Wellbeing initiatives need more data backing

Poor quality data is impacting employers’ attempts to create a better workplace wellbeing culture.

New research by the Reward and Employee Benefits Association (REBA) found while reporting on wellbeing metrics was on the rise, up from 67% to 76% in 2020, findings were usually kept in house and just 10% of respondents’ organisations included them in their annual report.

Nearly half (49%) of employers surveyed said there was limited availability of the wellbeing data, with 43% citing poor quality data and 36% claiming there was a lack of suitable data collection.

This was despite 92% of employers using information from senior management to assess the successes of their wellbeing programmes, up from 74% in 2019.

Mental health was one of the main concerns for 89% of employers, followed by physical wellbeing at 69% and financial wellbeing at 25%.

Debi O’Donavan, co-founder and director of REBA, said most employers were still using proxy figures such as employee engagement rather than attempting to see shifts at a strategic business level.

“Given the vital role wellbeing plays in reshaping work and jobs, it is not a surprise that measuring effectiveness is receiving greater focus. The COVID-19 crisis has reinforced the message that to be sustainable, an organisation needs to be innovative and resilient. That can only happen with a good culture and positive employee experience. Wellbeing is at the core of achieving this.”

REBA did however find that employers were beginning to fuse their health insurance and wellbeing support offerings more effectively, with 82% agreeing they were complementary compared with 68% in 2019.

Cost, siloed product offerings and internal management of benefits were seen as the largest barriers to better integration.

Just 10% of organisations included wellbeing reports in their annual report and only one in five measure return on investment of their programme costs against absence and retention rates.

Further reading:

Four in ten employee helpline calls relate to mental health

Returning to work could create a mental health concern for HR

Mental health named most common reason for employees to lie about sick days

Financial worries have profound impact on employee mental health

HR concern over health issues in remote workers