According to a recent survey, sickness-related absences are costing the UK economy £77.5 billion a year (Vitality Health, University of Cambridge, RAND and Mercer Europe). This is up 6.2% on the previous year, which creates a concerning trend.
You have probably heard this statistic before, but if you haven’t, it is a real eye-opener.
There is no doubt that happy and healthy employees lead to a more productive workplace. However, when it comes to promoting employee wellbeing as a priority, every company needs a strategy. Do you rely on perception, or do you take a people-insights approach?
Using the terms: data, analytics, and insights when it comes to personal wellbeing can appear to be a juxtaposition. How can a cold and numerical term reflect a vested interest in each employee and how they are faring on an individual level? Throughout this article, we will explore the benefits of taking a data-driven approach to monitoring employee wellbeing. We will also provide tips for implementing this approach in your own business.
What is the definition of employee wellbeing, and how should it be tracked and monitored?
Whilst wellbeing is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy”, the reality of it extends past this and involves many different facets. This can be defined as any key factors that help develop positive working conditions for individuals, such as their physical health, mental health, social connections with other members of the organisation, as well as outside work roles, financial security, personal growth and personal fulfilment. Conversely, not paying attention to the welfare needs of staff, can have a detrimental impact on the business’s profit margins, staff retention rate, productivity, reputation and more.
Despite employee wellness programs being around for years, there has been a shift in focus from simply measuring employee health to understanding the underlying drivers. This deeper analysis determines factors that influence an employee’s motivation levels. Analysis of employee motivation is crucial as it reflects how they achieve business objectives. The link between wellbeing, engagement, satisfaction, and productivity is too clear to ignore. A quote from Employeebenefits states “Our recent whitepaper ‘Maximising Your Return on Engagement’ bears this out, showing that a sense of wellbeing produced 31% higher productivity in employees and 59% greater loyalty” [employeebenefits, DVV Media HR]*
Wellbeing needs to be measured holistically, so it can provide employers with data that reflects their staff’s true potential. To track and monitor employee wellbeing effectively, you need to understand what the contributing factors are. Several distinct dimensions contribute to an organisation’s wellness. These dimensions are consistent across many business models, although reworded in various ways, and they are composed of the following:
- Physical health and fitness
Employees who are physically healthy and have a good relationship with exercise are less likely to take sick days and experience more positive moods throughout their day. Whilst a portion of this reverts to personal circumstances, there are ways that employers can support and encourage their employees to care for their physical health. A study conducted found that “Fourteen workplace nutrition and physical activity intervention studies yielded statistically significant changes on absenteeism, work performance, workability, and productivity.” [bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral] This support can range from facilities and programs to health education and resources.
- Emotional health
Employees who feel stressed or unhappy are less productive and have a lower retention rate [bmcpublichealth. biomedcentral]. As a result, employers must strive to create a workplace culture that promotes positive emotions and healthy coping mechanisms. You can set about doing this by providing employees with access to mental health services and resources and training on emotional intelligence.
- Social connectedness
Employees who feel socially connected tend to be more engaged in their work. They are also more likely to have better relationships with their co-workers and managers. This connection may translate into a more collaborative approach when working within a team.
- Financial security
Employees who feel financially secure tend to show a higher level of engagement in their work. Financial security also factors into reducing the crippling effects of stress. Therefore, a business could consider offering their employees financial education programs and resources related to topics, such as budgeting and saving money.
- Work satisfaction
Employees who are satisfied with their jobs display higher productivity and are less likely to leave their positions and company.
The benefits of having a healthy, productive workforce
According to a survey by Pulse of HR, the top issue facing HR experts during 2020 was the health and wellbeing of their employees. Whilst human resource departments are responsible for many different duties, the effectiveness of their work is often judged by how well they can attract, retain and develop people within their organisation. This growth model will help ensure the long-term success of the business.
