The field of psychology has traditionally been aimed at identifying the characteristics of and cures for a sick mind. Positive psychology is aiming to change that. The basic premise of positive psychology is that if there are varying degrees of mental illness there are also varying degrees of mental wellness and psychology should concern itself with helping people develop the healthiest minds.

Part of positive psychology includes well-being theory. Well-being is measured based on the following five elements:

  • Positive emotion ( includes happiness and satisfaction)
  • Engagement
  • Relationships
  • Meaning and purpose
  • Accomplishment

When existing together these elements aim to “increase the amount of flourishing in your own life and on the planet.” This is a lofty goal and sounds like the basis of a great self-help book, but corporations are starting to take note and these ideas are growing in importance.

A study conducted by the Université Francois Rabelias found that a bad boss can affect not only your morale in the office, but also how a family relates to one another. Not to mention stress levels and overall health. Based on this research it is a safe bet that a poor environment outside of the office will follow a person into work as well. Indeed, a 2010 Gallup report found just that.

The Economics of Wellbeing found that 49% of employees reporting thriving social well-being also reported thriving career well-being. Looking at those with low social well-being the number thriving in their careers sinks to 10%. This data reveals that there is a definite business advantage of paying attention to employee’s well-being not only in the office, but also finding ways to help them increase their well-being outside of the office.

Of course, some will argue that well-being and engagement are the job of employees. And there may be some truth to that statement. But a staff that is “flourishing” presents a massive competitive advantage to businesses looking to outpace the competition. So the question is not should organizations take an economic interest in the well-being of their employees (both inside and outside of work), but rather, what do they stand to lose if they do not?

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