Integrating well-being, happiness in business education key to building ‘resilient’ executives


By Arjay L. BalinbinSenior Reporter

Madrid, Spain — Business school curricula should include a program aimed at helping future business leaders improve their health, well-being, and happiness to better prepare them for the complex challenges they will face in the corporate world, an expert said.

“Body (health), mind (well-being), and soul (purpose or happiness)” are the three areas that business schools can work on to help students improve their “performance for life,” Lisa Bevill, academic director of the IE University’s Center for Health, Well-being, and Happiness, told journalists at the South Summit 2022 held in Madrid, Spain, from June 8 to 10. 

“So, on body, we talk about vitality. This is a lot around our physical health, motions, sleep, nutrition, movement. Mind has to do with mindfulness, attention, and how we put in study habits, recognizing the interconnection between body and mind,” she added.

Soul is about one’s purpose, she noted. “Our contribution, what’s meaningful to us and the relationships that we develop. Of course, all of those are interconnected in terms of our overall emotional well-being and who we are.”

On what makes these areas relevant to business, she said: “If we think about entrepreneurs, there’s generally the impression that you just have to work hard, push through, and be determined. Of course, all of these are important, but if you neglect your health, then your health is going to stop you, especially if you don’t proactively take it into account earlier on.”

A recent study by management consulting company McKinsey & Company revealed that toxic behavior, a byproduct of stress, is among the leading causes of workplace burnout.

This may lead to “costly organizational issues such as attrition,” McKinsey said in its report.

“Unprecedented levels of employee turnover—a global phenomenon we describe as the Great Attrition—make these costs more visible. Hidden costs to employers also include absenteeism, lower engagement, and decreased productivity,” it added.

Hence, business schools should help cultivate the well-being of their students, Ms. Bevill noted. 

“Through cultivating well-being, we can cultivate greater resilience. We focus a lot on positive emotions as a way to cultivate well-being, and through the abundance of positive emotions, we create better connections. Through those connections, we can have greater creativity. We tap into our cognitive functioning,” she said.

“When we are in poor health, we are running based on fears, threats, or emotions, which diminish our cognitive functioning , our ability to connect with other people, and our ability to think long term,” she added.

“Taking care of our health and building our emotional well-being through positive emotions build our resilience, which allows us to overcome disappointments and to come back after challenges; and for entrepreneurship, that’s critical.”

The South Summit 2022 is co-organized by the IE University. It celebrated its 10th year as the main global meeting point for players in the entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem. 

On May 17, the South Summit announced the 100 finalists from more than 3,000 applications of its 10th Startup Competition. According to the IE University, 70% of the applications came from 114 countries.

Half of the finalists are from Spain, mainly from Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia. The other half is from 29 different countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, Israel, Switzerland, and Brazil.

Software and cybersecurity projects comprise the majority of this year’s finalists, which include Appentra Solutions, Centraleyes, BizAway, Citibeats, and Opticks Security.

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