By Michael Tonkin
In recent months, we’ve been talking to HR teams about all things employee wellbeing and we’ve discovered one interesting trend. A high percentage of HR leaders are using the term ’employee wellbeing’ and ’employee engagement’ interchangeably. And while on the surface this might appear trivial, it’s worth setting the record straight.
Employee engagement or employee happiness is just one component of employee wellbeing and while it’s a key component, employee wellbeing is made up of so much more.
Take for example a high performing manager who is highly engaged at work. They enjoy the work that they do, understand the connection between their goals and the organisations goals, and trust and respect their fellow colleagues. On face value, you would say that this manager is likely to be engaged or happy, but when you dig a little deeper on this manager’s wellbeing, you notice that employee engagement and employee wellbeing are not the same thing for a number of reasons.
Let’s explore why. Imagine that this same manager:
Now imagine that this type of behaviour builds up over time. A burnout is inevitable.
It’s a lot for one person to take in, but it’s fair to say, we know a few people at work who display similar characteristics to our example manager.
From the points above, it’s clear that the manager’s wellbeing at work is not where it needs to be despite the fact that on the surface, they might tick most boxes on the ‘theoretical’ definition of employee engagement or on the happiness scale.
At Maura Fay Learning, our model for employee wellbeing is made up of six components. See the diagram below. You’ll notice that Choose Happiness is just one of the six parts to wellbeing.
Within Choose Happiness, we make a big focus on people at work having:
So, what does it all mean? Why the need to define the two concepts as different?
Firstly, let’s draw your attention to an article in Gallup News written by Dan Witters and Sangeeta Agrawal in October 2015, titled ‘Employee Wellbeing Enhances Employee Engagement’.
In their study, when compared with employees who have high engagement but otherwise exhibit low levels of wellbeing, employees who are engaged and who have high wellbeing are:
Even though wellbeing and engagement have different goals, they are clearly more powerful when combined. Engaged employees who are supported in taking care of themselves are far more valuable to their employers.
So, again, what are the opportunities for organisations?
So as we have seen, employee wellbeing and employee engagement are separate entities, but both need equal attention to effect a productive and performing workforce.
It’s important to blend employee wellbeing and employee engagement practices together. The benefits speak for themselves – both for the organisation and the individual. Start today to make a difference to your next employee engagement survey.
If you would like to discuss our unique approach to Wellbeing at Work start a discussion with us today.