Improving Workplace Well-Being Can Boost Productivity, Reduce Turnover

A new study from Myers-Briggs finds that workers with greater well-being outperform others and stay in their jobs longer. Five key factors help improve well-being for most, but employers also should take personality differences into account.

In the association world, high employee turnover is an issue that plagues many, so HR staff are always looking for solutions. Turns out the answer is simple, according to the Myers-Briggs Company: improve workplace well-being.

“Organizations are struggling not just to find the right people but to retain the right people,” said Martin Boult, senior director of professional services and international training for Myers-Briggs. “If well-being is not considered in the workplace, organizations may be losing some of their best talent.”

Myers-Briggs surveyed more than 10,000 people from 131 countries for its recent report “Well-Being in the Workplace: Why It Matters for Organizational Performance and How to Improve It” [PDF]. While it is tempting to equate well-being with happiness, the company said well-being requires seven elements: positive emptions, relationships, engagement, meaning, accomplishment; and low levels of anxiety, pessimism, and depression.

“The higher your well-being, the more likely people report being satisfied at work. That translates into people performing at higher levels than the base level,” Boult said. “The higher the well-being people are experiencing, the less they have the intention of leaving, and the less likely they are to be involved in an active job search.”

Myers-Briggs is best known for its personality type testing, which it breaks into two major categories: extraverts and introverts, and further breaks it down into 16 introvert/extravert subtypes.

The study found that personality types differed in workplace well-being, with extraverts experiencing greater workplace well-being than introverts. While the researchers weren’t sure why, they did discover that there were shared ways for achieving well-being. “There is a common set of activities that are important regardless of personality type,” Boult said. “Those are the things organizations could spend some time focusing on.”

For employees, those five activities include focusing on work tasks that interest them, focusing on a work task that makes them feel positive, undertaking work where they learn something new, taking breaks at work when needed, and undertaking challenging work that adds to their skills and knowledge.

Boult suggested this as a good place to start figuring out if employees are getting their needs met. “It can be as simple as asking those five questions of your reports,” Boult said. “They are pretty straightforward items.”

One of the major components of well-being, as defined by Myers-Briggs, was relationships at work that are caring and supportive. This carried over to introverts and extraverts, meaning it’s also a good area for associations to focus on. “Do you give you coworkers or staff opportunities to get to know each other? Informal get togethers, like workplace lunches,” Boult said. “Are there opportunities to collaborate, rather than setting coworkers up to be competitors?”

Aim for a Mix of Activities

While five factors overlapped among all personality types, the Myers-Briggs report noted that each personality type had different sweet spots for what contributed to their well-being. Does this mean you have to test all your employees to get their personality type? No.

“The larger the organization, the employer can work off the assumption that they’re going to have representations of all personality types,” Boult said. “We propose some fairly straight-forward strategies so they get more balance for introverts and extraverts.”

The research shows introverts and extraverts react differently to meetings. “Extraverts get energized by frequent meetings and are often excited to brainstorm openly in meetings,” Boult said. “But for introverts, they will prefer meetings that have a smaller number of people and explore topics in-depth. How the meeting is facilitated is important, too. Introverts prefer allowing people to think or reflect before responding. If meetings are run more one way than the other, it can be disengaging for either of those groups.”

To put this into practical terms, Boult suggested asking some questions about your organization’s philosophy on meetings. “If meetings are a necessary part of modern workforces, how many meetings are we expecting people to be involved in? How large is the group of people? How are the meetings actually run or conducted?”

While the general tips are useful, Boult notes the report has specific recommendations for all 16 personality types. If employees know their type and share it, he said employers can use more tailored interventions.

What type of well-being initiatives does your organization offer? Share your experiences in the comments.

(AndreyPopov/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Rasheeda Childress

By Rasheeda Childress

Rasheeda Childress is a former editor at Associations Now. MORE

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