The results are in for Mad World’s first annual “Engagement, Workplace Culture & Wellbeing” survey. They make for an interesting read.
Thank you to everyone who took part. We had a fantastic range of responses from the private, public and voluntary sectors - from large, small and medium sized organisations.
As is often the case with surveys, it’s by digging into the open-ended responses that the really rich insights are unearthed.
Assessing the landscape
Before getting into the nitty gritty, we wanted to get a feel for the lay of the land. We asked four key questions.
The first question: “Does your organisation currently assess employee engagement?” The majority (65%) answered “yes”, with 24% responding “no” and the remaining 9% responding “not at the moment but we are planning to in the future”. Having determined that a majority are assessing employee engagement, we dug deeper.
We wanted to get a sense for whether employee engagement and
wellbeing are linked, but also an idea of how organisations are measuring the
effectiveness of their mental health and wellbeing strategies.
While just over 42% are using employee engagement surveys to inform and assess the effectiveness of mental health and wellbeing strategies, more than 57% are either not doing this at all, or are not doing this at the moment but are planning to in the future.
The next question revealed that of those who are using employee engagement surveys to assess the effectiveness of their mental health and wellbeing strategies, the highest proportion do this as part of a general annual survey.
A few (11%) have an annual survey dedicated to understanding mental health and wellbeing needs, while 22% use regular pulse surveys to give quick insight into the health of employee engagement.
A third of respondents indicated that they use “other” means to assess the effectiveness of their mental health and wellbeing strategy. I was intrigued to find out more.
Looking at the responses these ranged in complexity from the straight forward: “through wellbeing focus groups”, “in appraisals” and “with a happiness at work score of 1-10”, to the more complex: “thymometrics (which helps employers to continually understand employee mood and engagement) and “occupational health and take up of wellbeing initiatives, combined with self-assessment and feedback from line managers and mental health first aiders”.
Several respondents indicated that mental health and wellbeing is assessed in their organisation through an engagement survey only once every three years.
Finally, we asked whether engagement with the topic of mental health and wellbeing is increasing across respondents’ organisations. An encouraging 70% answered yes, it was.
Effective engagement strategies
Having got a sense of how engagement is assessed generally and how engagement surveys relate to mental health and wellbeing initiatives, we wanted to understand more about how employers are encouraging engagement in mental health and wellbeing, right across the organisation.
We asked respondents to outline the three most effective strategies they have deployed. We received a huge range of responses.
These will be collated and included in this year’s Mad World Summit show guide as an A-Z of strategies employers are using to engage employees with mental health and wellbeing. The response demonstrates how willing employers are to collaborate and exchange experiences.
Suggested strategies are eclectic. Some are simple and well known, others are innovative and far ranging. Some of the tips that stand out include:
Obstacles to overcome
Next, we wanted to understand what is getting in the way when it comes to engaging employees with mental health and wellbeing. Around 7% of respondents are confident that nothing is standing in their way. Comments from this group included: “No obstacles, it has been met with huge interest and enthusiasm” and “We’re finding it fairly straight forward. People can over complicate”.
However, even though more than 70% of respondents had enthusiastically indicated that engagement with mental health and wellbeing in the workplace is increasing, the majority of these identified obstacles that are preventing widespread engagement.
Many of the obstacles mentioned are connected and come back to the fact that, even though attitudes in workplaces are changing, the stigma attached to talking about mental health (and ill-health) is still widespread.
The key obstacles referenced can be grouped as follows:
Creating lasting change in workplace culture
Having gained a sense of the key obstacles that organisations are encountering when it comes to engaging employees with mental health and wellbeing, we wanted to see how this compared to the obstacles that need to be overcome to achieve lasting culture change.
Responses were again far ranging but came back time and again to:
Stand out comments included: “Too many sub cultures in a matrix organisation”, “We’re getting there. It’s a continual drip feed in amongst so many other messages”, “Creating future corporate optimism”, “Urgent vs. important, long term planning vs. myopic daily, weekly, monthly lip service” and “Getting beyond mental health awareness being transactional to a way of engaging with and caring for people”.
Making the link back to employee engagement
Finally, we asked respondents what would make the biggest difference to them and to their organisation in terms of the link between employee engagement, workplace culture, mental health and wellbeing.
Responses were again incredibly varied but focused mainly around 3 key points:
Making the more distinct link back to employee engagement it was suggested that it would be useful to be able to track how specific activities influence employee engagement. It was also mentioned that the key is to link the needs of individuals to the needs of an organisation. “Having a system in place that provides metrics on the benefits of employee engagement as a preventative measure” was also raised as was “Making engagement and wellbeing a cultural value in companies”, with engagement and wellbeing metrics published on the company website.
Responses to this question were gathered to feedback, anonymously, to the Engage for Success Wellbeing Thought and Action Group. This has recently been launched to help employers find approaches that have a positive impact on individual wellbeing and on organisational performance.
In response to survey findings Natasha Wallace from Engage for Success’ Wellbeing Thought and Action Group said: “It's clear to see that employers are looking for the evidence to show the link between engagement and wellbeing as well a way to measure ROI. The survey has provided us with some very useful feedback which we'll use to inform our work on the Engage for Success Wellbeing Thought and Action Group. Over the coming twelve months, we hope to be able to provide employers with what they need not only to improve wellbeing in their organisations but to demonstrate senior leaders that the investment is worth it”.
While engagement with mental health and wellbeing in the workplace is increasing, there are still many obstacles when it comes to engaging employees right across the workforce and creating lasting cultural change.
The diverse response to the survey illustrates the hunger for concrete examples of best practice from across industries and geographies. There is also a clear call for data that can be used to make the business case needed to achieve essential senior management buy-in and budget.
We are grateful to all of the respondents for sharing their thoughts and suggestions.
Through our fortnightly Mad World News and the live Mad World Summit on 9th October, we are working hard to curate concrete insights and provide the opportunities for real-time knowledge-exchange that employers are seeking.
You can register to attend the Mad World Summit either as a conference delegate or as a day visitor by clicking here.
I look forward to meeting you there.
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