4 ways to Measure Employee Health and Well-being Initiatives

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In the last decade, organisations have implemented healthy measures; sports vouchers, fitness trackers, burnout counselling, quiet rooms, coaching, stress resilience training, health days, and healthy lunches to name a few. Supporting wellbeing has gone from a “nice to have” to a “must-have”.

So the questions arise; how much is worth investing? Where do we draw the line between individual responsibility and employer support? The measurability of employee well-being is complex and there is no single right answer. In this blog, however, we outline four aspects to consider when measuring well-being.

1. Clarify terminology 

The starting point is to put employee health and well-being into context. Agreeing on the definition for your organisation is crucial, because the multi-faceted nature of health and well-being may lead to different expectations and interpretations of results.

The WHO definition of health “is a state of complete mental, physical and social well-being, and not merely freedom from disease and infirmity”.  Well-being has a broader connotation, for example, the American Psychological Association (APA) defines it as “a state of happiness and contentment, with low levels of distress, overall good physical and mental health and outlook, or good quality of life“. 

So, what is health and well-being in the context of your organisation? Clarity in the terminology sets the basis for any strategic employee health and well-being measurement. It allows a clear separation or integration into any other HR activities and results.

2. Set your goals 

What drives your business and what could employee well-being deliver for you? Typically, the outcomes can be measured as:

  • Increased productivity and work engagement
  • Better work results (e.g. product quality or customer service)
  • Higher talent retention and attraction (e.g. feeling valued, appreciated, cared about)
  • Reduced costs (or reduced rate of cost increases), e.g. less absenteeism, fewer cases of injury

For an industrial organisation, the main driver might be the prevention of project loss through fewer sick days. For a professional services firm, the crucial driver might be the engagement and performance of a more creative workforce.

3. Go from ROI to VOI

Return on Investment (ROI) is a great measure to use for cost-driven programmes that are easily measured i.e. sick days or number of workplace accidents. It is more difficult for productivity and talent-driven programmes, as the creativity index of a marketing campaign is hard to pin down, and the link to a single intervention is elusive at best (unless you have enough teams and patience to set up a control group to measure against).

Value on Investment (VOI) is an alternative way of thinking. It considers not only direct monetary aspects but broader value. The Health Enhancement Research Organisation (HERO) suggests a ‘Health and Well-being Best Practices Scorecard’ with different areas to measure VOI, including qualitative and quantitative, subjective and objective as well as leading (progress) and lagging (impact) measures.

4. Include both leading and lagging indicators

Lagging indicators help determine the impact of well-being initiatives. Here are some examples to consider reviewing:  

  • Improvement in KPIs 
  • Changes in productivity 
  • Observation of healthy behaviours; such as the growth of leadership skills and career development in employees
  • Improvement in engagement or retention

Leading indicators help determine the progress of the well-being initiatives, if we are on track towards our goals, and can help us adjust the approach along the way.  Here are some examples to consider reviewing: 

  • How many employees participated in the global health day? 
  • What is the participation rate in stress management workshops? 
  • How satisfied were participants with a training session? 
  • What have we learned works and does not? 

A need for a systematic approach

The way employees view their relationship with work is changing, a partnership is called for, where organisations also invest in their employees for the long term. Given the complexity of well-being as a whole and its integration into the workplace, a systematic approach incorporating the points mentioned above is a great way to measure the impact of employee well-being initiatives.

May 2022 - 3 min read

Jessica Sharp

Jessica Sharp

Content Marketing Manager

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