When I think of well-being, I think of New Age. At least in this day and age.
There's a lot of help out there when it comes to working on our collective well-being. Whether it's life coaches to help us deal with those mid-life career or personal crises or heading off to the spa for a little soothing R&R, the world's well-being has evolved into a lucrative sector. And it is a sector overflowing with too many experts and way too many self-help books.
This is all thanks to millions of people wanting it all but not wanting to do it by themselves. Or perhaps that's more about confidence. Or is it brains or motivation? Whatever the reason, it seems that many of us can no longer help ourselves and need the proverbial guiding hand to get us there.
Call me old-fashioned, but I'm not one for hiring others to help me workshop my well-being. In fact, I'm not into workshopping anything, nor am I into those self-help books that have been flooding bookshelves and Amazon.com for years now.
My thoughts on those books are probably best kept to myself. Oh, OK, just one then: if you live your life through a self-help book, then, yes, you do need help - but you are not going to find it in a book.
Anyway, back to well-being. It can relate to our physical health, of course, but in this 21st-century world, well-being has dominoed up to what's going on in our heads.
But as the credit crisis continues to bite, it seems we've got another one: our financial well-being. This, you could say, relates to our mental health, because getting into debt and not knowing how to get out of it can be a stressful experience.
The trend for financial well-being, or "wellness" as it's also called, is taking hold around the world. What's surprising about this is that it's taken so long for it to click, more so when you consider that the global financial crisis started in the autumn of 2008 with that spectacular (at least for the time, because there's been so many more since then) crash of Lehman Brothers.
The signs have been there for a while. I guess it just took some time to coin a phrase for it: financial wellness.
Financial wellness is all about being financially savvy; having the nous, if you will, to handle your personal finances with intelligence and maturity.
And while the financial crisis has uncovered extreme weaknesses in the global economy, what it has also done is reveal our lack of money skills.
Nobody really cared about that until they considered the effect that our lack of knowledge, not to mention the financial distress that millions are experiencing, was having on the companies that we work for. That's right. The financial distress of employees is bad for business.
According to the MetLife Study of Financial Wellness Across the Globe, which was prepared by the Boston College Center for Work & Family in the United States, financial difficulties can have a negative effect on worker productivity.
"The recent financial crisis and significant changes in pensions systems across the world have left individual consumers with fewer guarantees for retirement and great responsibility for financial decision-making," the study says.
"There is growing evidence that the majority of people lack the financial skills necessary to tackle these challenges.
"Recognising the negative impact of financial distress on employee health and productivity, individual companies are taking actions to improve the financial wellness of their employees."
And in another survey, this one by the US-based Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 47 per cent of HR professionals said they'd noticed that employees were struggling with their "ability to focus at work" because of financial problems.
"The source of money woes is unsurprising, but the toll it's taking on both workers and their employers, in addition to the persistence of the weak economy, are all troubling issues," Mark Schmit, the vice president of research at SHRM, said in January, when the study was released.
The SHRM survey also found that 24 per cent of respondents said money woes were leading to employee absenteeism and tardiness, while 20 per cent were concerned about employee morale and 12 per cent noticed a negative effect on employee health. However, 7 per cent said working relationships with other employees were the least affected. And that's probably because they are all in the same boat and take comfort from the fact that they are not the only ones suffering.
The solution, at least in the US, is for companies to start offering staff help through financial literacy workshops.
More than half of the respondents to the SHRM survey, or 52 per cent, said their organisations were providing financial education to their employees.
"A closer look shows that 79 per cent offer access to an employee assistance programme that includes financial counselling and resources," the survey said.
Finally, a decent, workable solution to a long-term problem that should also be embraced in the UAE. And without a self-help book in sight.