The Well-Being Journal

Infographic: Well-Being Around the World

Madison Agee

The Gallup-Healthways Global Well-Being Index™ provides fascinating insight into how people all around the world feel about their own well-being. The index uses a holistic definition of well-being and self-reported data from individuals to capture the important aspects of how people feel about and experience their daily lives, extending well beyond conventional measures of physical health or economic indicators.

Well-being has five prominent elements:

  • Purpose: Liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals
  • Social: Having supportive relationships and love in your life
  • Financial: Managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security
  • Community: Liking where you live, feeling safe and having pride in your community
  • Physical: Having good health and enough energy to get things done daily

Which countries’ residents have strong well-being? And, conversely, where does much work remain to be done in terms of well-being improvement?

Take a look at the infographic below to see a snapshot of well-being around the world. For a more in-depth analysis, download the full report.

Well Being: A Global Snapshot

Download the Global Well-Being Index Report

Topics: Well-Being In the News Well-Being Index Gallup Health Conditions

Creating a Catalyst for Worldwide Change

Madison Agee

By: Ben R. Leedle Jr., President and CEO, Healthways

Ben Leedle Healthways President and CEO Ben Leedle

Almost seven years ago, we started on a journey with Gallup — a journey to measure well-being and explore the dimensions of a life well-lived. Our goal was to understand what is important to people, how we experience our day-to-day lives, and what we think our lives will be like in the future. We wanted to determine what distinguishes a thriving life from one spent suffering, to broaden the perspective that health is more than just physical. And we sought to understand how this more holistic definition of well-being could influence outcomes that are crucial to societies.

Through decades of research and with the help of many leading experts, we’ve been able to scientifically determine the elements of well-being that are the most predictive and actionable. These include our sense of purpose, our relationships, our financial security, our connection to our communities and our physical health. By thinking of well-being in this broader way, we can better understand the conditions affecting any population and, from there, develop targeted interventions that make a meaningful difference.

We’ve shown that even modest improvements in well-being can substantially lower healthcare costs and increase worker productivity within organizations. We’ve proven that scalable change can be realized across communities.

So where are we on our journey?

We continue to advance the science of well-being with Gallup to measure and study the well-being of populations globally. Together, we’ve amassed the world’s largest data set on well-being with more than 2 million surveys of U.S. adults. We’ve extended our reach around the world to create a “golden thread” of well-being information across 135 countries.

We now have a truly global picture of well-being. We can measure the elements that make up well-being, compare the relationships between well-being and other population metrics, and gauge the impact of well-being improvement initiatives in almost any country in the world. Our finding that only 17 percent of the world’s population is thriving in three elements or more tells us there’s much work to be done globally to improve well-being. This work includes promoting sustainable lifestyle changes and making environmental changes to develop communities that encourage high well-being.

We hope you’ll join us on this journey. It’s a journey that fosters thinking beyond traditional metrics that broadens our perspectives to include the essential elements that impact our daily lives. It’s a journey that connects well-being to any population that’s front-and-center for you — be it your employees, your community, your country, or, just as importantly, yourself and your family.

Measuring and understanding well-being matters to the employers that want to improve workforce performance, to the non-profits and international organizations that want to see positive outcomes in their development work, and to the governments that want to strengthen their communities. And it matters to all of us, as individuals who want to live better.


Download the Global Well-Being Index Report

Topics: Well-Being In the News Well-Being Index Gallup Health Conditions Science and Research Health Status

Which Has a Greater Impact on Employee Productivity: Well-Being or Chronic Disease?

Madison Agee

Having a chronic condition no doubt has an impact on your productivity at work. Employers are well aware of this fact, and typically structure their wellness programs to focus on improving their employees’ physical health to prevent productivity loss. This approach is understandable, given that the existing body of scientific literature supports the idea that physical health (such as the presence or absence of chronic illnesses) is the primary contributor to worker productivity.

However, findings from a new study recently published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine has called this commonly held belief into question. The study showed that employees’ well-being is actually a more important contributor to on-the-job productivity than their chronic disease status. The study, “Comparing the Contributions of Well-Being and Disease Status to Employee Productivity,” is the first to challenge the common belief that physical health is the primary contributor to employee productivity levels. It’s also the first study to specifically show that well-being improvement can increase productivity in both healthy populations and those with disease.

