The Well-Being Journal

Planning With Purpose for Workplace Well-Being Programs

Jennifer Rudloff

Last week I had the privilege of talking with Employee Benefit Advisors about planning health promotion programs. During my interview, I discussed best practices for employers related to planning effective communications and engagement strategies for these programs.

In this podcast, you'll learn:

  • Six things to consider for planning effective health engagement programs
  • Strategies for employers and advisors to use social networking sites for engagement
  • Importance of planning worksite health promotion programs
  • How to create enthusiasm and conversation around the office
  • Communication vehicles that pertain to various audiences
  • The importance of addressing employee privacy concerns when talking about the programs
Topics: Well-Being Employee Benefits Workplace Well-Being Engagement Business Performance Planning Communication

Insights from the Well-Being Index: July 2011

Jennifer Rudloff

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To see the complete report, click here.

For more on the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, visit

Topics: Healthy Living Basic Access In the News Predictions Work Environment Physical Health Emotional Health Well-Being Index Life Evaluation Healthways Wellness Trends Gallup

The State of the States: America's Well-Being Wins & Woes

Jennifer Rudloff

Holding strong to their number one position, the people of the Aloha State seemingly hold the secret to high well-being. Between the sunshine and the beaches there are people thriving in emotional health and healthy behaviors. So who else is doing it right? Alaskans see the sunny side of life and score highest in life evaluation, a measure of their current life situation and their optimism for the future. Vermont leads with healthy behaviors. Massachusetts continues to come in at the top with basic access, and residents of North Dakota are whistling while they work, coming in with the highest work environment scores.

On the other end of the well-being spectrum, we find West Virginia and Kentucky maintaining their positions as the states with the lowest well-being. The people of West Virginia continue to struggle with the lowest life evaluation and physical health. Consistent with the last 3 years, the people of the Bluegrass State perform worst in emotional health; and Mississippi residents perform lowest in the area of basic access. What is the state with the lowest work environment index score? Louisiana beat out Delaware for this title for the first time since 2009. And Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plains, unhealthy behaviors are also sweeping through the countryside.

As you can probably see from the color clusters in the map above, there are some patterns of well-being by geographical region. Chances are if you’re in the south, not so well. Eight of the eleven states with the lowest well-being are in the South. Four of the top seven states are located in the West, and five Midwestern states and three Eastern states rank in the top twelve.

STATE Well-Being
Index Score
Hawaii 71.1 Above Average
North Dakota 70.5 Above Average
Alaska 69.4 Above Average
Nebraska 68.4 Above Average
Minnesota 68.3 Above Average
Colorado 68.3 Above Average
Utah 68.1 Above Average
Iowa 67.9 Above Average
New Hampshire 67.9 Above Average
Kansas 67.8 Above Average
Maryland 67.8 Above Average
Vermont 67.8 Above Average
Massachussetts 67.7 Above Average
South Dakota 67.6 Above Average
Virginia 67.6 Above Average
California 67.5 Above Average
Washington 67.2 Above Average
Oregon 67.2 Above Average
Montana 67.1 Average
Conneticut 66.9 Average
Arizona 66.9 Average
New Mexico 66.8 Average
Idaho 66.7 Average
Wisconsin 66.6 Average
Maine 66.6 Average
Texas 66.6 Average
New Jersey 66.5 Average
Wyoming 66.5 Average
North Carolina 66.5 Average
Rhode Island 66.2 Average
Illinois 66.2 Average
Georgia 66.2 Average
Deleware 66 Average
Nevada 65.9 Average
Pennsylvania 65.8 Below Average
Michigan 65.8 Below Average
South Carolina 65.7 Below Average
Florida 65.4 Below Average
New York 65.2 Below Average
Missouri 65.1 Below Average
Alabama 65.1 Below Average
Indiana 64.9 Below Average
Arkansas 64.9 Below Average
Oklahoma 64.8 Below Average
Tennessee 64.7 Below Average
Louisiana 64.6 Below Average
Ohio 64.4 Below Average
Mississippi 63.6 Below Average
Kentucky 63 Below Average
West Virginia 62.4 Below Average

About the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index tracks U.S. well-being and provides best-in-class solutions for a healthier world. To learn more, please visit

Topics: Well-Being Top 10 Well-Being Index Healthways State Rankings Gallup

Colleagues Care: Martha O'Bryan Center

Jennifer Rudloff

Those who volunteer know that the impact extends beyond the community being served. It makes individuals feel good, encourages team work and collaboration, builds community around a cause, and benefits all aspects of our personal well-being.

Recently ninety members of Healthways health plan team traveled to the Martha O'Bryan Center in Nashville for a day of service. It is the mission of the Martha O'Bryan Center to empower children, youth, and adults in poverty to transform their lives through work, education, employment and fellowship. Inspired by this mission, Healthways colleagues wanted to help. They divided into work teams and conquered some much needed heavy cleaning, weeding, and landscaping and provided school supplies to be used by those in need. By pulling together to accomplish the task at hand, colleagues were able to give the center staff back hundreds of hours allowing them to focus more on the important core work they do. Our team came away feeling inspired about the work they had done, closer as a team, and full of warm fuzzies.

