Louise Aston: Should employers include wellbeing policies in annual reports?

The organisations that are doing this best, in terms of public disclosure of employee engagement and wellbeing, have the information in one place. Very often it is in their sustainability report or their corporate social responsibility (CSR) report

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The point is that it is positioned in a joined-up, integrated, transparent and strategic way and is not spread across several disjointed places and hard to find.

That also sends out a really positive message about strategic ownership, rather than bits of an organisation looking after bits of its employees.

Ultimately, the information must be easy to find, positioned as strategic and integrated, and looks at employees in their totality as human beings.

The other really important thing in terms of the quality of public reporting is that narrative reporting is as important as hard metrics, because it is providing a vital context for analysing the hard metrics.

In the organisations that are doing this well, there is a real alignment of the context, the narrative, with the hard numbers they pull out. So it’s not the quantity of hard metrics, it’s how it has been positioned to complement the narrative.

One of the big drivers for Business in the Community’s public reporting initiative was the investment community. We have had ongoing consultation with investors, which were frustrated that many organisations, in their annual report, go on about people being their greatest asset, but there is actually very little information in the public domain to help investors make informed decisions.

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They are looking for leading, as well as lagging, indicators. They are looking for targets and a journey of improvement. Ultimately, what gets measured gets managed. Well-managed organisations outperform those that are not well managed. So they are looking for that evidence, too.

Louise Aston is director of Business in the Community’s Workwell programme