The Well-Being Journal

Well-Being Enhances Benefits of Employee Engagement

Gallup

This article originally appeared in the Gallup Business Journal and is reposted with the permission of Gallup.

Story Highlights

  • Engagement and well-being are keys to employee performance
  • Just 32% of U.S. workers are engaged in their jobs
  • Leaders can make a substantial difference in employee well-being

Two major factors influence employee performance, Gallup has found: engagement and well-being. Gallup measures engagement for employees through the Q12 survey, which consists of 12 actionable items with proven links to performance outcomes. And with Healthways, we measure well-being through five elements that are crucial to a life well-lived.

Now, many organizations measure and evaluate their employees' engagement, while others focus on improving their workers' well-being. But what happens when companies try to improve both? Does strong well-being take a highly engaged workforce and make it even better? And how can each one be applied to enhance the other?

If High Engagement and Well-Being: % Fewer Missed Workdays

Defining Engagement and Well-Being

Based on employees' responses to the Q12 items, Gallup groups workers into one of three categories: engaged, not engaged or actively disengaged. Just 32% of U.S. workers are engaged in their jobs, setting them apart from other workers in terms of their attendance, performance, service quality, safety and likelihood to stay with their current company, among other factors.

Similarly, Gallup and Healthways have developed a comprehensive, research-based definition of well-being that encompasses five interrelated and essential elements: purpose, social, financial, community and physical. Together, these elements provide key insights into individuals' sense of purpose, social relationships, financial security, relationship to their community and physical health.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index

Respondents can be classified as thriving, struggling and suffering in each element according to how they rate that particular facet of well-being in their lives:

  • Thriving: well-being that is strong, consistent and progressing in a particular element
  • Struggling: well-being that is moderate or inconsistent in a particular element
  • Suffering: well-being that is low and at high risk in a particular element

In the U.S., 28% of adults aged 18 and older are not thriving in any element, while just 19% are thriving in at least four of the five. For every two U.S. adults who are exhibiting high levels of well-being across most or all elements, there are three who have significant room for improvement across them all.

The Benefits of Adding High Well-Being to High Engagement

The question researchers have explored is: How do employees who are engaged and who exhibit high well-being in at least four of the five elements fare compared with engaged workers who have high well-being in only three or fewer elements? Does adding high well-being to high engagement have a beneficial effect on key outcomes?

Compared with employees who have high engagement but otherwise exhibit low levels of well-being, those who are engaged and who have high well-being in at least four of the five elements are 30% more likely not to miss any workdays because of poor health in any given month. They also miss 70% fewer workdays because of poor health over the course of a year. In addition, employees who are engaged and have high well-being are:

  • 42% more likely to evaluate their overall lives highly
  • 27% more likely to report "excellent" performance in their own job at work
  • 27% more likely to report "excellent" performance by their organization
  • 45% more likely to report high levels of adaptability in the presence of change
  • 37% more likely to report always recovering "fully" after illness, injury or hardship
  • 59% less likely to look for a job with a different organization in the next 12 months
  • 18% less likely to change employers in a 12-month period
  • 19% more likely to volunteer their time in the past month

How Leaders Can Add Well-Being to Their Engagement Programs

Leaders can make a substantial difference in their employees' lives by including well-being principles in their company's engagement programs, thus effecting change in both areas at the same time. These five strategies can be deployed right now to increase employee engagement and well-being:

  • Strongly encourage participation in well-being activities when setting job expectations. Let employees choose the well-being activities that are best suited to them based on their individual well-being goals. This approach simultaneously promotes clarity about an employee's role and a culture of well-being, and it does both while honoring each employee's unique talents and interests.
  • Recognize employees for their well-being achievements. Recognition reinforces what is valued within an organizational culture. One reason recognition is such a strong driver of employee engagement is that if employees feel they will be recognized for doing great work, they will be highly motivated to do so. The same principle applies to enhancing well-being. Increase recognition to increase effort -- and improve well-being and engagement at the same time.
  • Explicitly link each well-being activity to at least one of the five elements. The five elements of well-being add depth and dimension to "feeling cared about," a key component of engagement. The five elements can help managers more clearly individualize activities to each employee's situation through discussion and by creating a more focused set of goals. Leaders and managers should communicate that the five elements are important organizational values and show how each well-being program links to one or more of the elements. Communication that emphasizes that leadership cares about employees' -- and their families' -- well-being can go a long way in encouraging employee engagement and employee participation in well-being programs.
  • Solicit employee ideas and incorporate them into workplace well-being initiatives. "Opinions count" is a central component of an engaging workplace. Asking employees to contribute well-being ideas is a great way to galvanize them and make them feel they are a part of the well-being movement. Employees also will have excellent feedback about which well-being programs are working and which aren't -- and how they can be revised or new programs added.
  • Include well-being goal-setting and milestones in work review and progress meetings. Research has shown that engaged employees are much more comfortable than other employees in discussing their well-being goals with their manager. But the five well-being elements can be incorporated into progress-review conversations in ways that encourage employees to pursue their well-being goals and that can deepen the manager-employee relationship. One way to start this conversation is for a manager to ask, "Is there an aspect of your well-being that I can support?"

