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The Five Essential Elements of Wellbeing: Revisiting Gallup Research Findings-Part 1

Posted by Joe Antle on August 6, 2019 8:00 AM EDT
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In their outstanding 2010 book, renowned researchers and authors Tom Rath and Jim Harter laid out what global research by Gallup Inc. identified as the five essential elements.....

...of well being.  The book, titled aptly "Well Being-The Five Essential Elements", has served as an important framework for this blog posting trio of me, Chip Block and Thomas Edwards and for some of the posts we have selected and written.  And along with other books based on research, this book has served to provide a foundation for ways to think about combining innovation, collaboration, community engagement, and information services to stimulate healthier communities and organizations.

Along with some writing by Lencioni in his book on "organizational health", we have posted blogs that reference numerous other books about innovation by noted authors such as Dr. Clayon Christensen and others, as well as those touching on collective impact and collaboration in communities and across organizations.  "The five essential elements..." has shaped some of our thinking as we continue to ponder scalable and sustainable solutions for the issue of improving population health and thus reducing unnecessary demand on the American health care system.  

However, it's been almost ten years since the "Well Being-The Five Essential Elements" was published by Gallup Press.  And much has changed during the last decade.  So I have decided to re-read the book, perhaps not with the intensity I did a few years ago, but rather with an eye of what is still relevant and what information may be worth looking harder at for application and relevance given the changes brought by time.  Certainly, as in all things, time and experience can re-shape even the best of research.  And arguably, Gallup's research is amongst the best- on virtually all topics, particularly one as important and relevant as improving lives and the essential elements that make for well being and lives well-lived.

By way of reminder, the five essential elements of well being as discussed in the book and resulting from Gallup's global research on key aspects of living well and purposefully are as follows:

-Career Wellbeing

-Social Wellbeing

-Financial Wellbeing

-Physical Wellbeing

-Community Wellbeing

I plan to write another blog post when I finish re-reading the book.  Even though I have not foresight into whether or not there will be any specific issues to report, I plan to keep an open mind and to consider changes that have emerged since 2010.  My initial thoughts will be on the relevance of the Gallup wellbeing research and the book's interpretation of them on what I think are noteworthy issues that the research may not have dealt with completely at the time.  I suspect some of those issues are worth considering how the research may provide insight and applicable action in the present day.  For sure, I will have an eye on a few factors which are initial areas that have risen in importance across the population and landscape.

Finally, the issues below are ones that I will lean towards in considering how the decade of change may have created new needs that the research can provide insight for...or which may give rise to whether the research findings in the book has relevance at all.  So, the following are five questions I hope to consider in re-reading this excellent but not famous research-based book:

Issues to Consider:

-What is the impact of the ACA (Affordable Care Act) on the five essential elements of wellbeing or to what degree might these five key aspects of living well impact the broad health insurance marketplace?

-As a result of a robust recovery from the financial crisis of late 2008, how are employer-sponsored benefits impacted by or provide impact for the five essential elements?

-Given the rise of the opioid crisis and substance use disorder in general, to what extent do the findings in the book have relevance?

-Given the continued advance of the obesity epidemic, to what degree is the book relevant and applicable?

-Finally, are there examples of mental health identified in the book...and why was mental health, which has grown in importance in the public eye, not included as one of the five essential elements of wellbeing?  And, can we find applicable ways to consider these five essential elements as essential elements to improved mental health?

Give me a few weeks.  Then I'll keep you posted on what I think.

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