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How To Convince The Board That Wellbeing Matters

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

By Andrew Woolnough, Director of HR Solutions at Equiniti

This article first appeared on on 24 July 2018

Andrew W

The HR function doesn’t really need to convince the board that wellbeing matters because the UK government is already doing the job for them. The notion of Employee Experience (EX) is being pushed up – or in the vast majority of cases on to – the agenda as a result of corporate governance reform, which came into force in June this year. Central to these reforms is ensuring employee voices are heard in the boardroom.

This, coupled with the fact that today’s economy is talent short, has effectively ensured that understanding and improving EX is critical for companies striving to be an employer of choice. A strong employee experience drives a strong customer experience, as well as having a significant impact on the company’s bottom line. 

Data – in the shape of people insight – is essential to all of this, helping to inform business decisions and in turn, securing competitive advantage.

Why corporate governance reform?

The rationale for the latest reform is to make directors think more carefully about how they take matters into account, create more transparency and provide a level of assurance that the long-term sustainability of a company is a key component of its management.

House of Commons Briefing Paper 8143 (13 June 2018) states:


…companies need to do more to reassure the public that they are being run, not just with an eye to the interests of the board and the shareholders, but with a recognition of their responsibilities to employees, customers, suppliers and wider society

Strengthening employee voice: key aspects

The reforms laid out by government invite the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) to now consult on a new corporate governance code provision to require premium listed companies to adopt, on a ‘comply or explain’ basis, one of three employee engagement mechanisms: a designated non-executive director; a formal employee advisory council; or a director from the workforce.

It also encourages industry-led solutions by asking the Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (the Governance Institute) and the Investment Association to complete joint guidance on practical ways in which companies can engage with their employees and other stakeholders.

The FRC will also work on a new voluntary code for large private companies, in conjunction with the Institute of Directors, the Confederation of British Industry and other bodies.

Finally, new reporting requirements will require certain companies (perhaps those with 1,000 employees or more – exact threshold to be determined) to explain how they have identified and sought the views of key stakeholders, why the mechanisms adopted were appropriate and how this information influenced boardroom decision-making. These new requirements will apply to reporting periods starting on or after 1 January 2019. So the new information will start appearing in 2020, covering activities undertaken in 2019. 

Three top tips: using people data to help realise the business vision

1. Think big, start small

EX brings together all the workplace, HR and management practices that impact people in their job. Consequently it has to start at C-Suite level but this is a mammoth task and it’s not going to happen overnight. Start one project at a time. For example, consider the benefits of implementing Total Reward statements, maybe even on a real-time basis, as a starting point. Measure the impact over time and deliver concrete evidence to the Board of the benefits to recruitment and retention. Next, expand upon this with another project that involves cross-departmental cooperation and so on and so forth.

2. Combine data sources

Draw upon the expertise of HR solutions providers to put in place the technical wizardry required to pull together various data sources, with a view to informing ongoing, relevant and targeted employee communications. This would involve utilising the first party data to which you already have access (employee satisfaction surveys, pension contributions and benefit information), coupled with third party information (lifestyle, household) and open source data (local government statistics). Through the use of triggers and multi-channel communications, you could automatically target different cohorts in line with life stages and influence individuals more positively.

3. Measure engagement and act upon it

The annual employee satisfaction survey will no longer cut the mustard. As per the rationale behind the latest corporate governance reform, ensuring employees are heard is key to commercial success. This requires a mechanism for regular feedback that is realistic and achievable and in today’s busy world, technology has to form the enabler. There are systems now available that link Total Reward, Flex, Employee Share Schemes and Executive Share Portals via a ‘single sign in’, in addition to providing regular feedback and measuring employee engagement and net promoter scores (NPS). What’s more, they’re fully inclusive and accessible by all: available on any device at any time, from any location.