Ultimately, organizations can benefit substantially by adding well-being to their engagement programs. By ignoring well-being, or by focusing on physical wellness programs alone, employers miss important opportunities to improve employee performance.

Survey Methods

Results are based on a Gallup Panel Web study completed by 24,230 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Oct. 8-Nov. 13, 2014, and a Gallup Panel Web study completed by 24,658 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Dec. 2, 2014-Jan. 14, 2015. A subsample of 9,689 working adults, obtained after matching the above two surveys, was used for this analysis. The Gallup Panel is a probability-based longitudinal panel of U.S. adults who are selected using random-digit-dial (RDD) phone interviews that cover landline and cellphones. Address-based sampling methods are also used to recruit panel members. The Gallup Panel is not an opt-in panel, and members are not given incentives for participating. The sample for this study was weighted to be demographically representative of the U.S. adult population using 2014 Current Population Survey figures. For results based on this sample, one can say that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. Margins of error are higher for subsamples. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error and bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Topics: Well-Being Engagement Gallup

The 3 Leadership Tenets Behind a Strong Well-Being Culture

Madison Agee

 

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Are your leaders actively -- and visibly -- improving their own well-being?

If your organizational culture and your stated commitment to well-being improvement aren’t in close alignment with one another, you could be unconsciously undermining the potential of your wellness programs. In other words, culture counts – a lot. It doesn’t matter how excellent your benefits package and well-being improvement offerings are if they’re at a constant disconnect with your overall culture. For example, what’s the point of having a generous paid time off (PTO) policy if employees are never actually taking vacation days?

An essential step in determining the state of your well-being culture is to turn a critical eye on your organization and ask some important questions. Once you’ve completed this self-evaluation, you can focus your attention on those areas that you’ve identified for further development. For many organizations, the commitment and behavior of their leaders is a crucial area for improvement.

In a popular webinar from June, experts from Gallup and Healthways provided a great deal of insight into the important role leadership plays in creating, cultivating and sustaining a culture of well-being. According to Ross Scott, Chief Human Resources Officer at Healthways, there are three key leadership tenets behind a strong culture of well-being:

  1. Leaders should be grounded in the value proposition of and fully understand the business case for well-being. Do your leaders truly believe in the value of well-being – that healthier people cost less and perform better? If they do, then they’re much more likely to participate in and encourage their teams’ participation in well-being programs. But if there’s any lingering doubt in a leader’s mind, that could inhibit the success of your well-being improvement program.
  2. Leaders’ own well-being impacts their ability to show up and lead effectively every day. Employees, of course, will model the tone and behaviors set by your leaders, so leaders can’t just expect that employees will embrace and embody better well-being without them. Demonstrating their individual dedication to well-being improvement can make leaders healthier, happier and better in their roles. At the same time, doing so shores up the strength of your well-being programs by not only making it okay, but actively encouraged for employees to engage in well-being improvement activities.
  3. Leaders have the opportunity to influence the well-being of others with every interaction. As described by Gallup, there are “20,000 moments in a day” during which organizations can positively impact their cultures of well-being and help their employees on their own individual journeys. Leaders who remember this and continuously take advantage of the multiple touchpoints and opportunities they have with their employees can make a tremendous positive impact. Relatively simple actions – smiling, taking a moment to listen to an employee, starting a meeting with a question about well-being – can be incredibly powerful actions.

So, how well are your leaders doing in terms of supporting your culture of well-being? Are they exhibiting these three key tenets on a regular basis? Simply educating them on these three principles could help you cultivate your well-being culture – perhaps your leaders aren’t totally aware of the enormous impact they have.

As you’re building your well-being culture, you may want to consider a few thought-provoking ideas that can continue to guide your organization. Luckily, we’ve collected nine of the top ways organizations can create and grow their well-being cultures – complete with easy tips for getting started today with little to no major investment of resources or budget.

Topics: Well-Being Workplace Well-Being Engagement Business Performance Productivity

Is Well-Being an Integral Ingredient in Your Organization’s Cultural Recipe?

