A key ingredient for workplace wellness success is engagement, engagement and engagement. This blog entry speaks to challenges in driving engagement and how they can be overcome.
An old saying in the restaurant business is that there are three factors that drive success – location, location and location. Workplace wellness has a similar theme to drive success – engagement, engagement and engagement. The challenge is how to get employees to engage in the wellness program. I pointed out in my last blog that a significant number of employees are not even engaged in doing the jobs they were hired for. So how do we get them to engage in something extra like participating in a wellness program?
Some would say incentives are the answer. Incentives fall into two general categories - Sticks and Carrots. Both have been offered as solutions to drive engagement. Sticks – if you don’t participate in the wellness program your medical insurance will cost more. Carrots – you will get additional pay if you participate in a wellness program. One could say that they are the same thing. The use of financial incentives to drive engagement in wellness has proven to work but many critics of incentives state that neither will work in the long run. So what to do to drive engagement?
A recent Society for Human Resource Management survey shows that almost 80% of the employees surveyed said that "lack of appreciation" was one of the main reasons they would leave their current job. This could be the result of reverse Hawthorne Effect. The term Hawthorne Effect comes from a study of workers at the Hawthorne Works (a Western Electric factory in Hawthorne IL, near Chicago), which was done from 1927 to 1932. The study was testing to see if worker productivity could be increased by making small changes in the workplace.
Using a selected study group, a supervisor would discuss potential workplace changes with employees and would use their suggestions to make changes. No matter what was changed, they found that the study-group’s productivity improved simply in response to being studied. These gains were mainly due to the motivational effect of management’s interest shown towards employees during the study. When the study ended (and the special attention to the employees ended), productivity drifted back to the baseline observed prior to starting the study. Subsequent research has indicated that there were other factors as well that drove higher productivity during the study.
But the study was done in 1932 so how does that apply today. The one common factor was at that time, like today, the country was experiencing a severe economic downturn. Employees were worried about their jobs but with more actively engaged managers the employees became more engaged.
When employees feel valued, appreciated, and empowered, they're more likely to describe themselves as happy, engaged, fulfilled, and loyal employees. According to a Gallup Poll, when employees had positive attitudes, their companies enjoyed 22% higher productivity and 27% higher profits. Another study sponsored by the World Economic Forum found that when employer health and well-being are actively promoted:
• Organizations are seen as 2.5 times more likely to be a best performer
• Organizations are seen as 3 times more likely to be productive
• Employees are 8 times more likely to be engaged
• Organizations are seen as 3.5 times more likely to encourage creativity and innovation
• Organizations are seen as 4 times less likely to lose talent within the next year
The bottom line is the bottom line. Profits are driven by employee productivity which drives success in the marketplace. A key component of highly productive employees is their level of engagement. Wellness programs, when supported by management, demonstrate to employees that management is committed to providing an environment that supports their health and wellness. When employees lead a healthier thriving lifestyle, productivity (and profits) will soar.