Leveling Up: Unpacking the Four Levels of Influences That Shape Our Behaviors

Behavior Change Strategies

Laura Putnam presents Activating Managers Boot Camp

Laura Putnam, MA

CEO and Founder, Motion Infusion, Inc.


By overdelivering on the message “Take personal responsibility for your health,” have we lost sight of the bigger picture? Arguably, health promotion and workplace wellness has been too focused on the individual in isolation – what motivates them, what stage of change they’re in, what skills they possess or what attitudes they bring – and we have not focused enough on the context within which the individual operates and makes these choices. In this fast-paced breakout session, learn about a new “4 Levels Model” that will help you to (a) understand this larger context, and (b) do a better job of addressing it.

• Level 1: The World I Live In. This is the big picture. The World I Live In for every individual plays a huge role in their health and well-being. Couple that with the fact the World I Live In might be very different for one person than The World I Live In for another. As Blue Zones research has highlighted, the 10-mile radius in which we each live – or the zip code we happen to be born into – largely dictates our health, our longevity, our quality of life – and the extent to which we can each make healthy choices. So-called “social determinants of health” deeply influence our health and well-being. These include things like level of income, having access to quality schools and fair housing, living in a safe neighborhood, having public transportation options and having ready access to healthcare – all part of The World I Live In.

• Level 2: The Organization I Work Within. Dropping down a level, the company we each work for matters a lot when it comes to our health and well-being. A question we should each be considering is: Am I healthier because of the place where I work – or less so? Good news is that given the effects of the larger macro-culture, every organization has an opportunity to create an oasis of well-being, in which health and well-being can become “normal” and easy.

• Level 3: The Team I’m On. Now, within the organization we each work for, is the team that we each play on. The team I happen to be on and the manager I happen to work for has a lot to do with the extent that I am well – and has a huge influence on the choices that I make – not only at work, but after work, as well. A largely untapped potential for increasing low rates of engagement with well-being at work may well lie in activating managers. They are the ones who are best positioned to act as “multipliers,” or catalysts, to move a population toward enhanced health and well-being, according to a growing body of research. No matter what’s happening in the larger organization, every manager can carve out an oasis of well-being for their team. And, this in turn can start to radiate outwards, sparking a larger movement across the organization.

• Level 4: Me At My Best. Finally, within the midst of these concentric circles of influence is this idea of Me At My Best. In lieu of the overstated mantra “Take personal responsibility you’re your health,” we can instead deliver a more empowering one: “Given The World I Live In, the organization I work for, the team that I’m on and the boss I work for, what can I do to become Me At My Best?”