Keeping count: how Corus measure the impact of well-being initiatives

Izzy Payne

Izzy Payne


There’s a corporate well-being revolution afoot. Managers are putting more emphasis on schemes that look after employees’ minds and bodies. But how much of this translates to the bottom line? Corus, a new SaaS platform promises to give an accurate picture of how investments in such programmes improve company performance. Neverbland sat down with co-founder George Bell to learn more.

What is Corus, and how did you start it?

ON:SONG was my company before Corus that delivered music-based well-being sessions. We had such a great impact on the organisations we were working with, but there was no way of recording the positive impact we were making. That was the problem that we needed to solve, and so Corus was born.

How did you uncover that problem?

ON:SONG provided workplace choirs and musical workshops so that we could unite corporate teams through singing. We’d hold conferences and get groups as large as 1500 people to sing together for five minutes or so. Our core ethos was helping people communicate and understand themselves better through music. On a psychological level, singing can be incredibly good for you, but capturing that data and reporting actionable outcomes is very tricky.

So, it’s about finding a measurable impact for well-being initiatives?

Yes, but it’s worth noting that well-being initiatives come in varying shapes and sizes. From singing workshops or office yoga classes to letting people leave the office early on a Friday, well-being efforts in the corporate sphere range from more traditional ventures to more forward-thinking ways of rewriting working rules. Corus is about understanding the real benefits of every well-being initiative available.

What will that mean for companies?

Well-being accounting is about determining the return on investment for well-being. What a company spends is governed by the CFO. If something contributes to fewer sick days, better productivity or a more enjoyable working culture, you will see that reflected in the bottom line. This will be good for the well-being at work movement because when something is good for profitability and people it quickly becomes a priority.

Well-being accounting is about discovering the financial benefits of investing in well-being initiatives. We investigate the positive impact of incorporating well-being initiatives into various companies. These initiatives often contribute to fewer sick days, enhanced productivity levels or even an improved culture in the workplace, this will be reflected in the company’s bottom line. When something is good for profitability and people, it’s more likely to be adopted into the company.

Are you seeing other evidence that Corus is a good idea?

There was a report by Deloitte and IIRSM last week that said 50% of organisations and directors now recognise that investing in wellbeing is boosting their business performance. Yet only 1% are looking at well-being metrics or engagement data to work out the ROI.

What stage is Corus at now?

We were lucky enough to receive a grant from the British government’s innovation agency, Innovate UK. We were given this in September in aid of speeding out development whilst working with academics and experts from the Universities of Nottingham and Bristol. We’ve done lots of beta testing already, particularly through our work with ON:SONG, but this will really help to deepen our understanding and do more trials. During the testing, participants answer a set of questions before, during and after partaking in a well-being initiative – the results of which get filtered through our algorithm. These trials will be going ahead in the new year.

What are the benefits of working with Corus?

After working with us, our clients are able to accurately measure a return on investment from their well-being initiatives, and how to make any necessary improvements. To use the example again, Deloitte estimates that for every £1 invested in wellbeing initiatives, companies receive between £3 and £11 back in cost-saving effects like employee retention. Corus can improve that return, so for an annual well-being spend of say £250k, a shift in ROI from 5:1 to 9:1 would benefit the company to the tune of an extra £1m.

That’s an enticing prospect for CFOs.

We think so. Human capital comprises the main part of most businesses. The morale of your people is emerging as the biggest advantage you can get.

Does your brand invest enough in well-being initiatives? We’d love to hear whether you think lunchtime yoga sessions and compulsory meditation breaks make businesses perform better.

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