Where science meets fluff: Do happy employees matter?

(Story by Henry Albrecht originally appeared in Washington Technology)

DSC 7592 e1426529129956 680x380 - Where science meets fluff: Do happy employees matter?

It’s true. Companies with happy, engaged employees have better business outcomes. According to a recent study by Russell Investment Group, since 1998 the 100 Best Companies to Work for have outperformed the S&P 500 index by a ratio of nearly 2 to 1. And over the past 17 years, the dozen companies that have been on the list since its inception have created 341,567 jobs, which is a 172% increase.

Your people are your engine; engaging them is not just an HR strategy – it’s a business strategy. When you don’t engage them, it’s more than a missed opportunity – it can lead to absenteeism, high turnover and low productivity.

As an employee engagement technology company, we’re always studying what gets people jazzed about work. We recently partnered with Quantum Workplace on a new Workplace Well-Being report that looks at what really motivates people. After surveying more than 2,000 people it became clear – we employers are way off when it comes to providing the benefits employees actually want.

The study found that people are more engaged when they feel their employer cares about them. The full report is here, but today I’d like to highlight a few tangible cost-effective ways you can improve employee well-being and engagement:

Snuff out burn out

People who work hard are your MVPs, but also have the highest risk of burn out. We found that employees are 14% more engaged when they’re given time off to recharge, but only 45% of employers offer this time. Similarly, 71% of employees want stress relief breaks, but only 28% of employers offer them. Building stress relief breaks not just into your rules but into your expectations (think meditation time, walking meetings or scheduling 10-minute breathers between meetings) does wonders for hardworking teams.

Make healthy happen

It should be no surprise that many people want to be healthier in one way or another. But what’s surprising, is how few employers support basic health. We found 50% of employees want healthy activities at work, but only 23% of employers provide avenues and programs. This doesn’t mean you need to go build a $35 million dollar gym. (In fact, we found on-site gyms are a great perk but don’t really impact performance at work). Focus on incorporating elements like standing desks, fitness devices and (free!) apps, and team building volunteer activities outside.

Similarly, we found that 73% of people want healthy food at work, yet only 45% of employers offer this benefit. It’s easy to swap out the sugary soda for healthier options like fruit, nuts and flavored water. By cleaning out your 1980’s vending machines and only offering healthy options, you’ll send a strong message about how keeping people healthy is important to your organization.

Be Flexible

In today’s highly connected world, flexibility is easy. We found that 70% of people want to work from home but only 32% of employers allow it. Similarly, we saw that nearly 75% of people wanted flexible work hours, but only 45% of employers offer this benefit.

Not surprising, we found that people with the right amount of balance between work and personal life are 20 percent more engaged at work. Consider allowing people to set up specific work from home days, as Limeade does. This day at home allows people to skip the commute, call in for meetings, focus on work, while running a load of laundry or running to the dentist. And our employee satisfaction – and performance – scores are high because of this flexibility.

These are just a few easy cost-effective ways to give employees what they want. For more tips on how to engage your teams, check out the Limeade Blog at Onward!