People with higher levels of well-being at work perform better. This might not come as a surprise to many as it makes sense, at least on some level. However, did you know that a sense of well-being predicts job performance more effectively than job satisfaction? Work can make you sick and work can make you happy. Which one happens depends on who you are, what you do and how you are treated at work.
Work that is rewarding, involving good relationships with colleagues and opportunities to feel a sense of achievement on a regular basis is a key factor in employee well-being. On the other hand, dull and monotonous work, difficult relationships with others and work that is impossibly demanding or lacks meaning damages well-being, resilience and health. Higher levels of well-being are linked to important organizational benefits.
Study after study shows that happiness and well-being precede important work outcomes, such as higher employee engagement, reduced absenteeism, overall higher productivity, greater customer satisfaction, better patient care, lower employee turnover and reduced levels of sickness-absence. In short, in organizations where staff well-being is higher, employees are more likely to go the extra mile, which in turn has a positive effect on the organization’s bottom line.
Therefore, understanding the workplace factors that influence well-being is essential; in essences it tells an organization that wants to improve the well-being of its workforce what factors are likely to be important. Individual factors tend to cluster around the following four main clusters of workplace factors important for work place well-being:
1. Work and its context
a. Work demands
b. Access to resources and equipment
c. Effectiveness of communication in the organization
2. Relationships and work and the work-home interface
a. Relationships with colleagues
b. Relationships with family and social support
3. Purpose and meaning
a. Clarity about work goals
b. Feeling that work goals are worthwhile
4. Leadership, management and supervision
a. Impact that manager has on the workgroup
b. Authentic/ genuine leadership commitment to employee well-being
Ask anyone about what makes a good job and you will get a range of answers. Perhaps the first thing that comes to mind for most people, when thinking about the desirability of different types of work, is pay. Pay and rewards do, indeed, matter to people. However, beyond a certain level of reward what becomes more important is the extent to which people feel that they are being fairly rewarded in comparison to others.
As above list shows, a range of other factors, such as the purpose of the job and its usefulness, the degree of freedom and autonomy available to a jobholder, the satisfaction derived from using ones skills. Interestingly, the idea about well-being and quality of life as political and organizational goals is not new. According to Greek physician Galen, employment is “nature’s physician, essential to human happiness”. Finally, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, famous theologian of the 13the Century: "There can be no joy in living without joy in work." Well-being matters!
Doris Gomez, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Organizational Leadership
Program Director, M.A. in Organizational Leadership
Regent University, School of Global Leadership & Entrepreneurship
Virginia Beach, VA 23464
firstname.lastname@example.org | (757) 352.4686 | www.regent.edu/global