THE BLOG
12/03/2014 02:26 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2015

Feelings and Emotions Affect Workplace Performance

"Feelings" isn't a word that you often hear in meetings or see printed on agendas, and sometimes, the significance of employees' emotions and responses is overlooked entirely. This shouldn't be the case.

Gallup quantified the link between employee feelings and corporate outcomes, reporting that lost productivity due to disengaged staff costs the U.S. economy up to $350 billion annually. You might ask, why is the price tag so high? It's because human emotions are real and they impact a wide range of material business metrics, from a company's share price, to the value of its brand, through to its customer service rating.

A separate Gallup study by researcher James K. Harter and his colleagues found that business unit sales and profits at one point in time are predicted by employees' feelings at earlier points in time. People's emotions impact their performance, and if they're healthy and happy they perform better.

When it comes to the design of workplace well-being, too many employers fail to step back and address this fundamental question of what employees are thinking and feeling. In addition, the advent of wearables means much of the discourse surrounding health and performance gets tangled up with technology, but this overlooks the fact that employees aren't just numbers, or algorithms, or data sets. They're people, and empathy, as well as electronic gadgets, is key to setting them on the path to health and happiness.

The dynamics of getting employees moving is pure science; the consensus says that people should be taking 10,000 steps per day, and that making this a sustainable habit takes around one hundred days. These facts are the bare bones of the GCC program, but the real success rests squarely on the responses and the emotional commitment of employees who feel empowered to take responsibility for their own well-being.

Over the past 11 years, 1.5 million participants have been put through the program, and the positive health outcomes they report are incredibly consistent; reductions in BMI, waist circumference, blood pressure, all of which are clearly measurable. These employees feel in control, they believe their organization cares about their health, and they thrive in a culture that ultimately benefits everyone.

Productivity measures across national economies have captivated the attention of policy makers and business leaders alike, and in today's knowledge economy, productivity is determined purely by the energy and creativity of the people who get things done every day.