Author Profile Picture

Deborah Hartung

Personify Change

SPARKFluencer: Sparking Ideas Influencing Change

Read more about Deborah Hartung

Gallup State of Global Workplace 2024: A paradox of progress and wellbeing

Gallup's 2024 State of Global Workplace report reveals that engagement is stagnating and wellbeing is deteriorating. How should HR respond to these concerning findings?
woman walking on pathway during daytime, wellbeing

The latest Gallup State of the Global Workplace report reveals a troubling paradox: despite advancements in diversity, flexible work arrangements and a growing emphasis on employee wellbeing, engagement is stagnating, and overall wellbeing is declining

This certainly isn’t the progress we were hoping for, and it’s a wake-up call for business and HR leaders. If we want to create workplaces where people truly thrive, it’s time for a candid conversation about employee wellbeing and a bold shift in our approach.

The high cost of ignoring wellbeing

There’s no denying that, the numbers are alarming. Gallup estimates that low engagement costs the global economy a staggering $8.9 trillion annually. When expressed in monetary terms like this, it highlights the fact that ‘employee engagement’ isn’t just some HR buzzword or some fluffy rhetoric about unhappy employees.

It’s about missed opportunities, untapped potential, and a whole lot of wasted resources. When employees are stressed, lonely or disengaged, their performance suffers. And with 41% of employees reporting high stress levels, we’re not just facing a challenge; we’re facing a full-blown crisis.

The situation is particularly concerning for younger people, who have experienced a significant drop in wellbeing. This generational divide is a signal that we need to listen more closely to our employees and bridge the gap in understanding how different age groups experience work and life.

Rigid work structures are a recipe for burnout.

Beyond carewashing: A bold approach to wellbeing

To truly tackle this crisis, we need to move beyond superficial ‘carewashing’ and embrace a bolder, more authentic approach to wellbeing. This means:

Personalising benefits

One-size-fits-all wellbeing programmes are outdated and ineffective. Let’s create benefits that cater to individual needs, whether that’s flexible work arrangements, mental health support, childcare, or financial wellness programmes.

Listening to our employees

We can’t solve problems we don’t understand. The best tool to have access to is live employee listening at scale. Alternatively, regular pulse surveys, focus groups, and check-in conversations can provide invaluable insights into what our employees truly need to thrive.

Empowering managers as coaches

Managers play a crucial role in employee wellbeing. By equipping them with the skills and resources to support their teams through coaching and development, we can foster a culture of trust, support, and growth.

Our people have never really been able to ‘leave their personal problems at the door’ and become some corporate drone with no complex human needs.

Redefining performance

When it comes to performance management, it’s time to ditch outdated metrics like ‘desk time’ and focus on outcomes. Implementing Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) can help us shift the focus to results rather than presenteeism, giving employees more autonomy and flexibility.

Embracing flexibility

Rigid work structures are a recipe for poor mental health and burnout. Embracing asynchronous work and allowing employees to work according to their natural rhythms can lead to a more balanced, productive, and fulfilling work experience.

The future of work: A tapestry of work and life

The traditional separation of ‘work’ and ‘life’ is a thing of the past. Our work and personal lives are intertwined, and it’s time we created workplaces that honour this interconnectedness. The term ‘work-life integration’ has been around for a good few years now and is perhaps a much more realistic term for us all to embrace.

Our people have never really been able to ‘leave their personal problems at the door’ and become some corporate drone with no complex human needs. It’s time to acknowledge that the future of work is human-centric. Giving our people the freedom to be their authentic selves, both at work and outside of it, is crucial to turning the tide on the global decline in wellbeing and engagement.

The companies that will thrive in the years to come are those that prioritise employee wellbeing. By fostering workplaces where people feel valued, supported, and empowered, we can unlock their full potential and create a brighter future for everyone. The future of work is human-centric, and it’s up to us to lead the way.

Interested in this topic? Read Are we taking employee wellbeing too far?

Author Profile Picture
Deborah Hartung

SPARKFluencer: Sparking Ideas Influencing Change

Read more from Deborah Hartung