We know that employee wellbeing matters. We also know a lot about the aspects of our job that can make a difference to employee wellbeing. But, what is harder, is knowing what’s specifically right for your organisation and employees, as well as how to make the most of your resources and effort to improve wellbeing in practice.
Evaluations of different interventions in different settings help to identify the specific projects, activities, training courses, and applications that have been found to improve workers’ wellbeing, and the extent to which their wellbeing has improved. By conducting an evaluation of an intervention, you can identify measurable changes that occur as a result of implementing wellbeing programmes and learn what works for different people. The more evaluations the more confident you can be about the likely impact it could have.
The IT division of a major US firm ran an intervention designed to support greater employee control over work time and greater supervisor support for workers’ personal lives. In at least one of the participants’ panels, employee job satisfaction (measured by a 3-item scale, range 1-7) increased from 3.95 at baseline to 4.12 twelve months after.
A UK based heavy engineering plant of an overseas-owned multinational ran an intervention consisting of performance enhancing practices (training, capacity building, work reorganisation, etc.). The average employees’ job satisfaction (measured in a 5-item scale, range 1-6) increased significantly from 4.07 at baseline to 4.23 half a year later.
Two secondary Vocational Education and Training schools in Netherlands ran a participatory intervention for recovery and vitality of educational workers. The mean job satisfaction (measured in a 2-item scale, range 1-5) of the participant group increased significantly from 3.3 at baseline to 3.5 twelve months after, although got back to baseline levels another twelve months later.
Seventeen small and medium sized organisations in the UK ran an intervention which trained existing employees to promote physical activity to their colleagues. Average life satisfaction of employees participating increased (on a SWLS of 0 to 100) from 20.55 to 23.06 in a 6-month period.
How to make the choice about what to do?
To decide which you should choose, you should first identify the areas of most concern and target your approach to the needs of your employees. As seen throughout this series, there are various drivers of workplace wellbeing that might require attention, such as health, financial security, purpose, skills use, etc. Use the snapshot survey to start identifying those areas to target.
But the reality, particularly in times of uncertainty and limited budgets, is of course that you will also need to consider how much benefit you are getting from a given initiative compared with its cost. For that we don’t just need good data on whether or not the intervention had an impact on participant’s wellbeing, but also on the costs incurred in delivering that intervention so you can calculate how much wellbeing impact you get for each pound spent.
For example - The UK Civil Service ran a 5-week online goal‐setting and planning intervention and the average life satisfaction of participants increased (on a scale of 0 to 10) from 6.40 to 6.84 after the intervention, while the average life satisfaction of those in the waiting list fell slightly from 6.52 to 6.51 in the same period*. It is estimated that the intervention cost less than 170 GBP to improve the life satisfaction of one employee by one point over a year.
Having both cost and impact data for different interventions, enables you to compare different options through a Cost-Effectiveness Analysis. Researchers at the University of Sheffield the University of East Anglia have developed a downloadable tool that can walk you through how to compare costs and benefits of different interventions to identify which offers the best value for money. It will tell you what the wellbeing Return On Investment is, but also where there are business benefits from the interventions in terms of improved performance or productivity.
On the Centre’s website you can find more resources to help you evaluate the costs and impact of wellbeing interventions in varied settings:
Get in touch for advice on conducting an evaluation or running a trial in your workplace.
*Thanks to the authors of this study for sharing some of their unpublished data on life satisfaction