by Julie Remington

Gallup researchers recently conducted studies of people in more than 150 countries to identify core elements that define human wellbeing. Their research, and guidelines for how to apply it, is detailed in Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements by Tom Rath and Jim Harter.


Their findings describe the human experience from suffering to thriving in five universal categories of wellbeing:


  • career
  • social
  • financial
  • physical
  • community


Interestingly, career wellbeing was determined to be the most critical of the five elements. “Career” is defined as what you do each day and how you occupy your time, including home and family care, volunteer work, community participation, school, or other activities. To determine career wellbeing, the researchers asked: “do you like what you do each day?” If you answer “yes,” as did about 20 percent of the people surveyed, you are likely thriving in your career wellbeing.


Career wellbeing is critical. While all the aspects of wellbeing are interrelated, the research found that levels of wellbeing recovered more quickly after the death of a close loved one than they did from a long period (considered longer than one year) of unemployment.


Engagement during the workday also impacts career wellbeing. Gallup scientists found lower stress levels, greater levels of happiness and satisfaction, and even better cholesterol and triglyceride levels in those who were engaged for much of their workday, as compared to employees who did not enjoy their workday or found their tasks uninteresting.


The authors recommend three strategies to increase career wellbeing:


  • Use your core strengths — those skills you are most attracted to and enjoy — every day.
  • Find someone who shares your mission, and spend time together encouraging one another’s development.
  • Find ways to engage socially with your favorite teams and people at work.


For more information on the book and their findings, visit Or read an article and download a podcast from the authors at the Gallup Management Journal.


Julie Remington, ISEEK Outreach Specialist, has worked for 15 years in the career development and employment field. In addition to work with online tools, she has focused on staff development, process improvement, and system change. She has a B.A. in Philosophy and International Studies from Macalester College, and an M.A. in Educational and Counseling Psychology from the University of Missouri-Columbia.