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If you treasure it measure it: overcoming perceived complexities to measure wellbeing

We all know companies that offer bikes, bananas, yoga, and cake, promising to take wellbeing seriously. And it can seem like things have improved, with better benefits and better job satisfaction. But are companies still looking at the symptoms rather than wellbeing as the output?

There is a perception that wellbeing is difficult to measure and without hard data it’s difficult to see if current initiatives are working. To start to quantify this, we worked with the IIRSM to create The Future of Wellbeing report, speaking to 30,000 directors and risk management practitioners.

Our report found that companies had “generally seen an improved sense of resilience, productivity, and engagement from employees, leading to overall improved performance” where people “seemed happier, more fulfilled in their work with greater job satisfaction.” Companies also indicated that a focus on wellbeing included “increased operational benefits to the organisation, such as retention.”

So far, so good. But it still doesn’t answer the question: How do we overcome perceived complexities and measure wellbeing at work?

Only 1-2% of organisations are using wellbeing data to measure ROI on wellbeing initiatives. If this wasn’t stark enough, the majority said they didn’t set any targets.

This is unsurprising, but still alarming. It shows that overall, there is a lack of understanding of ROI, let alone actual investment and interest in wellbeing. If we don’t set any targets, how can we effectively measure wellbeing at work? It wouldn’t make business sense to pour investment into wellbeing initiatives without set targets, measures of success, and understanding whether initiatives have even added value.

So, what does this insight tell us?

It tells us that organisations are relying on a mix of general business performance, qualitative feedback from a few colleagues and the odd leadership statement in the press, to measure the efficacy and improvements experienced from their wellbeing strategies. But how reliable is that? Each of these sources are useful but are not strong enough on their own. They are not accurate, trustworthy or tangible ways of gathering data, that could go on to build and inform company-wide wellbeing strategies.

We wouldn’t dream of asking Finance or HR to perform without KPIs, or report without data, so why are we choosing to do this with wellbeing initiatives? We can’t keep using the reheated excuse that wellbeing - and in turn mental health, D&I, purpose – is fluffy, and impossible to measure. If organisations want to achieve the positive outcomes we wish to see in wellbeing, they need to understand the current state of their workforce’s wellbeing, how initiatives are performing, and what can improve. In other words: “if you treasure it, measure it.”

Wellbeing at work is a core business priority. Measuring the performance of wellbeing interventions is key to understanding their impact on respective workforces, the overall value, ROI, and allow the right amount of funding to be allocated to wellbeing initiatives now and in the future. In fact, the impact of poor wellbeing at work is one many businesses are well-versed in - and feel in the company purse! The case for investment is already there. Research from the Deloitte Mental Health Report 2022, estimates that the ROI in tackling mental health problems is on average £5.30 for every £1.

Quantifying wellbeing can feel challenging – especially when it’s never been done before. But we have to start somewhere.

The decisions we make today will impact and influence tomorrow. It’s never been more important for organisations to create tangible ways of measuring, reporting, and gathering material evidence that their wellbeing strategy is doing what it promises to do.

Take a look at the Future of Wellbeing page to find out how you can make strategic, data-driven decisions, and investments that create meaningful, and sustainable work environments where people thrive. Contact a member of our team and start your journey today.