08/30/2013 01:21 pm ET

Study Finds Link Between Work Disengagement And Smoking


People who have checked out of their jobs may be more likely to smoke than their more engaged peers, according to a new report.

A new study from Gallup found that 18 percent of American workers who were actively disengaged from their work also smoked, compared with 15 percent of American workers who were just not engaged or completely engaged in their work.

The researchers defined someone who is "actively disengaged" as workers who are "emotionally disconnected from their work and workplace, and they jeopardize the performance of their teams." Meanwhile, workers who were considered not engaged in their work were "satisfied with their workplaces, but are not emotionally connected to them -- and these employees are less likely to put in discretionary effort." Engaged workers were defined as being "involved in and enthusiastic about their work."

Gallup conducted surveys of more than 50,000 Americans on their assessments of their workplace including productivity, quality, retention, and profit. Researchers then categorized workers on an 'employee engagement index' ranging from engaged to actively disengaged. Among all the study participants, 8,011 were smokers.

The data was controlled for income, gender, age, and education level. This means that those who were not committed in their jobs were more likely to smoke even if they had a higher income or higher education level.

Previous research has concluded that the feeling of disconnect in a job can lead to stress and anger, which researchers feel could trigger these employees to smoke. While it's clear there is a strong association between poor health and low productivity at work, we don't know if it is the work life that leads to smoking or if smokers tend to be more disengaged.

What we do know is that having friends at work and getting into healthy routines can not only improve productivity but your overall stress levels and health.

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