Time to thrive: creating the future through an integrated wellbeing framework

| April 14, 2020

Peter Drucker is renowned for stating “The best way to predict the future is to create it”.

Whether intentional or not, governments and businesses have been moving towards integrated wellbeing for all stakeholders – physical, mental and emotional, social, financial and environmental wellbeing for employees and customers, partners and suppliers, shareholders, communities and the environment – to counterbalance the negative impacts from industrialisation. 2019 saw:

  • NZ’s first Wellbeing budget that integrates social, physical and mental and environmental wellbeing with financial wellbeing, with similar frameworks in Bhutan and UAE and as being lobbied in other markets like the UK
  • Australia and the US redefining the role of business to create long-term value for all stakeholders, beyond short-term gains for shareholders to long-term value for customers and employees, suppliers and partners, communities and shareholders;
  • Businesses increasing focus on employee wellbeing and upping the ante on sustainability and climate change action;
  • With the rise of conscious and purposeful capitalism, and the likes of the B-Corp movement, purpose-and-values driven businesses are shifting from profit as the bottom line to the triple bottom line – people, planet and profit; and
  • Greater focus on financial wellbeing. In Australia, the line in the sand has been drawn between the Royal Commission to Banking Misconduct and APRA’s roadmap to safeguard Australia’s financial wellbeing.

On the flipside, many of the individual measures of wellbeing are worsening – with statistics in Australia indicating increasing obesity, chronic health conditions, mental health, stress and loneliness; and not getting enough sleep, exercise or fruit and vegetables.

Whilst financial wellbeing showed a slight increase year on year, financial resilience for the future, also declined.

And when it comes to environmental wellbeing, the earth’s temperature and extreme weather conditions are rising with carbon emissions and nature, which is essential for human existence and good quality of life, is deteriorating with biodiversity declining faster than at any time in history.

There is clearly more for governments, businesses and brands to do.

Enter COVID-19. For all its sins, it seems to have created the fertile ground for integrated wellbeing to flourish.

We’ve seen conservative governments’ policies and campaigns addressing issues and providing support in uncharacteristic areas such as housing and homelessness, low income and unemployment, small and medium business, health, mental health and social isolation.

Businesses and brands are racing to help their employees and customers manage productivity, social isolation and mental health through the rapid digital and life transformation that’s happening to facilitate working from and staying at home.

For individuals,through a strange mix of deprivation of autonomy, freedom and independence, reframing of exercise as one of the few permissible essentials and a newfound appreciation of and self-awareness towards mental health and social isolation, it seems the value of integrated wellbeing has gone up significantly.

We’ve been flooded with images and articles on the environment’s recovery that, whilst momentarily encouraging, has come at great cost to individual’s physical, mental and emotional, social and financial wellbeing. The response from Inger Anderson, head of the UN Environment Programme speaks again to balance “as the engines of growth begin to rev up again, we need to see how prudent management of nature can be part of this “different economy” that must emerge, one where finance and actions fuel green jobs, green growth and a different way of life, because the health of people and the health of planet are one and the same, and both can thrive in equal measure.”

Then just last week, Amsterdam announced its application of Doughnut Economics – what is essentially an integrated wellbeing model – as a platform to move them out of the coronavirus recession economy and rebuild for the future.

In the Guardian article, British Economist and author of Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist (2017), Kate Raworth is quoted “When suddenly we have to care about climate, health, and jobs and housing and care and communities, is there a framework around that can help us with all of that? Yes there is, and it is ready to go.”

Raworth continues “The world is experiencing a series of shocks and surprise impacts which are enabling us to shift away from the idea of growth to ‘thriving’. Thriving means our wellbeing lies in balance. We know it so well in the level of our body. This is the moment we are going to connect bodily health to planetary health.”

An integrated wellbeing framework, whether Wellbeing Budget, Doughnut Economics or a version thereof, that integrates physical, mental and emotional, social, financial and environmental wellbeing, provides a better balanced scorecard and platform for positive action by governments, businesses, brands and individuals alike.

It is purpose-driven and creates long-term value for all stakeholders – customers and employees, partners and suppliers, shareholders, communities and the environment – to achieve the triple bottom line – people, planet and profit.

Is this the platform that will shift us from survive to thrive and set us up for the future?

If you have thoughts on this or already work with an integrated wellbeing framework and would like to share your perspective, please email me rachel@thehealthybrandcompany.com.