Through Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions, employers can gain better insight into their workforce. This insight will help them identify challenges facing them today and apply resources in the best way possible to achieve organisational goals. HCM runs on data which means it can also be used to provide these insights into employee wellbeing. These data points create a snapshot view of how employees feel about themselves, their working environment and interact with others. Another area that these data points highlight is what areas of support an employee may need when things get tough at work or outside of it. By gaining a deeper understanding of workplace dynamics, employers encourage the development of a more interconnected, educated, and motivated workforce.
Conversely, If a business does not monitor wellbeing it could lead to high turnover rates due to unhappy employees, reduced productivity, and subsequently loss of profit!
How to track employee wellbeing in your organisation
Technology systems can help track employee wellbeing in many areas, depending on what information you want to capture. This data could cover any manner of things such as absenteeism, employee satisfaction surveys and employee assistance programmes. Certain software programs can also connect with other systems in an organisation, such as payroll and HR administration. This amalgamation makes it easier for managers to identify what information they will need when improving the user experience.
Another crucial feature of HCM software is its ability to track feedback from employees, highlight how sickness affects your workforce, staff performance and more. These insights enable management to make informed decisions and strategise to rectify any issues that need to be addressed across the various wellbeing dimensions.
In conjunction with this, an essential tool in comprehensive feedback are surveys for employees. This type of survey provides a snapshot of how engaged employees are, what they think about their colleagues, how they are developing within their role and more. By conducting surveys at regular intervals, businesses can track the changes in employee wellbeing over time and see which interventions are most effective at improving it. An article by Harvard Business Review states that “The act of filling out a survey gives (employees) a specific channel for expressing their voice.” It also emphasises that surveys can work in conjunction with HCM solutions stating “Smart technology and big data will continue to help us figure out what matters most to our people. But that will make surveys more important, not less.”
“There are solutions available in the market today that allow companies to have the necessary framework to set, launch and manage all workplace initiatives that focus solely on employee wellbeing, such as Oracle HCM Cloud’s Work-Life Solutions,” according to Vipin Bansal, Global Practice Head at Birlasoft, a leading global consultancy and system integrator. “For instance, the platform has a specific Wellness module where you can blend the company’s wellness programs with employees’ personal , track activities and provide continuous feedback, as well as allow wellness and benefits managers to track the effectiveness of such programs.”
Methods for improving employee wellbeing using insights
In the past, many organisations relied on perception to measure employee wellbeing. However, this method is not always accurate because it only provides information about what people think they know or believe may be true. For example, employees might say they are satisfied with their jobs when they are unhappy and plan to leave. As a result, businesses need to take a data-driven approach, to gain an accurate understanding of how their employees feel.
The challenges of implementing an effective employee wellbeing program
Employee wellbeing can get overlooked at times, and there are differing opinions on whether companies should monitor their employees’ wellbeing or not.
Managers need to make sure they analyse staff feedback correctly and apply changes accordingly, otherwise, the survey data will not be useful for gaining insight into employees’ experiences at work. An important factor to acknowledge is the point of a healthier workforce rather than looking out for people who are trying to take advantage of any opportunities that may arise from processes put in place e.g. absence management or back-to-work plans etc.
“Birlasoft works with hundreds of mid-sized and large enterprises around the world, and what we’ve seen is that pandemic made people prioritise a healthy, active lifestyle, combined with a strong balance between professional and personal aspects,” says Bansal. “Leaders must make employee wellbeing a top priority, and invest in technologies that help them accelerate such transformations, while continuing to focus on growing the business. HCM solutions offer you that flexibility and advantage to help your employees achieve that balance. ”
A comprehensive wellbeing plan should identify the areas where employees are struggling most, and it can be incredibly time-consuming. Oracle HCM is a tool that streamlines this process through anonymised data captured in different ways. There are also specialist partners like Birlasoft that can help you make the most of these technologies, and fully integrate them into your company’s operations.
Birlasoft is a strategic implentation partner working with Oracle. With decades of experience, the specialist team can help your business make the most of Oracle HCM and their associated offerings. If you would like to find out more or book an appointment with one of our specialist experts, visit our website here.