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The Well-Being Factors

Greg Tasker

How would you measure the well-being of metro Detroit?

A community well-being is usually determined by economic activity — unemployment rates, housing sales, office occupancy, and more.

But the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index measures a community’s overall health by considering other factors. The annual survey takes a more holistic approach to well-being by measuring individual progress on five elements: purpose, social, financial, community, and physical. These elements were determined after considerable research; the organization surveys about 10,000 people a month.

“This is something Gallup has studied pretty extensively over the last decade-plus,” said Dan Witters, research director of the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index, noting that businesses and people generally think of well-being as physical wellness.

“Our descriptions of well-being, the way we conceptualize well-being, extends beyond physical well-being,” he said. “Physical well-being is an important part of it, and being physically fit is better than no well-being at all. But what we also know is that holistic well-being extends across five essential elements.”

Purpose is liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals; social involves supportive relationships and love; financial encompasses managing your finances, which reduces stress and increases security; community relates to enjoying where you live, feeling safe, and having pride in your community; and physical includes good health and energy to get things done daily.

To exclude other aspects of well-being, “leaves a lot of untapped potential sitting on the table,” Witters said. Employees who have all five essential elements fare better in the workplace, including better performance, job engagement, and less absenteeism, than those who are solely considered physically healthy.

The data and insights from the annual report can be used as a call to action for communities, helping them identify opportunities for well-being improvement.

In the 2017 community well-being report, the Detroit metropolitan region ranked in the fourth quintile, landing at number 145 among 186 communities. Ann Arbor was ranked number 12.

In a report released in late February, Michigan ranked in the fourth quintile among the states, dropping from 32 to 33.

“I don’t know if there is a message there for Michigan,” said Jim Clifton, CEO of Gallup Inc., the global analytics and advice firm spearheading the well-being reports. “I do know the activity that fixes that. Every time you can create one job with a living wage…that’s a gamechanging moment, and it sends a signal through the whole place.”

Leaders also need to get people excited about the future. Those two factors, he said, can help improve a state or community’s wellness.

“Those two things would contribute to the well-being and wellness of Michigan.”

 

Greg Tasker is a metro Detroit freelance writer.