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Latest Study: Worker Well-Being in the Doldrums

Submitted by  on April 28th, 2012

Frustrated woman with folders and laptopWork is negatively affecting U.S. workers’ well-being, according to data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Despite the economic growth and increased hirings, work places are pervaded by gloom and depression. The research study produced by Gallup and consulting firm Healthways is based on four years of data collection and surveys of more than 1.4 million people throughout the United States.

The index contains six main categories: life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors and access to basic necessities. The work environment section includes four sub-indices: job satisfaction, ability to use one’s strengths at work, supervisor’s treatment (authoritarian or inclusive) and working in an open and trusting environment.

What really got my attention was the finding that work environment has decreased the most out of the six categories since the study began in January 2008. The overall Well-Being Index score for the U.S. is currently 66.8 on a scale of 0 to 100, where 100 would be the ideal well-being score. Contrast that with a current Work Environment score of only 48.5.

Over a four year period, the Work Environment score has dropped by far the most compared with the other five categories. Although up from the lowest points experienced during 2011, the Work Environment score remains some three points lower than in 2008.

Given the uncertainty surrounding the economy’s growth levels, the results are not surprising. Job satisfaction has dropped significantly, especially after the massive layoffs, which translated in added responsibilities for employees and more fragile relationships with their increasingly busy managers.

As bad as it may sound, this is actually good news for your business. With a weaker competition, you now have a greater chance of attracting new talent. Now may seem the perfect time to take a stand against your competitors by creating a life-enhancing work culture and increasing job satisfaction among employees.

To create a balanced work environment, I recommend that companies focus more on employees’ individual needs and job satisfaction. Employee productivity depends on the level and quality of support provided by their managers.

Companies simply cannot afford to manage people in a suppressive and intimidating manner. Instead, cultivate trust and provide effective training that builds on people’s strengths, rather than simply focusing on their weaknesses and limitations.

What strategies does your company use to increase business performance and create an inspiring work environment? How do you motivate workers and keep them engaged and committed? I’d love to hear your stories.


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Posted in Research | Comments (2)

2 Responses to “Latest Study: Worker Well-Being in the Doldrums”

  1. Al Smith Says:

    Most companies and most people need to CARE. Communicate, Appreciate, Respect, Encourage. Practice these 4 things and watch morale improve. It starts at the Top.


  2. Leslie Allan Says:

    Thanks Al. I Like your CARE principle. You’re dead right. Our people are the front-line to our business. They are the interface with our customers. The way we treat our employees is the way they will treat our customers. Scary thought!

    Les Allan

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