The Evolution of Workplace Well-being: From Productivity to Total Employee Experience

From Productivity to Total Employee Experience: The Evolution of Workplace Well-being


Once upon a time, productivity was the kingpin of the business world. Managers focused on maximising efficiency and output, often at the expense of their employees’ well-being. But over time, research showed that productivity wasn’t just about external factors like technology and process optimisation – it was also influenced by internal factors like employee satisfaction (Locke, 1976).

As companies began to recognise the importance of employee satisfaction, the focus of workplace well-being shifted towards creating a work environment that employees enjoyed being in. This meant providing perks and benefits, such as flexible work hours, on-site childcare, and casual dress codes, to create a more comfortable and enjoyable workplace. The concept of employee satisfaction first came to light in the 1950s, with research by Herzberg et al. (1959) on the two-factor theory of motivation.

The next evolution of workplace well-being was a shift from satisfaction to commitment. This approach focused on creating a work environment that employees were committed to and felt a sense of ownership over. This meant creating opportunities for employees to contribute to the company’s success and growth, and to be recognised and rewarded for their efforts. The concept of employee commitment first came to light in the 1980s, with research by Meyer and Allen (1997) on organisational commitment.

The next stage of evolution was employee engagement. This approach focused on creating a work environment that engaged employees and made them feel connected to their work and the company. Companies began to emphasise communication, recognition, and a sense of purpose in order to create a more engaged workforce. The concept of employee engagement first came to light in the late 1990s, with research by Kahn (1990) on the concept of personal engagement.

The latest trend in workplace well-being is Total Employee Experience (TEX). This approach takes a holistic view of the employee experience, focusing on the sum total of employees’ experiences throughout their time with the company. TEX considers everything from the physical work environment, to the quality of relationships with colleagues and supervisors, to opportunities for personal and professional growth. The goal is to create a work environment that supports employees in all aspects of their lives, not just in their roles as employees. The concept of TEX first came to light in the mid-2010s, with research by Bersin (2015) on the consumerisation of HR.

Research has shown that companies that prioritise TEX have a number of benefits, including improved employee engagement, reduced turnover, and increased productivity. For example, a study by Deloitte found that companies with a strong focus on employee well-being and TEE had 2.3 times higher cash flow per employee over a three-year period than companies that did not prioritise employee well-being (Deloitte, 2020).

Another study found that employees who participated in a well-being program were 38% more engaged than employees who did not participate (Khan & Rath, 2019). Another study showed that companies that prioritise employee well-being experience a 10% increase in employee engagement (Edinger & Biech, 2015).

So, what can companies do to create a positive TEX? One key factor is to provide opportunities for personal and professional growth, such as training and development programs, mentorship, and career advancement opportunities. Another factor is to prioritise work-life balance, by offering flexible work arrangements, paid time off, and wellness programs. Companies can also create a positive physical work environment, with ergonomic workstations, natural light, and green spaces.

By taking a holistic approach to employee management, organisations can not only improve productivity and financial performance, but also create a positive impact on society as a whole. As the development of employee engagement and experience continues, it is important for organisations to keep up with the latest trends and research in order to provide the best possible experience for their employees.

Overall, the progression of employee engagement and experience has shifted from a focus on productivity to a more holistic approach that considers the well-being, commitment, engagement, and total experience of employees. TEX is the latest trend in workplace well-being, and by prioritising TEX, organisations can create a positive work environment that fosters engagement, well-being, and a sense of purpose among employees. Companies that prioritise employee well-being and engagement can expect to see improved productivity, reduced turnover, and increased financial performance.



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