The Measure of Knowledge

Meten is weten’ – to measure is to know, and the Dutch know it. There is truth in those three small words. The Dutch were the first to create a corporation, a stock exchange and a central bank. The measurement of manpower, resources and logistics raised a relatively tiny country to a world leader.

Senior executives routinely analyze, measure and make decisions about strategic projects and expensive assets, but when it comes to health, the simple wisdom of knowing what you’re doing can be overlooked.

For example, when we look at the COVID-19 situation, we see a failure to properly measure and communicate cases of the disease. The real-world consequences have led to confusion about the spread of the virus and resulted in a worldwide pandemic. What if we had measured carefully during the initial outbreak? What if we had measured the infection rate?

We see the ripples of the consequences of this initial failure continuing as governmental and business leaders make guesses about what to do. The lack of clarity, lack of testing and lack of measured results, or a simple lack of knowledge, has caused worldwide panic and lockdowns. And worse, the lack of knowledge fuels the unproven, untested and ridiculous cures that jeopardize lives.

Corporate wellness and vitality programs provide healthy benefits to their employees, but where are the objective measurements of the results? The industry seems to be content with subjective, unvalidated satisfaction or participation surveys, with no effort made to quantify results in measurable, comparable metrics that match company targets.

Gym subscriptions are a common health benefit in many corporate vitality programs. The idea is that gyms are healthy and training improves fitness, but little or no effort is made to find out whether employees are even going to the gym or whether there is an improvement in fitness across the company.

Businesses are spending thousands yet have no idea of whether their investments are yielding any results. There is likely no other branch of even the most lax corporation that runs on such principles.

Today’s Chief Human Resource Officer requires an infrastructure providing necessary measurements, including a true assessment of vitality initiatives and reporting of meaningful results.

Employees are a company’s most valued resource. They deserve the same care and attention that is given to any other corporate initiative. When we help our employees to be their best, they provide their optimal contribution in job performance.

Every health intervention needs core measurable results with reliable mechanisms to measure them. Without that measurement, we are sailing blind, not knowing how to adjust our strategic course.

Going forward, the need to avoid situations we can’t control is going to have to be a priority. Before any health initiative is planned or taken, tools to accurately measure its success have to be built into the infrastructure of the corporation.

A couple of surveys tacked on a workshop is a poor excuse for what the most valuable resource in any company deserves. Without the means to establish your organization’s baseline of personnel performance, there might as well be no attempt at all to work on employee health.

The tools are out there, provided by a few forward-thinking, tech-savvy organizations. They provide meaningful insights and performance breakdowns, plus repeatable metrics that can help shape the next steps for increasingly meaningful health programs.

Just like the Dutch built an empire by navigating stormy seas with cunning and the stars to guide them, we can only build a powerful health platform for corporate citizens by navigating reliable data points across a stormy sea of bad investments. To measure is to know.

Picture of Tim Rease

Tim Rease

Tim Rease worked for 25 years in telecom and financial professional services, specializing in Fortune-500 strategic projects and program management. He focuses now on wellness and alternative medicine, specializing in medical qi-gong and traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture and herbal formulas. In his free time, he is working on his second novel.

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