While it’s clear that happy, healthy employees are more effective and productive at work, it’s not always clear to employers what they can do to help set the stage for employee happiness and wellbeing. However, because people spend so much of their time at work, employers are in the ideal position to invest in their employees’ wellbeing. Evidence suggests that these investments benefit both employees and the employers who make them. Progressive leaders who make these investments can expect not only reduced employee healthcare costs, but also improvements in key metrics such as employee engagement, retention and productivity.
Gallup, an organization of 2,000 social scientists and subject-matter experts, recently published the findings of research conducted in 150 countries around the world.* This research determined that wellbeing is more than just physical health or wellness. In fact, Gallup’s research revealed five elements of wellbeing that are essential to most people, and that are the foundation of a rich, meaningful and fulfilling life. With high levels of wellbeing in each of these five areas, people and their organizations prosper.
- Purpose Wellbeing – Liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals
- Social Wellbeing – Supportive relationships and love in your life
- Financial Wellbeing – Managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security
- Physical Wellbeing – Good health and enough energy to do the things you want to do
- Community Wellbeing – Likingwhere you live, feeling safe and having pride in your community
When people struggle in any one of these areas, it impacts their performance at work. Every day, some of these people don’t show up, or don’t do their best work, which costs the organization money. Others, with high wellbeing, show up regularly, engage their colleagues and customers, generate new ideas and save the organization money because they are able to manage their health and overall wellbeing.
The impact of high employee wellbeing is clear. When comparing people who are thriving in one area with those who are thriving in all five, research shows significant differences. Gallup recently reported that people with high wellbeing:
- Report 41% lower health-related costs to the employer
- Are 21% more likely to participate in the company’s wellness program
- Are more than 2X as likely to say they always adapt well to change
- Leave their jobs at a 35% lower turnover rate
This research suggests that wellbeing, engagement and organizational performance are not independent. Rather, they are complementary, and employee wellbeing has a direct impact on an organization’s bottom line. Progressive leaders understand they are in the business of boosting their employees’ wellbeing as a way to boost organizational performance, and as a strategy to recruit and retain great employees.
If you’re wondering what you can do to support your employee’s wellbeing, here are a few strategies that have been shown to make a difference.
- Career: Focus on people’s strengths and give them a chance to use them regularly
- Social: Provide mentors to encourage personal and professional development
- Financial: Opt employees in to retirement plans: 80% will stay in if it’s the default
- Physical: Offer exercise facilities or discounts for health club memberships
- Community: Provide opportunities for people to volunteer together
If you’d like to talk about wellbeing at your organization, please give us a call.
* Rath, T., & Harter, J. (2010). Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements. Gallup Press: Gallup.