Last year our employee health consultant Dr Steven Boorman was asked to contribute expert opinion to the forthcoming REBA* Employee Wellbeing report. Nobody knew then about the tsunami of employee health and wellbeing concerns that would build during the Covid-19 pandemic.
*Rewards and Employee Benefits Association
The changed landscape makes a report like this even more important. The results show so clearly what Empactis has espoused for years. Employee health, both physical and mental, matters. It is good to see that more and more organisations seem to agree.
The importance of employee health and wellbeing data
The importance of data to drive decisions around employee wellbeing is one of the highlights that emerges from the report. It states: “organisations say they still lack usable data they can turn into actionable insight, or where data is available, the infrastructure or expertise to make it relevant.”
76% of employers are now collecting data and reporting on their wellbeing initiatives, up from 67% last year
49% of employers say data is still limited
43% cite poor quality data
36% say there is lack of quality data collection
Empowering managers with data and support
The importance of line managers having the right information at hand for employee health and absence as well as wellbeing is the theme around which Dr Boorman’s contribution centred.
He flagged up that “many managers struggle to know when to act, as well as what to do. This is when good data can make all the difference.” It was interesting to note from the report that, despite the rise in measurement of wellbeing strategies overall, just 33% take direct measures of employee health.
Sadly, too many organisations rely on information in HR systems that is incomplete, inaccurate or both.
Employee wellbeing and health data must be joined up
Information is not connected by means of an integrated, joined-up system that can support essential workflows. It cannot give a true picture of need either to managers, nor their HR or employee wellbeing business partners.
This challenge is often starkly apparent in the approach to sickness absence management. Organisations not only lack the complete view of absence to inform decisions. Their line managers aren’t equipped with the information to engage and support staff around health in general. They often lack what’s needed to provide the right support at the right time, and to help manage returns to work after absence.
That’s become even more important in the Covid-19 era, as it is vital that people return only at the right time, do so safely – and, if relevant, are supported to get tested. It’s one reason that Empactis has created a rapid deployment solution for Covid-19 absence and testing challenges.
“Sickness absence information is often poorly collected, and rarely used in ways to help managers understand what they can do to offer better and more timely help for their staff.”Dr Steven Boorman, Employee Health Consultant at Empactis
There is optimism throughout the research report. Many metrics are moving firmly in the right direction. Yet so much more remains to be done.
In concluding his contribution, Dr Boorman ended on an upbeat note too. Technology innovation holds huge potential to health and wellbeing management. It will enable us to understand the real picture, help improve the management of staff health and capture and analyse the outcomes to ensure that all the support we offer is effective.
The REBA/AXA PPP healthcare Employee Wellbeing Report is available to REBA members or for purchase, with a free Executive Summary available on request.