HR | Atlantic - Positive Change at Work

Benchmarking Worklife

Jul 12, 2012

In Making the Business Case for Investments in Workplace Health and Wellness,  the Conference Board of Canada recently released a report identifying the benefits for workplaces to establish workplace wellness metrics and base line health benchmarks.  This would provide the foundation for calculating the return on investment (ROI) for any wellness initiatives designed to improve employee health.

While there is a growing awareness of the impact and costs of unhealthy workplaces, less than one-fifth (18%) of organizations in Canada currently are capturing baseline data on workforce health.   Senior leadership may know intuitively that there are benefits to these investments, but few organizations have metrics in place, and even fewer have benchmarked performance to those metrics.

Studies support investments in workplace health and wellness programs because there is both a financial and a legal liability benefit to the organization.  Not only do effective programs reduce benefits costs, absenteeism, and presenteeism, they also help organizations satisfy their legal obligations to provide a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. We promote the view that organizational leaders can only manage effectively what they can measure.

There are tools available to do this, and they needn’t be overly complex to administer.  For example, HRA has access to TalOp’s Quality of Worklife (QWL) Benchmarking Study.  This is a new tool that is designed to benchmark employee’s perceptions of their current quality of their work life to set a reference point with respect to the employees’ current risk for burnout and health levels. QWL provides leaders with real time insight into the organization’s people risks and their associated consequences. The QWL uses proprietary scales for analyzing employee perceived stressors, core competencies to manage and take responsibility for their own behaviour, employees’ commitment levels, and employees’ physical and psychological health.

The QWL Benchmarking study methodology

• Is grounded in an evidence based & empirical research model.

• Has been successful in both Union and Non-Union environments.

• Captures quantitative data as to the root causes of Employees Health Risk, Employees Commitment (engagement) Levels & Retention.

• Provides leaders with insight into the workforce’s current perceptions, and why some employees are at greater risk then others for: commitment loss, disability claims, health issues (i.e., burn out), accidents & injuries, and loss of productivity.

While employers cannot solve all employee problems, QWL results provide employers with ideas for partnering with employees to create positive solutions for change.


The QWL Benchmarking study

• Requires a commitment to work with all the key stakeholders.

• Typically requires the defined study group to complete one confidential on-line survey (approximately 50 minutes).

*A premium version of the QWL is available that will also gather and analyze qualitative data.

QWL clients receive a tailored technical report developed by a multidisciplinary team with expertise in Human Behaviour, Industrial/Organizational Psychology and Employee Relations . The technical report will provide bench marks as well as a set of recommendations to the client and identifies current workforce health risks.


Organizations Use QWL

When they observe:

• Unplanned, increased financial expenses due to employee lost time and increased disability claims (tangible).

• Increased levels of employee conflict.

• Evidence of increased emotional strain on employees and management (intangible).


Why Organizations Use QWL

• To provide employers with a benchmark of the root causes of employee-perceived stressors.

• To provide a benchmark of the employees’ perceived mental and physical health and risk.

• To provide a benchmark of employer current intrapersonal competency (locus of control & self-efficacy).

• To identify options for reducing risks to employee health and move employees from Level 5 on to a healthier track.

• The ultimate goal of  QWL  Benchmarking  Study  is to give Leaders options to facilitate and improve employee Quality of Work Life.

Resolving complex issues requires an understanding and measurement of the most likely root causes.  Without this analysis, it is not possible to assess what interventions have made a positive impact, and to appreciate the return on investment.

If you want to learn more about QWL, contact Constance Robinson for a brochure:


by Bill Howatt, PhD. of  Howatt HR is a strategic partner of HRA

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