Measuring Engagement, Stress and Wellbeing
We don’t believe that measuring the level of employee engagement, stress or wellbeing is the be all and end all if you want your employees to thrive and your business to flourish. We do believe that it can be a useful starting point and a way of benchmarking where you are now and what progress you’re making. And in our opinion, it’s better to have the right amount of data in a format that you can understand and act on, rather than weighty research tomes that only excite analysts and statisticians or which quietly gather dust on a shelf.
We also believe that it’s important to select the right research methods to ensure that you are actually assessing the very thing you want to learn about. Having studied research methods at post-graduate level and helped clients with a range of research projects, we can design and implement suitable ways to gather the information you need. Of course we use methods that people are familiar with e.g. surveys, questionnaires, focus groups and interviews. But we also find that experience sampling methods (ESM) give us the edge when we want to capture people’s behaviours, thoughts or feelings as they occur in real-time. And implicit techniques enable us to capture the information that people would otherwise hide (see box below).
|Finding Hidden Truths
We believe that occasionally it’s inappropriate to accept what people are saying explicitly at face value. This is because sometimes people consciously hide the truth from others or unconsciously hide the truth from themselves.
For example, an employee who spends one hour of work time on social network sites may tell you they only do so for only 10 minutes a day. This could be because they’re unwilling to tell you – i.e. they really don’t know how much time they use it or they don’t want you to know. Or the inaccuracy occurs because they honestly believe that they only spend 10 minutes on the sites and through this process of self-deception, they’re unable to give you the correct answer.
These explicit responses come from consciously reflecting on answers, and from rationalising or defending the information before responding. Yet because we want to understand what people are really thinking and feeling about things, it can be useful to use techniques that tap in to their implicit thoughts and feelings and bring the hidden information to the fore.
Two of our favourite techniques for this are implicit association tests and hypnosis interviews:
So whether you want to better understand how engaged your workforce is, if stress is a problem, or how physically and emotionally healthy your people are, we have a solution for you. Below you can read more about our approach:
We believe in giving you as fuller picture as possible on:
- the resources that contribute to engagement in your organisation
- whether your people feel engaged
- and what the work-related outcomes are
because only by understanding each of these will you be able to determine what you want to maintain or change. We gather this information through the use of scientifically-validated questionnaires, interviews and focus groups, experience sampling, implicit techniques, or a mixture of methods.
We know that conducting an assessment of the psychological risks in the workplace is a legal duty but we strongly believe that it shouldn’t be done simply as a tick-box exercise. Conducted properly, assessing the risk of stress and its impact is a useful way of gathering data to inform you on how to improve or maintain working conditions and working practises to enable healthy and productive staff, and of course take appropriate steps where a risk is known.
Where it’s appropriate to gather quantitative data, we prefer to use scientifically-validated questionnaires to inform you about:
- how your workers feel about their job
- the causes of stress in your workplace
- and the impact of this on their health, wellbeing and absence levels.
Of course, instead you could just use the HSE’s Indicator Tool – a free questionnaire that simply measures the factors that cause work-related stress – indeed we are skilled at helping organisations make sense and take action from the data it provides, but we would also recommend that you supplement this data with additional information from your business metrics and staff.
We believe that the data you gather should help determine the ‘quick wins’ and inform the medium and long-term strategies. Whilst questionnaires have their uses, rarely do they help you determine how members of staff rate the need to tackle one stressor over and above another, or provide you with the underlying reasons that a stressor is perceived to be an issue for one team and not all. For example, a client came to us having found that two teams of staff felt pressured to work long hours, however when we conducted focus groups to explore this, we found that only one team wanted help with managing their workload, the other reported that their manager worked excessively long hours and they were afraid of leaving the office before her in case it affected their chance of promotion! Thus we advise caution on basing any interventions on questionnaire results alone.
We’re happy to help gather additional information through interviews and focus groups which give employees the chance to air their concerns and importantly, to generate solutions too.
We believe that currently there is no single questionnaire that measures wellbeing because it is a complex topic informed by a number of different theories encompassing how people feel physically, and how they feel about their career, finances, relationships, social connections and community involvement. Instead informed by our research in psychobiology and positive psychology, we can select the most appropriate tool to help boost your understanding of your workers’:
- quality of life
- satisfaction with life
- positive and negative emotions
- subjective happiness
- meaning in life
- purposeful work
- curiosity & exploration
- psychological wellbeing
- and psychological capital (i.e. hope, self-efficacy, optimism & resiliency)
to name but a few of the topics that make up this fascinating area. In addition to, or instead of scientifically-validated questionnaires we can use techniques such as experience sampling, implicit association, interviews and focus groups to help you learn about your employees’ experiences, values, ideas and beliefs.
Find out more:
To find out more about how to check your staff’s levels of engagement, stress and wellbeing, so you can take the right action for you and your employees to thrive, please contact us.
“A mind always employed is always happy. This is the true secret, the grand recipe, the felicity.” – Thomas Jefferson