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Four steps to building a rock-solid business case for well-being

The insights in this article are based on an Ask Me Anything session hosted by the Quan Community, which is a place for people leaders, founders, and team leads to connect and gain insights into improving team well-being and collaboration. Visit here to find out more or join

Well-being is a topic that’s almost universally perceived as important, and a good sense of well-being as desirable, by people leaders, management teams, and employees alike. But at the same time, it is also seen as vague and difficult to quantify. 

Therefore, if you are a people leader in a scale-up or enterprise and you want to put a focus on this important area, it is absolutely critical that you build a solid business case to pitch to your management team and other stakeholders. In fact, it is highly advised to go into these conversations armed with data, specifics, and even science to back you up. If you don’t, you run the risk of coming across as operating based on feelings alone, and your chances of success will be slim.  

Fortunately, there are a wide range of best practices that we have observed on how to pitch well-being to management teams, and convince potentially skeptical stakeholders why a focus on well-being pays dividends from a business perspective. In this post, we will take a look at these key steps.

Step 1: Identify where the pain points are

The foundation of making a strong business case for well-being is to identify what pain points your organization already has. 

Some common examples might be stress, burnout, or a lot of sick time being used. Low levels of employee retention or difficulty in hiring can also suggest there may be well-being issues at play. Managing teams in remote and/or hybrid situations is a very common challenge, since it is difficult to really understand how engaged and motivated people are, and what if any issues that are facing. And it is also important to consider that any of these challenges may be across your entire organization, but they may also only exist in specific teams, departments, or geographical locations. 

One other thing to consider is that while you may not have apparent challenges right at this specific moment, reorganization, volatility, or other big changes often impact well-being. So if your organization has any changes on the horizon, it can be very helpful to take a proactive approach to managing well-being ahead of time.

Step 2: Leverage data to prove there is a cost and urgency

Once you identify a pain point, you need to find the right data to support your argument that this is a real issue that is costing the business. There are several ways to get this. 

Some issues, such as burnout, can be quite obvious. Besides being distressing for your coworkers who are going through it, it is easy to show that it costs a lot of money for the organization due to time off, delayed projects, and so on. 

Another qualitative way to get data is from exit interviews, since leaving a company is often connected to issues around well-being. If you see several people leaving for similar well-being related reasons, such as stress, management, or conflict, you may be able to build a case to invest. 

Besides these obvious situations, most scale-up and enterprise-level organizations have a range of HR tools that track all kinds of data. With these tools you can often see an overview of things such as how many sick days people are having, which you can then use to benchmark and investigate if things are around average or not. Likewise, employee review sites can provide valuable information about how your workplace culture is perceived by past and present employees. 

And finally, there are many publicly-available studies that show the costs of not taking well-being seriously.  

Step 3: Show that well-being is specific and measurable

Well-being is a concept that has been studied scientifically for over a hundred years, and there are a range of specific definitions and frameworks around it. 

For the purposes of this post, we will look at Quan’s definition: The experience of mental and physical health and the sense of meaning, self-fulfillment and social-connectedness. Quan assessments span five dimensions; mind, meaning, self-fulfillment, social connectedness, and body, and are based on research from 150+ scientific papers and interviews with dozens of experts, including doctors, psychologists and therapists. Teams working with Quan measure each dimension from quarter to quarter, gain the data to pinpoint exactly where the opportunities for improvement are, and work together to ensure they don’t become serious ongoing problems. 

This is a comprehensive framework that defines and measures well-being very quantifiably, but it is not the only framework out there. You may want to do some research to find the best definition and framework for your specific business challenges. 

One other thing to note is that depending on the level of understanding of well-being in your management team, you may also want to define it by what it is NOT: endless drinks and snacks, a ping pong table and maybe even yoga lessons or a gym membership. These are perks, whereas well-being is a strategic lever you can pull to build a sustainable business, and it is important to communicate that difference very clearly.

Step 4: Show that a focus on well-being will help solve your pain points

There is an enormous amount of research that shows a focus on well-being correlates with improved outcomes around productivity, retention, and even hiring. Gallup research found that employees who strongly agree that their employer cares about their overall wellbeing, compared with other employees, are:

  • 69% less likely to actively search for a new job,
  • 71% less likely to report experiencing a lot of burnout,
  • 36% more likely to be thriving in their overall lives,
  • 3x more likely to be engaged at work, and
  • 5x more likely to strongly advocate for their company as a place to work.

In fact, according to Gallup: When your employees' wellbeing is thriving, your organization directly benefits -- they take fewer sick days, deliver higher performance, and have lower rates of burnout and turnover.

Now build the business case

Many HR professionals have good instincts for people and communication, and these can be very effective when it comes to the human side of things. But when it comes to well-being, it may be wise to err on the side of data, specifics, and science, rather than risk coming across as wanting to make people feel happy just for the sake of feeling happy. 

You can build a very deliberate, data-driven case for investing in well-being as a strategic initiative, around these steps:

  1. where the pain in your organization is,
  2. how much it is costing your business right now,
  3. that well-being is specific and measurable, and
  4. that a focus on well-being can help solve your challenges, and save or make money for the business.

Find out more about how to give your teams the insights to measure and manage well-being

If you are ready to begin measuring and managing well-being for teams in your own organization, join 150+ teams in companies including Paypal, Arcadis, Informa, Bynder and Trengo which are already using Quan. Teams in these organizations using Quan are seeing average improvements in their top three well-being growth opportunities of 22%.  But more importantly, they have the data and tools to objectively ensure their teams are happier, healthier, and better functioning for the long term. To find out more, contact us.

Rhys Wesley

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