Keywords: Employee Wellbeing, health, workplace, productivity, company culture
“Good health IS good business,” says Paul Drechsler, Chairman/CEO, Wates Group Limited. This quote comes across as very relevant while the pandemic has become such a transformative factor in every organisation. From Google, Netflix to IBM, these companies continue to thrive even during the pandemic. Drawing the common string among all these companies, we can see that they put their employee’s well being before that of the company’s, therefore, directly producing continued good business.
In a meta-analytical study of the Gallup employee well-being database of 1,882,131 employees and performance of 82,248 business units by Krekel, Christian and Ward, George and De Neve and Jan-Emmanuel at Said Business School, it was found that employee satisfaction has a substantial positive correlation with customer loyalty and a substantial negative correlation with staff turnover. Undoubtedly, a lot of great work has been emerging on improving employee well being, however, there is a scarcity of actual understanding of the subject and how it influences one’s life.
Guest and Conway (2004) define wellbeing in terms of six constructs including, a manageable workload; personal control over the job; support from colleagues and supervisors; positive relationships at work; a reasonably clear role and a sense of control of involvement in changes in the organisation. But, in this article, we aim to understand the pillars of employee well-being from the perspective of the four general constituents of well-being for easier understanding. Well-being, in general, is a holistic collaboration of Physical, mental, financial and social well being.
Pillars of employee well-being:
1. Physical well-being: According to CAFS, Physical well being is the well-being that is required to maintain physical health and safety. An IBM study (Oct. 2020) revealed that only 46% of employees said their company supports their physical and emotional health.
This study emphasises the grave need for organisations to pay attention to employees’ physical and mental health. Considering an individual spends about 8 hours in a day at work - this constitutes a major part of their life, this usually causes a lack of movement resulting in chronic pain which affects the efficiency and productivity of the employee.
Betterment of physical health requires collaboration from the organisation and the employee’s end. Research by Willis Towers Watson demonstrates how a growing number of employers are defining workplace health as a central part of company culture and strategy.
2. Mental well-being: According to CAFS, Mental well-being is the well-being that is related to feelings and emotions and the health of our minds. Stress is a major factor leading to illness leading to growing concern about increasing cost and prevalence, especially in relation to the workplace. “Worked to death, drop death, work until you drop” are highlighted as “work-related death” in the 21st century. (Malays J Med sci, Oct 2008) Interestingly, Japan and China each have a word for death by overwork – karoshi and guolaosi respectively.
In one of the findings in the Aflac summary of current benefit trends, 61% of employees agree that they have made healthier lifestyle choices because of their company’s wellness program. Findings of a number of studies on this aspect say that stress has a great impact on the professionals and thereby affects the level of productivity. Therefore, putting the mental health of the employees at the forefront is beneficial for both the employee and the organisation.
3. Social well-being: Social well-being is the well-being that is related to the interaction with others (CAFS). This is the context of a workplace that would mean the interpersonal relationships an employee has both inside and outside of work.
Research that comes from Thomson Online Benefits, a global benefits management and employee engagement software company of 2000 UK workers, found that 31 per cent are kept awake at night by stressful interactions with their managers and colleagues, as well as 25 per cent being concerned about the relationship with the people that they care about. This results in deteriorating physical and mental well-being as well which affects the overall productivity, staff turnover rates and business of the organisation.
Groups of employees with empathic managers experienced lower average levels of somatic complaints, and daily goal progress was more strongly related to positive affect for groups of employees with empathic managers. (Brent Scott, Jason A.Colquitt E. Layne Paddock Timothy A.Judge, Sep 2010)
4. Financial well-being: Well-being in relation to financial security is financial well-being (CAFS). Financial security is a difficult topic to discuss, as it is a sensitive one. Financial planning and security form the pillars of human security. Financial stress is one of the 4 major stressors of life.
On an individual or collective level, financial well-being can positively affect the quality of life, success, happiness, general well-being, mental health and relationship quality (Dunn & MirzaieI, 2012; Hubler, Burr, Gardner, Larzelere, & Busby, 2016). When a large group of people are facing financial problems at the same time, it creates a societal problem. People consume less or rely more on social support, which negatively impacts welfare. Vice versa, if large groups of people experience financial well-being, they consume more and rely less on social support, creating positive welfare effects (Griggs et al., 2013; Sacks, Stevenson, & Wolfers, 2012).
These pillars of well-being show how each one is connected to the other, while they are important by themselves as well. The most simple yet effective ways of addressing all these pillars of employee well-being are to communicate effectively, give recognition, realise the importance of work-life balance, build on learning empathy and sympathy, encouraging social interaction and promoting self-care. All these simple steps can have a large-scale effect on the well-being of the employees in any organisation. This calls for every organisation to think about enriching the lives of their employees and aiding a holistic development of their well-being for a better and productive workplace.
About the Author
Hi! I am C G Abilasha, I am doing my triple major in Psychology, English literature and journalism from Mount Carmel College, Bangalore. I love all things related to the mind and how it works and how we can use and change it. But, Do I know any psychology jokes, you ask? I am A-Freud not. I’m interested in pursuing I/O psychology in the future. In my free time, you will find me playing with my dog and reading books.
Krekel, Christian and Ward, George and De Neve, Jan-Emmanuel, Employee Wellbeing, Productivity, and Firm Performance (March 3, 2019). Saïd Business School WP 2019-04,https://ssrn.com/abstract=3356581 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3356581
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Elisabeth C. Brüggen, Jens Hogreve, Maria Holmlund, Sertan Kabadayi, Martin Löfgren, Financial well-being: A conceptualization and research agenda, Journal of Business Research, Volume 79,2017, Pages 228-237, ISSN 0148-2963, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2017.03.013.