Employee Wellness vs. Employee Well-Being

As a way of encouraging engagement and productivity in the workplace, a lot of employers will offer wellness benefits to their employees. In March 2021, analytics and advisory company Gallup reported that approximately 85% of large employers give their employees the opportunity to enroll in wellness programs.

Additionally, the Society for Human Resource Management, or SHRM, published an Employee Benefits Survey in 2022 that revealed the importance of offering wellness benefits to your employees.

Here are percentages that reflect how many employers decided that wellness benefits are either very or extremely important:

  • In 2019, 36%.
  • In 2020 and 2021, collectively, 62%.
  • In 2022, 46%.

While employers continue to prioritize the wellness of their employees, another term that is commonly tossed around at the same time is employee well-being. As mentioned previously, while wellness and well-being are similar terms, the concepts of each are identifiably different.

What is wellness?

According to Gallup, the concept of “wellness describes a healthy lifestyle beyond acute illness.” It pertains to the physical health of individuals; it means they can reach their goals without having to endure pain or discomfort in the process. Even though the definition of wellness will vary based on your stage in life, the term mainly refers to preferable health-related states, such as eating well, working out regularly and getting enough sleep.

The concept of health can refer to the physical, mental or emotional state of any given individual. That said, the general consensus is that wellness is a term that is concerned with the physical body.

Because of this, workplace wellness programs often place a primary focus on assessing health, preventing disease, changing lifestyles in a positive manner, losing weight and managing physical health overall.

By providing employees with the option to enroll in wellness programs if they so desire, employers can work toward reducing engagement in unhealthy or detrimental behaviors that ultimately result in chronic and costly health conditions. Such health conditions could adversely impact the productivity of employees as well as the overall bottom line of business operations.

What is well-being?

According to Gallup, the idea of “well-being  encompasses the broader holistic dimensions of a well-lived life.”

Per Gallup’s well-regarded research, the following aspects of well-being contribute to a beneficial and excellent life:

  • Career-wise: You enjoy what you do on a professional level every day.
  • Socially: You have connections with people, and your friendships are meaningful.
  • Financially: You are capable of managing your own money well.
  • Physically: You are physically capable of exerting energy and accomplishing tasks that require you to move your body.
  • Community-wise: You are not only comfortable in your neighborhood but you also enjoy where you currently live.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the CDC, has stated that not a single definition for well-being is the be-all and end-all way of defining the term. Even so, research has shown that the well-being of an individual is connected to the following aspects:

  • Social life.
  • Economic status.
  • Physical state.
  • Emotional frame of mind.
  • Psychological mindset.
  • Developmental abilities and activity levels.
  • Outlook on work and extracurricular activities.
  • Life satisfaction.

In the words of the CDC, the general consensus is that “well-being includes the presence of positive emotions and moods (e.g., contentment, happiness), the absence of negative emotions (e.g., depression, anxiety), satisfaction with life, fulfillment and positive functioning.”

Studies have shown that ever since the COVID-19 pandemic erupted and altered everyone’s lives as they once knew them, more and more employers have begun prioritizing the well-being of their employees by extending the opportunities that their mental health options include. 

The bottom line

Wellness is a vital element of an individual’s well-being, but even so, it is merely a small percentage of well-being as a whole. While wellness focuses specifically on physical health, well-being is more concerned with the totality of an individual, meaning it applies not only to an individual’s body but also to his or her mind.

By knowing the difference between wellness and well-being, you can make far more informed decisions in regard to your workforce’s wellness and well-being benefits alike.

If you would like some guidance on Employee Benefits, call Pam Morton at EVCO Insurance Services at 760-696-3573 or pam@evcoinsuranceservices.com. Pam offers a complimentary review of your current benefit offerings.