Jun 11, 2020 | by Sara Connolly and Magdalena Soffia

Comparing benefits and costs of wellbeing activities at work: new calculator and how-to guide

You’re measuring staff wellbeing; assessing which wellbeing driver could make a difference in your organisation; using the evidence on workplace wellbeing; and weighing up which wellbeing approach would have an impact.

But how can you tell if you are getting the most wellbeing benefit for the cost of the intervention?

Today we publish a how-to guide and calculator – with user support – to help you evaluate and compare the cost effectiveness of wellbeing activities in the workplace. 

The short guide takes you through the different steps of what data is needed to conduct a cost-effectiveness analysis of any wellbeing intervention – whether it’s flexitime; compressed working week; mindfulness training; physical activity; workplace layout or workflow design; team building activities; improving job quality; Mental Health First Aid; learning and training; and so on.

You can use this guidance with or without the calculator; the calculator allows you to input  data from your own wellbeing activities and makes the detailed calculations for you.

Both can be used at all stages of an intervention: from assessing options and designing a trial; through to monitoring and evaluating the success of an intervention. 

How can the how-to guide and calculator help you?

Assessing whether a workplace intervention improves wellbeing is a crucial step before scaling it up and maximising impact. It was a key finding of last year’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Wellbeing Economics, which recommended that employers routinely measure employee wellbeing and put policies and programmes in place to promote staff wellbeing.

But is what we spend on improving wellbeing worth it relative to the number of people helped and how much their wellbeing improves? And, if there are lots of different ways in which we can spend our resources to improve wellbeing, which one is the most effective?

The good news is that you can measure both costs and effects. All you need to do is gather the right data. 

The cost effectiveness analysis used in the how-to guide and calculator gives us a common measure to compare the cost-effectiveness of different initiatives and programmes aimed at improving wellbeing.    

By building up our collective knowledge about what works (or what doesn’t) and how much it costs, we can design better initiatives that will improve workplace wellbeing in the future.

Measuring staff wellbeing before assessing cost-effectiveness

Before you can use the calculator or how-to guide, you’ll need to measure the change in the wellbeing of participants in your intervention – a basic before-and-after evaluation.

This means that you will have surveyed participants before they are exposed to any aspect of the intervention, and at some point after the intervention, in both cases asking the same question which captures their individual wellbeing. You must also have data on the estimated costs of the intervention.

You can use our wellbeing snapshot survey questions to create this survey – although it must include the question on life satisfaction.

If you use the guide or calculator, we would love to hear about your experience, including any challenges or suggestions – let us know by emailing info@whatworkswellbeing.org or on @WhatWorksWB.

Have you signed up for our 12-week special series on wellbeing at work?

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