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Recent findings show engagement has risen in APAC overall, yet Singapore and Malaysia continue to trail with the lowest engagement scores in the region at under 65%. Globally, eight in 10 HR professionals and talent leaders state that improving engagement continues to be a top priority in 2018.

Leaders know that employee engagement is critical to business performance but struggle to understand how they can impact engagement in a meaningful way.

One of the primary factors affecting engagement is stress. Named "the health epidemic of our time" by the World Health Organization, stress in the workplace is the result of an organisational environment in which we're constantly asking more and more of our employees. We're asking employees to cope with inevitable changes, check their feelings at the door, produce more and do so with a perpetually positive attitude.



And while pressure can be an essential positive and motivating influence in the workplace, chronic stress can lead to recognised clinical problems such as anxiety, depression and associated sleep loss, and the resulting effects can damage an organisation on many levels. Frequent absence, staff turnover, accidents and impaired productivity may all manifest in a culture where stress is prevalent.

In order to engage employees, Harvard Medical School Psychologist and Virgin Pulse Institute Science Advisory Board member Dr Susan David says that leaders must strike a balance between work that is 'boring' or not challenging enough for employees, and overwhelming them. There must be the support structure in place to allow employees to work at the edge of their ability, perform at their best, and feel connected to the workplace.

Leaders must strike a balance between work that is 'boring' or not challenging enough for employees, and overwhelming them.
Indications are that organisations are moving toward a more holistic model of addressing engagement, one that works to improve the entire employee experience, with initiatives that address work/life balance, improve communication between line-level employees and their managers and encourages high performers to stay with the company long-term. This reflects Aon’s findings that one of the biggest opportunities to improve engagement in the APAC region is to improve work/life blend.

If employees don’t feel emotionally safe and secure in their work, if leaders routinely demand too much of employees, if work/life is unbalanced — these all contribute to low engagement and employee dissatisfaction. A negative work/life balance also hurts employee wellbeing, which can then in turn affect engagement negatively. For this reason, 70% of global organisations will place a high priority on improving employee health and wellbeing in 2018.

Engagement and wellbeing are intertwined, with 90% of employees reporting that their work wellbeing programs positively affect their performance at work. Organisations that seek to improve one will also improve the other.

Virgin Pulse, part of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, designs technology that cultivates good lifestyle habits for your employees. Configured to complement your culture, our technology, and the overall wellbeing experience we deliver, drives superior outcomes for your people and your business.