Employee engagement matters. Being happy at work matters. Research “increasingly points to a simple fact: Happy people are better workers. Those who are engaged with their jobs and colleagues work harder – and smarter.”

Despite the growing body of research that shows employee engagement is critical to success, companies continue to ignore a major cost center within their organizations – unproductive, unhappy, and disengaged employees. The most sobering and evident data highlighting this epidemic is from a 2013 Gallup report that showed only 30% of the U.S. workforce is engaged and nearly 20% is actively disengaged. “Disengaged, unhappy people aren’t any fun to work with, don’t add much value, and impact our organizations (and our economy) in profoundly negative ways. It’s even worse when leaders are disengaged because they infect others with their attitude.”

Although there are numerous ways to engage employees (and the most successful companies use a multi-faceted engagement strategy), employee wellness is one of the most important. For starters, effective wellness programs make workforces healthier, and healthier employees are happier employees (both personally and professionally). A study of the “Economic Determinants of Happiness” revealed that health is a far more powerful determinant of an individual’s happiness than his or her income. In fact, “healthy” people are 20% happier than average, while “unhealthy” people are more than 8% less happy.

Additionally, wellness programs allow employees to be engaged outside of work. Employees can incorporate a healthy cooking class into their dinner or utilize their Fitbit or mobile apps while they are working out in the morning.

By enhancing employee engagement through wellness, employers will take the first step in quarantining this epidemic and preventing it from infecting their organizations. Employees will be happier and more productive at work and less likely to turnover. Employers will save money (lots of money) through greater productivity and higher retention. Also, happy and engaged employees will serve as better representatives of their organization, resulting in higher customer satisfaction and retention.

Avoid the economic impact of the employee engagement epidemic. The result will be greater financial success.

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