Most people go to work every day intending to do a good job. They want to do their part to help their company achieve its goals. Why? We're social beings -- we've been wired to work together and we know we can accomplish more if we do. Working together to accomplish something can have a tremendous and positive impact on our sense of self. Our work can add elements of purpose, meaning, and satisfaction to our lives. It's important to us. (And yes, the paycheck matters a lot, too).
Similarly, most organizations want to give their employees the tools and training they need to do their jobs well. Clearly, they do this for business purposes, especially to benefit the organization. But there are many employers (and I see them regularly in our own clients) who also want their employees to be happy and satisfied with their work.
These companies spend a lot of organizational resources towards attracting and retaining their employees. They endeavor to provide employees with competitive compensation and benefits packages, recognition programs, and career opportunities. They want to provide safe, productive, and high-performing work environments. In short, they focus their efforts on "work-based factors" that impact employee satisfaction, retention, and engagement.
Unfortunately -- and despite good intentions and a lot of effort by employer and employee alike -- today's workforce is highly disengaged, according to AonHewitt's "2014 Trends in Global Employee Engagement." If a basic alignment of mutual needs exists between employee and employer, why do so many employees feel disconnected?
One answer lies in "non-work based factors." Non-work based factors are outside of those managed by the company directly. They're intricately weaved into the lives and lifestyles of employees and they affect physical and emotional states as well as cognitive functioning. In other words, we're talking about the employee's wellbeing.
Wellbeing factors include a sense of financial and personal safety, a sense of belonging, meaningful personal relationships, resilience, creativity, rejuvenation, physical activity, sleep, and nutrition. An employee's state of wellbeing impacts the personal resources they bring to work with them each day. If an employee has low levels of wellbeing, they'll find it difficult to engage and bring their best selves to work, despite their good intentions. Non-work based factors affect the degree to which an employee can be engaged.
Modern life is fast and furious. It's filled with technology, information, opportunity, and more ways to keep people occupied than ever imagined. It can easily erode employees' personal resources, drain physical energy, decrease mental clarity and focus, and frazzle emotions. We need to offer them new tools and approaches to thrive in this fast-paced world. Tools that help them succeed, have a high level of "being well" and enable them to bring their best selves to work (and to the rest of their lives, too).
We want and need well-trained, competent, engaged workforces to help meet our organizations' objectives and we want our employees to be happy at work. Likewise, our employees want to be happy at work and they want to help our companies succeed. Nurturing their wellbeing is good for business, communities, and the individuals themselves.
Why wouldn't you put employee wellbeing at the top of your strategic initiatives?
Jennifer Turgiss has more than 20 years of experience in senior management roles at national and global health and wellness organizations. Largely responsible for getting Virgin Pulse off the ground, Turgiss joined the company in 2005 and is currently its vice president of Health Solutions. She leads the development and implementation of client best practices and oversees all client-based analytics projects for Virgin Pulse. She is also director of the Virgin Pulse Institute.