by Alex Palmer | January 23, 2013
Health-conscious workers are more engaged workers, according to a new report from Gallup. According to data from the research group’s daily tracking interviews, respondents who ate healthfully and exercised regularly consistently reported feeling more engaged and enthusiastic about their work than those who did not practice healthy behavior.

Drawing on a sample of more than 350,000 adults, the research categorized respondents into the categories of “engaged,” “not engaged,” or “actively disengaged,” based on responses to 12 questions about their attitude toward work. 

It found that 59 percent of those in the engaged category said they had eaten healthfully the previous day. Just 54 percent of those in the not engaged category said they had eaten healthfully, while 53 percent of the actively disengaged. Findings were similar on the question of whether the respondent ate five servings of fruits or vegetables more than five times a week, with 47 percent of engaged workers reporting that they did, and 41 percent of both not engaged and actively disengaged respondents saying the same.

Results followed the same pattern on the question of regular exercise. While 54 percent of engaged employees said they exercised at least 30 minutes, three or more times a week, just 49 percent of not-engaged employees and 45 percent of actively disengaged employees said the same. 

“Gallup research shows that how leaders manage their workers can significantly influence their employees' engagement, which in turn affects a company's bottom line and workers' health and wellbeing,” wrote the study’s authors, Daniela Yu and Jim Harter.

They pointed to other recent Gallup research that came to similar conclusions, including data that found that engaged employees were 21 percent more likely than actively disengaged employees to be involved in wellness programs offered by the company. This finding was found to be consistent regardless of age, body mass index (BMI) group (normal, overweight, or obese), or whether or not the worker had a chronic disease.

“Taken together, the data showcase the link between being engaged at work and leading a healthy lifestyle,” wrote Yu and Harter. “Since engaged employees are more likely to lead a healthy lifestyle, workplaces that actively improve engagement may end up seeing an added benefit of better employee health — the potential benefits of which include reducing healthcare costs for a company in the long term and increasing energy and productivity in the near future.”