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Does Well-Being Really Matter?


Do organisations or communities benefit from having employees or citizens with high well-being? Should organisations really care about investing in their employee’s well-being? Let me try to help you answer these questions by sharing some insights and research made by Professor Ed Diener.

Last week, Professor Ed Deiner, Professor of Psychology and Senior Scientist at Gallup Organisation spoke at Singapore Management University (SMU), Presidential Distinguished Lecturer Series about “Psychological Well-Being for Public Policy”. His lecture emphasised the importance of including Subjective Well-Being (SWB) as a measure of how well a country is doing versus only focusing on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or other economic measures. Such economic measures do not take into account how happy or satisfied citizens of a country are. For example in South Korea the average household income is four times more than that of Costa Rica. We would naturally expect South Koreans to be happier and experience better SWB. In fact the opposite was found, Costa Ricans reported experiencing significantly higher life satisfaction and positive feelings than South Koreans (see image 1).


Here are a number of key findings Professor Deiner shared in relation to SWB*:


1. Globally people valued ‘Happiness’ over ‘Wealth’ (see Image 2).


2. Income is a predictor of life satisfaction only up to a certain point. “Being able to count on someone”, “Being treated with respect at work” and “satisfaction with education” were other significant contributors to life satisfaction (see Image 3).


3. Greater SWB at work led to lower turnover, fewer sick days, greater customer satisfaction, more organisational citizenship behaviour, enhanced creativity and many other organisational benefits (see Image 4).


4. The more cheerful college students were, the greater their income later in life (see Image 5)


5. SWB leads to better health, greater longevity, stronger immunity and resiliency.


6. Happy people displayed more pro-social and citizenship behaviour. They donated blood more often, donated money to charity and gave more social support.


Decades of research by Psychologists and Social Scientist like Professor Diener have found that employees and citizens with high well-being positively impacts organisations and communities. The benefits well-being brings for organisations is not limited to happy workers but is now proven to provide a return on investment for organisations in both productivity and profitability. See my Infographic below for a summary of the benefits of well-being.


* Images used were taken from Professor’s Ed Denier's presentation and are subjected to his copyright.


The author, Bhali Gill is an organisational psychologist, executive coach, trainer and writer at Corporate Wellbeing. If you would like to contact her about improving your organisations well-being or for other enquires please drop her an email at bhali@corporatewellbeing.com.sg