Why Employee Well-Being Should Matter at Your Business

Employees essentially have three options: They can love their jobs, be indifferent to their jobs, or hate their jobs. Employee satisfaction often gets ignored, but it shouldn't. Happy employees are more productive, while unhappy employees can have markedly negative impacts on your business and the bottom line.

Companies that want their employees to work harder need to focus on their corporate cultures and how they affect employee wellness.

"One characteristic that we all share as humans is the desire to make a difference that others love," says Gary Beckstrand, vice president of The O.C. Tanner Institute, the research arm of O.C. Tanner, a company that helps businesses develop work environments that inspire employees to give their best. "Employee engagement increases dramatically when employees are acknowledged for work that contributes to the well-being of another employee or customer, or that contributes to a team goal or company-wide objective. When an employee delivers work that makes a difference that others love, employee well-being in and outside of the workplace increases. High levels of well-being are correlated with increased employee satisfaction and performance results in the workplace."

The Impact of Unhappy Workers

There are risks to failing to engage employees. The last thing any company should want is to unintentionally foster an environment where a majority of the workforce is doing as little as possible to skate by.

"The most common risk is indifferent work," Beckstrand says. "Employees who don't feel appreciated or are not engaged merely put in their time to meet the minimal requirements to keep their jobs. They do what's always been done and don't look for opportunities to innovate or improve. They are content with the status quo and don't respond well to requests to improve or adapt to new ways of doing work. They have little, if any, sense of opportunity, well-being, trust, or pride in the organization."

It's no secret that happier employees are more productive, but what executives may not realize is that actively disengaged employees may actually hurt business and the bottom line.

"Some employees who are actively disengaged find ways to fight against the organization or slow down work processes," Beckstrand says. "The most recent Gallup engagement data indicates that 32 percent of employees are engaged, 50.8 percent are disengaged, and 17.2 percent are actively disengaged. If you applied that to ten people in a rowboat, three would be rowing as hard as they could, five would be casually rowing while enjoying the scenery, and two would be trying to sink the boat."

The ROI of a BFF

[caption id="attachment_88197" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Courtesy of O.C. Tanner[/caption]

One sure way to increase an employee's happiness is to make sure they enjoy coming to work. The "Health and Well-Being Study" from O.C. Tanner shows that employees who have a best friend in the office are more satisfied in their jobs. Seventy-six percent of employees who have a best friend at work say they are able to see the positive impact of their work on the company, 72 percent say they are satisfied in their jobs, and 71 percent say they have a sense of belonging at their company, according to the study.

An office friend provides feedback and recognition that employees crave from coworkers and management, increasing their happiness throughout the workday.

"When an employee feels appreciated and acknowledged for their contributions, their sense of well-being and engagement levels increase dramatically, which leads to delivering great work," Beckstrand says.

Companies that wish to promote office friendships could do so by sponsoring social events and team-building exercises. Businesses that encourage and support work friendships should see definite returns on investment in terms of employee productivity.