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20 Dec 2023

Nurturing Existential Wellbeing in the Workplace: A Catalyst for Thriving Organisations

Nurturing Existential Wellbeing in the Workplace: A Catalyst for Thriving Organisations

Written by Michelle Falzon of Positive Wellbeing Education. Michelle is our guest writer for National Health & Safety Month.

In today's fast-paced and often stress-inducing work environments, the concept of wellbeing has garnered significant attention. While many organisations have embraced the principles of positive psychology to foster employee happiness and engagement, a deeper aspect of wellbeing, often overlooked, is existential wellbeing. Rooted in the philosophy of existentialism, this dimension of wellbeing delves into questions of meaning, purpose, and fulfilment in one's life. In this article, we will explore the importance of existential wellbeing in the workplace and how it can serve as a cornerstone for individuals to not only survive but thrive within a flourishing organisation.

Existential Wellbeing: Unveiling the Framework:

Existential wellbeing, as conceptualised by Positive Wellbeing Education, is a multifaceted framework that encompasses ten key dimensions:

1. Meaning and Purpose: Encouraging individuals to explore their values, passions, and sense of purpose in life, helping them find meaning in their actions and choices. Research by Baumeister, Vohs, Aaker, and Garbinsky (2013) underscores the importance of a sense of purpose in enhancing overall wellbeing.

2. Self-Awareness: Promoting self-reflection and mindfulness to develop a deeper understanding of one's thoughts, emotions, and behaviours, leading to greater self-awareness and acceptance. Studies by Brown and Ryan (2003) highlight the positive effects of self-awareness on psychological well-being.

3. Authenticity: Encouraging individuals to live in alignment with their true selves, fostering a sense of authenticity and reducing internal conflicts between who they are and who they feel they should be. In their research, Wood, Linley, Maltby, Kashdan, and Hurling (2011) emphasise the role of authenticity in psychological well-being.

4. Personal Growth: Supporting continuous learning and development, both intellectually and emotionally, to foster personal growth and a sense of progress in life. Deci and Ryan (2000) discuss the concept of self-determination theory, highlighting the importance of personal growth in promoting wellbeing.

5. Morals and Ethics: Serving as the guiding principles within the existential wellbeing framework, morals and ethics influence individuals' choices and actions. Morales encompass personal values and beliefs, shaping one's sense of purpose and identity. Ethics provide a moral compass, helping individuals navigate complex decisions while maintaining harmony with their own values and the broader society.

6. Connection and Relationships: Emphasising the importance of building meaningful relationships and connections with others, as human connection is often a source of existential fulfilment. Research by Diener and Seligman (2002) emphasises the role of social relationships in overall life satisfaction.

7. Transcendence: Exploring experiences that go beyond the individual self, such as connecting with nature, engaging in creative pursuits, or participating in spiritual practices. Research by Emmons (2003) explores the concept of transcendent experiences and their positive impact on psychological well-being.

8. Acceptance of Uncertainty: Helping individuals cope with the inherent uncertainty of life, encouraging them to find ways to navigate challenges and maintain a positive outlook. The work of Bonanno (2004) on resilience highlights the importance of accepting uncertainty in coping with life's adversities.

9. Legacy and Contribution: Encouraging individuals to consider the impact they want to have on the world, fostering a sense of contributing to something greater than themselves. Schwartz (2019) discusses the concept of "legacy thinking" and its role in promoting a sense of fulfilment.

10. Coping with Mortality: Addressing the reality of mortality and helping individuals develop a healthy perspective on their own impermanence can lead to a greater appreciation for life. Research by Tomer and Eliason (2000) delves into the psychology of mortality and its impact on human behaviour and well-being.

This comprehensive framework recognises that existential wellbeing is a dynamic journey, and individuals may find different aspects resonate more with them. Customisation is key to addressing each person's unique existential path.

By integrating these dimensions into workplace practices and coaching sessions, organisations and individuals can tap into the profound potential of existential wellbeing, fostering not just happier employees but also individuals who thrive in both their personal and professional lives.

Existential Wellbeing in Practice:

Organisations that recognise and integrate existential wellbeing into their culture and practices are likely to experience several benefits:

1. Enhanced Employee Engagement: When employees perceive that their work aligns with their values and contributes to a higher purpose, their engagement levels soar. This heightened engagement results in increased productivity and commitment.

2. Improved Mental Health: Addressing existential concerns can alleviate stress, anxiety, and burnout, as individuals find deeper meaning and coping mechanisms in the face of challenges.

3. Enhanced Problem-Solving: An empowered and authentic workforce is better equipped to tackle complex issues and find innovative solutions.

4. Stronger Organisational Culture: A culture that values existential wellbeing fosters trust, open communication, and a sense of community, which are essential for organisational success.

Scientific Insights:

Research in positive psychology and organisational psychology lends support to the significance of existential wellbeing. For instance, a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that employees who perceive a strong sense of purpose in their work are not only more engaged but also report higher job satisfaction.

Furthermore, a Harvard Business Review article highlights that organisations that prioritise employees' authenticity and autonomy tend to have lower turnover rates and higher levels of creativity.


Existential wellbeing is not merely a philosophical concept but a practical and powerful tool for cultivating thriving individuals within flourishing organisations. By acknowledging and nurturing the dimensions of meaning, autonomy, connection, and growth, organisations can create workplaces where employees not only survive but truly thrive.

In the words of existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, "Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself." Existential wellbeing is the path to helping individuals make the most of themselves in the workplace, ultimately leading to the success and prosperity of the organisation as a whole.

As a Positive Psychology Coach with expertise in coaching psychology, positive psychology, positive organisational psychology, and post-traumatic growth, Michelle can offer a range of services to assist workplaces. These services may include tailored coaching sessions, workshops, and training programs designed to foster well-being, resilience, and positive growth among individuals and teams. By incorporating these principles into your coaching sessions, you empower individuals and organisations to harness their strengths, enhance their mental health, and ultimately, reach their fullest potential in both personal and professional domains.

To learn more about this framework and how you can work with Michelle to implement it in your workplace, please make contact via Positive Wellbeing Education, plus, access your free Masterclass video available now!

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