For a first hand account of the day, watch this video:

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Given the tough economic times we are living in and the magnitude of natural disasters our nation is experiencing there is no shortage of people in need. How will you help improve our Nation's well-being?

Topics: volunteer Community Healthways Events Community Service Martha O'Bryan Center

Insights from a Chief Well-Being Officer: Trends in America's Well-Being

Jennifer Rudloff

John Harris, Chief Well-Being Officer at Healthways, talks about trends that have been revealed about the state of America's well-being since the inception of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

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To learn more about the index, visit

Topics: Healthy Living Basic Access Predictions Work Environment Physical Health Emotional Health Well-Being Index Life Evaluation Healthways Wellness Trends Gallup

Bad Bosses, Bad Business

Jennifer Rudloff

The movie Horrible Bosses played last weekend to packed houses. While the audiences roared with laughter, I suspect many people recalled horror stories shared amongst friends throughout the years; and I know they weren’t alone. If you’ve been in the workforce for any length of time, chances are you have first hand experience dealing with your very own bad boss. While (we hope) the characters in this film were a caricature of real world experiences, the truth is many employees are feeling stressed and unappreciated and it’s straining not only on individuals but on organizations as well.

So how wide spread is the problem? And how do employees perceive their bosses? Wayne Hochwarter, a professor at Florida State University, has spent years studying boss-employee relationships with a focus on hostility, stress, and declining performance. His latest findings are shocking and uncover a sad state of affairs in employee/employer relations.

According to Hochwarter:

  • 40% of workers wouldn’t acknowledge their boss if they ran into them on the street.
  • 29% believed that their boss would throw them under the bus to save their own job.
  • 34% reported that their boss is two-faced, & speaks negatively behind their back.
  • 24% have caught their supervisor in a direct lie but never received an apology
  • 29% of employees have hidden from abusive bosses.
  • And while employees are constantly asked to produce and increase productivity, 41% of employees believe their bosses are just plain lazy.

Doesn’t paint a very pretty picture, does it? Unfortunately, we’re seeing similar trends reveal themselves in the Well-Being Index. The WBI shows work environment consistently coming in as the lowest scoring index. The score that’s dropped the most over time is ‘collaborative supervision’. The work environment has gotten more dog-eat-dog, unemployment is at record highs, and jobs are less plentiful. Supervisors can get away with being less collaborative and more command and control-oriented. Since employees need the job, they put up with more restrictive management styles.

Some good news: Employees ability to work to their strengths actually trended up. Lean workforces are the new normal and it’s allowing people to take on responsibilities that play well with their strengths. Unfortunately doing more with less can get exhausting and it’s wearing workforces thin.

So who’s suffering the most as the result of a poor work environment?

  • Gender: Females are more likely to report that they do not have a trusting work environment and lack collaborative supervision.
  • Marital Status: Fewer single people believe they have collaborative supervision and they feel they don’t get to use their strengths at work (this is likely a function of age)
  • Ethnicity: Hispanics have the highest work environment index scores, and African Americans have the lowest – there is a 12.3 point difference between the overall well-being scores of these two groups.
  • Income: As you might expect, scores for the work environment index increase directly with income with those making $120k or more per year achieving the highest overall scores. These higher scores are tied to their ability to use their strengths at work, and higher job satisfaction. Interestingly, trusting work environment does not seem to be impacted by income as much as other items.

So what’s the impact of a poor work environment? Reduced productivity, increased absenteeism and presenteeism, decreased loyalty, and more stress. It also makes people angry. We know that if people score poorly in the work environment, 31% of them report being angry for most of the previous day. Put into perspective, that level of anger is on par with the 100 poorest counties in the US, as well as the troubled countries of Sierra Leone and Haiti (ouch).

Employers must think about how they can foster healthy change in their workforces and leaders. It starts with changing the culture. We know that a collaborative environment – where management and workers voluntarily partner together, employees feel challenged, and everyone has the resources to get the job done – creates the best possible culture with the highest well-being. I challenge you and your organizations to some introspection: What can you do to increase collaboration and better support your people? And what’s standing in your way?

Topics: Relationships Well-Being Horrible Bosses Work Environment Business Performance Well-Being Index Competitive Advantage Performance/Productivity

Secrets to Success for Workplace Wellness Programs

Jennifer Rudloff

As companies begin to look for ways to reduce costs and improve the engagement and productivity of their people, many organizations turn to workplace well-being programs for the solution (and for good reason). In this video blog John Harris shares some secrets to success around creating the culture of well-being necessary to create and sustain successful wellness initiatives.

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Topics: Healthy Living work Workplace Well-Being Business Performance Health Competitive Advantage Health in the Workplace Wellness Culture Secret to Success Wellness Program Leadership Occupational Health