Echoing insights from our Make A Difference webinar, focused on “the future of mental health at work”, a new report, produced by the National Forum for Health and Wellbeing, argues that for employers to successfully implement a strategy that improves subjective wellbeing – that is, how we feel, function and evaluate our lives – business leaders must focus as much on the measurement of wellbeing in the workplace as they do on implementation.
According to the report, Measuring Wellbeing For Healthy Workers and Organisations, it is important to differentiate subjective wellbeing from its underlying drivers. This includes external factors such as employment status, income and social networks, and internal factors such as health and self-esteem.
Sir Cary Cooper, co-chair of the National Forum for Health and Wellbeing at Work and Professor of Organisational Psychology at AMBS, said: “Placing health and wellbeing at the heart of a business strategy makes perfect sense – it will help to improve productivity, improve staff retention and reduce presenteeism. But implementing a strategy alone is not good enough. We must measure it too, and then use this data to drive further improvements in worker wellbeing.”
Report co-author Dr Richard Heron, former Vice President for Health at BP and lead for the metrics sub group at the National Forum for Health and Wellbeing at Work, added: “Successful CEOs and business leaders are intimately familiar with business metrics, profit and loss accounts and financial statements, and as workers we depend on this to keep a job in a going concern.
“But how familiar are they with the factors that increase or decrease the wellbeing accounts of their people? And why should they be just as interested in these as they are in financial measures from an organisational perspective?
“The evidence is increasingly clear that when leaders genuinely care about worker wellbeing, business outcomes of interest are better, whether they be long-term stock price, the ability to attract and retain talent or the robustness of safety and governance approaches.”
What to measure
The report advises business leaders to choose metrics that are:
- simple and easy to understand
- drawn from robust data sources
- relevant to both internal and external stakeholders
Subjective wellbeing assessments can then be integrated within existing, periodic employee surveys to provide a snapshot of employee sentiment.
The report also gives pointers for survey questions that can be used to measure subjective wellbeing.
Test before rolling out
Experts from the National Forum for Health and Wellbeing also suggest using local pilots to consult with employees and build stakeholder buy-in before rolling out wellbeing metrics across the wider organisation.
Sir Cary added: “There are so many factors within the workplace that can impact an individual’s wellbeing and their performance at work. And as the world around us continues to change it is important that business leaders look, learn and adapt to the way the world of work is evolving.
“We need to support our people. But there is not a one-size-fits-all solution, so to do so effectively we need to tailor our wellbeing strategies to our own organisations and most importantly, measure the impact of them. Only then will we truly be able to create a better working environment for our people and, in turn, improve productivity.”
To find out more, you can read the report here.
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The recording of this Make A Difference webinar: