Positive Psychological Wellbeing for Optimal Performance: The Cost-Effective Approach.

At its most simple, positive psychological wellbeing is held when an individual feels competent, autonomous, valued, and with a sense of purpose in contributing to something worthwhile. Further, when s/he feels listened to, supported, and part of a community. 

Previous popular conceptualisation of wellbeing as; ‘fluffy’ happiness, the absence of ill-health (particularly physical ill-health), being vague and immeasurable, or the responsibility of the individual, have all led to a detrimental avoidance, or a limited consideration, of wellbeing within the workplace. Recent research developments and academic consensus in our understanding of wellbeing as a multi-component construct, and thus its more appropriate measurement, have however, provided an opportunity to confidently readdress these limitations for the benefit of business, and indeed, society.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD, 2013), and thereafter the Legatum Institute Report: ‘Policy and Wellbeing’ (O’Donnell et al., 2014), both endorse the consensus that subjective wellbeing comprises three broad concepts:

  • Life evaluation - a reflective assessment of how one’s life is going (this can be further considered in relation to life domains, e.g., work life).
  • Affect - particular feelings or emotional states, both positive and unpleasant, typically considered at a particular point in time.
  • Eudaimonia – experiences that relate to leading ‘a life well lived’. Typically attained from interacting with the world, eudaimonia also infers those mental attributes and functionings that pertain to ‘flourishing’, e.g., holding a sense of meaning and purpose, competence and agency.

Statistical analysis supports both the conceptual and empirical distinction of these three concepts. As such, to measure, and indeed to promote subjective wellbeing, all three concepts must be considered. Further, this conceptualisation of wellbeing; provides real information of how people relate to wellbeing, has major predictive power, and correlates with objective physiological measures of electrical activity in relevant brain areas.


  • O’Donnell, G. et al. (2014). Wellbeing and Policy. London: Legatum Institute.
  • OECD. (2013). OECD Guidelines on measuring subjective well-being. Paris: OECD Publishing.

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