Work engagement leads to healthy, productive employees

Press release 78/2014, Helsinki

According to Professor Wilmar Schaufeli, father of the work engagement concept, instead of focusing on what is wrong at the workplace, it is better to highlight what works well and is positive. Workers who are engaged in their work are healthy; both physically and mentally. Engaged workers benefit organizations through better quality of service, less absences and increased productivity.

Wilmar Schaufeli, Professor of Work and Organizational Psychology at Utrecht University will talk about the future of work engagement at the Research Day of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH) on Friday 21.11 at 09.00. After his speech, Jari Hakanen, pioneer of work engagement research in Finland, will present the work engagement and productivity development projects carried out at Finnish workplaces.

”Work engagement is not to be confused with flow, which is momentary, intense, focused concentration. Work engagement is more permanent and is characterized by vigor, dedication and absorption,” explains Schaufeli.

Employees who are enthusiastically absorbed in their work may work long hours, like workaholics. However, according to research, work engagement and workaholism are two different concepts. In contrast to workaholics, employees who are engaged in their work feel well, gain satisfaction from their work and are able to stop when they no longer enjoy it.

Workaholism, on the other hand, can be compared to addiction. People who work obsessively constantly set themselves harder targets and are not able to enjoy their work.

”Work engagement can be increased at workplaces through simple methods. On the individual level these may be, for example, friendliness and readiness to help colleagues. On the work community level, the role of management is crucial: attentive, caring leadership increases employees’ commitment,” stresses Schaufeli.

Work engagement proven to lead to productivity

“This autumn, a FIOH study was one of the first in the world to show a strong positive association between work engagement and productivity. Productivity also led to a higher income level,” confirms Research Director, Jari Hakanen.

Previous longitudinal studies at FIOH have shown that work engagement also has long-term positive effects, such as less depression, increased happiness and better balance between work and family life.

The second phase of the current Spiral of Inspiration – Innovative and flourishing work communities project searches for management methods with which supervisors and management can help their communities to succeed and feel that their work is meaningful and inspiring, so that employees want to and are able to do their best during the working day. In employee-orientated job crafting projects, workers try out ways with which they themselves can make their work more inspiring, and though which that they can use their own strengths.

”Experiences at workplaces show that even during economically hard times, work can be meaningful, and methods and strengths for maintaining the meaningfulness of work and well-being can be found in the work community. We will have the results of these projects by the end of 2015,” promises Hakanen.

FIOH’s Research Day is on Friday 21.11.2014 from 8.30 to 14.00. The programme is in English. Wilmar Schaufeli, Professor of Work and Organizational Psychology at Utrecht University will receive the 2014 Jorma Rantanen Certificate of Honour. Read more about FIOH’s Research Day.

Further information

Wilmar Schaufeli, Professor, Utrecht University, tel. +31 6514 75784, w.schaufeli[at]uu.nl, http://www.wilmarschaufeli.nl/
Jari Hakanen, Research Director, Helsinki University and Research Professor, FIOH, tel. +358 40 562 5433, jari.hakanen[at]ttl.fi or jari.hakanen[at]helsinki.fi

Work engagement in Wikipedia

The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health researches, develops and specializes in well-being at work. It promotes occupational health and safety and the well-being of workers. It is an independent institution under public law, working under the administrative sector of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. It has six regional offices, and its headquarters are in Helsinki. It employs about 730 people.

About Us

The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (Työterveyslaitos) researches, develops and specializes in well-being at work. It promotes occupational health and safety and the well-being of workers. It is an independent institution under public law, working under the administrative sector of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. It has five regional offices, and its headquarters are in Helsinki. It employs about 560 people.

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