Companies can do a great job of forecasting and measuring the bottom line. Do they also have a sense of whether they’re fostering a workforce that’s happy and truly cares?
That can be trickier to assess. For example, did productivity rise because your staff is more content and dedicated? Because you created a more effective process? Because you added new technology? It’s hard to tease out all the factors.
To gauge the effectiveness of your efforts to reward and inspire staff, and create a supportive culture, you need to evaluate broadly. With the help of HR or benefits consultants, consider a range of measures:
- Job satisfaction surveys, which provide subjective views.
- Objective HR data, which can serve as proxy measures for employee satisfaction and wellness, e.g., turnover, absenteeism, leaves, etc.
- Benefits plan usage and costs.
- Wellness program interventions and outcomes, e.g., body mass index, smoking cessation, blood pressure, etc.
- Use of an employee assistance program.
- Job recruitment data, e.g., number of applicants, quality applicants, rate of acceptance of job offers, etc.
- Revenue per employee.
- Efficiency and error rates.
The numbers can give you some important benchmarks. But remember, “You can’t totally quantify an engaged employee,” says Caroline Kugelmass, president of Excel Benefit Consulting in Calgary. She says to keep your eyes open for things that are tougher to measure. For instance, are clients receiving a consistent level of service from all employees?
Kandy Cantwell, managing partner at Montridge Financial Group in Vancouver, adds that some seemingly minor choices are nevertheless telling about employee happiness and commitment. If the person who normally makes the coffee is away, does someone else do it? When you ask for volunteers, do staff step up?
“All that little stuff, as a manager I notice,” says Cantwell. “If somebody hates their job, they won’t do the extra.” Studies show that companies whose employees feel a general sense of wellbeing at work tend to generate better returns. For example, a 2014 study by researchers at the Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania) and Warwick Business School in the U.K. looked at the link between employee satisfaction and stock returns. As their database, they used “best companies to work for” lists in 14 countries. The researchers found a relationship between those companies and positive returns.
Another 2014 study, by Morneau Shepell, found that Canadian firms with employee assistance programs show a return of $8.70 for every $1 invested (improved productivity at work and less time away). Then there are other savings. By some accounts, every dollar companies invest in wellness programs saves them anywhere from $2$5 in health-care benefits and sick leave costs.
The equations should be obvious, says Kugelmass: “The right culture translates into a happier, more efficient workforce, and a higher level of performance. If you’re passionate about your job, you’ll excel at it.”