Harvard Business School research Shawn Achor recently discussed research involving the participation of employees in activities he calls “positive habits.” The activities included: writing down a list of three things the employee felt grateful for; sharing a positive message with a member of the employee’s social circle; meditating for two minutes, performing light exercise for 10 minutes at work; and making a very brief journal entry describing the employee’s most meaningful experience that day.
A group of volunteer employees followed this regime for three weeks then graded their life on a “life satisfaction” scale; all of whom scored high. After four months of the “positive habits” routine, workers again performed the life satisfaction test which revealed scores even higher than the initial results. Unrelated research has shown that high scores on the life satisfaction test generally indicate better performance at work and higher attendance. In fact, a Gallup survey of individuals scoring low on the scale revealed that these people were absent an average of 15 days more per year than those scoring high on the scale.
A study of a certain retail chain with employees scoring high on the life satisfaction showed that the company earned about $21 in earnings more per square foot than competing retail stores. With mounting evidence supporting the claim, the idea that employee wellbeing is directly affected by overall wellness, exercise, and social circles is difficult to deny. Employers who ignore the evidence and neglect the mental and physical wellbeing of their employees may see a marked negative impact on performance and bottom line.