Discover the concept of “wellbeing balance” and how to create it at work

written by Jan McLeod

Discover the concept of “wellbeing balance” and how to create it at work

Credit: Andrew Neel

Our purpose here is to help you be more energised, engaged, empowered and purposeful at work.

So let’s talk about a big topic: the concept of wellbeing balance. Wellbeing refers to the quality of your emotional, physical and mental wellness. Wellbeing balance describes a scenario where these three elements are in the “correct proportions” and you are able to maintain them in an ongoing steady state.

What does wellbeing balance mean?

There are, of course, societal, cultural and medical norms and expectations of what defines reasonable quality in our emotional, physical and mental wellness. However, each of us will also have our own unique perspective on these and how they manifest in our day-to-day working lives.

I contend there are three key principles that give relevance and meaning to this definition:

  1. Wellbeing balance is subjective.
  2. Wellbeing balance is dynamic.
  3. Resilience underpins your ability to maintain wellbeing balance.

Wellbeing balance is subjective

Wellbeing balance is subjective because it reflects different work needs and preferences. What is a need or preference for you will not necessarily be the same for others.

Let’s look at emotional wellbeing. Emotional wellbeing refers to your ability to create and sustain key relationships at work so you are able to leverage these to remain inspired and engaged at work, as well as engage and inspire those you work with.

Resilience underpins your ability to maintain a steady state of wellbeing because it is resilience that enables you to adjust, adapt and respond.

There are many factors that influence your ability to create and sustain relationships, including work needs and preferences. Let’s look at a simple example. Some will prefer to work in teams and others will prefer to work alone. Neither is right or wrong; they are simply different preferences.

If you prefer working in a team, being in a role where you work alone may increase your risk of feeling isolated. However, if you prefer to work alone, working in an interactive team may increase your risk of feeling distracted. What are your needs and preferences?

Wellbeing balance is dynamic

Wellbeing balance is dynamic because you and your employer’s work needs and preferences are themselves dynamic; they change. They ebb and flow to reflect what is happening and required of you to meet work responsibilities.

For example, despite enjoying the collaboration that comes from working in a team, there may be times when working alone is more appropriate. You may need to do specific planning or analysis-type work, and you know you are most effective working alone, away from all potential distractions.

How do your work needs and preferences change in response to your changing work environment?

Resilience underpins wellbeing balance

Resilience underpins your ability to maintain a steady state of wellbeing because it’s resilience that enables you to adjust, adapt and respond to ongoing changes in your work environment, including those that are unexpected. Resilience is the foundation; it allows you to respond to changing needs while also over time maintain a steady state in your personal wellbeing.

Let’s use stress as an example. Stress is a normal part of life. Stress can be positive or negative. Resilience enables you to leverage positive stress and counterbalance or redress negative stress.

All workplaces have deadlines and targets of some sort. Meeting deadlines and targets may result in your feeling stressed, particularly if the deadline is unexpected or accompanied by unplanned challenges.

It’s your resilience you call upon to counterbalance or redress this stress, to appropriately adjust and respond to meet the deadline. Do you cultivate resilience? Are you aware of the quality of your resilience?

How to create wellbeing balance at work

To give personal relevance to these principles you need to understand your work habits. There are three key work habits to reflect on:

  1. The hours you choose to work.
  2. The pace you choose to work at.
  3. The effort you choose to invest at work.

These key work habits directly impact on your ability to create and sustain wellbeing balance at work. You will have your personal view as to what is reasonable in work habits. And your employer will have set guidelines that reflect your role responsibilities and associated tasks.

It’s essential that you actively choose and cultivate your work habits. Your personal expectations for work habits have a significant influence on the quality of your personal wellbeing, in particular your ability to maintain a steady state balance.

As a coach, I have worked with clients whose work habits have resulted in them investing greater effort, working longer hours and taking on more responsibilities than was ever required by their employers. They unwittingly set a standard of performance, enabled by a set of work habits that were not sustainable.

Over time, it compromised their wellbeing. It also made it impossible for them to maintain a steady and sustainable state in their wellbeing balance. What are your work habits? What do your work habits imply for your ability to maintain your wellbeing balance at work?

I encourage you to reflect on what defines your wellbeing balance at work and what is required to maintain this over time in a steady state.


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Jan McLeod

Jan McLeod is a highly respected coach, mentor, speaker and consultant and a specialist in the areas of high performance, wellbeing, nutrition and change strategy in the workplace.