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A framework for maximising employee engagement

July 2013

The UK is ranked ninth amongst the world’s twelve largest economies for employee engagement levels (Kenexa 2009). Productivity statistics also paint a worrying picture with a recent ONS survey revealing that the UK lags 15 points below the rest of the G7 industrialised nations in productivity (International Comparisons of Productivity 2011 - September 2012).

Yet we know that there is proven link between employee engagement and wellbeing driving productivity and that the resilience of the workforce is critical to business success. Most organisations will spend money on treating people when they’re sick, when what they need to focus on is keeping the well, well. Sickness absenteeism, or leaving a job entirely due to health issues, has a huge cost to business in both sick pay and recruitment costs.
In contrast, employee engagement and wellbeing contribute to sustained employee performance, and play a key role in attracting and retaining talent.

Companies, now more than ever, need to invest in the engagement and wellbeing of their employees to appeal and retain the best people, and must start to consider employee engagement and wellbeing as a strategic boardroom issue. But how can companies make the business case for investment in employee engagement and wellbeing and better demonstrate its impact?

The Workwell campaign from Business in the Community is committed to improving levels of understanding of the role of workplace wellness, and provides companies with a robust framework to enable them to take a proactive, strategic and integrated approach to supporting people to stay healthy and productive. Business in the Community’s Workwell model enables CR practitioners who recognise that a flourishing workforce is part of the ‘CR picture’ to articulate the inextricable link between engagement and wellbeing to driving sustainable performance.
The Workwell model focuses on four principles that contribute to employee engagement and wellbeing.

Principle 1: Better work
Creating a happy, engaging working environment and providing employees with ‘better work’ is the first principle of the framework. Better work can be characterised by:
• A management style and an organisational culture that promotes mutual trust and respect
• Employment security
• Talent management
• Job design: task and variety challenge
• Autonomy, control and task discretion
• Non monotonous and repetitive work
• Employee voice.

Principle 2: Better relationships
Good relationships – at work and at home – provide the ‘social capital’ which individuals need to maintain mental health and engagement. Employers have a responsibility to promote and enable better communication and social cohesion to support good relationships in the workplace particularly among:
• Line manager
• Team colleagues
• Support networks.

Relationships outside work (family and friends) can also be supported through flexible working practices and through involvement in social initiatives.

Principle 3: Better specialist support
Better specialist support can help teams manage health issues at work or facilitate a more efficient return to work for those off work. Better support and interventions to manage health and wellbeing can be provided by:
• Occupational health
• Human resources
• Employee assistance / counselling
• Training for line managers and employees.

Principle 4: Better physical & psychological health
Create a safe and pleasant work environment by:
• Promoting a physically safe working environment with optimal air quality, temperature, noise, lighting and layout of work spaces
• Promoting healthy behaviours such as emotional resilience which builds self esteem, healthy eating, physical activity, smoking cessations, sensible drinking and avoidance of drug misuse.

A new chapter for CSR reporting, BITC’s Workwell benchmark was developed in response to research showing a positive link between strong people management and organisational performance, with FTSE 100 companies that have robust arrangements for reporting on employee engagement and wellbeing outperforming the rest of the FTSE 100 by 10%.

The benchmark also responds to investor demands for a standardised measurement of employee management that could inform their investments.

Consultation with the investment community found that evidence of responsible people management could be reported as:
• Better health
• Better engagement
• Better attendance
• Better retention & recruitment
• Better brand image
• Better customer satisfaction
• Better performance
• Stronger resilience
• Higher productivity.

The Workwell Model, which outlines specific metrics and KPIs against each of the four principles, can be downloaded free of charge from:

Louise Aston is campaign director of Business in the Community’s Workwell campaign 

Business in the Community | UK & NI Ireland |


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