Worker Engagement as Key for Safety and Health Excellence

Worker Engagement
January 24, 2019
By Jean-Grégoire Manoukian

The most recent Gallup poll on “engaged workers” shows that employee engagement is on the rise in the U.S., reaching its highest level since Gallup began polling on the topic in 2000. In the 2018 survey that includes results from more than 30,620 workers, 34% of American workers are actively engaged, meaning that they are energetic and enthusiastic about their work, and emotionally attached to their workplaces. Only 13% are actively disengaged, meaning that they have a hostile relationship and very negative feelings towards their organizations. The remaining 53% of workers are in the “not engaged” category, meaning that they are not overly dissatisfied, but are also not connected to their work, either cognitively or emotionally.

Engaged Workers Are Safer Workers

Worker engagement, or lack of it, has important implications not only for organizational productivity and operations, but also for workplace safety. In 2016, a Gallup survey found that engaged workers have 41% lower absenteeism, 59% lower turnover, and 17% higher productivity. In addition, engaged workers are involved in 70% fewer safety incidents. These statistics show that organizations should focus on and improve worker engagement not only for operational reasons, but also to protect and enhance worker safety and health.

Increase Engagement Through Worker Wellbeing

There are many ways to approach worker engagement, and there are many areas where worker engagement can be improved. One way to improve worker engagement is through the benefits that an organization offers its workers, particularly when it comes to programs and services to enhance worker health and wellbeing. Certain initiatives like exercise programs, depression screenings and health risk assessments reduce worker absenteeism and presenteeism, but also increase employee morale and retention, according to research from Harvard Business Review and BMC Public Health.

Worker Wellbeing Improves Morale and Safety

The connection between worker engagement and worker safety and wellbeing is easy to make: when organizations demonstrate care and concern for workers’ physical and mental health, and assist in providing treatment and services, workers have more positive feelings about their employer and feel more emotionally attached to the organization. These feelings are what prompt workers to be more energetic and enthusiastic about the work they’re performing for the organization, generating a cycle of increased productivity, efficiency and elevated employee morale.

Top-performing organizations have found additional success in connecting worker health and wellbeing to safety, i.e. being physically and mentally well enables people to perform work better and safer. When companies explicitly convey this connection and show their commitment to the protection of workers – in health issues, overall wellbeing concerns, and workplace safety – they tend to see positive gains in worker engagement and morale.

Worker engagement in the U.S. is rising, and hopefully the trend will continue. In the meantime, organizations should continue to adopt strategies to improve worker engagement through various means, and especially through the protection of worker safety and health.

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Jean-Grégoire Manoukian

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