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Study reveals what really makes Kiwis awesome

Study reveals what really makes Kiwis awesome

The results of the 2015 Sovereign Wellbeing Index, a landmark study into how New Zealanders are faring on a personal and social level, has revealed new insights into what makes Kiwis ‘awesome’ (those in the community with extremely high levels of wellbeing) and you might be surprised who tops the list.

Developed by AUT University’s Human Potential Centre in partnership with Sovereign the survey of 10,000 New Zealanders reveals Kiwis aged 55+ are more likely to be awesome than those under 35 years. There are no differences between genders, ethnic groups or the size of the city people live in.

“The good news is that older Kiwis do the best. We all have room to improve but as we age things in general get better for us,” says Grant Schofield professor of public health at AUT University, who led the research.

Schofield says those aged 55+ are more likely to have financial security, good relationships, empty nests and a sense of purpose, which all contribute toward their increased wellbeing.

The report also reveals our lack of community connectedness is having a major impact on our wellbeing.

Of those who meet socially with others several times a week 39% are awesome, compared with just 21% of those meeting socially once a month. Meanwhile, 62% of people who strongly agree that they feel close to people in their local community are awesome.

“Being socially connected with those close to us is very important for our health and wellbeing,” says Schofield. “Having meaningful relationships, volunteering time, getting involved in groups and, simply, knowing those who live around us is essential to our mental health and resilience. Having a support network helps us to bounce back quicker during difficult times in our lives.”

From an international perspective, New Zealand wellbeing has not improved since the first Sovereign Wellbeing Index in 2013 and continues to languish behind most European countries.

When compared to 29 European countries, New Zealand came out 21st with only a quarter of adults awesome compared with 61% of the top-ranked country, Denmark, and 16% of the bottom-ranked country, Ukraine.

“It’s surprising how poorly we do when compared to the European countries, using the exact same questions from the European Social Survey. But at least we know how we are going and where we can do better. We know the path to being awesome and having a great life. Part of what we need to do as individuals and as a country is decide the path we want to follow,” says Schofield.

The report also reveals an interesting insight for employers. Regardless of your employment status or occupation, research indicates that using your strengths is a key path to engagement at work - 49% of adults who were highly satisfied with their jobs were awesome, compared with just 14% of adults less satisfied with their job.

Sovereign CEO Symon Brewis-Weston says having these insights provides a real opportunity for businesses to address the wellbeing of employees.

“The data is clear - if you give your employees opportunities to harness their strengths they will be happier, more resilient and engaged in their work. Employers can also provide opportunities for people to build social connections within the workplace be it through groups, volunteering or encouraging a more active environment,” says Sovereign CEO Symon Brewis-Weston.

“Through this research we’re not only identifying problems, we’re seeking productive change for the challenges identified in our society. It gives us an action plan as individuals, communities, leaders and as a nation as a whole that can help to make New Zealand an even better and happier place to live.”

The Sovereign Wellbeing Index is the only national representation of how New Zealanders are faring on a personal and social level, and was created with the vision of helping to frame personal choices and public policy and action in New Zealand.

As a leading New Zealand life insurer, Sovereign believes it has a key role to play in helping New Zealanders improve their health and wellbeing.

“We are proud to support the Sovereign Wellbeing Index, which helps us better understand the challenges and opportunities facing New Zealand. It the first step toward helping Kiwis take charge of their health and wellbeing.”

The full 2015 Sovereign Wellbeing Index report is available at covering the key issues of employment, health, community, money and vitality to determine what makes people awesome. Further reports will be released throughout the year.

People aged 55+ are more likely to be awesome than those aged under 35 years.
Southland is the region that has the highest prevalence of being awesome while Manawatu-Whanganui has the lowest.
Higher incomes were associated with higher rates of wellbeing, but living comfortably on present income was a stronger predictor of wellbeing.
Using your strengths and being highly satisfied in your job was strongly associated with wellbeing.
Health status, along with sleeping well, eating well, and exercising were all associated with higher rates of wellbeing.
Having positive relationships with people you are close to and living in supportive communities were important for wellbeing.
When compared to 29 European countries, New Zealand comes last with just 36% of New Zealanders feeling appreciated by those they are close to, compared to Denmark at the top of the list with 83%.


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