Employers lean heavily towards a data-driven approach when it comes to evaluating wellbeing


Evaluation of wellbeing programmes has taken hold, with a huge majority (92%) of employers saying they take action to gauge the impact of initiatives. This is a marked improvement compared with last year, when 74% of organisations said they assessed wellbeing services.

Employers lean heavily towards a data-driven approach when it comes to evaluating wellbeing

Challenging misconceptions – the importance of evidence-based wellbeing and why HR, reward and wellbeing practitioners need clinical experts is the theme for one of the panel discussions during the virtual Employee Wellbeing Congress. The panel includes health and wellbeing experts from Johnson & Johnson, BP, Rolls-Royce and GSK.

The Employee Wellbeing Research 2020 report, published by REBA in association with AXA PPP healthcare, revealed that, in the main, proxy measures are used to evaluate schemes. Almost three quarters use employee engagement levels (72%) and employee absence rates (70%), while two-thirds (66%) look at wellbeing programme participation rates.

Fewer employers consider financial measures, with 20% calculating the return on their wellbeing investment (ROI) in terms of common HR targets, such as absence and retention rates.

Meanwhile, drilling into data showing which particular initiatives are measured, health and safety is the category most employers have developed metrics for (74%), echoing findings since 2017. Below health and safety is musculoskeletal conditions (58%) and flu (53%).

For the third year running, measurement of mental health has increased. In 2018, just over a third (36%) of employers collected data on their employees’ mental health, which has risen to 49% this year.

“Measurement of other services and initiatives has room to improve but it is encouraging to see some growth in mental health, where stigma and negative perceptions can make accurate data collection difficult,” the report said.

Meanwhile, the survey of 309 wellbeing, HR and employee benefits professionals showed employers seem to be at a standstill when it comes to overcoming data-related barriers to measurement.

Since 2018, quantity and quality of data have both been cited as the main obstacles for employers. This year, infrastructure and data analytics expertise are also key issues, said employers.

On a positive note, a large majority (78%) of employers said they have a reasonable or good understanding of how their strategies are performing. In addition, 62% said they are confident or extremely confident they are able to interpret their wellbeing data and the impact on HR strategies.

Download a copy of the 92-page Employee Wellbeing Research 2020 (free to REBA Professional Members).

The author is Rima Evans, freelance writer for REBA.



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