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SALT LAKE CITY — Despite increasing levels of discontent felt within the nationwide work force, people in Utah seem to have it better than those in 42 other states.
Utah recently ranked No. 8 in overall well-being and 17th in the nation for work environment well-being, as a result of the Gallup-Healthways 2010 Well-Being Index, which measures six key aspects of American's well-being: life evaluation, emotional health, work environments, physical health, healthy behaviors and basic access.
For the third straight year, workplace satisfaction — including job satisfaction, trust and employee/supervisor relations — has declined in the U.S. and Utah. Unemployment rates remain high and those who are employed are feeling extra pressure, collectively having a negative impact on the nation's overall well-being.
A lot of companies are downsizing, so I would imagine it is a rough time to conduct a survey like this.
"A lot of companies are downsizing, so I would imagine it is a rough time to conduct a survey like this," said Emma Crandall, who heads the volunteer Utah Council for Worksite Health Promotion. Current economical situations can create added stress at work, but Crandall and her colleagues work with local businesses to encourage supportive and healthy work environments.
"It is important to build camaraderie and feel supported when you go to work," she said, adding that she's noticed more and more employers in Utah emphasizing wellness and asking for guidance on how to do so. Employee assistance programs that provide free legal services, counseling and financial advice are becoming increasingly more important, providing employees "an extra lifeline" a place to talk about personal issues, Crandall said.
The added comfort those resources provide at work, she said, helps to make Utah a better place to work and live.
"Seeing the declining satisfaction in work environment is a reminder that business leaders and government must empower themselves with the tools, programs and resources necessary to increase well-being in the workplace," said John Harris, chief well-being officer at Healthways. "Making strides in this area is critical to our ability to increase productivity, lower health care costs and achieve sustained economic growth, while raising the well-being standard in our nation."
Seeing the declining satisfaction in work environment is a reminder that business leaders and government must empower themselves with the tools, programs and resources necessary to increase well-being in the workplace.
Hawaii led the nation in overall well-being, scoring highest in life evaluation, emotional health and physical health. Unsuspectingly, North Dakota, Alaska, Colorado, Minnesota, Wyoming, South Dakota, Connecticut and Nebraska join Utah in rounding out the top-10 most content states.
South Dakota ranks highest in workplace satisfaction, while Delaware seemed to be hit hardest, with the least content workers.
Southern states were among the worst performers in overall well-being, including West Virginia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Arkansas and Alabama, and Michigan, Louisiana, Nevada, Delaware and Ohio rounded out the bottom 10 states where well-being is reportedly worst.
The entire country celebrated increases in 2010 in the Healthy Behavior Index scores, which includes smoking, eating and exercise habits, indicating an overall healthier nation. However, the Physical Health Index scores revealed that people are claiming the same number of sick days, disease burden and obesity rates as in the past three years.
The Emotional Health Index score, which gauges American's happiness, sadness and depression levels, among other things, was up last year after declining amid the recession.
Gallup and Healthways began teaming up for the annual survey in 2008, and have been polling 1,000 Americans per day, 350 days each year, to better understand the overall state of well-being in the U.S. More than 1.1 million surveys have been collected, each containing 42 core questions dealing with various aspects of life.
The data help officials take a daily pulse of how Americans rate the overall quality of their current lives and outlook for the future, according to the companies. They also help officials govern policies and identify areas needing investment.
"It is clearly in our nation's best interest to provide Americans with resources to improve well-being," Healthways CEO Ben Leedle said. He said enhancing an individual's state of well-being benefits communities at every scale — beginning with families and neighborhoods, also impacting entire cities, states and the nation at large.
"We must transform our nation's collective vitality, and the time to act is now," Leedle said.