Our Virgin Pulse paper, based on the responses of 11,051 employees in 63 countries, found that engaged employees are more productive at work.
The findings bust the myth that happy, engaged employees may be less industrious on the job. And they provide comfort for employers trying to strike the right balance between work and play in their organisations.
Dr Olivia Sackett, Data Scientist at Virgin Pulse, said: “The data is encouraging because it shows that businesses actually benefit when employees are encouraged to focus on wellbeing and positive emotions.”
Our study also supports what other research on engagement has shown: that soft culture has a hard impact on the bottom line. More than half of US employees (68%) are disengaged, according to Gallup. And the bill is said to cost between $450 billion and $550 billion USD a year.
Dr David Batman, member of the Science Advisory Board at Virgin Pulse Institute, is a registered Consultant Specialist in Occupational Health with expertise in psychological health at work. He offered an explanation for the costly engagement crisis, saying the underlying cause was all too often the same.
“Stress is one of the main reasons why employees may not connect emotionally in their workplace,” Dr Batman said. “The stress itself can come down to a number of things: a lack of opportunity for career growth, poor management, a lack of concern for employee wellbeing, even stress from home life. But regardless of the source, all these things contribute to disengagement in the workplace.
“Luckily, indicators of disengagement are easy to spot for managers who are alert to the signs. If work relationships are characterised by a lack of trust and uncertainty, or employees’ output is undermined by discretionary effort or mistakes, then there may be work to do.”
Dr Batman said that prioritising a culture of health was the best way for employers to re-energise switched off employees. He said improving this element of workplace culture would provide notable return.
“As well as being happier, healthier and more committed, research shows that engaged employees have fewer sickness absences, suffer less presenteeism, and are less likely to get involved in conflicts and grievances.
“In this environment, our findings prove that productivity increases.”