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Employee Engagement, Mental Health, and Wellness

Posted Apr 12 2010 12:00am
Several years ago, the New Yorker magazine published a fascinating article about Daniel Everett , a linguist who studies an Amazonian tribe called the Pirahã. This tribe's language is so difficult to learn that no one, prior to Everett, had managed understand it fully. (Everett has since written a book about the Pirahã and his experiences.)

The corporate world has its own language--not as impenetrable as the Pirahã language, perhaps, but close. Tell me: What is a "paradigm," exactly? What are "deliverables"? And how am I supposed to create "synergy" when I'm not sure what it is?

"Engagement" is fast becoming one of those buzzwords, which is too bad, because it's such an important concept. Simply put, engaged employees are the ones you'll do anything to keep. They love their work, and they love the company they work for.

The Gallup Management Journal recently published the results of a survey linking employee engagement and mental health . During the eight-month survey, Gallup found that employees who were not engaged were 1.7 times more likely to report being diagnosed with anxiety during the course of the survey. Actively disengaged employees were also twice as likely to report being diagnosed with depression during the same period.

In addition to the tremendous human cost of anxiety and depression, businesses also face lost productivity and increased medical claims as a result of these conditions. According to a 2000 study cited by Gallup, depression cost businesses an estimated $51.5 billion due to absenteeism and its first cousin, presenteeism .

It pays to keep employees engaged. But how?

Wellness programs are an excellent way to encourage employee engagement. A robust wellness initiative communicates to your employees that you care about their health and well-being, and that you're committed to helping them improve their lives. Simultaneously promoting good health, reducing health care costs, and creating employee/employer good will--it doesn't get much better than that!

So think back to your favorite job. What was it that made you love it so much? What kept you engaged? I'd love to read your stories, so leave yours in the comment section below.
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