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Why Employee Engagement is Turning to Wellbeing


Expert analysis from James Brogan, CEO & co-founder of PepTalk. 

For many, when it comes to employee engagement, words and phrases like ‘commitment’, ‘passion’, ‘motivation’, ‘empowerment’, ‘strategic alignment’ and ‘ employee retention’ come readily to mind.

This is all very positive, because it is generally accepted that engaged employees result in lower employee turnover, improved employee retention, better employee morale and increased levels of employee satisfaction.

However, it will come as no surprise to many of you reading this that employee engagement has remained stubbornly low over the last number of years at roughly 15%1. This is in spite of a renewed focus amongst many companies on “employee engagement” as a metric for the state of their workforce.

Little wonder, then, that corporate wellbeing programmes are increasingly being seen as integral to employee engagement.

This should come as no surprise.

What is more meaningful to a person than their health and wellbeing? It impacts on every aspect of a person’s life and, thus, health and wellness programmes are becoming more holistic, more consumer-focused.

Wellbeing is the meaningful employee engagement tool that employers have been searching for and technology is a key part of achieving this at scale.  

Don’t take our word for it? The research is there, a recent study2 conducted by Gallup in the USA concluded that organisations can benefit substantially by adding wellbeing to their engagement programmes. By ignoring wellbeing, or by focusing on physical wellness programmes alone, employers miss important opportunities to improve employee performance.

Wellbeing is, by its very nature, a broad and complex topic. A ‘one size fits all’ programme will not engage employees as it isn’t relevant. We humans are complex beings; to truly drive meaningful health and wellbeing programmes we need to build it around the employee's needs and desires. The critical engagement point in this context is the employee's feelings towards their organisation, what is impacting upon them feeling truly satisfied in their role. Mindfulness, parenting, sleep, and financial wellbeing are all wellbeing topics that must now be taken into account when building the programme.   

As health and wellbeing moves more firmly into the engagement arena, how we communicate wellbeing becomes even more crucial.

The clue is in the word ‘engagement’. 

And it doesn’t have to be so serious! For years, wellbeing has been delivered in an uninspiring manner, with a focus on clinical information and, therefore, failing to resonate with employees. These wellbeing programmes often served to dampen employee morale and demotivate staff. To be truly engaging, we need to market wellbeing in an impactful, holistic way - with a strong focus on energy and fun - to truly bring health and wellness into the culture of the organisation.

In building their employee strategies, many organisations are rightly focused on engagement metrics and look at employee engagement surveys/pulses to understand the mood of the company. The results tend to see a strong desire for improved wellbeing and purpose among employees. Many more companies are designing impressive health and wellbeing programmes focused purely on wellbeing outcomes.

So, when thinking of employee engagement ideas, the magic lies at the intersection of both employee engagement and wellbeing, as that is where the results can be found in terms of employee motivation, employee satisfaction and employee retention.

This is where technology, as with so many areas of modern life, can play a key role.

While more consumer focused, in recent years we have seen an explosion in digital wellbeing apps for all areas of wellbeing from more fitness focused options such as Map My Run and Strava to the increasingly popular headspace app which has brought the area of mindfulness into the mainstream with over one million subscribers globally.  Simply making employees aware of, and potentially offering discounts to, these sorts of apps could significantly drive engagement. At PepTalk, we leverage elements of both these areas to benefit both the employee but also focus on the employer with data and insights to drive cultural change.

The world of work is continuing to change and technology will be at the heart of this.

Proactively looking at wellbeing as one area to focus on could have a transformational impact on the performance of your organisation in 2019.


James Brogan is CEO & co-founder of PepTalk. 

The PepTalk platform leverages workplace wellbeing to energise employee engagement & build a powerful return on investment. Website: https://www.peptalk.ie/. 

James is contactable at james@peptalk.ie or via 01-504 8547 or 087 925 7362.


1. Gallup, State of the Global Workplace: http://www.managerlenchanteur.org/wp-content/uploads/Gallup-State-of-the...

2. Gallup, Well-Being Enhances Benefits of Employee Engagement: https://www.gallup.com/workplace/236483/enhances-benefits-employee-engag...