A well-considered wellbeing programme that addresses employees’ basic physical and psychological health needs can substantially reduce the above associated costs of sickness absence and presenteeism. The reduction of ill-health is, however, only part of the story, as surveys repeatedly report that only 1/3 of British employees are ‘engaged’ in their work, whilst a further 1/3 are ‘disengaged’ (Rayton et al., 2012). The message is clear; over and above the more obvious costs and losses to ill-health, the vast majority of ‘healthy’ employees are also regularly performing sub-optimally. For any company and its employees, the productivity and cost implications of this can never be desirable, let alone in difficult economic times when the potential vicious cycle of resource / cost-cutting and employee ill-health / disengagement can become even more concerning.
The evidence from across large-scale and case-study research is conclusive; the promotion of wellbeing, and its by-product employee engagement, has the capability to address the above concerns, and to deliver substantial benefits to the bottom line performance of organisations across all sectors of the economy. Gaining a fuller understanding of employees’ status in relation to the more recent, broader conceptualisation of wellbeing, and then considering employees’ experiences of the workplace in relation to the identified drivers of wellbeing, therefore provides an opportunity to develop a company-specific wellbeing programme that significantly promotes performance, productivity and profitability.
The outcome of large-scale wellbeing research assimilates studies employing various definitions of wellbeing and its implementation, whilst case-study research pertains, as is appropriate, to wellbeing programmes that were specifically designed to address the aspect of wellbeing most pertinent to the organisation. To progress the discussion further however, the focus below is on research that specifically reviews the least considered aspect of wellbeing, the optimisation of employee performance through the intervention in an organisation’s employee engagement practices. The research highlighted provides typical examples of outcome on key performance indicators as forwarded by Rayton et al., (2012) in their summary of research commissioned by the UK Government’s ‘Employee Engagement Task Force’. (Please see Rayton, et al., (2012) for further details).
- “85% of the world’s most admired companies believe that efforts to engage employees have reduced employee performance problems (Hay, 2010)” (p. iii).
- “A Fortune 100 manufacturing company reported quality errors as significantly higher in poorly engaged teams (DDI, 2005). The RSA insurance company found that their units with higher levels of employee engagement had 35% less downtime between calls – in effect the equivalent of one ‘free of charge’ employee being added to every 8 engaged employees” (p. iv).
“94% of the world’s most admired companies believe that their efforts to engage their employees have created a competitive advantage (Hay, 2010)”. (Rayton, 2012, p. v). The outcomes from employing a comprehensive and company-specific approach to positive wellbeing are therefore both varied and relevant across sectors, company size and economic climates.
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