A recent three-year study of more than 10,000 people from 131 countries, found co-worker relationships to be the leading contributor to workplace well-being.

Having supportive, meaningful relationships is an essential element for people’s workplace well-being that organizations need to foster and individual employees can nurture.

Other leading factors that contribute to workplace well-being are meaning (7.69), accomplishments (7.66), engagement (7.43) and positive emotions (7.19 out of 10).

The lower positive emotion score doesn’t mean that most people are frequently experiencing negative emotions at work – in fact, the survey found low ratings of negative emotions. Rather, it likely means that optimism, contentment, happiness and satisfaction are experienced less often than other aspects of well-being such as meaning or accomplishment.

Given the widely accepted effect of positive emotions on motivation, discretionary effort, creativity and ultimately engagement in the workplace, this presents a significant area for improvement in workplaces.

Higher levels of workplace well-being relate to higher levels of job satisfaction, increased emotional attachment and identification with one’s employer and increased willingness to remain with the organization. People with higher levels of well-being are also more apt to voluntarily help co-workers and contribute to organizational objectives.

Work activities that promote well-being include focusing on work tasks that interest the person, makes them “feel positive,” teaches them something new and adds to their skills and knowledge.

The findings underscore the importance for individuals to take time to develop awareness of their intrinsic work interests and their development needs, so they can consistently source opportunities to learn throughout their careers. For employers and managers, it reinforces the importance of taking time to learn about their employees’ interests and development needs and create opportunities for employees to shape their work so it aligns with their interests and learning objectives.

Other key findings of the workplace well-being study include:

  • Well-being improves with age. The youngest age group (18-24 years) has the lowest levels of well-being (6.77) and the oldest age group (65+ years) has the highest (8.14).
  • Gender plays a role in workplace well-being. While men and women have similar levels of well-being at work (men = 7.45; women = 7.52), women have slightly higher levels of engagement (women = 7.47; men = 7.29) and positive emotions (women = 7.22; men = 7.13).
  • Well-being is similar around the world. Participants from Australia/New Zealand and Latin America reported the highest levels of well-being (7.83 out of 10), while participants in Asia (7.38) reported the lowest – though the difference between the two is pretty small.

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