Evaluating Workplace Wellbeing Initiatives

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There’s a saying in business, “What gets measured, gets done.”  

This is most often used in the context of employee goal-setting and productivity, but can also apply to measuring the impact and effectiveness of wellbeing initiatives in the workplace. 

Measuring the impact of wellbeing initiatives make sense – how else can you know if they’re making any difference. What you discover will help with future planning and establishing what works and what doesn’t. 

So, how can you measure the impact of wellbeing measures in the workplace? 

The Happiness at Work Survey

This survey was developed by New Economics Foundation Consulting in the UK. It is a quick, easy and affordable tool for organisations to measure and receive real-time feedback on how their strength areas and risk areas link together.

The Five Ways to Wellbeing (connect, be active, take notice, keep learning and give) are integral to the survey. The questions relate to: 

  1. Experience of work – how employees feel in their day-to-day working lives. 
  2. Functioning at work – how employees are doing in their day-to-day work.  
  3. Organisational system – how employees experience their workplace. 
  4. Personal resources – how employees overall lives are going, including their work-life balance.  

Information on The Happiness at Work Survey can also be found on the New Zealand site, Workplace Wellbeing, where the benefits of happy staff are explored:  

  • Happier employees are more productive employees: Study after study shows that happier employees are more engaged, more motivated, give better customer service, play more effective roles in teams and make better leaders. 
  • Happier employees are healthier employees: Happiness and health are interconnected. Happier employees are less likely to get sick and if they do get ill they recover quicker. All in all they show up to work more, are more present when they are there and have more energy. 
  • Happier employees are more loyal: Happier employees are less likely to leave. This is self-apparent, why leave if you are happy at work? 

Project Health 

This tool was developed in the US and focuses on strategies for assessing employee wellbeing. It identifies sample questions to be used in tools such as: 

  • Employee surveys 
  • Health fairs – testing the effectiveness of the event and suggestions for future events. 
  • Team lunches, presentations or workshops – where feedback is gathered on how effective the events were at supporting wellbeing. 

The questions look at whether wellbeing interventions met the needs of employees, and what worked and what didn’t. 

Black Dog Institute

The Australian-based Black Dog Institute also provides excellent insight into workplace wellbeing. They have developed key indicators of mentally healthy workplaces: 

  • people watch out for each other and can ask someone if they’re ok 
  • managers and teams understand mental health and openly talk about it 
  • people know about things they can do to build resilience for challenging times at work and at home 
  • staff with mental health concerns seek help early 
  • staff with mental health issues are supported in their recovery. 

According to the Black Dog Institute, research shows that mental illness is the leading cause of sickness absence and long term work incapacity in the developed world. It costs the Australian economy over $12 billion per year in lost productivity and has significant impacts on staff morale and organisational performance.