Engaged employees are healthier employees, according to a recent Gallup study.
The study of US workers found employees who are actively engaged in their work and workplace tend to lead healthier lifestyles: they exercise more frequently and eat more fruits and vegetables. They’re also more likely to report happiness and interest in their daily lives.
This corroborates a 2011 Gallup study which found that disengaged employees are far less likely to rate their health as “excellent”, are more likely to report “unhealthy days”, and are more likely to be obese and suffer from chronic disease. (see Actively Disengaged Workers and Jobless in Equally Poor Health).
Certainly, you need to weigh this up with the possibility that the types of people who become engaged employees are more likely to have an optimistic, buoyant and proactive approach to their life and their health.
Gallup also mentions the possibility that is possible that workers without healthy lifestyles are more prone to illness, which then reduces their chance for being engaged at work, or that those who are actively disengaged are less likely to take part in healthy behaviors, perhaps due to time or a depressed outlook on life.
That said, the Gallup study concludes that, “since engaged employees are more likely to lead a healthy lifestyle, workplaces that actively improve engagement may end up seeing an added benefit of better employee health — the potential benefits of which include … increasing energy and productivity in the near future.”
For the purposes of these studies, Gallup uses the following definitions:
Engaged employees are involved in and enthusiastic about their work.
Those who are not engaged are satisfied with but are not emotionally connected to their workplaces and are less likely to put in discretionary effort.
The actively disengaged workers are emotionally disconnected from their work and workplace and jeopardize the performance of their teams.
Engaged workers immune to stressful commutes
The implications of these findings stretch beyond general health, and also seem to impact on overall stress levels.
A followup Gallup study showed that disengaged employees were more stressed from long commutes than their engaged colleagues.
According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, the percentage of actively disengaged workers who report a lot of stress and worry in their lives increases from 15.5% for those with short commutes to 27.1% for those with long commutes.
There was no significant change in the worry and stress levels of workers who were engaged at work, regardless of the length of commute.
In other words, employees who do have long daily commutes are likely to fare better off emotionally if they are traveling to and from an engaging workplace.
(Interestingly, for this US study, a “long commute” was considered to be 45 minutes or more – which in Australian terms seems rather short!)
Gallup researchers say, “since engaged employees are more likely to lead a healthy lifestyle, workplaces that actively improve engagement may end up seeing an added benefit of better employee health — the potential benefits of which include … increasing energy and productivity in the near future.”
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