Business leaders are being urged to measure employee wellbeing to help improve the happiness of workers, the productivity of organisations and the overall health of UK plc.
The advice from leading organisational psychologist Professor Sir Cary Cooper has been included in a report by the National Forum for Health and Wellbeing at Work and Alliance Manchester Business School (AMBS).
The mental health and wellbeing fallout from the pandemic is a key driver in employers needing to do more around wellbeing, the report has argued. But other factors are also feeding into the need for employers to demonstrate that they care about wellbeing.
These include the priority generation Z and millennial employees place on wellbeing compared to previous generations; the growing recognition that hybrid working models may be becoming permanent; and the increased focus from investors on environmental, social and governance issues, which includes health and wellbeing considerations.
The report, Measuring Wellbeing For Healthy Workers and Organisations, has also argued that, for employers successfully to implement a strategy that improves subjective wellbeing (in other words, how employees feel, function and evaluate their lives), business leaders must focus as much on the measurement of wellbeing in the workplace as they do on implementation.
The report has also argued it is important to differentiate subjective wellbeing from its underlying drivers. These include external factors such as employment status, income and social networks, and internal factors such as health and self-esteem.
Sir Cary, co-chair of the national forum as well as 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, added: “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.”
The report advises business leaders to choose metrics that are simple and easy to understand, drawn from robust data sources and 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, it has also advised.
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,” he said.