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  • Writer's pictureWiser Working

How Accurate are your Wellbeing Assessments?

Updated: Jan 22

Firstbeat HRV wellbeing resilience assessment

There are many self-assessment surveys and tools used by organisations to measure their employees levels of wellbeing. Whilst questionnaire-style surveys are helpful, they can lack objectivity.

A good example of this is when people are asked about their sleep. Many of our clients are worried that they are not sleeping well, however, when we monitor their sleep using a heart rate variability (HRV) tracker, they are often surprised to learn that their sleep is better than they expected. Of course, sometimes it is worse than people expect! Either way, it highlights that self-assessment questionnaires can miss important information and are not necessarily the most accurate diagnostic tools.

Why do we use Firstbeat for Wellbeing Assessments?

Firstbeat has been perfecting its heart rate monitoring technology and algorithms for over 20 years. The Firstbeat technology has been used on over 10,000 organisations and sports teams during that period. It is used by most of the top Premier League soccer teams to help players optimise their training loads and reduce injury risk.

We find the Firstbeat data to be very reliable. More importantly, the busy leaders and managers who make up our client base, love the insights that this process provides them. In essence, it helps to guide them to take the right steps to balancing their stress and recovery. It also helps to identify an accurate fitness score using a VO2 Max formula.

The Firstbeat Assessment Process

Our clients usually wear the Firstbeat device for 3-5 days (and nights). The device accurately measures heart rate variability (HRV), which provides valuable insights into the functioning of the autonomic nervous system. It can detect whether the wearer is in a state of stress or recovery, and the data is presented in a user-friendly report (see image above).

When client reports are compiled, we schedule a 60 minute confidential debrief to discuss the findings. As well as discussing the biometric data, we also like to get an understanding of the clients current role, workload and home life. We believe that it is this mix of quantitative and qualitative investigation that leads to a more thorough assessment than one would find with a straight survey.

What can clients learn?

When clients undertake one of our wellbeing assessments, they stand to gain very crucial insights about their coping abilities and performance. In most cases, they can identify areas where it would be helpful for them to make adjustments to their schedule.

For example, their poor sleep quality may be linked to high intensity exercise in the evenings or engaging in work emails before bedtime. Both of these can disrupt sleep quality. Sometimes the conversation will focus on their working hours or workload. The data will often indicate that they may be simply trying to do too much in the day and that they need to scale back.

How can organisations benefit?

The type of wellbeing assessment that we have described here has enormous benefits for organisations. Knowledge workers represent the most valuable assets in many organisations, and yet many of them are operating well below their best. Worse still, an increasing percentage are on track to have a burnout, requiring extended stress leave. According to the 2021 UK Labour Force Survey, stress now accounts for 50% of work-related ill-health.

One way that that organisations can address these issues, is to have accurate biometric data on how well employees are currently coping. The Firstbeat process is ideal, and unrivalled, for this. Whilst we need to keep user data confidential, we can provide summary-level to stakeholders. Where problems are identified, the organisation can offer supportive interventions (including resilience training). For our part, we encourage users to seek help when we think they need it. Clearly it pays to be proactive with employee health and wellbeing, rather than reactive.

We hope you have found this post helpful. If you would like more information on promoting employee wellbeing, please don't hesitate to contact us. We would be happy to help!


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