Wellbeing is Correlated to Higher Performance.

Wanda Krause, PhD
May 7, 2017 · 7 min read
credits: Unsplash


There are numerous studies that show the impact of adequate sleep over a period of time on physical performance. In a study appearing in SLEEP, Cheri Mah, a researcher in the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory, showed that basketball players at the elite college level were able to improve their on-the-court performance by increasing their amount of total sleep time. Those players who got more sleep saw their free-throw shooting go up by 9 percent and their three-point shooting go up by 9.2 percent.

The Mind

But what about mental performance? Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos explains: “Making a small number of key decisions well is more important than making a large number of decisions. If you shortchange your sleep, you might get a couple of extra ‘productive’ hours, but that productivity might be an illusion. When you’re talking about decisions and interactions, quality is usually more important than quantity.”

Image courtesy of Pixabay


Sleep is but just one part to wellbeing. In the Training Journal, Derek Mowbray adds, “The ingredients for feeling well are clustered around having a purpose in life, feeling personal success and happiness in relation to a number of key elements — relationships, resources, the environment, personal growth, personal control and other items that individuals feel are important to them,” and adds, “if [people] cannot focus and concentrate on completing a task, they are not performing effectively.”


In addition to her own in-depth research, Caroline Mbaabu cites numerous studies conducted in workplaces to track the performance of individuals who engaged in workplace wellness activities and found that “that majority of employees who participated in physical fitness programmes had above average performance, lower rates of absenteeism, higher commitment to work, and lower employee turnover” (p. 15). Some of her research showed enormous increases in performance. According to Mowbay, the link between wellbeing and performance is that people who feel well usually feel in control of themselves and so it’s the attitude that determines the level of performance.


And there is critical dimension to productivity — creativity. Creativity doesn’t happen by working long hours to get through tasks and figure things out, but instead requires those spaces in between for the brain to wander and the person to reflect. A key strategy that supports wellbeing and performance is to work in spurts of intensive concentration and take full permission to enjoy down time. Hardy adds, “when you’re working, be at work. When you’re not working, stop working. By taking your mind off work and actually recovering, you’ll get creative breakthroughs related to your work.”


In the Harvard Business Review, Ron Friedman says we need to reframe why we are disengaging at the end of the day. He explains, it’s much like exercise where we are doing something that is not just for your own personal, selfish benefit, but rather something that can help us be more effective at work. He emphasizes that the people who don’t disengage, the people who are constantly checking their emails on evenings and on weekends, are the ones who tend to be less engaged a year later — because they’re burnt out.

Social Support

So, how do we ensure that rounded approach to wellbeing and get on target with performance goals in the workplace? One key form is creating a shared understanding of the benefits of wellbeing not only to one’s own life but to the enhancement of those one shares one’s life with, one’s team, and the good of one’s whole organization. Hence, another key includes the supports that an organization can create for everyone to practice wellbeing, and the supports that must necessarily be put in place beyond organizational policies. Here is where the ‘buddy system’ can help. Where employees are on board with buddying up with a co-worker and commit to championing each other towards greater wellbeing, the program has a greater chance of success.

Organizational Culture

Changing organizational culture is one of the hardest tasks for any leader. But when we have a shared understanding of what wellbeing means to us as a collective in an organization, and have critical social supports in place, including policies and things like a ‘buddy system,’ we can be well placed to keep disciplined in reaching and maintaining wellbeing as a value system. All cultures are based on value systems and to create change in any value system takes a common framework, institutional and social support and discipline until wellbeing is an intrinsic value.


Bezos, Jeff, “Why Getting 8 Hours of Sleep Is Good for Amazon Shareholders” (Nov., 2017), https://journal.thriveglobal.com/jeff-bezos-sleep-amazon-19c617c59daa

Thrive Global

More than living. Thriving.

Wanda Krause, PhD

Written by

Mother, ski enthusiast, change strategist, faculty School of Leadership RRU, http://wandakrause.com

Thrive Global

More than living. Thriving.