Turns out that it’s more than a gut feeling: When employee engagement and well-being are both humming along at high levels, organizations see a tremendous boost in productivity. 

That was the message this week from a polling expert with the Gallup organization, who presented the latest national data on workplace well-being and employee engagement to a group of Greater Des Moines Partnership members. 

The 10th annual Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index -- an ongoing sampling of thousands of U.S. adults on a nearly daily basis -- found that engaged employees have 37 percent higher overall well-being than their colleagues who are not engaged in their workplaces. They’re also 28 percent more likely to participate in a wellness program offered by their employee than their disengaged counterparts. 

“We know that well-being is highly related to employee engagement,” said Dan Witter, research director for the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index. “And it’s a highly reciprocal relationship. Highly engaged employees are more likely to have high well-being, and conversely, high well-being are likely to have high engagement. … Having one improves the chances of having the other, but it doesn’t ensure it.” 

The 55-question telephone survey considered measures of well-being in five areas: purpose, social, financial, community and physical. 

Overall, the survey results indicate that 29 percent of Americans are not thriving in any of these five dimensions, while on the other end of the spectrum, a fortunate 7 percent are thriving in all five. 

Perhaps one of the most interesting pieces of data: 33 percent of U.S. workers are considered “engaged” in the workplace, while 51 percent are “not engaged” and 16 percent are “actively disengaged.” 

The data also show that resilience to stress improves with high engagement and well-being. For instance, 41 percent of survey respondents said they’ve experienced burnout at work in the past 30 days. But among employees who are thriving in all five well-being dimensions and are engaged in their work, just 12 percent reported burnout. 

How can an organization boost its employees’ well-being and engagement? One proven strategy is for leaders to provide a strong, sustained voice on the importance of well-being, in particular getting the word out about in-house wellness programs, Witter said. 

Some organizations conduct three-minute well-being surveys one or two times a week, and others have multiple points of awareness about their wellness programs. 

Despite employers’ efforts, about 40 percent of employees at companies that offer wellness programs aren’t aware that their companies offer a program, according to Gallup’s data. 

“There’s a lot to be said about keeping well-being on the radar screen,” Witter said. 

United Way of Central Iowa’s goal for community health for 2020 is to increase Greater Des Moines’ Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index score to 64.5. In 2016, Central Iowa’s score
was 63.8, ranking 23 out of 189 U.S. metropolitan regions. To view an infographic that shows how we’re doing in some key areas of well-being, click here.