Unemployed Kiwis have a better overall level of wellbeing than "disengaged" employees, according to consulting company Gallup's global wellbeing finder.

Some 72 per cent of New Zealanders are actively disengaged in the workforce, with 59 per cent of disengaged employees behaving poorly with family and friends after a stressful day's work, the survey found. That compared with 34 per cent of engaged employees who behaved badly.

"New Zealand talks a lot about raising productivity and being more innovative - these two things are often driven strongly by engagement," Robyn Hart, senior consultant said.

"Organisations will say they are doing well with a pilates class or a bowl of fruit but it has to be a much more integrated approach."


A disengaged employee works against the organisation and looks for ways to distract other employees, while an engaged employee is emotionally connected and goes above and beyond the call of duty.

The survey asks a series of questions to determine whether a worker is engaged.

Hart said companies needed to acknowledge the significant costs associated with low workplace wellbeing, such as high absenteeism and turnover, lost productivity, reduction in new ideas and creativity and subsequent money costs.

"Organisations have big influence," Hart said. "They are dealing with people for a minimum of eight hours a day and they need to think about how they can improve core wellbeing - they need to start thinking about other aspects of wellbeing as well."

The study, which spanned 160 countries, found employers needed to broaden their approach to workplace wellbeing to encompass an employee's social, financial, physical and community wellbeing.

"If you are thriving in your career you are 32 times more likely to be thriving in your own life," Hart said.