The term well-being is not new but it is only in recent years that the term has become more mainstream. While there is no consensus around a single definition, there is general agreement that at a minimum, it includes the presence of positive emotions, the absence of negative emotions, satisfaction with life, a sense of fulfillment and positive functioning (1). In 2010, New York Times best selling authors, Tom Rath and Jim Harter released their seminal book, “Wellbeing: The five essential elements”. In it, the authors define well-being as “the combination and interaction between our love of what we do each day, the quality of our relationships, the security of our finances, the vibrancy of our physical health and the pride we take in what we have contributed to our communities (2). This definition highlights the five domains of well-being: career, social, financial, physical and community.
What is the difference?
Employee wellness programs have been around since the 1980s. Historically these programs have focused on physical health and have included initiatives such as biometric screenings (blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, etc), health risk assessments (questionnaires to assess health behaviors) and fitness and nutrition components. However, in recent years employee wellness programs have expanded into much more holistic programs which may be referred to as employee well-being programs.