Balancing Wellbeing and Engagement

Forbes recently published a really interesting article promoting the fact that wellbeing is more critical than engagement and that maybe the approach to employee engagement has been wrong. They state that Gallup’s Global State of the Workplace survey results show that the overall employee engagement score hasn’t really moved that much in terms of overall satisfaction. And because of this perhaps we should be approaching it differently – with the focus being more on wellbeing because until individuals are feeling well, they can’t be engaged. As the writer puts it, “Engagement isn’t a thing of the past. It’s just something that we cannot accomplish unless we are first ‘WELL’.”

Balancing Wellbeing and Engagement
This isn’t a new concept though, HR Magazine published an article as long ago as 2014 stating that “wellbeing is an essential aspect of engagement and that companies may be missing a trick if they don’t tackle the two in tandem.”

In our experience the organisations that come to us have much higher engagement scores than those publicised in the Global State of the Workplace survey. Which makes sense because they are already demonstrating that they want to engage their people just by doing the research and when they act on the feedback their scores normally increase further.  But how many of the organisations featured in the workplace survey actually proactively promote employee engagement – come to that how many companies actually genuinely care about their employees or believe that employee engagement strategies are worthwhile? If you think about it, how many of your connections/friends/family are lucky enough to work in a company that demonstrates a commitment to employee engagement let alone individual wellbeing?

Is the fact that the engagement score has stayed roughly the same due to the fact that the majority of companies don’t have an engagement strategy?

Employee engagement relies on a number of elements to be in place before it occurs, and wellbeing is absolutely one of them – we include it in our pillars. After all, personal wellbeing – how satisfied we are with our lives, how worthwhile we feel our lives are, our mental wellbeing etc., can all be affected by external factors including the workplace. The other pillars of employee engagement also contribute to positive personal wellbeing, so: Engaging Managers, Realising Potential, Employee Voice, Compelling Leadership and Organisational Integrity can all have an impact on wellbeing if they’re not implemented and maintained correctly. So perhaps it isn’t a case of wellbeing or engagement being more important or critical than the other because they’re intrinsically linked.

The wellbeing element of engagement has become all too apparent following the Covid pandemic. UCL researchers found that across Europe, depression and anxiety disorders have become more common. Not only this but it made many re-evaluate what they wanted in life and what they wanted out of work. We’ve certainly seen a rise in organisations asking for wellbeing surveys or engagement surveys with a focus on wellbeing.

Wellbeing is a very individual thing, it means different things for different people and for companies to start focusing more on individual requirements seems like a bit of an HR nightmare specifically for bigger companies. Perhaps there’s a more general approach? Harvard Business Review speaks about the human deal whereby rather than focussing on perks organisations should change their focus to that which “makes employees feel cared for financially, physically and emotionally.” Encouraging individuals to understand their own mental health and what contributes to their wellbeing, how they can manage it effectively.  It is then up to organisations to facilitate that. They suggest doing this by:

  • Understanding that people have commitments and lives outside of work
  • Providing autonomy with employees having more control over what they do and when they do it
  • Offering opportunities for personal growth
  • Promoting a shared purpose
  • Providing wellbeing programs and assisting people to use them

Essentially, in order to have engagement you have to promote wellbeing but in order to achieve workforce wellbeing you need to initiate an engagement strategy!  The two go hand in hand.

If you’d like to find out more about including wellbeing in your engagement survey we’d be happy to help. Our experienced team will work closely with you to understand your business and will create a bespoke employee engagement survey that fits best with your company’s goals and objectives. Our comprehensive employee survey services also deliver employee insights through 360 feedback surveyspulse surveys, employment surveys and a variety of other staff surveys. We look forward to working with you!