Madison Agee

This cake may look pretty, but if you left out an essential ingredient - like sugar - it's probably going to taste awful. Similarly, omitting the key element of the right kind of organizational culture can inhibit the success of your well-being improvement program.

More organizations are looking to wellness and well-being improvement programs to help them improve productivity and manage ever-growing healthcare costs. As they invest in these types of programs, organizations logically want to maximize their returns and improve outcomes as much as possible.

But what happens when programs aren’t creating the results organizations want to see? The easy scapegoat is the design or implementation of the wellness program itself, but what organizations may underappreciate is the critical role that their own culture plays.

Consider, for a moment, baking a cake without sugar. Although it may look like a cake, it certainly wouldn’t taste like one. It’s a similar situation with culture, which is an essential ingredient in the overall recipe for well-being improvement. If you’re expecting your employees to prioritize high well-being, but your culture is working against you (for example, leaders aren’t participating in offered activities or engaging in a well-being dialog), then you’ve likely set yourself up for disappointment.

Ask yourself the following questions to better understand how well you’re actually baking well-being into the very recipe of your organization:

  • Are our underlying attitudes and assumptions reflective of a true commitment to well-being? A crucial element in a culture of well-being are the very values and rituals that are important to your organization. How is well-being actually “folded into” your core values and the ways in which colleagues interact with the organization, your leaders and one another? For instance, does your organization have an annual volunteer day that encourages employees to give back to their community?
  • Are we structurally aligned to well-being? A culture of well-being requires that your organizational structure reflect it, with programs, benefits and activities that encourage and enhance well-being. If you’re not offering these kinds of things, you could be at risk of simply “talking the talk” and not “walking the walk.” What kinds of things, such as providing a tobacco cessation program or launching an organization-wide “steps challenge,” are you doing to improve well-being within your organization?
  • Are we actively supporting our employees’ well-being? In the absence of continuous support for your employees’ individual well-being journeys, your employees could actually perceive you as actively discouraging them. Real encouragement takes place in an environment where people are not only openly talking about well-being improvement, but actually caring if their colleagues are working towards it. If co-workers aren’t saying “good for you” when a team member decides not to check email on a long-awaited family vacation, you may have an unsupportive culture.
  • Are our leaders modeling the right behaviors? The role of leadership in creating and supporting a culture of well-being can’t be understated. Take a close look at what your leaders are saying – and doing – on a regular basis to better gauge whether they’re shoring up or undermining your culture of well-being. Are they, for example, always wearing a suit on days when you allow your employees to wear workout clothes?
  • Are we properly incentivizing or encouraging well-being behaviors? Behavior change is not easy for most people – typically employees may need to be urged or incentivized to participate in activities and programs that enhance their well-being. What’s your organization doing to create this sense of excitement and desire among your employees that helps them along on their journey to better well-being?

By asking yourself the questions above, you can get a much better sense of how truly integral well-being is to your organizational culture. We’ve assembled some additional questions you can use to better benchmark where your organization currently stands, as well as guidance to help you develop your own action plan for creating a culture of well-being.

In a June webinar, experts from Gallup and Healthways explored the topic of well-being cultures in more detail, and shared some great insights into how organizations can create start or enhance their own journeys. Download the webinar recording to learn more.

Topics: Well-Being Workplace Well-Being Engagement Business Performance Competitive Advantage Productivity

Need to Kick It Up a Notch with Your Wellness Program?

Sandy Cummings

Our friends over at Gallup have compiled some intriguing research, as always, about why corporate wellness programs often fall short of their goals -- plus what employers can do to turn things around. Check out this infographic:

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Discouraging data, given that programs designed to improve employee well-being have been shown to lower healthcare costs and improve employee productivity.

What steps can employers take to improve participation? Gallup researchers highlight the key role of managers in building awareness and trust, encouraging their teams to take part, and creating accountability for results. They also point out that programs that take well-being improvement beyond just the physical element -- in other words, that also work to elevate social, financial, community and purpose well-being -- have greater impact:

When comparing adults who are thriving in just Physical Well-Being with those thriving in all five elements, those in the latter group:

  • report 41% fewer unhealthy days
  • are more than twice as likely to say they always adapt well to change
  • are 36% more likely to say they always fully bounce back after an illness
  • are 23% more likely to donate money
  • are 43% more likely to have volunteered
  • are 65% less likely to be involved in a workplace accident
  • are 81% less likely to look for a new job when the job market improves

Read the full article here.

Topics: Well-Being Workplace Well-Being Engagement Business Performance Well-Being Index Competitive Advantage Motivation Productivity Healthways Wellness Trends Gallup Leadership