Weekly Editorial

The Connection Between Well-being and Productivity

Written By Rob Kirkbride, Editor-in-chief, OI Publications • May 22, 2023

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Last week, we spoke a bit about productivity. This week, we are going to dive a bit deeper into the issue and look at how it relates to well-being. At first glance, you might wonder how productivity and well-being are related.

Simply put, when you take care of your employees’ well-being, your organization thrives — employees take fewer sick days, deliver higher performance, and have lower rates of burnout and turnover. The opposite is true as well: When employee well-being dips, so does your company’s bottom line.

This isn’t some feel-good, hippy-skippy column where I try to guilt you into caring about your employees. Instead it is a call to action that has a direct, measurable impact on your bottom line. If your employees are struggling, your company will struggle as well. And if your employees are thriving, your business will thrive along with them.

So here’s a simple question: When was the last time you checked in on your employees and did a complete assessment of where they stand? If your answer is “before the pandemic,” chances are, you might already be missing warning signs that not all is well.

Earlier this month, the United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy released a new Surgeon General Advisory calling attention to the public health crisis of loneliness, isolation and lack of connection in our country. Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, approximately half of U.S. adults reported experiencing measurable levels of loneliness. Disconnection fundamentally affects our mental, physical and societal health. In fact, loneliness and isolation increase the risk for individuals to develop mental health challenges in their lives, and lacking connection can increase the risk for premature death to levels comparable to smoking daily.

Who needs the office, right? I’m being sarcastic, but I think the office provided (and still provides) a lot more emotional support and connection that we ever imagined.

Gallup has polled workers and business owners about wellness and productivity. According to Gallup: 75% of medical costs are accrued mostly due to preventable conditions; $20 million of additional lost opportunity can be attributed to every 10,000 workers struggling or suffering; $322 billion in sales and lost productivity can be attributed to employee burnout; and 15% to 20% of total payroll in voluntary turnover costs, on average, is due to burnout.

It doesn’t help that we live in a politically charged world with an “us vs. them” mentality that further puts us into silos and disconnects us from our neighbor, both at home and in the office. Something’s gotta give.

If you don’t know where to start when it comes to measuring wellbeing and productivity, you are not alone. I’m happy to say there are resources that can help. I encourage you to reach out to Stefanie Ince, executive director of INDEAL Cares. She can help assess where your company stands when it comes to productivity and wellness. Reach out to Stefanie at since@indeal.org.

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