Does it matter?

Yes, it does. Healthy employees with robust wellbeing are more likely to be engaged and productive. The flip side is also true—when people experience poor health and wellbeing, so does their engagement and productivity, with a direct hit on the bottom line for the business.

Productivity losses from poor wellbeing occur via a combination of absenteeism (employees being absent from work), and presenteeism (employees present at work but working at a sub-optimal level—below 50% capacity).

These facts are well known in New Zealand organisations.  Many proactive businesses have boards and senior leadership teams who recognise that wellbeing is as important as sustainability or corporate responsibility.

However, this recognition does not always translate into useful action.

In your organisation, how do you know:

  1. If your employees are flourishing, or languishing? Or somewhere in between?
  2. What workplace factors influence your employees’ health and wellbeing?

How do we define flourishing vs languishing?

In terms of performance at work, it can be helpful to think of a continuum:


  • Optimal performance “on top of the game”
  • In focus and able to control distractions
  • Consistently high energy levels
  • Work/life balance in check

Just managing

  • Average job performance
  • Gets distracted easily
  • Procrastination and some forgetfulness
  • Work/life balance slips at times
  • Gets stuck in tunnel vision sometimes
  • Struggles with energy levels at times


  • Work performance has slipped
  • Inability to focus and control distractions
  • Hard to hold the big picture
  • Poor decision-making
  • Increased sick days and presenteeism (going to work but not mentally present)

What factors influence where employees will fall on this continuum?

Historically, there has been an assumption that health and wellbeing are individual experiences, separate from the workplace. However, research studies have clearly demonstrated workplace factors have a significant impact. Common factors that can negatively affect a person’s wellbeing include organisational change, overload, lack of autonomy, lack of role clarity and job dissatisfaction. In contrast, factors that positively influence health and wellbeing include employees seeing that their senior leaders prioritise wellbeing, the business having robust policies that are actioned, and employees having supportive supervision relationships.

Relying on managers to notice and identify signs of wellbeing and influencing factors is important but not reliable.  In our experience, often if managers are feeling overwhelmed themselves, they may miss signs or notice them but feel unable to proactively follow up.

Baseline measurement ensures organisations can track employee wellbeing over time, assess the impact of programmes to improve wellbeing (including measuring ROI), and provide more targeted support to any business units that need greater assistance.

The Umbrella Health and Wellbeing Assessment is designed to provide organisations and leaders with a clear picture of the health and wellbeing of their employees. It quickly and effectively identifies teams or individuals who are struggling or languishing, and ensures effective and targeted follow-up can be provided immediately to ensure improvements follow. It also identifies employees who are flourishing—equally important for organisations to know, to support these employees to maintain their optimal state and potentially to act as influencers in the organisation.

The assessment is designed to be administered quickly and simply and, in our experience, it is useful to measure at several time points throughout the year.

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Useful research papers: