Health is wealth: Let’s start 2022 well (being)

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The world is heading to an unhealthy direction as numbers of people that experience stress, depression and burnout are skyrocketing. The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated this alarming trend. We must realize that health is wealth and invest in wellbeing.

A recent Gallup report defined 2021 as the most stressful year since it started to measure stress in 2006. Harvard Business Review estimates that workplace stress is estimated to cost the U.S. economy more than $500 billion dollars, and each year, 550 million workdays are lost due to stress on the job. The American Psychological Association (APA) recently estimated that burned-out employees are 2.6 times as likely to be actively seeking a different job, 63% more likely to take a sick day, and 23% more likely to visit the emergency room.

McKinsey consulting company recent research reports an alarming trend: more than half of Americans say the pandemic has negatively affected their mental health.  More than 60 percent of employees globally consider mental-health issues to be a top challenge during the COVID-19 crisis

World Health Organization recently published research that found that long hours at work of more than 55 per week is associated with a higher risk of a stroke and dying from ischemic heart disease, compared to working 35 to 40 hours a week.

This study main conclusion is alarming: “There is heightened concern that people are working increasingly longer hours, which puts more people at risk of an “early death.” They are literally working themselves to death”

A clear example of such a situation is a presentation that bankers employed by the Investment banker Goldman Sachs have circulated to Social media that described their working conditions of working 100 hours and more per week saying that they considered themselves as victims of workplace abuse.

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the problems of burnout and work-related stress and diseases as companies and organizations around the globe adopted the hybrid model and allowed their employees to work at their homes which in turn increased their number of weekly working hours and consequently their stress and burnout. This has increased their risk to suffer stroke and dying from ischemic heart disease, compared to working 35 to 40 hours a week.

The situation in Israel is no much better and we are experiencing high rates of burnout;  Israeli employees work the highest number of hours per week in OECD and sleep the smallest number of hours worldwide. Israel was ranked in the bottom six countries in OECD in terms of work-life balance.  More than 40% of Israeli employees felt burned out at their work and this was measured before the Covid pandemic.

The good news is that leaders around the world are finally reaching the conclusion that we need to focus on promoting wellbeing-based policies and practices on the level of state, company, organization and individual. The UN has recently defined wellbeing as one of its 17 Sustainable Strategic Goals (SDGs) which are urgent calls for action by all countries – developing and developed. Wellbeing was defined in SDG#3 as,” Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.”

What is wellbeing?  Wellbeing is defined as combination of a person’s physical, mental, emotional, and social health factors which is strongly linked to happiness and life satisfaction.

Wellbeing is a competency that can be enhanced by elements including sleep, exercise, nutrition, mental energy, community belonging, a spiritual connection, and more.

The business sector has started to adopt wellbeing practices as CEOs of leading tech, financial services, Industrial companies are finding out that wellbeing actually boosts performance.  For example: Accenture, Deloitte, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, Nokia and others have already embraced wellbeing by implementing initiatives and programs and embedding it into their organizational culture. Leading corporations are realizing that their key asset is their employees and thus investing in their wellbeing is an effective strategy to ensure increasing business performance.

 Wellbeing Approach

The key to an effective wellbeing program is when its holistic, which means balancing body and mind.  it includes the key factors that optimize employee’s wellbeing and performance: Physical activity, Nutrition, Sleep, Mental energy, General health, Etc.,

At the center of the wellbeing model is the ‘Core’ – inner motivation to reach sustainable change in the person’s behaviors and lifestyle.

Source: Hintsa Performance “Circle for Better Life” model

As we now experiencing an outbreak of Omicron, wellbeing is becoming a sine que non for policymakers, Governments, and companies. It should also be adopted by health professionals, parents and teachers.

Like the precautions we take against the pandemic by wearing masks and getting vaccinated, we need to build our own defense walls against depression, burnout and stress-related diseases by investing in our wellbeing.

The question is NOT whether we should embrace wellbeing but HOW soon because our health is our wealth.

Chaim Oren is a wellbeing expert. He writes and lectures about wellbeing. He is also a Brand Ambassador for Hintsa Performance- a global leader in wellbeing and human performance. Chaim is an accomplished international marketer in the US, Europe and Israel. Having started his career at the New York office of Young & Rubicam, he later co-founded Zoëtics Inc., a Manhattan-based strategic marketing consulting firm where he advised Fortune 500 companies. After returning to Israel, he held senior management positions at the Israeli office of McCann Erickson, an American global advertising agency, and Ruder Finn, a global public relations agency. He also served as the CEO of Tupperware’s Israeli branch ( NASDAQ TUPP) and later managed the Israeli office of Jupiter Research( NASDAQ FORR). Most recently he served as the Commercial Representative for the State of Connecticut in Israel.

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