Well-being is a more complex and holistic measure. Well-being considers not only the important role of physical health but also a person’s sense of purpose, social relationships, financial security and community attachment.

“As individuals, we intuitively know that we are not at our best when we are stressed about anything that is important to our well-being,” said James E. Pope M.D., chief science officer at Healthways and coauthor of the article. “What this research has shown is how these elements of well-being interact to drive decreased productivity. Equally exciting is the discovery that programs designed to help improve the overall well-being can improve the productivity of both healthy and chronically ill individuals alike.

“Measuring employee well-being and understanding the unique aspects of their populations will help employers achieve more successful outcomes with their programs. Higher well-being manifests in greater degrees of creativity, innovation and employee engagement, all of which can improve value for employers by shifting the focus from productivity loss to productivity gain.”

The two-year survey tracked the well-being of more than 2,600 employees at three different companies. Researchers divided the employees into two groups: those that had no chronic conditions and those with diabetes (these individuals may have had other health conditions). Diabetes was selected as the focus chronic condition due to its prevalence and demonstrated impact on productivity.

The study showed that employees with higher well-being demonstrated greater workplace productivity, regardless of whether they suffered from chronic conditions. In addition, well-being was more important than chronic disease or demographic factors in defining how productive a person would be in any given year. Over time, changes in well-being contributed significantly to shifts in productivity beyond what could be explained by any individual characteristic, such as disease status, age, gender or socioeconomic status.

To read more about improving on-the-job productivity, download a copy of Healthways’ eBook 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Improving Productivity in the Workplace.

Topics: Well-Being In the News Workplace Well-Being Healthcare Competitive Advantage Productivity Health Conditions Science and Research Health Status

More Engagement with Weight Loss Program Fosters Success, New Study Shows

Madison Agee

Studies of weight loss programs in a clinical setting benefit from a tidy combination of elements, such as carefully controlled environments, rigorous processes and structured selection criteria for participants. That’s why it’s so important to examine any program in a real-world setting as well a clinical one – you need to make sure it’s going to work when you can’t quite plan for everything.

The creators of the Innergy™ program, Johns Hopkins Medicine and Healthways, knew that they needed to do just that. A sustained weight loss program, Innergy was borne out of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) sponsored clinical Practice-based Opportunities for Weight Reduction (POWER) trial. The two organizations wanted to advance the science of the successful POWER trial and gauge the weight loss program’s real-world efficacy.

A new study, “Initial Evaluation of a Scalable Lifestyle Program for Sustained Weight Loss,” published in the online Journal of Obesity and Weight Loss Therapy, demonstrates Innergy’s effectiveness in a non-clinical setting. Specifically, the study shows that, in the real-world environment of a mid-sized employer, Innergy can result in statistically significant weight loss. Program participants lost an average of 6.8 pounds per person over the six-month period of the study. Even better, nearly a quarter of the 265 participants lost 5 percent or more of their starting weight.

Perhaps unsurprisingly but definitively, the study also found that weight loss increased in proportion to how much participants engaged with the program. Researchers measured level of engagement by both how long participants remained engaged and how frequently they interacted with the program:

  • Participants still active with the program in the sixth month of the study had an average weight loss of 11.5 pounds and 5 percent of their starting weight.
  • Participants who took advantage of a broader range of program support elements – had more coaching calls, regularly used the website, and tracked their weight and exercise – were much more successful in shedding pounds. In fact, participants who interacted more than the study median with all five program support components lost an average of 5.7 percent of their starting weight.

The study also provided Innergy’s creators with valuable insight into how to make the weight loss program even better. Because the study demonstrated the critical importance of member commitment to weight loss, program designers updated and strengthened enrollment criteria to better assess a member’s readiness to change. Research data also revealed the essential role that re-engagement methods play following a period of inactivity, re-engagement tactics were both updated and added.

Innergy is a 24-month program, consisting of a six-month weight loss period and an 18-month maintenance period. The authors will continue to monitor the study population through the maintenance period.

One of the motives for developing Innergy was to help combat the epidemic of obesity. To learn more about this issue, download a copy of Healthways’ Well-Being Insights article, “Addressing America’s Obesity Epidemic: Practical, Flexible Weight Management Capabilities for a Spectrum of Needs.”

Topics: Weight Loss Health Conditions