Which wellbeing measurement index is right for you?

As wellbeing soars up the corporate agenda and employers realise its crucial importance to profitability and productivity, the need for good measurement frameworks becomes ever more pressing.

Various indexes are emerging which are designed to help employers understand what they are doing right and where there’s room for improvement. But which index is right for your company?

In this feature we round up a few of the indexes emerging, deciphering the differences, so you can work out which is right for you.

But before you jump in thinking this is the ‘answer’ to all your measurement questions, bear in mind the warning words of leadership coach and founder of Halcyon Catherine de la Poer. She cautions against signing up to the “shiny new index” just because other companies are, adding:

“These indexes shouldn’t be a crutch or a ‘fix’ or a tick-box exercise that companies do for the sake of it. Don’t get me wrong, they’re a good first step but they should be seen as a catalyst to stimulate debate and critical, strategic thinking around measurement. They are just the beginning. My hope is a global standard emerges, one that’s rooted in true business sustainability – long-term wellbeing for all. ”

The Workforce Health Index

The first index we’ll cover – the Workforce Health Index – has certainly got aspirations to become the industry standard in the UK, backed by the government, and with good reason (see this article for more on that).

It’s been comprehensively developed after a raft of consultations with experts and politicians, and is due for launch in November. But you can take part in the Beta version now, by emailing [email protected]. The trial period is to test out the questions that will be used in the index, as well as collecting data from businesses from different sectors and of different sizes. The desire in future is to provide participating employers extensive feedback on how they can improve their wellbeing offering for maximum impact.

Unlike other indexes, the Workforce Health Index is striving for total system change in the UK by shifting some of the provision of healthcare from the overwhelmed NHS to employers and ‘levelling up’ the health of the nation. It’s currently working with system engineers at Cambridge to look at the 10 core metrics they’ve come up with to measure the impact of corporate wellbeing strategies.

Tina Woods, chief executive of Business For Health, is leading the development of this index, alongside the Confederation of British Industry, and she envisions the Workforce Health Index as the overarching standard – then, if the index identifies a specific area in which the wellbeing offering is lacking, these other more niche indexes can be a valuable resource to access.

Gallup’s Wellbeing Culture Index

Gallup’s index uses a measure it’s calling the ‘Gallup Net Thriving Metric’.

This measures individual wellbeing based on two life evaluation questions. The calculation of responses to these two life evaluation questions results sorts an individual’s responses into one of three categories: ‘Thriving’, ‘Struggling’ or ‘Suffering’.

The Gallup Net Thriving metric can be used by any organisation or company, regardless of industry sector, size or geography.

“Perhaps the type of company that will most benefit from using the index is one whose leadership has made workplace wellbeing and engagement a strategic priority, and is committed, not only to measuring the degree to which its employees are thriving, but to addressing issues that are preventing higher levels of workplace wellbeing,” says James Rapinac, marketing and communications director, Europe, at Gallup .

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Gallup’s goal with the index to discover and quantify the difference between the best possible life and the worst possible life, as perceived by individual citizens or, in the case of organisations, employees.

To help organisations and individuals identify and take appropriate action to improve holistic wellbeing, Gallup has identified five elements of wellbeing that individuals need to fulfil in order to thrive in their lives. These five elements are:

  • Career Wellbeing: Like what you do every day.
  • Social Wellbeing: Meaningful friendships in your life.
  • Financial Wellbeing: Manage your money well.
  • Physical Wellbeing: Have energy to do what you want to do.
  • Community Wellbeing: Like where you live.

Gallup has found that Career Wellbeing is the most important element, and a foundation for the other four.

You can take part in the index here: https://www.gallup.com/workplace/215924/well-being.aspx#ite-215909

Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing Index

Launched in 2016, Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing Index was created as a benchmark of best policy and practice, designed to celebrate the good work employers are doing to promote positive mental health and to provide key recommendations on the areas where there is room to improve.

Mind worked closely with Deloitte UK in developing the Index and with the Institute for Employment studies on the assessment criteria. The model took inspiration from Stonewall’s UK Workplace Equality Index which has helped drive best practice in workplaces on LGBT+ equality.

It’s open to employers of all sizes and all sectors, whether they are at the start of their journey when it comes to investing in and promoting staff mental health or whether they already have a number of effective initiatives and interventions in place.

“Taking part in our Workplace Wellbeing Index sends a message to staff that employee wellbeing is an organisational priority, and helps employers identify areas where their approach can be improved,” says Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind.

The Index provides a comprehensive benchmark for employers, as well as identifying any gaps in an organisation’s current approach and making recommendations to strengthen it. Employers are assessed in many areas through both the employer and staff surveys.

These areas include the physical workplace environment, preventative measures and initiatives put in place, support tools on offer, wider policies and approach to people management. As such, there is a cost associated to employers. Pricing is publicly available in this brochure and starts at £1,500 – charged according to the size of the organisation, level of account management support desired and complexity of reporting requirements.

Based on the results of the bespoke assessment, employers receive one of the following awards:

  • Committed to Action – employer has committed to addressing mental health in the workplace and is at the start of their journey.
  • Bronze – Achieving Change – employer has started the journey to better mental health at work by developing and implementing initiatives which promote positive mental health for staff.
  • Silver – Achieving Impact – employer has made demonstrable achievements in promoting staff mental health, taking action across a number of key areas and demonstrating progress and impact over time.
  • Gold – Achieving Excellence – employer has successfully embedded mental health into its policies and practices, utilising a variety of best practice approaches and demonstrating a long-term, in-depth commitment to staff mental health.

