Putting wellbeing at the heart of employee engagement

These days, organisations are keener than ever to measure employees’ wellbeing as well as their employee engagement.

The two are inextricably linked, of course. But as wellbeing specialists like Dr Bridget Juniper point out:

…emerging research suggests that organisations that focus only on those areas associated with conventional engagement indicators, such as commitment and effort, are missing the point where enhancing performance is the overriding goal.

The problem, according to Juniper, is that ‘the scope given to workforce engagement is too restrictive’.

She’s certainly right when it comes to traditional models of measuring employee engagement.

For example, many organisations still use on employee engagement questionnaires that rely on one-size-fits-all questions to measure staff engagement.

The problem with this approach is that it can create a distorted picture of an organisation’s workforce. In extreme cases, off-the-peg questionnaires can generate a picture of a largely engaged workforce, but fail to pick up on warning signs about staff wellbeing.

The solution is to make tailor your employee engagement research to fit the shape and needs of your own organisation.

It’s essential because employee engagement can’t be measured in the same way in different organisations. Employees will always face different challenges, be part of different hierarchies and relationship networks and be subjected to different pressures.

That’s why it’s important to work with both management and staff to create a research process that gives consideration to both engagement and wellbeing.

For example, while a traditional employee engagement survey might pick up that staff are highly motivated by their work, it may not discover that they are beginning to feel stretched or under pressure, or that they feel their work/life balance is out of kilter.

The advantage of taking wellbeing into account in the employee engagement process is that it allows your organisation to spot problems like these at an early stage — issues which would otherwise have a negative impact on engagement in the longer term.

It also allows you to take steps to address those issues as soon as possible. Your can do this via workshops and focus groups — ensuring that concerns are passed confidentially to management via an independent third party.

So, if you’re looking to measure employee engagement in your organisation, be sure to ask yourself one question before you begin: “Will this process give us an insight into staff wellbeing as well?”

Because if it doesn’t, you may unwittingly be storing up problems for the future.

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