Employee Well Being and Recognition

Recognize This: “Well-being is the next employee engagement.”


Five years ago when Eric Mosley, my CEO, and I began talking about employee engagement as a critical outcome of employee recognition and an even more critical component of company success, we had to spend a good deal of time explaining the concept as the majority of HR pros and influencers had never heard of it.

Now we’re seeing a new trend on the horizon, one not yet receiving much air time or understanding – employee well-being.

I don’t mean “wellness.” Well-being is a much broader term, defined by Gallup as: “all the things that are important to how we think about and experience our lives.” Gallup continues:

“Our teams were able to establish the relationship between wellbeing and everything from healthcare costs to productivity levels. It’s now possible to show how an employee with higher wellbeing costs less to insure, boosts performance, and creates engagement.”

Tony Schwartz, author of The Way We Work Isn’t Working, agreed in a blog post on Harvard Business Review:

“So what most influences employee engagement? … The degree to which employers actively invest in meeting the multidimensional needs of their employees.

“The second core need all of us share is to feel emotionally secure — meaning valued, recognized, and appreciated. Less than 40 percent of employees worldwide feel their managers are genuinely interested in their well-being. Only one out of ten employees feel they’re treated as vital corporate assets. …The vast majority of employers fail to recognize a simple and immutable truth: how people feel at any given moment profoundly influences how they perform.”

That’s certainly true for me. When I feel valued – when I believe my contributions are helpful to my team members, my customers, my company – I perform at my peak. I’m running on a pure sense of that what I do really matters within the big picture.

Is the same true for you? Would you say your manager is interested in your well-being? When you do feel like “you’re a vital corporate asset,” does your performance improve?

Derek Irvine

About Derek Irvine

The VP of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their organizations. As a renowned speaker and co-author of "The Power of Thanks" and "Winning with a Culture of Recognition," he teaches companies how to use recognition to proactively manage company culture. Derek holds a B.Comm and Masters of Business Studies from the Smurfit Graduate Business School at University College Dublin.

7 Responses

  1. Mark Vickers says:

    Hi Derek,

    I like the idea of employee well being but I see four challenges with it: 1) the meaning is so broad that it's hard for companies to determine what they need to do to give employees a greater sense of well being, 2)convincing employers that it is worth the investment in this idea, since it may seem as if employees should be in charge of their own well being, 3) demonstration of a strong cause and effect relationship between well being and corporate performance and 4) it is very "me-focused" – my sense is that employees are often concerned not just about their own well being but about the well being of others in their organizations.

  2. Derek Irvine says:

    Mark, a very well considered response. Thank you for that.

    You're right. "Well-being" can have quite a broad meaning, but I think companies are already addressing well-being in many different, disjointed ways and not communicating that investment well to employees (similar to employees not understanding a Total Rewards picture). Companies are already investing in employee health (standard healthcare benefits), family needs (FMLA), and a myriad of others.

    I think of this idea of well-being as one step forward in the acknowledgment that employees are *people* and not *assets*. If leaders, managers and colleagues (not "companies") can convey to those they work with that they matter as *people*, that their efforts matter *to* people, then we will have advanced quite far down the path of well-being.

    Your fourth point is critical and I agree. The best way to express this is care and concern is through recognition — specific, sincere and frequent appreciation of another's contributions, efforts and value.

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