In the last decade, the rise of people analytics has changed the entire landscape of HR.

A study by McKinsey found that 70% of company executives cite people analytics as a top priority.

Historically, ‘people analytics’ were thought of as looking at trends in headcount, employee satisfaction or performance rating. But now, people data is being used to spearhead evidence-based HR decision-making, manage talent and make a marked impact on employee engagement, health and wellbeing.

In this article, we take a look at the reasons why your people data holds the key to a successful employee health and wellbeing strategy.

Evaluate the impact of your existing health and wellbeing strategy
Every year, employers spend a significant amount of time and money on promoting and protecting employee health and wellbeing. While the amount of resource dedicated to health and wellbeing is a clear advantage for many, the lack of evaluation and understanding of the impact of these initiatives is often overlooked.

If 2020 taught us nothing else, our lives can change in a matter of days. Many of us transitioned to remote work; we distanced ourselves from others and spent our time in our homes to stop the spread of the coronavirus. In this time, what your employees need from your health and wellbeing initiatives may well have changed too. Access to services may have been restricted, subsidised gym memberships became worthless, and most support networks were brought online.

It is important that you make use of employee feedback to understand what your people need now, what needs to change in your health and wellbeing strategy and where you can make improvements. The simplest way to do this is to survey your employees to gather complex data on whether your health and wellbeing initiatives are still relevant, valuable and accessible. With this data, you can make evidence-based decisions that are based on fact and meet the changing needs of your employees.

Monitor staff performance
Changes in employee performance can also signify changes in their health and wellbeing. For example, overperforming employees may be at risk of burnout, stress or anxiety. In contrast, underperforming ones may be experiencing a dip in motivation or disinterest because of an underlying issue affecting their health and wellbeing.

Monitoring staff performance shouldn’t be perceived as ‘big brother’ but an opportunity to look out for anything that may be affecting your people. Keeping track performance data and having an understanding of how employees are achieving their goals can HR leaders to gain a better outlook on any potential risks to employee health and wellbeing.

Track employee turnover
Similarly, tracking employee turnover can also help HR to understand where any health and wellbeing issues lie. If churn is particularly high in a certain department or under a certain manager; it is worth investigating to understand if workload is unmanageable or if employees are becoming stressed under the leadership of a certain manager.

On the flipside, if churn is particularly low, is there an opportunity to learn why employees stick around in a certain role? What can you learn from this and apply to other areas of the business where churn may be higher?

You might use this data to develop a health and wellbeing strategy that makes employees feel comfortable at work, offering stress awareness and meditation classes.

Understand trends in absenteeism
Measuring the types and frequency of absenteeism can shine a light on any health and wellbeing issues within the workplace. Looking for patterns in your data, such as a higher level of absence in a particular department or spikes in certain types of absence, can help HR leaders to tackle the issue before it becomes overly problematic.

In instance, where an employee has higher than usual absence rates, this may signify an underling, undisclosed ailment or they may be experiencing a personal issue such as caring for an elderly relative that might be impacting their wellbeing. Using the people data within your business, you should be able to understand the number of days lost to absence, the reason for absence, duration and which areas of the business have the highest amount of time off. With this data, you can drill down into the detail to understand the precise reasons for changes or spikes in absence rates.

Many companies choose to use the Bradford Factor calculation in order to set ‘trigger’ points that flag any irregular or repeat periods of absence. Applying a weighting to unplanned absences can allow employers to understand the impact of absence, identify trends and underlying patterns across the workforce and in an individual’s absenteeism. With this data, you can approach employees with a Bradford Factor Score that you deem to be high to understand their recurring absence and whether there are any underlying health and wellbeing issues that you can help with.

Take an overall view
Finally, it is important not to just view these individual data sets in isolation. Rather, take an overall view of the people data available to you: engagement surveys, employee pulse responses, performance data, and other more people metrics.

Together, this will provide a more holistic view of both your employees health and wellbeing, the impact your existing strategies are having and where improvements need to be made. Analyse this data by location, department, manager and so on to understand how your employee health and wellbeing is at a local level too.