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18 Jun 2024
by Sarah Carter

How to use data to spot looming health problems in your workforce

Collating and assessing data can help decide whether introducing a wellbeing initiative will have a sufficient return on investment



When you measure the positive impact of health and wellbeing using data analytics, organisations are in a much stronger position to direct initiatives appropriately to optimise return on investment. By effectively measuring and monitoring progress, you can increase that return further.

Organisations are often wary of investing in wellbeing measures when there is no guarantee a new initiative will have the desired impact and, more importantly, bring a return on investment. 

Piloting new schemes on a smaller scale means data can be collated and assessed to see if a new initiative is having a positive impact on employee wellbeing and overall engagement. This is a good first step in demonstrating to management that a concept will succeed or fail before a large investment is made.

Analytics can help spot looming symptoms

Measurement also encourages early intervention to aid recovery. Taking steps to prevent poor health from developing is more effective than waiting until people become ill. 

Where an employee needs additional support, employers equipped with the right skills to recognise the early warning signs are very important. This is also true when suggesting professional help where necessary. 

By becoming more informed, employees and managers can spot the signs sooner. This reduces the likelihood of mild symptoms becoming more severe and can make recovery easier. 

For organisations that invest in supporting their people’s mental health, the return on investment is anything between £5 and £11 for every £1 spent. 

These figures come from a combination of increased productivity, performance, and collaboration, and reduced presenteeism, absenteeism, and staff turnover. Those who reduce their investment in workplace mental health support may be paying for it in other ways, however, this may not be immediately obvious as most organisations are not tracking or reporting on this.

How can you use data to improve the wellbeing of employees?

Any company choosing to make health and wellbeing at work a priority and looking to implement initiatives to promote good health, can first measure what is intended to be improved. Appointing a specialist company to carry out an audit of your current provision can help you to understand where the gaps are. It can also help you to plan for future workforce changes. 

Utilising data and insights for measurement allows you to mitigate risk and optimise working conditions, as well as identify anomalies and trends. It can also influence positive corporate cultural and organisational change and address key issues and drive-up performance. When thinking about the support your organisation needs, ask yourself:

  • How could your team’s health be impacting your company performance?
  • As a business, are you championing health and wellbeing in the workplace?
  • Would all employees know what to do if a mental health crisis incident occurred?
  • How can you go beyond a staff survey to really understand the impact of investing in the health and wellbeing of your people

Data and insights can feed into every part of your workplace health and wellbeing strategy and policy. This can include line manager training, diagnosis and treatment of employees, or the appointment of various support services, such as employee assistance programmes and occupational health.

What are some of the challenges that can arise?

Most businesses support the concept of investing in employee wellbeing, but many have limited budgets. This is when data becomes critical in evidencing the significant indirect costs of poor employee wellbeing.

It is also worth remembering that employee wellbeing activities take time to embed before a business can see a true return on investment. This can be a frustrating wait for organisations who may have made a significant investment and are yet to reap the rewards. Data can help you begin to track the changes, even if these are small to start with.

Finally, there is a lot of choice when it comes to the measures you can take to support employee wellbeing.

A good first step in working out what your organisation needs is to always listen first and foremost to your people – don’t assume you know what they need. A business needs to approach wellbeing from a genuine place of wanting to see a happy and engaged workforce, as opposed to just driving down sickness absence. When employees can see that they are being heard they are more likely to be happy and productive. 

In partnership with Onebright

Onebright is a personalised on-demand mental healthcare company.

Contact us today