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Jiordan Castle

The vast majority of American workers don’t get those legendary 8 hours of sleep each night, let alone maintain healthy eating habits. The fact of the matter is that no one wants to get home after a long commute and cook an elaborate, well-balanced meal for their family. And they certainly don’t want to drive to the gym to get on a treadmill for 45 minutes; endorphins be damned. (If you do in fact want to do either of these things or — dare I say —  both of them, my hat’s off to you. You’re in the minority.) Most people don’t have careers with the flexibility to allow them to work outside of the confines of a cubicle. Disengaging, monotonous ways of working breed unhealthy behaviors and a downtick in mental health.

If you’ve ever felt unhappy/disengaged at work and suffered from health issues, you’re far from alone. According to a 2015 Gallup study, U.S. employees who are actively disengaged at work are more likely than their engaged counterparts to say they experience health issues ranging from physical pain (e.g., sore back, weight gain) to depression and stress.

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Disengaged workers who participated in the study reported nearly twice as much stress as their engaged peers (56 percent, as compared to 32 percent) and nearly twice as much physical pain (23 percent, as compared to 14 percent)… among other things. Everyone has an off day from time to time, but what does it mean for companies and their disengaged employees when those days begin to add up?

Must-haves for a healthy workforce

Gallup’s disengaged participants also reported more “unhealthy” days (aka days in which health issues limited their activity) a month than their engaged peers: 2.17 unhealthy days for disengaged workers, compared to 1.25 unhealthy days for engaged ones. Of course, engagement doesn’t necessarily cause better health, but engagement does directly correlate with better health and overall wellness.

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While nap pods would ensure more productive afternoons and in-office massages would ensure better physical and mental health… they’re far from must-haves in a workplace. Today, employee engagement must-haves hinge on making work easier and more enjoyable than it is about giving workers free stuff and shiny perks. Think consumer-grade technology, self-service in the form of a collaborative social intranet or communication platform (like Salesforce Chatter), regular employee surveys or “pulse checks,” and more flexible ways of working. Fancy perks can only distract from outdated technology or 16-hour workdays for so long; at the end of the day, the majority of American workers want to work for a company whose mission they believe in — in a way that facilitates a healthy lifestyle in and out of the office.

Employee engagement drives an organization’s financial success

In financial terms, disengaged workers end up costing their companies more in lost productivity. Gallup’s analysis found that an engaged worker between the ages of 40 and 49 costs their employer $127.75 per month in lost productivity (due to unhealthy days), while their disengaged counterpart in the same age range costs $236.20. That’s an 85 percent increase for one employee. Do the math for your entire workforce and you’ll see how disengaged employees not only hinder a potentially great Customer Experience (CX); they also cost companies a significant amount of money in the process.

It’s time for businesses to reimagine engagement as we move into an age of community-based initiatives and social well-being as top priorities for job seekers. When employees are engaged and happy — largely by having the right tools, technologies, and processes in place — at work, their companies benefit. Healthy, engaged workers are less likely to leave, more able (and willing) to drive a better CX, and further equipped to roll with the organizational punches — 3 key ingredients in a successful company-employee relationship.

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