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Initial Findings

Different types of employees and different organizations have different profiles in terms of which elements of well-being and satisfaction have the most impact on performance and retention. But overall we have found that by adding measurement of well-being to more typical measures of satisfaction and engagement, we can explain outcomes much better and give organizations a greatly expanded toolkit for managing performance and retention.

In all examples below, the results are actual but the identity of the company or employee group has been changed to protect confidentiality.

In the example illustrated in these graphs, for one group of a company’s employees the primary drivers of the intention to look for a new job were overall well-being, financial well-being and how the job impacted employees’ families and loved ones. 

In this group of employees, nothing else predicted intention to quit – not how much the employee enjoyed his or her tasks or managers or any other factor. Overall well-being strongly predicted intention to quit.   

 

In this same group, financial and social well-being were related to levels of presenteeism.

In addition to the individual effects of employee satisfaction and well-being, we explored the interactive effects between those of intention to quit and performance behaviors. No interactive effects were found for most performance behaviors. However, in this sample of employees, the combination of the following three occurring simultaneously had a multiplicative effect (that is, the combination had more effect than the three occurring independently added together):

  • Low levels of overall well-being
  • Low levels of job satisfaction as enjoyment of the job
  • Low levels of job satisfaction as fulfilling the job’s purposes in the employee’s life

Specifically, the lowest levels of intention to quit were for those with high overall life well-being and high satisfaction that the job was meeting the employee's purpose for working. This combination appears especially powerful in this sample in lowering intention to quit. The next lowest levels of intention to quit were for anyone with high well-being, regardless of their levels of job-specific satisfaction. 

These results, combined with those of other research, strongly suggest that managers concerned about turnover consider their workers’ whole lives and the contribution being made to the community or society as a whole, in addition to consideration of hedonic enjoyment of jobs and job facets such as work itself or supervision. 

Based on these results, we strongly suggested to this company’s leadership that their efforts to manage turnover should include consideration of their workers’ whole lives and the contribution being made to the community or society as a whole, in addition to the more traditional consideration of hedonistic enjoyment of jobs and job facets such as work itself or supervision. Other research has shown similar relationships between well-being to performance. 

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