The HR Expert – Who Owns Wellbeing
Wendy van Ierschot, Founder and CEO VIE People
Wendy van Ierschot is Founder and CEO VIE People, a HR Tech company for start-ups to scale up. Wendy is a HR strategy expert, entrepreneur, investor, and ‘scale-up coach’ for companies that are growing.
If a business values employee wellbeing and wants to work to improve this, the task would traditionally be handed to the HR department. However as HR professionals know, wellbeing is not just about people, it’s about positive outcomes business-wide. So what if you’re a HR professional who wants to do something about wellbeing, how do you take this to your business?
To find out I sat down with Wendy van Ierschot.
Who do you think owns the core of wellbeing within a business?
“Companies have a business strategy at the C-suite, and traditionally the HR strategy aligns to the business strategy. The HR department often lacks the hard data required to (put forward) the business case for wellbeing. Relating HR or wellbeing interventions to business impact is often challenging. To connect those scientifically correct with correlations that are sound, on a day to day basis, in the current business environment, is the big challenge. How do you design a sound wellbeing business strategy with a business case supporting it? We all sort of ‘know’ that there is value in it but we can’t prove it.”
Do you think HR professionals would like to have more ownership in this space?
“Yes absolutely, but I think HR often isn’t ambitious enough to be more proactive, rather than reactive to the business when it comes to wellbeing. However to do this we need a tool that gives us the hard data to support and prove our policies. When you’re sitting in the boardroom next to the Head of Finance, Head of Marketing, Head of Sales, they all have clear data that back their strategies, but HR doesn’t have this privilege yet when presenting wellbeing & culture strategies. We can refer to scientific journals proving the relationship for example between customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction but to turn that into earnings, savings and ethics is not how we are educated or used to think.”
What’s your number one tip to HR professionals when it comes to managing wellbeing in the workplace?
“79% of employees leave because of lack of appreciation, not money, so never underestimate the power of what you can do (in regards to wellbeing programs). Everything you do to improve your employees lives is great. But how do you measure the effect? How do you know it has a positive effect on how your people feel, how they perceive the company, and how it affects business outcomes? Answering these questions will get you buy-in from the business so you can continue this road.”
Now, let’s break it down…
‘Employee wellbeing’ and ‘culture’ as measurements of a business are currently much less tangible and quantitative than say ‘sales’ or ‘marketing’. This is because there are so many factors that play into how your employees feel on a daily basis, and how your office environment can influence that.
For example, let’s say you – a HR professional – launched a wellbeing program last year around improving fitness. You had communications campaigns, new exercise equipment, and even classes for your employees. You ran surveys to find out if your employees enjoyed the program and if they’d like it to continue, which they do. Great! You’ve improved wellbeing by improving fitness. BUT. How do you link this to your reduced absenteeism? Or link it to the increased sales & productivity? Currently, there is a gap in showing the true value your wellbeing interventions have for the business.
So how can you take your wellbeing programs to the next level and show the real value? It’s all about data. The first step is connecting your employee opinion surveys to your hard data (absenteeism, injury, incidents, incivility reports, etc.) and look for correlations to your wellbeing programs. Want to get started? Check out how we do it.
If you’d like to hear more from Wendy, you can follow her on LinkedIn.
Want to read more interviews from the ‘Who Owns Wellbeing’ blog series? Go to our overview page (e.g. with Real Estate Developer Daan van der Vorm)