Employee Engagement is by no means a new topic. Numerous research over the year has confirmed the link between a highly engaged workforce and better performance, higher productivity, and positive customer experience.
In today’s world, Employee engagement is an even stronger predictor of performance during the tough economic times we are passing through globally. In addition, the global pandemic over the past year has forced a shift in how organisations bring to live employee engagement, given that the majority of the workforce moved to full or partial work from home due to COVID. The emerging question became how do you engage employees remotely?
Another area that has witnessed a lot of focus in the recent years has been Health and Wellbeing. This was heighted even more with COVID, where leaders across the world realised the importance of employee safety and wellbeing. If your employees are not healthy -- physically and mentally – you’re not setting yourself up for success as an organisation.
Gallup has found that employee wellbeing and engagement are highly reciprocal (influencing each other) and additive (boosting each other). When employers support wellbeing, they support their employees' engagement, performance, and productivity as well.
In our 2020 Mars Associate Survey which covers both Gallup Engagement questions as well as energy and wellbeing questions, we found a strong positive correlation between wellbeing, engagement, and job satisfaction questions at all levels within the organization and across all geographies. This finding supports the strong correlation between Associate Health and Wellbeing and Engagement. In Mars, we believe that Personal energy is one of the most important resources our business has, as such we have been focusing on a holistic wellbeing strategy at an Organizational level (through wellbeing programs & Senior Leaders capability building & role modeling in this area), Team Level (through training Line Managers how to manage their own energy and help create an environment of wellbeing within their team) as well as individual level (through Flexible working arrangements and programs like EAP - Employee Assistance Program).
Why it’s important to drive a holistic approach and not just rely on programs like EAP to drive H&W? A survey done by Thrive Global Sciences in 2020 shows that 90% of employees have serious concerns about their health and well-being since the outbreak, but 75% report not knowing what to do. In addition, a McKinsey report showed that 96% of companies globally have provided additional mental health resources to employees in 2020, but only one in six employees reported feeling supported.
I strongly believe that Health and Wellbeing needs to be an integral part of the corporate culture rather than looked upon a standalone program or people priority. Like any behavioural shift, it requires intentional effort and leadership role modelling. This is critical specifically in driving the mindset of wellbeing as an enabler to better performance and eliminating the belief that work should come before personal needs. Everyone across the organisation needs to believe that when employees are more energised, they have more to give, both at work as well as in their personal lives.
I am personally a big believer in Health and Wellbeing and the “Corporate Athlete” concept. I have witnessed first-hand the past couple of years the strong link between effective H&W programs and employee engagement. The reason is simple: Irrespective of the advancements in technology and digital transformation, we are still working with Human beings, and the one of fastest way to connect with people is to show them that you genuinely care about their wellbeing.
In Mars Wrigley Asia, we have deployed a Health and Wellness program called “Asia Be Well” a couple of years ago. The program aims to raise awareness about the different areas of wellbeing and encourages associates to engage in activities and challenges that helps them and their loved ones lead healthier and more energised lives. The program is divided into 4 quarterly themes, inspired by Dr Dean Ornish : Eat Well, Move More, Stress Less, and Love More. As such, we cover Physical, Mental, and Spiritual wellbeing through online and off line activities like Yoga sessions, fitness challenges, Walkathons, health talks, Volunteer work, to name a few. These activities help create awareness and encourages associates to build healthier habits; at the same time some of the activities (like step challenges, community activities, and fitness competitions) drive fun and engagement through a healthy competition and team collaboration. The benefits of our Be Well program spill over to the associates personal lives as well. For example, many associates shared that the Step Challenge activity helped their loved ones (children, significant other, and even pets) to “Move More” and develop healthy habits. The feedback from our associates the past few years has been very encouraging. Beyond the fun and wellbeing elements of the program, some associates have said that they feel that Mars as an organisation cares about them as individuals.
The feedback from our General Manager for Asia Patrick Gantier has been very positive as well: “Our Asia Be Well program in 2020, despite all the COVID challenges, has had a huge positive and lasting impact on our Associates morale and mental health, and created a bonding across all teams in Asia like no other program before! There is no doubt that this has been the highlight of 2020!”
In Mars we believe that the world we want tomorrow starts with having Healthy & Energized Associates today.