing exactly relate to employee performance?


How Does Employee Wellbeing Relate to Performance?


In addition to the main components of wellbeing, Gallup analysts have also established a link between employee's wellbeing and key performance indicators of the company:


  • profit, productivity, quality of products/services,
  • less absenteeism and layoffs,
  • less security-related incidents,
  • reducing staff turnover and the cost of recruiting new employees.


For this reason, leading companies tend to take care of employees in the way that Bert Jacobson recommends. Leaders of such organizations see value in providing employees with the tools and experience they need to succeed both professionally and personally.


For example, a company Version 1 specializing in international management consulting, software development and cloud computing, has developed a digitalized wellbeing program that includes corporate events and resources aimed at creating a culture of wellbeing.


“At Version 1, we are very proud to have been certified as a Healthy Place to Work, and to be among one of the first employers receiving this prestigious recognition. Being recognised as a Healthy Place to Work indicates the success of the many ongoing initiatives in Version 1 to ensure our employees feel they are in a healthy workplace where they can thrive” - Jarlath Dooley, HR & Integration Director at Version 1.


How Can You Create a Strong Wellbeing Culture in Company?


"Wellbeing is the sum of factors that affect employee performance and attitude to work. Some of these factors can not be affected by the company in any way: for example, family relationship of employee or an incurable disease of a relative. These are things we just accept and consider forming an individual development plan for an employee.


But financial, social, career, and interaction with the team can and should be influenced by employees and the company. You can influence even health positively. For a strong wellbeing culture, manage some sport events, take a gym on lease corporate. There’s a number of solutions" - Daniel Hoppe, HR analyst of People Analytics Yva.ai.


Corporate fitness programs seem to be one of the best tools. So, SnackNation company launched a marathon for employees Walk it Out, during which the entire team received fitness trackers and recorded daily steps.


There was a grand goal to make in 4 weeks as many steps as needed to get from Los Angeles to San Francisco. The team overall result was made up of 772,000 steps. Every week the most active participants were awarded.


According to SnackNation's HR specialists, the key success of the program was a combination of general and individual goals. The initiative pushed employees who had not previously been involved in sports to take up fitness. At the same time, more employees felt involved in the common cause which is an indicator of the growth wellbeing in the company.


An equally important component of wellbeing is a popular and useful job. According to Gallup6, 57 % of employees who are able to do what they do best are less likely to burn out than the 43 % who are forced to work with what they have to.


Giving employees a right of making decisions freedom is associated with higher risks of failure among managers. However, according to research by the University of Birmingham7, high level of autonomy in the workplace is correlated with a sense of wellbeing, employee satisfaction, and increased work efficiency.


Another important recommendation when forming a wellbeing culture in a company is the monitoring of the psychological state of employees. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression. This means that even in a small organization with 50 employees, at least 2 employees have a history of depression.


At the same time, under the pressure of stereotypes of a Super-Person succeeding everywhere, people tend to ignore the symptoms and try to work up to clinical depression without seeking any medical help. In some cases employees are not even aware of the problem due to insufficient knowledge.


If the company cannot hire a corporate psychologist who monitors the employees mental state, offers individual support and treatment in time, it’s useful to conduct thr employee engagement and burnout surveys. More regular is better.


Do you want to learn more about how such technologies work and what smart HR surveys with AI can do else? Watch the webinar with CEO Yva.ai Inc. David Yang, Ph.D. for TedX about 5 Leadership Styles to Reach Long-Term Success. Watch now!



  1. Episode 36 | How Optimism Turned $200 Into $100 Million // The Awesome Office Shaw. Bert Jacobs. 2016.
  2. Subjective Well-being // Ed Diener. Research Collection School of Social Sciences. 2017.
  3. The Good Life: Unifying The Philosophy and Psychology of Well-being // Oxford University Press. Michael Lawson Bishop. 2015.
  4. Carol Ryff's Model of Psychological Well-being. The Six Criteria of Well-being // Living Meanings. Carol Ryff. 2015.
  5. Employees Need High Wellbeing for High Performance // Gallup Analytics. 2020.
  6. Gallup’s Perspective on Employee Burnout: Causes and Cures // Gallup, Inc. 2019.
  7. Autonomy in the workplace has positive effects on well-being and job satisfaction, study finds // University of Birmingham. Rebecca Hume. 2017

Written by Yva.ai