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Workplace
If Your Employees Aren't Thriving, Your Business Is Struggling
Workplace

If Your Employees Aren't Thriving, Your Business Is Struggling

Story Highlights

  • Reporting the number of thriving employees will soon become a requirement
  • Employees who aren't thriving experience higher burnout, worry and anger
  • The first step to improve how many are thriving is to engage employees

How many employees in your company are thriving?

Reporting the percentage of thriving employees will soon become a requirement for all organizations -- much like reporting employee engagement or NPS scores for customers have become requirements in the past two decades.

Only about one in three U.S. workers and 15% globally are engaged. Even on Gallup's hardest-to-achieve engagement metric, the best organizations can exceed 70% engaged employees in their workforce. Engaged employees produce far better outcomes on everything.

However, Gallup recently discovered that engaged workers who are not thriving in their lives are much more vulnerable and add risk to your organization.

For example, comparing employees who are engaged but not thriving in life with those who are engaged and thriving, the group not thriving in life report the following risks:

  • 61% higher likelihood of burnout often or always
  • 48% higher likelihood of stress a lot of the day yesterday
  • 66% higher likelihood of worry a lot of the day yesterday
  • Double the rate of sadness and anger a lot of the day yesterday

Gallup recently discovered that engaged workers who are not thriving in their lives are much more vulnerable and add risk to your organization.

Thriving employees have 53% fewer missed days due to health issues and substantially lower disease burden due to depression and anxiety diagnosis, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack and chronic pain.

If you want to know whether your employees are suffering, struggling or thriving, this two-part question, called the Ladder Scale*, is the best Gallup has found:

"Please imagine a ladder with steps numbered from zero at the bottom to 10 at the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you."

"On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time?"

"On which step do you think you will stand about five years from now?"

Organizations will need to know how employees answer the Ladder Scale to effectively meet the new demands -- of managing the whole person.

Even prior to COVID-19, work and life had become blended in a historic way. Working remotely and flextime were on the rise. And then, with many employees ordered to work from home to flatten the coronavirus curve, work and life became completely blended for most employees.

As the economy reopens and employees gradually return to the office, work and life will never be separated again as they were in the past.

How does Gallup define "thriving"?

Gallup uses the Ladder Scale as a global standard across 160 countries.

Packed into any person's response is almost everything in their life -- from basic needs such as food and shelter to personal safety to having a good job, social wellbeing, money and health.

Thriving employees have 53% fewer missed days due to health issues and substantially lower disease burden due to depression and anxiety diagnosis, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack and chronic pain.

Let's call the two parts of the Ladder Scale ladder present and ladder future. They are both important because one reveals our current state, which influences our decisions right now, and the other reveals hope for the future. Even people in a negative state can keep going if they have hope that things will get better.

Gallup has been tracking wellbeing during COVID-19 and the percent of people rating their lives highly on ladder present dropped at an unprecedented rate -- while ladder future improved slightly. People believe there is a way out.

Information from both ladder present and ladder future responses give us a combined indicator of whether individuals are suffering, struggling or thriving. In aggregate, it is an index of the resiliency of a culture.

Suffering, struggling and thriving were determined based on analytics from over a million respondents from across 160 countries. Gallup analyzed how ladder present and ladder future predict happiness and health as well as negative outcomes such as stress, depression and burnout.

Thriving Employees

These respondents have positive views of their present life situation (7 or higher on ladder present) and have positive views of the next five years (8 or higher on ladder future). They report significantly fewer health problems, fewer sick days, less worry, stress, sadness, loneliness and anger. They report more hope, happiness, energy, interest and respect. Across countries, the percentage of thriving employees varies from 8% to 87%.

Struggling Employees

These respondents struggle in their present life situation and have ambivalent or negative views of their future. They are either struggling in the present or expect to struggle in the future. They report more daily stress and worry about money than the "thriving" respondents, and more than double the amount of sick days.

Suffering Employees

These respondents rate their current life situation poorly (4 and below on ladder present) and negative views of the next five years (4 and below on ladder future). They are more likely to report lacking the basics of food and shelter, more likely to have physical pain, a lot of stress, worry, sadness and anger. They have less access to health insurance and care, and more than double the disease burden, in comparison to "thriving" respondents. Across countries, the percentage of suffering employees varies from 0% to 35%.

Information from both ladder present and ladder future give us a combined indicator of whether individuals are suffering, struggling or thriving. In aggregate, it is an index of the resiliency of a culture.

Employers Can Improve Thriving

Engaging employees comes first because engaged workers are more likely to involve themselves in their organizations' wellbeing initiatives. Managers who engage their employees establish more trust -- making them open to wellbeing efforts that affect the whole person and issues around suffering, struggling and thriving.

Work should serve as a stabilizing force in people's lives. This is particularly true in tough times. Employers can have a crucial impact on what Gallup discovered are the five essential elements of wellbeing: career, social, financial, physical and community.

*The Ladder Scale originated from pioneering social researcher Dr. Hadley Cantril in his 1965 book The Pattern of Human Concerns. George Gallup included the item in his 1977 classic volume Human Needs and Satisfactions: A Global Survey, and it has been tracked in Gallup's World Poll since 2005 in more than 160 countries, representing 98% of the world's population.

Learn whether your employees are thriving, struggling or suffering:

Author(s)

Jim Harter, Ph.D., is Chief Scientist, Workplace, for Gallup's workplace management practice. Recently he coauthored the No. 1 Wall Street Journal bestseller It's the Manager, a reference book for CEOs and CHROs that addresses the most urgent issues organizations face today. He is also coauthor of New York Times bestsellers 12: The Elements of Great Managing and Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements.


Gallup https://www.gallup.com/workplace/313067/employees-aren-thriving-business-struggling.aspx
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