The Well-Being Journal

Panama Leads the World Again in Overall Well-Being, as Revealed in New Report

Madison Agee

2014-Country-Rankings-ThumbNew country rankings from the Gallup-Healthways Global Well-Being Index show that, for the second time since last year’s inaugural report, Panama has the highest overall well-being in the world. The new report, “2014 Country Well-Being Rankings Report”, ranks 145 countries and areas based on the percentages of their residents that are thriving in three or more well-being elements.

The Americas have a strong presence in the ten countries with the world’s highest overall well-being, with seven countries on the list. After Panama, rounding out the top ten are Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Switzerland, Belize, Chile, Denmark, Guatemala, Austria and Mexico.

The five countries with the lowest levels of well-being are Tunisia, Togo, Cameroon, Bhutan and Afghanistan. In fact, in Afghanistan, no residents are thriving in three or more well-being elements, and none is thriving in purpose, social or financial well-being. 

Globally, higher well-being has been associated with outcomes indicative of stability and resilience — for example, healthcare utilization, intent to migrate, trust in elections and local institutions, daily stress, food/shelter security, volunteerism, and willingness to help others. 

The Gallup-Healthways Global Well-Being Index uses a holistic definition of well-being and self-reported data from individuals across the globe to create a unique view of societies’ progress on the elements that matter most to well-being: purpose, social, financial, community and physical. It is the most proven, mature and comprehensive measure of well-being in populations.

To see where other countries around the world fall within the rankings, download a copy of the report today. You can also subscribe to content from the Well-Being Index; by subscribing, we’ll let you know when we release new reports and insights from the Well-Being Index.
Topics: Well-Being Well-Being Index Global Report

Healthways Board Member Responds to EEOC’s Proposed Rule on Wellness Programs

Madison Agee

Bill Novelli

In April of this year, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released a proposed rule and additional guidance regarding corporate wellness programs, addressing how these programs can better comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Specifically, the EEOC suggests that employers may need to revise their programs’ financial incentives, data privacy standards and enrollment practices.

In an article published last week on the website Morning Consult, Bill Novelli, professor in the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University and Healthways board member, offered his opinion on the EEOC’s proposed rule and the resulting complexities it will create for companies. Entitled “Government Should Promote Wellness, Not Impede It,” the article suggests that the additional regulation of corporate wellness programs created by the EEOC’s new rule could be counter-productive to making a positive impact on key healthcare issues such as rising rates of chronic illness and obesity. Novelli asserts that the new restrictions proposed by the EEOC will make it harder for companies to implement and sustain successful wellness programs.

According to Novelli, the new rule and guidance undermine the collaboration between business and government that is necessary to truly move the needle on the state of health within the United States. To learn more, read the full article here.

Topics: Wellness Program Legal EEOC

What Can Happen When an Employer More Visibly Supports a Culture of Well-Being?

Madison Agee

As we’ve explored earlier, organizational culture can play a pivotal role in the overall success of a well-being improvement program. If their cultures aren’t supportive of (or even worse, if they’re inhospitable to) well-being, even the most thoughtful, well-designed programs can struggle to deliver the kinds of valuable outcomes employers want to see.

A mid-sized employer in the insurance industry recognized this link between culture and program outcomes, so it worked with Healthways to develop and implement a more purposeful culture of well-being within the organization. Some of the initiatives the employer and Healthways focused on were fostering support among leadership and launching activities such as employee challenges and access to fitness classes. Additionally, the employer partnered with Healthways to create and deploy an overall well-being improvement program, which included assessments, action plans, health coaching and web-based resources.

A study recently published by the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (JOEM) explores the outcomes of this well-being improvement program and the associated cultural enhancements. Covering a two-year period and authored by the Healthways Center for Health Research, “Well-Being Improvement in a Mid-Size Employer: Changes in Well-Being, Productivity, Health Risk and Perceived Employer Support after Implementation of a Well-Being Improvement Strategy is unique in that it’s the very first study to show that employer support for a well-being culture can positively contribute to program outcomes. Specifically, the study established that, for every 1.0 point increase in the perception of employer support for well-being, there was a corresponding 1.9 point increase in overall well-being score.

Over the two-year period of the study, overall well-being among employees improved 7.3 points, a 10.4 percent increase. By the conclusion of the study, overall well-being at the employer had, in fact, even outpaced the well-being of the surrounding community, despite starting significantly below the community average.

The six specific dimensions of well-being measured by the study also all improved. For example, healthy behaviors jumped an impressive 42 percent over the two years, while emotional health improved 12 percent. This improvement in overall well-being and its dimensions was mirrored by a corresponding decrease in the percentage of employees with health risks such as high blood pressure, cholesterol levels and tobacco usage. The group of employees who have two or fewer of these risks increased 13 percent over the study period.

The study also shows a boost in productivity that occurred after the well-being improvement program was implemented. Self-reported job performance improved 2 percent, and on-the-job productivity loss (i.e., presenteeism) decreased by a notable 21 percent. All of these outcomes support earlier research that showed the positive results that can occur following implementation of a well-being improvement strategy.

Employers interested in seeing similar results may be wondering how they can get started on building a culture that is more supportive of well-being. In our “9 Ways to Think Big, Start Small,” we’ve compiled nine top ways to activate a culture of well-being within your organization. We’ve even included easy examples of each to help start the process today.

Topics: Well-Being Productivity Science and Research