A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play, but what about well-being?

The concept of employee engagement has become increasingly mainstream in management thinking over the last decade as it creates a seemingly win-win situation for both employers and employees [1]. The CIPD also propose that employee engagement is a repackaging of previous concepts associated with employment such as satisfaction, commitment and motivation [1]. MacLeod describes employee engagement as a workplace approach designed to ensure that employees are committed to their organisation’s goals and values, motivated to contribute to organisational success, and are able at the same time to enhance their own sense of well-being [2].

Work & Well-Being define employee well-being as the part of an employee’s overall well-being that they perceive to be determined primarily by work and can be influenced by workplace interventions, but research also shows that employee well-being includes aspects such as advancements, managerial and physical workplace considerations, and an employee’s physical and psychological well-being [3].

Does effective employee engagement improve employee well-being? Or does investing in your employee’s well-being lead to a more engaged workforce? Or does it go hand in hand? Even the definitions of employee engagement and employee well-being overlap.

I personally think well-being in the workplace is possibly one of the most important factors in how you perform in your role. In my experience, if you’re not healthy, happy and content at work then you’re not going to perform to the best of your ability, especially if the organisation isn’t able or willing to acknowledge it’s their responsibility to change that. In my place of work the director has started a fruit scheme, providing baskets of fruit to each department on a Monday, typically the least productive day in hopes of boosting morale and in turn, productivity rates, and guess what? It’s worked! People care that you care!

Organisations are becoming more aware of the benefits of employee well-being programmes. Why? Because there is an established link between health and performance in the workplace. Essentially the healthier and happier an employee is, the better they are likely to perform in the workplace [4]. If organisations are becoming more aware of the well-being of their employees, programmes should be designed and implemented with a focus on well-being, as opposed to focussing entirely on engagement and hoping to see improvements in performance just because they’ve incorporated some element of employee well-being. If not, it’s not likely to be successful and sustainable.


(source: Google Images)

This is showcased in the Mars case study. They invested in a campaign in the UK that was focused entirely on their associates well-being, with the overall strategy concentrating on diet and nutrition, physical activity, stress management and smoking cessation. The organisation believes that managing their employee’s well-being is mutually beneficial, as their ability to understand well-being and the impact on performance allows them to remain competitive [5]. It’s quite ironic, that an organisation famed for their unhealthy products would place so much importance and invest so much into the health of the employees. But it worked for them, they successfully improved the overall health of their employees, with a decrease in absence rates, mental health related issues and stress related problems, which resulted in greater performance rates.

The CIPD’s research paper, managing for sustainable employee engagement: developing a behavioural framework, highlights the importance of the relationship between well-being and engagement. The CIPD report states that employee engagement is widely acknowledged as a crucial factor in achieving performance in the workplace. But if employers are focussed entirely on engagement without considering employee well-being, they run the risk of engagement achieved being entirely unsustainable. They also found that managers should have the capability to prevent stress in order to get the best out of their employees, and those that don’t provide opportunities to consult with their employees about issues can be detrimental to motivation and essentially undermines employee health and well-being [6].

Evidence suggests that recognising and investing in employee well-being in organisations can improve engagement levels and lead to higher levels of productivity and performance, and it looks like organisations are taking notice! Your people should be your priority, invest in them and they will be invested in their work!



[1] CIPD. (2017). Employee engagement: an introduction. Retrieved from CIPD: https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/relations/engagment/factsheet

[2] MacLeod, D., & Clarke, N. (2014). Concept of Employee Engagement: An Analysis based on the Workplace Employment Relations Study. ACAS.

[3] Work & Well-Being. (2014). What is well-being? Retrieved from Work & Well-Being: http://www.workandwellbeing.com/what-is-well-being/

[4] Personnel Today. (2011, November 14). How to define an employee wellbeing strategy. Retrieved from Personnel Today: http://www.personneltoday.com/hr/how-to-define-an-employee-wellbeing-strategy/

[5] Engage for Success. (2016). Wellbeing & Employee Engagement Case Study: Mars. Retrieved from Engage for Success: http://engageforsuccess.org/wellbeing-employee-engagement-case-study-mars

[6] CIPD. (2012). Managing for sustainable employee engagement: developing a behavioural framework. London: CIPD.


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