Well-Being and Emotional Intelligence: Strategies for the Workplace

March 23, 2018 | Dr. Jeff Auerbach | MHS
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Executive burnout and derailment are at record numbers – in some sectors 75% of executives say they can’t see themselves in the same job in five years. According to Harvard Business Review, burnout is costing approximately $190 billion a year in healthcare spending in the US. Other systematic costs include high turnover, low job satisfaction, and low productivity. Moreover, the majority of executives state they are physically or emotionally depleted.

Consider these trends:  There is increasing availability of on-site fitness centers, healthy snacks in break rooms, weight loss challenges and walking programs.  Physical wellness is a trending topic, and workplaces all over the world are promoting it. However, most organizational wellness programs do not take into account all five essential elements of well-being.  In fact, the overwhelming majority of well-being programs are focused almost exclusively on physical wellness.

These types of wellness programs are positive – but are not living up to their potential.  They are positive in that they support the idea that employers have unique power to influence well-being. For example, business leaders can directly affect the lives of their employees through programs at work, and, in turn, decrease the rampant rate of executive and employee burnout.

When employers offer programs that improve their employees' wellness, the chances are good that employees will make positive behavioral changes as long as the program is effectively designed and promoted. A study by Gallup (2014), shows that participation in companies that offer wellness programs is about one in four employees.

However, the overwhelming majority of these wellness programs are vastly under producing their potential benefits. Why? Because the programs usually only focus on physical wellness and the programs are not strategically designed to enhance the broader elements of well-being. This undervaluing of the other areas of well-being leaves a substantial gap between what workplaces currently gain from their wellness programs and the gains they would achieve if they broadened their approach.

Taking a holistic approach to well-being: The Business Benefits

At College of Executive Coaching, we have adapted GALLUP’s research on the comprehensive research-based definition of well-being and created science-informed well-being coaching approaches for the five essential elements of well-being:

  • Purpose
  • Social
  • Financial
  • Community
  • Physical

We craft easy-to-use coaching approaches for each of the above well-being factors which help employees make daily life and work experiences fulfilling, promote strong and supportive relationships, emphasize financial well-being, participate actively in their community, and make smart choices about their health.

Employees in your organization can be classified as thriving, struggling, or suffering in each of these five elements of well-being:

Thriving: Well-being that is strong and consistent in a particular element.

Struggling: Well-being that is moderate or inconsistent in a particular element.

Suffering: Well-being that is low and inconsistent in a particular element.

In the U.S., 28% of adults aged 18 and older are not thriving in any of the well-being elements! Shockingly, only 7% are thriving in all five. This shocking statistic tells us that for every person who is thriving, there are 13 who have great room for improvement in one or more elements of well-being.

After controlling for several variables, Gallup (2014) found that when compared to individuals who are thriving in all five areas of well-being, those who were only thriving in physical well-being alone:

  • Still miss 68% more work due to poor health annually.
  • Are three times more likely to file a workers' compensation claim.
  • Are five times more likely to seek out a new employer in the next year and are more than twice as likely to actually change employers.
  • Are less than half as likely to exhibit adaptability to change.
  • Are 26% less likely to bounce back fully after hardship.

Below are two coaching strategies that College of Executive Coaching recommends and employs within their trainings to promote all five elements of well-being encompassing in a work setting.

Strengths Utilization

The utilization of strengths within the workplace not only drive workplace employee engagement (Hrater, Schmidt, & Hayes, 2002), but also buffers the effects of work-related stress on job and life satisfaction (Harzer & Ruch, 2015). Therefore, coaching for strengths awareness and utilization within the workplace provide benefits to both the individual and organization. Also, according to a study by Govindji & Linley (2007), people who are using their strengths more experience greater subjective and psychological well-being.

Emotional Intelligence

There is overwhelming research support that suggests emotional intelligence has a significant impact on job satisfaction in the workplace (Alnidawy, 2015; Hamid, 2016; Tagoe & Quarshie, 2017). Also, educating employees on emotional intelligence, and employing such assessments as the EQI 2.0 in the workplace, have been shown to lead to improved productivity over an extended period of time (Hosseinian, Yazdi, Zahraie, & Fathi-Ashtiani, 2008).

For more information and tips on how to coach for strengths and emotional intelligence fine-tuning to create a workplace well-being culture, please join Dr. Auerbach for the HCI webcast on March 28th.

Dr. Jeffrey E. Auerbach, MCC, author of Personal and Executive Coaching, and Positive Psychology in Coaching, is the President of College of Executive Coaching and the Past Vice-President of the International Coach Federation. For more information, visit the College of Executive Coaching online.