Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Firms produce poor data on workplace strategies

June 2011

Business in the Community has come up with a set of ‘draft metrics’ to help UK businesses improve reporting on employee wellbeing and engagement.

The metrics have been produced in response to what BITC feels has been an underwhelming response to its calls for companies to do much more to quantify their record on such issues.

Research by the organization shows that, although most FTSE 100 companies are reporting on staff ‘wellness’, they are not showing the business relevance of their work, or quantifying the impact of their various strategies in the field.

BITC says reporting at present is failing investors, who want concrete information on the risks and benefits of company investment in employee wellbeing. It found that just six per cent of FTSE 100 reports showed the business impact of policies in this area, while only British Airways, BT, Centrica and Unilever publicly reported financial measures of the benefits.

The business-led charity’s third research paper on the topic says reporting on staff issues is ‘inconsistent’ and should include much more hard data. The research suggests some businesses may even be ‘underselling’ their work in this area.

The guidance therefore suggests a metrics system to complement the already prevalent use of narrative reporting, which should be used only as ‘context’, says BITC.

It says evidence of wellness and engagement could be quantified by including information on results of annual job satisfaction or engagement surveys; the proportion of women returning after maternity leave; sickness absence as a spot rate; workforce demographics marking health status; and staff turnover as a spot rate.

Other metrics suggested include the length of tenure of staff, health and safety trends, and the uptake rate for the UK’s Employee Assistance Programme.

BITC also suggests how external impact, such as improved customer service, might be shown. It says there should be no standard set of metrics, however. It emphasizes that different sectors will have different priorities, and that measuring impact will become more sophisticated over time.

The guidance gives advice on five key areas – leadership and accountability, professional development, employee relations, health, and specialist support. BITC's research shows that about half of FTSE 100 companies report on all five issues.

Paul Litchfield, BT’s chief medical officer and chair of the steering group responsible for the guidelines, said: ‘Investors tell us that they do not want to see reporting for reporting’s sake. Companies should not feel obliged to report against every item in the template – just those that are most relevant to their business.

‘Reporting should use quantitative and qualitative data to paint a picture of a company’s “journey of improvement”. In this way they can help to demonstrate that their business is sustainable and fit to succeed in a highly competitive world – that, in turn, will help to secure the investment required for further development.’

Business in the Community | UK & NI Ireland | Reporting

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