Do Employees Really Want Employee Engagement Programs?

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James MaloneWELLNESS TRENDS
By James Malone

Over the past five years employees have suffered stress, anxiety and instability whilst enduring a prolonged recession.

These employees are now burned out, stressed out and weary. As the economy improves, employees are no longer simply satisfied with having a job, they want job satisfaction too.

The best talent has become resilient and harder to recruit and more importantly harder to retain. At the same time, employee engagement levels around the world are depressingly low. According to Gallup, more than 60% of the workforce is “not engaged.” These are employees who do the minimum but they are not motivated to give anything more. A worrying statistic is that 24% are “actively disengaged” – Gallup defines this as either wandering around in a fog, or actively undermining co-workers’ success.

A new report looks at two fundamental questions in the employee engagement debate: Do employees actually want employee engagement programs added to their work environment? And if so, what type of program?

The findings are interesting and reveal that “Over 70 percent of employees felt engagement software would help them perform better at work. Over 25 percent said it would help them stay motivated.” When asked what type of engagement program they would most like to participate in at work. “Employees expressed the greatest preference for wellness and fitness programs at work (29.6 percent), followed by a point based rewards system (24.7 percent).”

The majority of US employers with 50 or more employees now offer some form of wellness program. For employers employee wellness programs could signal a way to solve multiple problems with a single solution. Given the results of this survey, employers should look to embrace this trend. However while most companies offer wellness initiatives few do so in a way the World Health Organization and others consider optimal.

According to the 2014 Willis Health and Productivity Survey, despite the positive benefits on business outcomes, few organizations currently make the investment in wellness and well-being programs. The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

Based on Gallup’s meta-analysis of more than 250 research studies only 11% of U.S. organizations offer what is considered to be a comprehensive wellness program. More needs to be done by employers to proactively engage with employees to create programs that address disengaged employees and simultaneously improve employee health.

If the basic needs of an employee are not met, wellness and fitness programs and consequently employee engagement programs will continue to suffer disappointingly low engagement levels. In an increasingly competitive environment organizations will need to safe guard their most important asset, their people.

The results of this research go some way in validating the demand for employee engagement programs and if fitness and wellness are what employees identify with, then the investment in employee health will consequently improve engagement levels if implemented and managed effectively.

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James MaloneWELLNESS TRENDS
By James Malone

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