The Shifting Dynamic Between Engagement and Well-Being

May 6, 2021

By John Salustri

Note from the Editor: May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States. This year, the importance of mental health and well-being is especially top of mind as employers and property teams prepare to welcome occupants back to the office and consider new ways to accommodate a post-isolation workforce. The below excerpt was originally published in the latest addition to the BOMA Deep Dive series, Tenant Culture and the Psychology of a Return. Visit to read the full Deep Dive and to learn more about how mental health considerations will inform the modern workplace now and into the future.

COVID-19 is breaking up a longstanding relationship. Employee well-being and engagement have always been closely connected. That is, until 2020. That was when the two went their separate ways, as Gallup research reveals. Counterintuitively, the firm reports that employee engagement actually rose through the depths of the pandemic, closing the year one point higher in the firm’s benchmarking than in 2019. They attribute this to “the efforts, enthusiasm and commitment of many employees [holding] steadfast through COVID-19, despite experiencing a new kind of stress and worry each day.”

Meanwhile, its former partner, well-being, suffered. Stress, worry and isolation began contributing to a decline in a sense of well-being early in the year. Gallup estimates that 40 to 60 percent of the workforce was remote last year. That’s a lot of stress to deal with, and it forces employers to deal with the dual issues of their workers’ current stress levels while pondering the future of the workplace going forward.

To help clear up that conundrum, Gallup offers five steps to enhanced well-being that are crucial for both employers and the property professionals supporting them. All of the steps, you will note, also contribute to a strong corporate culture:

  • “Start measuring employee well-being, in addition to engagement.” If your practice is to distribute employee engagement surveys, “well-being needs to be added to the conversation.” (And, as one property professional we spoke with noted, act on the survey results. Do not file and forget.)
  • “Train managers to have conversations about well-being, above and beyond engagement.” Supervisors have to get a little personal here, within the bounds of propriety. “Managers must be able to have appropriate but caring conversations,” including conversations about stress and mental health concerns, if they are going to manage employees effectively. And do not forget to take some time with your whole team as well.
  • “Capitalize on the benefits of well-managed remote work.” As discussed in BOMA International’s inaugural Deep Dive, the key here is flexibility and an embracing of hybrid work models as appropriate to the job.
  • “Consider the disparate impact the pandemic is having on certain employees.” Everyone has different circumstances, and everyone handles stress differently. In the face of the increased potential for burnout, Gallup suggests developing perks to attract different groups, such as parents of young children. The firm calls those perks “table stakes for talent attraction and retention.”
  • “Actively scan for signs of potential burnout.” Encouragement is one thing. Overload and pushing employees are quite another. Managers are “ultimately responsible for ensuring employees have realistic expectations, support and manageable workloads.”

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John Salustri is editor-in-chief of Salustri Content Solutions, a national editorial advisory firm based in East Northport, New York. He is best known as the founding editor of Prior to launching, Salustri was editor of Real Estate Forum.