As the United Kingdom marks Stress Awareness Month, Alistair Dent, Chief Strategy Officer for data-science company Profusion, comments on the potential of data-driven approaches for understanding employee mental wellness.
Created by the Stress Management Society, Stress Awareness Month has been held every April since 1992 in a bid to raise awareness of the causes and cures for our modern stress epidemic. The theme for this year’s month is ‘Community’; a reminder of the importance of coming together to support one another following a challenging period of isolation for many.
Figures from a recent poll by CIPD publication, People Management, suggest almost two-thirds (67%) of UK employees are experiencing moderate to high levels of stress.
For businesses and their talent teams, data can be as critical a tool for driving change in employee health and wellbeing programmes as it has already proven itself to be in enabling better operational decisions.
It is well established that a happier team makes for a more productive and successful business. Inherently though, as more people work from home than ever before, it can be very difficult for businesses to gauge morale and the impact of well-being initiatives without the physical cues afforded by a face-to-face meeting or an impromptu chat over the water-cooler. This is where the importance of data really comes into play.
The real value of data
It may sound obvious but regular staff surveys to gauge the state of play can be remarkably useful in terms of determining how employees are feeling and identifying causes for concern and areas for improvement. Equally, a more analytical approach to workloads can help employers ascertain overload and out-of-hours working on a department-by-department basis to understand which areas are most strained. A business can only know how to support their teams if they know what needs supporting.
Underscoring the above, predictive analytics enables businesses to better predict the future so they can ensure they have the right teams and capacity in place ahead of time as work stress continues to hamper employee performance, particularly for those struggling to re-adjust to the new post-pandemic workplace.
According to a recent study amongst UK employees, 28% have seen their productivity negatively impacted within the last two years and 34% state stress is negatively impacting them.
The imperative for a more data-driven approach to employee wellbeing is just as much an ethical as a business one. It is unfortunate but inevitable that many employees are going to feel more isolated whilst working from home, so it’s important for businesses to find new ways to reestablish that social connection.
By way of example at Profusion we introduced a ‘Coffee Roulette’ programme during lockdown whereby an algorithm was used to match staff members who would have little contact while working from home and automatically schedule a meeting. It proved such a success – with a staff survey revealing 72% felt it improved their morale – that we have not only made it a long-term fixture but developed it into a product to help other companies replicate the interactions that take place organically in offices amid widespread remote working.