Jim Harter and Amy Adkins
Employees who are actively disengaged at work are more likely than their engaged peers to say they experience health issues ranging from physical pain to depression.
Actively disengaged employees also report more “unhealthy” days, or days in which health issues limited their activity. On a monthly basis, actively disengaged employees have 2,17 unhealthy days, compared with 1,25 unhealthy days for engaged employees.
Gallup categorises workers’ engagement based on their ratings of key workplace elements that predict important organisational performance outcomes. Engaged employees are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work. Actively disengaged employees are not just unhappy at work; they are busy acting out their unhappiness. Every day, these workers undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish. Gallup’s extensive research shows that employee engagement strongly connects to business outcomes essential to an organisation’s financial success, such as productivity, profitability and customer engagement.
These findings, collected as part of the Gallup Employee Engagement tracking series and Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index from January 2014 through September 2015, are statistically controlled for other demographic differences, including respondents’ age. These results do not necessarily indicate that engagement causes better health, but they do show that there is a strong relationship between levels of engagement at work and health.
Health is as much about engagement as it is about age
Young workers who are actively disengaged report more unhealthy days than older, but engaged employees do. On average, actively disengaged employees aged 20 to 29 have 1,82 unhealthy days per month. This number is higher than it is for engaged employees in all older age groups. For example, engaged employees aged 40 to 49 experience 1,28 unhealthy days per month, and engaged employees aged 50 to 59 experience 1,57 unhealthy days.
Gallup has found similar relationships between work engagement by age and other health issues, including physical pain and stress. While just 16% of engaged employees aged 50 to 59 say they experienced physical pain “yesterday”, 23% of actively disengaged employees aged 30 to 39 say the same. And 33% of engaged employees aged 40 to 49 say they experienced stress yesterday, compared with 63% of actively disengaged employees aged 20 to 29.