Wellbeing data is great, but humanising it and making it usable in the field is better

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In today’s fast-paced and ever-evolving work environment, the approach to employee wellbeing needs a paradigm shift. Ryan Hopkins, in a recent article published by MAD World, aptly highlighted the need to “level up” our approach to wellbeing data. However, while integrating sophisticated data analytics into wellbeing initiatives is undoubtedly a step forward, I believe the journey doesn’t end there. It’s about evolving from static data points to dynamic, human-centric insights that empower real-time support and foster a culture of proactive wellbeing.

Beyond surveys: embracing high-frequency check-in data

One of the first things that emerged in my mind as I read the article was something that I encounter a lot, and it’s that all too often, we limit ourselves to the belief that seeking feedback from employees must involve a survey. But let me tell you that this isn’t the case, and in the case of wellbeing, nor should it be.

Traditional surveys, while useful, largely provide a retrospective view of employee wellbeing. They capture a moment in time, often missing the nuances and fluidity of the human experience. More importantly, when it comes to personalised and individual perspectives of wellbeing, they’ll almost always miss the signs of people in need of help.

This is why we advocate for a more live and human approach through high-frequency check-in data. This method allows us to capture the ebbs and flows of employee sentiment, providing a more accurate and timely picture of their wellbeing.

It’s about seeing the unseen, catching the subtle signs of distress or disengagement before they escalate into crises.

Protecting dignity with technology

A critical aspect of our approach is protecting employee dignity. Technology plays a pivotal role here, ensuring individuals don’t need to compromise their privacy to seek help.

By harnessing the power of anonymous data collection and analysis, we enable employees to share their experiences without the fear of being judged or stigmatised. It’s about creating a safe space where asking for help or offering support doesn’t equate to outing oneself.

Facilitating peer-to-peer support

Peer support is a cornerstone of a robust wellbeing strategy. It’s not just about implementing top-down initiatives but also about fostering a culture where employees can support each other. By making wellbeing data and insights more accessible within an organisation, we enable meaningful interactions that respect privacy and anonymity.

This approach not only enhances individual wellbeing but also contributes to building a supportive and inclusive work culture. We have witnessed how peer support can arrest declines in wellbeing and foster positive outcomes, proving its efficacy time and again.

Meeting people where they are

At Harkn, we believe in personalisation. Every individual’s journey and needs are unique, and our technology reflects this belief. Using our algorithms, we can provide bespoke support, meeting people where they are rather than offering one-size-fits-all solutions. This approach not only enhances the effectiveness of wellbeing interventions but also ensures that they are relevant and impactful for each individual.

The way forward

To truly revolutionise employee wellbeing, we must shift our perspective. It’s not just about collecting data to understand which of our initiatives are working, as important as that may be. It’s about using data as a tool to understand, empathise, and respond to the human elements of our workforce. It’s about moving from a reactive to a proactive stance, where we anticipate and address issues before they become problematic.

Whilst our own journey into this field was largely accidental – we recognised that we could see the struggles of individuals in the data we were collecting about employee experiences –  once we knew our data gave us the potential to develop an early warning system, it set us on a course to develop the algorithms that now allow the companies we work with to make that move to proactive, data-driven support.

But we also recognise that having the data isn’t enough; we must focus on humanising it, making it a living, breathing part of the organisational fabric. By focusing on high-frequency employee-led data, protecting dignity, facilitating peer support, and personalising interventions, we believe organisations will be able to not only enhance employee well-being but also transform their workplaces into environments where every employee feels heard, valued, and supported by their colleagues.

In conclusion, as we embrace this new era of wellbeing as a fundamental requirement of responsible businesses, let’s remember that at the heart of all data, algorithms, and strategies are people – diverse, complex, and infinitely valuable. Our approach to their wellbeing should reflect this fundamental truth.

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About the author:

With 25 years of experience in management consulting, leadership advice, and strategy, David Bellamy has a deep understanding of the human aspects of work and the challenges that leaders face in creating a positive and inclusive environment.  

As the Founder and CEO of Harkn, David leads a team of passionate and innovative professionals who are on a mission to create workplaces where both the company and its employees thrive. Since no strategy, change initiative or acquisition is successful without a motivated and engaged workforce, Harkn helps companies better understand sentiment and culture by making it safer and easier for employees to share their experiences, ideas and opinions.

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