Gallup defines employee engagement as the involvement and enthusiasm of employees in their work and workplace. It helps employers measure and manage employees’ perspectives on the crucial elements of workplace culture.
But employee engagement also drives performance and retention. When employees are engaged, they stay with the company, give their best to help achieve the company goals and are also willing to recommend and refer others to the organization. So, typically, there’s a link between employee engagement and well-being.
Well-being & employee engagement
Research from Gallup has shown that engagement and well-being are reciprocal. “They each influence the future state of the other,” said Steve Boese, Co-founder of H3 HR Advisors, Co-chair of Human Resource Executive Magazine’s HR Technology Conference and Co-host of At Work in America podcast. “Each makes a unique but complementary contribution to the thoughts, feelings, behavior and performance outcomes of employees. So, when they work together, they can be a real supercharger for a thriving, more productive kind of workplace.”
Naturally, when employees are engaged and are thriving at work, burnout decreases and productivity improves.
“The research is fairly clear that companies that adopt employee well-being programs, as part of a broader business strategy, realize other more measurable and substantial ROI,” said Boese. “For example, turnover can cost U.S. employers over 1 trillion dollars a year, and it’s generally accepted that replacing a lost employee can cost anywhere between 33% to 150% of their annual salary depending on their skill set and seniority. It impacts your operations, hurts morale, makes companies less competitive as they lose more experienced workers and there’s also a link between employee well-being and low turnover.”
A 2017 Mercer survey found that employers who created cultures of health had a turnover rate that was 11 percentage points lower than employers who did little to prioritize employee well-being.
Well-being & culture
Employee wellness also contributes to better company culture. In fact, research by McKinsey & Company shows that employees need to fill a purpose through their work and organization for that sense of fulfillment. And while upper management and executives may feel a sense of purpose, front-line managers and individual contributors are often less aligned to it.
Engagement is key for a flourishing organization. “But the reality is that engagement initiatives without human levels, like psychological safety, just leads to more burnout,” said Tanner Bergman, MS, LPC, NCC, in the Paycom webinar Wellness in the Workplace: A Chat with Steve Boese. “We have to establish this as the foundation and the inflection point begins where executives and leaders come into the equation.”
When leaders cultivate healthy environments, people will always do the best they can. That doesn’t mean there are never problems, but it shifts the view to a holistic one. Creating psychologically safe cultures and environments allows employees to feel empowered to think deeper and ask deeper questions. “This leads to increased meaning and purpose in their work, so they can do their best and meet their potential naturally not with an organization or leader trying to control them into meeting their potential,” said Bergman. “So, leaders modeling and cultivating psychological safety is absolutely paramount.”
Well-being & productivity
A 2020 Bank of America study found that 57% of employees connect well-being to productivity.
“The financial burden of lost productivity among workers with major depression alone is estimated at $51 billion annually,” said Boese. “It’s pretty clear that unaddressed mental health challenges will just lead to lost productivity. And I also think it’s obvious that inadequate mental healthcare support leads to lost productivity and drives presenteeism and absenteeism.”
A study from the National Institutes of Health found that people with depressive symptoms were seven times as likely to experience decreased effectiveness at work than their peers without depression.
“When we persist with this idea of work-life balance, we keep [the two sides] separate and that pits the two against each other and invalidates the human that’s in the middle connecting both worlds. One of them is going to require more of us at various points, and we’re going to need the capacity to devote what we need, where we need it, when we need it,” said Bergman.
Employees need to feel their best, physically and mentally, so they can be fully engaging with their work. Organizations that focus on helping employees take care of themselves holistically allow them to stop stressing about their so-called work/life balance and just exist peacefully devoting themselves to their work when needed and to themselves outside of work. It’s important to remind everyone at your organization that happy workers are productive workers, and that’s a goal all companies should strive for.