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Employee well-being affects the bottom line

April 20, 2016

Article courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE
By Cheryl Kuch

According to a recent study by the employee recognition firm O.C. Tanner, improved employee well-being can have a major impact, not only on the employee, but on the company’s bottom line. It also found that as individual well-being increases, so do teams as they become more collaborative, more productive and innovative. But exactly what is well-being and how can organizations foster it among their employees?
Most people associate the idea of employee well-being with employee wellness programs. But they are not the same things. Wellness programs are associated most with the employee’s physical health, and to that end they focus mainly on diet and exercise and smoking cessation. They may consist of gym memberships, eating programs, etc.   Employee well-being is concerned with an employee’s holistic life experience and is, according to the Tanner study, “a measure of the employee’s perception of how they think their life is going – whether it is fulfilling or satisfying and whether she feels her best every day and where her life is headed in the future.”  
According to O.C. Tanner, well-being can be categorized into three factors:
Physical Heath: To what degree is the employee in good physical health, have a healthy lifestyle and is overall physically able to do what he wants and needs to do daily?
Social Wellness: To what degree does the employee have satisfying relationships and positive interactions with others inside and outside of work situations?
Mental Wellness: To what degree does the employee feel positive and not overwhelmed and stressed? To  what degree does she like what she does and feel there is meaning in her life?  
What impact does it have on the business? A Gallup study found that there was a significant connection between individual’s well-being and that of fellow team members.   And when bosses reported high levels of well-being, their direct reports were 15% more likely to report they were thriving six months later.  Gallup also found that if team members were thriving they were 20% more likely to be surrounded by other thriving team members six months later too. In addition, worker loyalty and reduced healthcare costs can also be associated with high employee well-being
Organizations can benefit from fostering employee well-being.  According to the study, the following positive effects can occur:  

  • Increased work productivity at individual and team level
  • Improved skills and work habits
  • Higher job satisfaction and intent to stay with the organization longer. Those with good or excellent well-being reported they would stay with their current company 10 years longer on average. 

What can an employer do to encourage and build better employee well-being?
Measure well-being
Engagement and organizational effectiveness surveys can sometimes help identify well-being gaps and areas to target.
Look at perks and benefits available 
Assess how “well-being friendly” their benefits and policies are. The study evaluated 26 benefits and found seven that impacted employee well-being the most. Several included work/life/schedule balance:  family emergency/care leave, paid vacation time, maternity leave and paid sick leave. Also making the list were fair base salary/pay, open work spaces for collaboration and “above-and-beyond” recognition were most impactful.
Get managers involved
Your managers are key to both the mental and social wellness factors of well-being.  Ensure your managers are aware of policies and practices covering time off and flex time and telecommuting programs and the resources that are available for recognition. Train your managers to engage employees including how to best plan and prioritize work and manage teams to help reduce stress with employees.

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