You can see this year’s Gold winners on the Mind website here: www.mind.org.uk/workplace/workplace-wellbeing-index/index-awards-202122/gold-achieving-excellence/

Indeed’s Happiness Score

Indeed is a founding corporate member of the World Wellbeing Movement (WWM), and has been working with WWM co-founder Prof. Jan-Emmanuel De Neve on the development of the Indeed Work Happiness Score.

The index uses a scoring system, similar to company reviews and ratings, but gives richer insight into what matters most to job seekers and employees today. WWM’s hope is that these insights help lead people to better jobs, and ultimately, better lives.

The score is based on key dimensions that contribute to wellbeing at work: belonging, inclusion, flexibility, trust, appreciation, growth, feeling well-managed, fair pay, flexibility, energy, satisfaction, stress-free, accomplishment and a sense of purpose.

“Sharing this openly helps jobseekers better understand what it’s really like to work at a company,” says Sarah Cunningham, managing director, World Wellbeing Movement. “It also helps employers understand how their employees actually feel and empowers them to build a happier workplace and stronger employer brand.”

You can take the anonymous survey here: https://www.indeed.com/survey/mc/happiness?hl=en&co=US

The questions are evidence-based, and align with how the statistical agencies across the OECD, including the Office of National Statistics (the ONS) are measuring wellbeing.

The survey utilises a 1-5 likert scale, rather than the 0-10 scale that the ONS-4 questions use. This means they are more easily integrable with workplace wellbeing surveys (most workplace wellbeing surveys use a 1-5 scale, whereas it’s academic surveys that tend to use the 0-10 scale)

There have already been millions of responses to the Indeed work happiness score survey

Vitality’s Workplace Wellbeing Survey

This initiative aims help organisations to better support the health, wellbeing and performance of their employees through insights and data, and celebrates the success of those who have made this core to their business. It’s aimed at all UK business sectors, and sizes, with 20+ employees.

Employers sign up online giving Vitality information about your organisation from which it can create a tailored employee survey. This can then be sent out to all employees to fill in and each employee will get a report on their level of health and tips on how to maintain or improve it.

The survey:

Gives deep insight into your employee’s lifestyle, physical and mental health and affects the pandemic has had on them

Gives recommendations to help boost their physical and mental wellbeing

Helps improve business outcomes like productivity and retention

Helps organisations to write, execute and measure an effective wellbeing strategy

Employers can also book a session with Vitality’s wellbeing expert who can take them through the employee health, engagement and performance report. There is no charge to participate in any stage of the survey journey, including the report and face to face meeting with Vitality’s wellbeing experts because, as well as being a useful tool, this is also a potential marketing channel for the provider.

The scoring mechanism used is designed to provide organisations with a status level, showing where they are doing well and suggested areas of improvement. Organisations can benchmark their workplace against other organisations within similar sectors.

The CCLA Corporate Mental Health Benchmark UK 100

The CCLA is the UK’s largest charity fund manager and provides investment solutions to clients aligned with the Church of England’s objectives, values and beliefs. As an organisation, it believes that investors play a key role in helping companies deliver systemic change in the way in which mental health is regarded and protected in the workplace.

Mental health is such a priority to investment firms because investors want to back successful companies with productive employees and mental health problems represent the largest cause of disability, with employees off sick or leaving work altogether. The CCLA wanted to create an index so investors can assess the effectiveness of a company’s approach to workplace mental health and benchmark it against competitors.

The index launched in May after a two year research period, including a pilot measurement project, to identify a set of 27 criteria to assess companies’ approach to mental health at work. It’s backed by Chronos Sustainability, the Principles for Responsible Investment and an expert advisory panel including Paul Farmer, Lord Dennis Stevenson

These 27 criteria include measures like whether there is a statement from the CEO signalling the company’s leadership commitment to mental health and whether the company has a clear management commitment to encouraging a culture of openness on mental health.

The results of the inaugural CCLA Corporate Mental Health Benchmark UK 100 show that, while the case for companies to act on mental health in the workplace is clear, more work is needed to formalise company approaches and to improve company disclosure.

Results also showed:

44% of benchmark companies have published clear commitments to promoting a culture of openness on mental health. Yet only one in three UK company CEOs are signalling leadership commitment to mental health.

Only one-third of companies recognise the link between ‘good work’ principles and mental health. These principles include diversity, equality and inclusion, flexible working and job adjustment, and fair pay and financial security.

Two-thirds of UK companies assessed have yet to publish formal objectives aimed at improving workplace mental health. While 93% acknowledge workplace mental health as an important business issue, only 34% of companies publish formal objectives and targets, highlighting that many have not yet translated their policy commitments into action.

Companies need to strengthen their governance and management processes if they are to sustain a strategic focus on workplace mental health. 43% of companies demonstrate that they have assigned board oversight for mental health, but only 23% evidence that they have assigned operational management responsibility for mental health.

There is no shortage of workplace initiatives on mental health. Three-quarters of UK companies assessed have developed workplace initiatives and nine in 10 companies provide access to mental health services. However, reporting on the uptake of these schemes is lagging, which makes it difficult to measure their effectiveness.

You can find out more about how to measure impact, the leading initiatives in this space and debate whether mandatory reporting on wellbeing will help or hinder your work at the MAD World Summit, which is taking place in Central London on 11th October. MAD stands for Make A Difference. Now in it’s 5th year, the Summit is the go-to solutions-focused conference and exhibition for  employers who want to embed mental health and wellbeing as a strategic priority. Find out more and register here.



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