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How to track employee well-being as a KPI

Sharon Florentine | Feb. 7, 2017
Healthy organizations start with healthy employees. The good news is that there is a way to measure well-being like any other key performance indicator.

"One of the newest, hottest technologies to do this is sentiment analysis. And you can perform sentiment analysis on anything that is written; whether you're monitoring blogs, tweets, Facebook pages, collaboration apps, the whole idea is to gauge the sentiment behind what's written to, from and by your employees and to measure their engagement with these written forms of communication," Williams says.

You can drill down within these findings to determine how individuals are responding to certain changes, initiatives, programs and the like, and you can 'zoom out' to see how sentiment is faring by department, she says.

It may seem a bit too intrusive; Big Brother watching over your Slack channels and your venting to co-workers about the latest policy change, so there's a fine line to walk, Williams says.

"The idea isn't to pick on one person for sending a disgruntled email, either, it's much broader. It's well within most organizations' rights to monitor email and other written communication mediums, but this kind of monitoring has to be done with a light hand and with an eye toward transparency, openness and honesty. You want to focus on high-level sentiment, broad and general information gathering with the express purpose of assuring your employees' continued happiness and well-being," she says, not to weed out and punish dissent.

[ Related story: 8 tips for organizing your workspace ]

Hard data

Another way to measure sentiment is by tracking usage and participation data, Williams says. In the same way wearables can track activity and gauge overall health and fitness, gathering this kind of data can give you a good sense of the well-being of your workforce.

Basic wellness metrics like the number of participants, how many employees currently have primary care physicians and access preventative care as well as how many participate in specific programs are all valuable data points, Albrecht says.

"The amount of activity your employees engage in can be indicative of larger well-being trends, and can point to correlations with happiness and well-being. People who are happier and healthier tend to be more engaged, and the reverse is also true: a higher level of activity could lead to better feelings and better happiness," she says.

And tracking habits -- how many people repeatedly take part in wellness and well-being activities -- can bolster these metrics, Albrecht says. Organizations can also include self-reported well-being metrics such as whether or not their employees feel they are living and working with purpose, how stable they are emotionally and financially, as well as offer the potential to include biometric data like blood glucose, stress levels and the like, he says.


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