Jo Dodds: Wellbeing and engagement can improve organisational performance

Jo Dodds

The Marmot Review, published in February 2010 showed that work can either be good or bad for health.

Within the Engage for Success movement, we understand that there is not one particular definition of what employee engagement is. When our founders, David MacLeod and Nita Clarke, researched Engaging for Success, otherwise known as The MacLeod Report, published in 2009, they received over 50 definitions. In order to summarise those definitions, they wrote the following: “A workplace approach designed to ensure that employees are committed to their organisation’s goals and values, motivated to contribute to organisational success, and are able at the same time to enhance their own sense of wellbeing.”

Often there is backlash against the concept of engagement in that it, perhaps, ‘exploits’ employees by getting them to give more discretionary effort, for example, they work more for no pay. The last phrase of the above definition ‘and are able at the same time to enhance their own sense of wellbeing’ is the key in ensuring that whatever employees are doing, through their engagement with the organisation, they are benefitting from it too.

The Engage For Success Thought and Action Group focusing on wellbeing was formed in 2013 and in May 2014 published a white paper Wellbeing and employee engagement: the evidence. The Thought and Action Group cited a strong correlation between high wellbeing and engagement levels, and that these two states are also mutually reinforcing and essential for optimal individual and organisational performance.

Prevention is better than cure. Initiatives that help to build resilience, psychological and physiological wellbeing can really help to drive wellbeing, performance and engagement.

Some of the initiatives that organisations are adopting to improve the wellbeing and engagement of their people include fitness programmes, flexible-working arrangements, mindfulness training and walking programmes.

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It is clear that trying to drive high levels of engaging without taking account of wellbeing is detrimental in the long term. It is also clear that improved wellbeing can have an impact on performance in the workplace, happiness, reduced absence and stronger engagement.

Jo Dodds is outreach director at Engage for Success