Employee engagement and health

We are going through an era where almost every affliction or ailment is associated with stress. I would like to avoid listing them out and risking anything regarding “follower addiction” but many diseases continue spreading despite incredible advancements in technology and in diagnosis and treatment methods. Heart disease has been seen at an alarming frequency around the globe. And the long-disregarded issue of obesity us threatening the world, establishing the unfortunately exact foundation for future heart disease.

A U.S. study based on Gallup data shows the direct correlation between the feeling of trust at the workplace and the seven risk factors triggering heart disease: smoking, obesity, low physical activity, poor nutrition, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

The study presents very striking data.

Employees who do not work in open and trusting environments have higher likelihood of suffering from high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

It is more probable that employees who work in distrusting settings will become   heavy smokers, develop unhealthy eating habits, and be more prone to obesity.

In these types of settings, women have less chance of appropriate levels of physical activity.

Four or more of the risk factors —defined as smoking, obesity, low physical activity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure— are seen to arise in environments where employees do not feel secure and comfortable.

This study was conducted for the U.S.A. yet we must agree that it strongly sheds light to the general tendencies in this area. Until today, employee engagement was considered a question of productivity. Yet we have not even discussed at length the most important factor on productivity: human health…

Am I happy? Am I well?

A good consultant never misses the first, minuscule reaction on someone’s face when they are asked if they are happy where they are.  Their facial reaction says so much more, beyond any answer to a questionnaire can. An enthusiastic “Definitely” is of course satisfying. A thoughtful “I mean, yes” is enough to open up the conversation. “For the most part” can give you enough material for a book.

If you believe that the happiness and wellbeing of the employees is not one of your responsibilities, you may have yet to realize the correlation between productivity and human health. Til today, it was common belief that a happy worker is a productive one, and the health issues that an unhappy employee is at risk of were mostly swept under the rug. Everyone was responsible of their own health after all, right? Now it becomes apparent this was never the case.

I will as usual present you my concerns and ideas on the subject as a list.

  • If you work at an environment you do not feel good or happy, getting out of bed in the mornings can soon become torturous. Is black coffee what gets you out of bed, instead of the energy, joy, hope of the day? On an empty stomach?
  • Factors such as traffic, late -and unwanted- wake up, or long commute have not allowed for a healthy breakfast. Did you start your day with a dry bagel, not even with cream cheese?
  • How many cups of coffee or tea have you drank to get through the hours til lunchtime?
  • Are you a smoker? Do you feel an urge to light a cigarette at every moment of stress? How many times a day?
  • In a company with no feedback culture in its foundation, what kind of bodily reactions arise from not knowing when what will be critiqued? From the continuous feeling of something being incomplete?
  • For employees working under executives who create high pressurized work environments, can it be healthy in the short or long term to not know when the volcano will erupt on them?
  • Have you ever thought of the similarities between maps of environments characterized by unhealthy communication and the map of an unhealthy humanbody are? Can you see the signals not reaching the brain and paralyzed organs in both?

We can as ourselves countless questions like these.

But I think our first question should be: Am I happy? Am I well?

If the answer is no, why? Everyone’s happiness and wellbeing may have various and personal parameters, but the happiness in the workplace is under the responsibility of the executive teams.

Then, the health issues dependent on this unhappiness would also be under their responsibility, right?

Isik Serifsoy

CEO Engage & Grow

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