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Why it's Important to Measure Wellbeing Outcomes

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No change programme gets it absolutely right, first time.  Wellbeing is complex and subjective, with even more potential for programmes to drift off track or fail to deliver, without effective tracking and adjustment.  So why are so many organisations missing this important activity?

Only 22% of organisations are taking a Continuous Improvement approach to their wellbeing provision (2018 CIPD Health and Wellbeing Survey).  Effective application of CI requires

  • Consulting stakeholders and agreeing the desired outcomes, and only then selecting the activities which best support those outcomes
  • Tracking how effectively the activities are delivering those outcomes
  • Adjusting accordingly, based on the feedback

It takes a little longer than a scattergun or tick-box deployment, but it’s the only way to robustly demonstrate return on the time and money you’re investing in wellbeing.  And without good return, getting further investment gets increasingly difficult.  Being ‘the right thing to do’ just isn’t enough on its own to keep Wellbeing prioritised amongst all the organisation’s other activities.

In my recent research into different organisations’ wellbeing offering, Mental Health First Aid training came out as the number one first step.  The Department of Health has encouraged all employers to provide MHFA training as one of three steps in its 2012 ‘No Health Without Mental Health’ framework; and yet very few employers are tracking the frequency, quality or outcomes of Mental Health First Aid conversations.  A recent report published by the HSE concluded that MHFA was found to be effective in increasing awareness of mental ill-health within organisation, but also that

  • There is limited evidence that MHFA training leads to sustained improvement in the ability of those trained to help colleagues experiencing mental ill‐health
  • There is no evidence that the introduction of MHFA training has improved the organisational management of mental health in workplaces

And yet for many organisations, it’s the only activity which they’re so far undertaking.  To really work, it needs to be part of a wider range of activities, and the absence of feedback leaves us vulnerable to hanging our hat on something which, on its own, may ultimately fail to deliver. 

In the Oct-18 Mental Health at Work Report, published by Business in the Community

  • 61% of employees were found to have experienced mental health problems due to work or where work was a related factor, and one in three have been formally diagnosed with a mental health issue
  • And yet only 38% of men and 23% of women sought help for their most recent MH issue. If this is typical, simply increasing the help available is likely to have only limited impact
  • only 13% of employees said they would use an EAP to help them with a mental health issue.  And yet this is many employers’ only provision

With figures like these, surely we should be focusing just as much on prevention as on better supporting those experiencing mental ill-health; yet prevention so far seems to be receiving little attention or investment.

Effective measurement needn’t be complex or time consuming, and it’s so powerful in making sure that the we provide enough of the right kind of activities to really deliver better wellbeing.

To further explore applying Continuous Improvement best practices to your wellbeing delivery, click here

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