Let’s take stock of the current state of the global workforce. On the positive side, increased globalisation and the digital revolution has opened opportunities for workers and businesses around the world.
On the not so positive side, however, increased competition and the 24/7 always on workplace have led to more stressful work environments as evidenced by alarming increases in employee depression, stress and anxiety, as well as physical and mental fatigue. As a result, employees are becoming disengaged and less productive, and businesses are suffering.
That’s the bad news.
Here’s the good: business leaders can do something about it. The past several years have seen an explosion of research into the science of employee engagement. And the results are conclusive and consistent: for businesses to reach their full potential, they must empower their people.
But what does that mean exactly? Recent research shows the impact of wellbeing on employee engagement, productivity, and retention. In a global study of workforce wellbeing, 86 per cent of employers surveyed felt that wellbeing had a high impact on engagement, and 76 per cent believed it had a high impact on recruitment, retention, and productivity. This naturally leads to better business performance. In fact, one study found that companies that invested in their employees through wellbeing programs significantly outperformed the S&P 500 over a period of 14 years. For the past ten years, our company, Virgin Pulse, has helped employees at over 3,000 organisations around the world fulfill their potential by empowering them to be healthier and happier.
While investing in your employees’ wellbeing is a significant way to empower people, it’s only part of the solution. Feeling energised, focused, and motivated is not just a function of health and wellness. It’s also heavily influenced by feelings of purpose and opportunities for growth. In fact, one study from SHRM found that meaningfulness of work (76 per cent) and opportunities to use skills and abilities (77 per cent) were two of the top drivers of employee engagement. For employees to exceed expectations and reach new levels of performance, they have to feel that their work is important and that their workplace is invested in their development.
Given the massive impact employee health and engagement have on business performance, business leaders eager to fulfill the potential of their employees and their organizations must ask themselves the following questions:
Can my employees connect to the company mission or greater purpose?
A global survey from LinkedIn found that 73 per cent of purpose-oriented people are satisfied with their jobs. By providing a clear sense of connection to a greater cause, companies can tap into the deep, intrinsic motivations of employees. In fact, purpose can often be more compelling than achievement or compensation as a motivator of performance. Not just for employees - but for companies as well. The same survey found that 58 per cent of companies with a clearly articulated and understood purpose experienced growth of 10 per cent.
Can my employees grow here?
When employers provide opportunities to develop new skills, explore different areas of the company, and acquire knowledge, employees feel cared for. On the other hand, the fastest path to disengagement is stagnation. We all need to feel like we’re moving forward to feel fulfilled. In fact, according to Gallup analytics, millennials rank "opportunities to learn and grow in a job" above all other considerations when selecting a role. Often, we associate growth with job performance, but it can be a lot simpler than that. Development can apply to new skillsets, mentorship, and training, too.
Can my employees be successful here?
Perhaps the most important question to ask is: what can I do to help my employees feel successful, every day? Success comes down to small changes and behaviors that, over time, add up to positive results. Making employees feel successful in the micro - day-to-day activities - translates, over time, to helping them succeed in the macro - overall performance at the individual and business level. So how do you help employees feel successful and empowered every day?
Virgin Pulse has spent the past 10 years developing personalised tools to engage employees on a daily basis in achieving their personal goals, both in and out of the office. Using our behavior change technology, employees are building positive habits, engaging with colleagues and improving their health. Daily interactions with our platform motivate and inspire employees to feel successful and empowered every day. These micro-successes lead to macro improvements for individuals, who are happier and healthier, as well as businesses whose employees are more engaged and productive.
We know that success at the individual level drives success at the organisational level. Our clients have seen less turnover, higher engagement, better productivity, and improved company culture. In fact, 64 per cent of Virgin Pulse members believe the program has made their company a better place to work. Technology like ours enables personalisation, aligning tools, content, and resources with each individual’s particular goals. Best places to work make it easy and accessible for employees to realise their potential, on their own terms.
Successful business leaders understand that the daily experience of their employees is the bedrock of their organisation’s success. The data is consistent: people want to feel valued, empowered to do good work, and energised each day. By building a company culture focused on people, and using the right employee engagement technology, employers will fulfill their peak potential alongside their people.