Engaged employees in the US are more likely to report healthy lifestyle choices than their colleagues who are either not engaged or actively disengaged, according to research-based consultancy Gallup.
Whereas 54% of unengaged employees and 53% of actively disengaged workers reported having eaten well throughout the previous day, 59% of engaged employees did. When it came to exercise, 54% of engaged employees did at least half an hour three times a week, compared with 49% of unengaged employees and 45% of actively disengaged employees.
These findings were based on the results of telephone interviews that were conducted between January and December of 2012. There were 353,563 randomly chosen respondents, all adults aged 18 and living throughout the US.
These findings make absolute sense to Stephen Teo, professor of human resource management – Auckland University of Technology. “My research definitely suggests that engaged employees have better psychological wellbeing and, as such, they are much more satisfied with their job, and so on. You can just see the flow-on effect from engagement to the personal domain,” he said.
One example of a similar study that Teo was involved in focused on police officers in Australia. Those officers who had a higher degree of wellbeing were found to be more engaged at work, and – as a result – to be more committed to the organisation.
Teo also observed that researchers have shown that the relationship works in both directions. “It all depends on how people argue, whether individual wellbeing is one of the factors that lead to work performance, or whether – people like us study work factors – we argue that work factors lead to the individual domain,” he explained.
Teo noted, however, that it was very difficult for HR professionals to address such difficult issues as employee wellbeing. “Part of the thing is that they are not getting the support from senior management to allow them to get into this harder space to solve the problems,” he commented.
While policies around extended lunch breaks to allow employees to exercise, or healthy food in the workplace, show employees that you care, they are only superficial and are often not enforced by line managers. “So we get back to the whole idea of the organisational climate – to what extent organisations actually support this type of wellbeing initiative,” he said.
To achieve change, HR managers need a certain degree of influence. “They could position themselves in a much more influential position within an organisation, reporting directly to the CEO, rather than through five other managers before it gets to the CEO,” Teo suggested.
Key HR Takeaway:
Policies around employee wellbeing may be ineffective if they are not being implemented by line managers.
HR managers need to try to address the organisational culture to make any real impact.
“Workplaces that actively improve engagement may end up seeing an added benefit of better employee health”
This may lead to increased energy and productivity on behalf of staff in the short term