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Proper measurement of wellbeing and engagement is a key to higher productivity

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) recently released the results of its first 'experimental' national subjective wellbeing survey. It was an attempt to find an alternative measure of national performance to traditional economic indicators such as gross domestic product. How useful would it be to employers to find similar indicators of wellbeing and engagement?

Over the last couple of years, there has been wide interest in developing and improving employee engagement because of the positive effects it has on productivity. Broadly speaking, engaged employees take pride in and are loyal to their job, and are willing to 'go the extra mile' for their organisation. 

Some 60 per cent of businesses have made it a top workforce priority to achieve high levels of employee engagement over the next year, according to the latest employment trends survey from the CBI and Harvey Nash.

However, recent research suggests that such drives are only part of the picture. Employers need to know what kind of effect their improvement strategies are having if full potential is to be achieved. Engagement can be measured by trying to find out the levels of trust between employees and managers, and whether employees feel valued and respected. Another key indicator is the effectiveness of an organisation's communication and consultation procedures.

The charity Business in the Community (BITC), which promotes responsible business practice, is launching the 'Workwell benchmark'. From this autumn, the benchmark will rank FTSE 100 companies on how well they measure and report staff wellbeing and engagement.

This follows BITC research demonstrating a 'critical link' between HR metrics and improved productivity. They found that FTSE 100 firms that systematically reported staff absence and engagement statistics outperformed their counterparts by 10 per cent.

The benchmark recognises the importance of transparency in employee management and seeks to encourage a more rigorous approach to measuring wellness and engagement across businesses.

Acas provides support and information to employers and employees seeking to improve or measure employee engagement. It also runs practical training courses to equip managers, supervisors and HR professionals with the necessary skills to build trust in management and engage employees. Visit the Acas Training and Business Solutions area for more information.

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