Workplace well-being programs continue to emerge, and ‘gut feeling’ seems to be the main compass while developing these programs. All the while data and analytics have been growing as critical pillars in the healthcare industry, and thus it is not surprising that this is also happening for workplace well-being. I am convinced that data should and can be used to determine well-being program design, encourage sustained participation, and measure success, among other strategies. By leveraging data throughout the development, implementation, and maintenance of workplace well-being programs, it is possible to positively impact both the overall wellbeing of employees (think health, engagement, satisfaction…) and the organization’s bottom line.
Understanding the current state of individual employees and what factors negatively impact well-being can help organizations develop initiatives and programs targeted to address needs across the employee population. For example, by analyzing absenteeism and retention data, aggregated psychosocial and engagement data, or biometric screening results, it’s possible to uncover the most prevalent well-being issues among employees and teams, as well as the biggest drivers of costs.
Hence, surveying employees about their needs, goals, issues and relationships generate valuable data to guide strategic program development. For organizations with employees looking for extra guidance on budgeting or saving for retirement, a financial wellness component can add value to the well-being program. These are just a few examples of how data can be instrumental in designing a well-being program that meets the unique needs of each organization’s workforce.
Not only well-being program design benefits from a data-driven approach. Data can play a crucial role in driving participation in well-being programs. Utilizing data makes it possible to customize targeted outreach to listen to employees’ specific needs. Furthermore, coaching and communicating with employees based on their own data will engage them in well-being programs and initiatives more effectively. Not only can data personalize the employee experience, but it can also help reach the right employees at the right time in the right way. For example, suppose an employee’s data indicates that she/he is not feeling well due to the consistent high workload and a lack of family time. In that case, technology can offer a personalized solution without violating the employee’s privacy. More concretely, an automated email or notification can be sent with the suggestion to schedule some time off and unwind. Having the data needed to understand employees’ unique personal and professional situation inevitably leads to more sustainable engagement in the well-being program.
A future-proof way to translate this idea into the workspace is setting up technology that automates critical but iterative well-being management processes. Think about a streamlined, data-driven well-being platform that continuously listens to the needs of employees and guides them to use the most relevant components of the well-being program. Serving as a hub to all the related services an employer offers, a one-stop well-being portal. This innovative way of working offers a more automated, intelligent opportunity to engage employees through multiple touchpoints. In addition, technology allows to automatically establish multiple personalized touchpoints with employees. These touchpoints can be used to listen and coach. All the while in parallel, a continuous stream of well-being data is established. This data can then again be used to design and fine-tune ongoing well-being initiatives to each organization’s workforce’s unique needs.
Combining proactive data-driven employee coaching with meaningful information about available resources such as physical exercise programs, Employee Assistance Programs, or even services like babysitting can support employees’ total well-being. Based on personal preferences, technology can then be used to drive employees to make the most of the appropriate services when needed. Surveys indicate that this approach can result in higher engagement, better health decision-making, and lower medical costs.
Once a well-being program has been designed and launched, it is critical to use data to evaluate whether the program is effective. By leveraging the initial aggregated well-being data as a baseline, it is possible to see overtime improvements (or not) to crucial employee well-being parameters (e.g., finances, productivity, fitness, purpose, leadership, and more). In addition, starting from initial internal and external benchmarks, it is possible to continuously listen to every company’s unique needs.
Initial baseline data can be updated frequently with current data from the automated touchpoints organized with employees. Instead of taking a year-over-year snapshot of the organizations’ well-being, technology allows looking at it like a movie. This approach empowers organizations to act swiftly when needed and focus on well-being topics important for employees.
Furthermore, by having more accurate and up-to-date data, it is possible to keep track of the impact and Return on Investment (ROI) of the different components of the well-being program. In general, ROI involves assessing the changes in the organization’s and team’s well-being parameters. But also, calculations based on aggregated data concerning an organization’s absenteeism, productivity, and retention.
The most important takeaway is that a data-driven mindset seems to be the best approach to establish well-being programs that have impact. Up-to-date data combined with good analytics will already go a long way. When combined with the use of the right technology, it’s possible to create a more personalized well-being offering that more effectively engages employees and promotes positive behavior change. In sum, from inception through implementation through evaluation, well-being programs have more impact when backed by solid data.
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