Employees who use their skills and talents are healthier

November 18, 2017

Can your job make you healthier? Apparently so, a poll just released by Gallup has found.

It’s easy to tell which employees love their jobs. They’re often the first ones through the door each day, chatting enthusiastically about their interesting, challenging projects. They wholeheartedly believe that they get to use their strengths—their unique combination of talents, skills and knowledge. Their work inspires them, and they inspire others.

Indeed, 40% of employee reported in a poll released on November 8 that their work experience is positive—and that they enjoy both the organization and team members in their workplace.

But the positive effects of having such a motivating job aren’t confined to the workplace. They spill into other aspects of an employee’s life — especially affecting their well-being, according to researchers Kaori Fujishiro and Catherine A. Heaney, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety.

The two researchers, who gathered their data through Gallup daily tracking found that employees who feel they have the opportunity to frequently use their natural skills and abilities are not only more productive, but also happier and even healthier.

For the study, Fujishiro and Heaney defined and measured skill utilization in terms of a survey item that Gallup has long used as part of its measure of  employee engagement: “At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.” They found that the higher the level of agreement with this assertion, the less likely employees were to report having poor or fair health, hypertension or high cholesterol. These reports were mediated by healthy behaviors including diet and exercise.

Indeed, Gallup has consistently found that when companies and managers focus on giving people an opportunity to use their strengths, they can better attract, retain and engage employees. For example, the pollster’s research reveals that fully 60% of employees say the ability to do what they do best in a role is “very important” to them when considering whether to take a job with a different organization. In fact, it is the top factor in a job search.

Conversely, Gallup has found that poor job fit is one of the top five reasons employees give when leaving their current jobs.

In terms of engagement, Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report finds that just four in 10 employees strongly agree they have the opportunity to do what they do best every day. By moving that ratio to eight in 10 employees, organizations could realize an 8% increase in customer engagement scores, a 14% increase in profitability and a 46% reduction in safety incidents, Gallup advises.

Research contact: datainquiry@gallup.com

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