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Whole Person Model FAQs

We know that people bring their whole selves to work, so to perform at your best, your whole life needs to be optimized for peak performance, including your core mindsets and how you manage stress & personal well-being. Behaviors such as rest and emotional regulation are just as important as coaching and alignment in order to be an effective leader. Employees are more productive and more engaged when their organization takes a holistic approach to their growth & development, instead of focusing just on traditional leadership capabilities. By taking a Whole Person approach, BetterUp is equipping your organization to drive higher business outcomes.

BetterUp’s proprietary Whole Person Model measures the mindsets and behaviors that research shows to be key drivers of performance outcomes and strong company culture, such as productivity, engagement, team performance, resilience (and many more!). The model is based on what is critical for organizations to achieve success in meeting their business objectives, and what can be changed within the person through coaching interventions. And it equips leaders at our partner organizations to tangibly track the growth of these key mindsets and behaviors over time - and how that growth impacts their organization.

The Whole Person Model draws on scientific and business literature from multiple disciplines, including management science, industrial-organizational psychology, and positive psychology, and was developed by subject-matter experts in organizational behavior, psychology, psychometrics, leadership, and adult development. The multi-phased approach to development involved a review of academic literature, item development, statistical assessment of the psychometric properties, and an independent review of the assessment by members of BetterUp’s science board. It has been validated against established assessments, predicts both individual and organizational level outcomes, and is stable over time in uncoached samples.

The Whole Person Model takes a more comprehensive approach to performance than traditional leadership assessments and makes a coaching engagement more actionable. The initial Whole Person results help a member and their coach identify areas of focus for their work together and track progress over time. Rather than uncovering static, fixed qualities, the Whole Person Model allows both the employee and the organization to receive and act upon regular pulse insights of behavior change.

Yes! We have a team of 30+ PhDs at BetterUp, and at a certain partnership level, one of our dedicated behavioral scientists can customize your BetterUp initiative so that the Whole Person Model dimensions are mapped with your organization’s competencies or key behaviors. This will allow you to see your people’s data in your language, and your employees will also see this mapping in their individual Whole Person assessments.


After your people onboard to BetterUp, you’ll be able to see their initial baseline data through the People Analytics Dashboard (PAD) and will review it with your dedicated BetterUp team. Your people will be nudged to complete a Reflection Point (a pulse review of their Whole Person assessment) at a 4-month cadence after beginning their BetterUp engagement. You’ll work closely with your BetterUp team to review new pulse data and strategize together on insights & recommendations based on it.

Because we have the largest dataset of global coaching interactions, we have been able to study when key mindsets and behaviors significantly grow, leading to long-term, sustained behavior change. Mindsets are the first to change through coaching, followed by personal Thriving behaviors, then Inspiring leadership behaviors, and finally, key Outcomes (i.e. productivity, belonging, engagement). When employees have access to BetterUp for a short period of time, they are not able to fully translate their Learning and Doing into Being (sustained change). Employees going through transition (whether through a changing or ambiguous environment, or a new role or set of responsibilities) are also 40% more likely to engage with and benefit from a longer coaching engagement. For true behavior change, we recommend 12 months of dedicated coaching.

In fact, we actually recommend not taking a cohort approach to BetterUp, as the ideal coaching length for each employee will depend on their goals, engagement & motivation, amount of current transition, and manager support. Our product makes it possible to manage this adaptive approach to coaching without a heavy lift on the back-end, and your BetterUp team will equip you for this in your success planning sessions before your launch date.

BetterUp surveyed 17,500 working professionals across multiple industries, functions, tenures, role levels, demographics, and locations to establish these benchmarks.

Our approach at BetterUp is to help your people thrive, not just return to normal, and our behavioral scientists will help you interpret your data against both industry norms and optimal performance.

We take individuals’ privacy very seriously. As such, an individual employee’s Whole Person data is confidential between them and their coach. Research shows that when a member has a safe, trusted relationship with their coach, their ability to grow in key mindsets and behaviors is accelerated, and BetterUp is designed to help you achieve your critical business outcomes through personalized, 1:1 development that drives cohort-wide behavior change. However, if a member chooses to include their manager in their BetterUp experience, their manager will see the top 5 strengths on the member’s Whole Person Assessment. Of course, the member is always free to share their whole report, as well!

Our Whole Person Model is designed to address the individual and organizational areas that are most in need of development. Although we take a strengths-based approach to coaching, people are motivated to work on their growth opportunities, and each coach works 1:1 with each employee to address their individual gaps. As each employee works on the areas where they need the most improvement, the group as a whole improves in these same areas. By not prescribing focus areas across the group, you maximize the impact of coaching - the coach uses the Whole Person Assessment and the employee’s motivation & goals to catalyze & accelerate individual growth, that leads to organizational growth.

Mindsets are the first thing that coaches work on with BetterUp members - if any of your employees are struggling with the motivation to address their gaps, our coaches are utilizing the safe, confidential relationship to lean into this hesitation and encourage a new perspective.

We also ensure that each coach that works with your employees is fully briefed on your program goals, company context, and competency mapping against our Whole Person Model. At a certain partnership level, we can offer additional services, including curated resources from our content library and live coach briefings.

Yes! As we developed and validated the Whole Person Assessment, we confirmed that the self-reported scores by members are reliably predicted by manager, direct report, and peer ratings. For example, members who report higher levels of cognitive thriving are 3x more likely to be rated highly in strategic planning by their manager, and members who report a higher degree of social connection with others are 3x more likely to be rated highly on relationship-building by their manager. One of our partners used BetterUp to support their sales leaders, and as the Whole Person Model reported a 20% increase in productivity, these employees had also generated 20% more revenue for the organization.

Additionally, the anonymous, developmental nature of the Whole Person Assessment removes any motivation to fake or inflate scores, which can occur with assessments that are used for selection purposes. The Whole Person Model includes internal mindsets and perceptions that can best be assessed by the person directly, and even with behaviors that are observable by others, the person’s self-perception of their capabilities influences how they do behave and is a developmental tool that coaches use to spark reflection and growth. Our manager feedback tool and 180/360 assessments can tangibly bolster self-reported data and help the individual identify blind spots, and our coaches are trained to help identify the best time to initiate these additional assessments (when key mindsets have been established to invite constructive feedback and take action to change).

No, not necessarily. There are certain situations where this is expected and normal, and your BetterUp team will help you put this into context for your people. It is common for strengths to decrease slightly while members focus their time and energy into their growth opportunities. Changes in roles & responsibilities can temporarily impact a member’s confidence or effectiveness in a particular behavior, or simply shift their priorities to a new set of behaviors. Challenging feedback from a coach or from others can also reveal a blind spot in an overestimated strength. A change in manager or work environment can also impact a person’s Whole Person scores. Your dedicated behavioral scientist will work with you to take all of these factors into account as you review your most recent pulse data.

Our team of scientists is continually adapting & refining the data we collect from members and surface back to you at the organizational level. One of the first indices that we added alongside our Whole Person Model was our Employee Experience Index, which looks beyond engagement and into the six areas that make a strong employee experience. "We also developed the Coaching Culture Measure, which assesses the degree to which employees believe coaching behaviors are supported within their work environment, and the Belonging Index, which assesses the degree to which employees feel connected with others at work and able to show up as their authentic selves. Most recently, we developed the Sales Excellence Index, which assesses the preparedness, agility, and interpersonal skills needed for sales employees to drive peak performance.