What is wellbeing? Gain deeper insights into leadership success
Gain insight into the studies that helped formulate and frame the creation and continuation of The Global Leadership Wellbeing Survey (GLWS). Download our past research and register for upcoming reports below.
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Beyond reasons of materialism, managers have been shown to be predisposed to elevated anxiety because of the inherent nature of their work and perceived differences in responsibility and accountability levels (Hosie, Forster, & Sevastos, 2004).
Studies of affective wellbeing in organisations have shown that executives are operating under more strain than ever before (Forster & Still, 2001), the incidence of stress and burnout is increasingly common (Reinhold, 1997), and that emotional exhaustion is prevalent in managers’ workplaces (Lee & Ashforth, 1996). Organisations therefore need to develop strategies to help avoid burnout, monitor wellbeing levels more effectively and assist senior leaders in reaching and sustaining the heightened performance expectations that are integral to survival in the post global financial crisis corporate world (Hosie, Forster, & Sevastos, 2004).
Insights on Executive Wellbeing
Existential Void versus Meaning, Purpose & Fulfilment?
Hugh Mackay in “The Good Life: What Makes Life Worth Living?” describes a backdrop of growing anxiety, sense of unease and pessimism within Australian society which manifests as a less caring and more materialistic outlook; as early as 2002, 83% of Australians described Australian society as ‘too materialistic, with too much emphasis on money and not enough on the things that really matter’ (Eckersley, Hamilton, & Denniss, 2005).
Australians are being sold the message they can only be happy if they have more money and more things – as a promoter of social status with the implied promise of increased wellbeing (Mackay, 2013), and this may be especially true of executives in large organisations. Yet, a growing body of research shows that materialism – the pursuit of money and possessions – seems to breed not happiness, but dissatisfaction, depression, anxiety, anger, isolation and alienation. Whilst research clearly tells us that money can to some degree buy happiness, it has also been shown that this relationship has its threshold and is subject to the law of diminishing returns (Diener & Biswas-Diener 2008).
What is Wellbeing?
The question of what ‘wellbeing’ means and its definition has perplexed philosophers for centuries, and remains not so much unanswered as open to ongoing debate. The use of terms such as ‘wellness’, ‘subjective wellbeing’, ‘emotional wellbeing’, ‘psychological wellbeing’, ‘health’, ‘life satisfaction’, ‘happiness’, ‘flourishing’ and ‘quality of life’ on an almost interchangeable or synonymous basis has further muddied the picture. That its definition has eluded consensus may also be a reflection of its inherent complexity but this has not prevented a multitude of descriptions, of which our two favourite are:
- Wellbeing is about more than living ‘the good life’: it is about having meaning in life, about fulfilling our potential and feeling that our lives are worthwhile…our personal or subjective wellbeing is shaped by our genes, our personal circumstances and choices, the social conditions we live in and the complex ways in which all these things interact. (Eckersley, Hamilton, & Denniss, 2005)
- Wellbeing is more than just happiness. As well as feeling satisfied and happy, wellbeing means developing as a person, being fulfilled and making a contribution to the community. (Shah & Marks, 2004)