Respondents highlighted how a huge amount of the money currently being spent on wellbeing is done so without knowing the benefit. A lot of the time, this money is simply being wasted. A general feeling was that from a CFO’s perspective everything comes down to profit and loss, and that when the time comes, they will be looking at the balance sheet and requesting justification for wellbeing spend, and asking what the link is to employee metrics such as attrition or retention.
It was not felt that the impetus for booking the majority of initiatives came from a cost vs benefit basis, or even based on any kind credible evidence base at all. We had reports of companies making wellbeing decisions based on a whole raft of assumptions, thinking that they know what employees needed or wanted but without any data to back that up. Often companies simply didn’t know what they wanted, other than the fact that spending money on wellbeing felt like the right thing to do.
When I asked if it was cynical to talk about wellbeing in terms of profit and loss, the answer was ‘clearly not’. It was felt that the wellbeing community is beginning to recognise that there is very definitely an ROI connected to wellbeing, but work needs to be done there to desensitise people to the subject so the conversation can be had more freely.
One respondent shared an anecdote about having only 10 minutes in the boardroom to pitch their wellbeing idea and secure their budget, indicating how much easier this process would have been if they had had financial outcome metrics at their disposal. Indeed, a common theme was that there were challenges within a business to articulate information when there are no tangible outcomes currently.
Wellbeing service providers complained of still not being properly valued and sometimes still being asked for their services for free, as wellbeing doesn’t have the recognised value of, for example, an L&D programme. Being able to demonstrate ROI or VOI through wellbeing analytics would support their business case and increase their sense of authenticity.