HR analytics can prevent burnout, stress and turnover

MeQ is helping companies like Paychex fight burnout with science.

As the modern workplace becomes more demanding, many companies are struggling with employee burnout. A recent study by Harvard Business Review found that burnout costs companies an estimated $125 billion to $190 billion a year in health care spending in the U.S. alone. With increasing demands and expectations, employees are often pushed to their limits, leading to physical and emotional exhaustion with reduced ability to perform at their best. 

MeQuilibrium (MeQ), a technology company with predictive analytic tools focused on change readiness, people analytics, well-being and more, has helped companies such as Ford, Marriott International, Goldman Sachs and Paychex combat burnout, stress and turnover.

“At the highest level, in order to fix any problem, you’ve got to understand it first,” says Jan Bruce, CEO and co-founder of MeQuilibrium. “Burnout is the new normal.”

Reaching [MeQ]uilibrium

Initially designed with the challenges of work and life coming out of the recession 10 years ago, MeQuilibrium evolved to address the changing needs of the workplace. With a background in consumer well-being and her thesis on its digitization, Bruce understands that people need new skills to navigate today’s world — and she says that’s only become more true.  

The attitude of “we’ll figure this out when the dust settles” is wrong because “the dust never settles,” she adds. Defensive mindsets don’t work anymore; leaders and their workers need active minds and methods to capitalize on opportunities, Bruce says. 

MeQuilibrium’s founders have always believed in the power of data and science to take a strategic approach to help people. The company leverages data to assess the adaptive capacity, agility, commitment, capability, productivity and vulnerabilities of the workforce, and drives personalized actions to help people — all of which is continually measured. 

Compared to traditional approaches, MeQuilibrium provides engagement data that can indicate a need for culture change. However, there are rarely enough specific ties to that traditional data, says Bruce, and for those in the C-suite whose core competency may not be addressing cultural issues, MeQ provides the data to see and understand an inclusive picture of well-being. From burnout to stress to work-life balance and more, MeQ’s tools give managers the ability to understand areas for improvement and implement strategies to aid their team. 

How does it work?

Data itself provides a broad view of performance and well-being while not invading on a private, personal level. MeQuilibrium’s software continuously measures and remeasures as employees are active on the platform. Companies may want to measure different aspects; some want to remeasure quarterly or as needed. In any case, MeQ’s software correlates their assessment data with third-party tools that measure engagement, stress, burnout, anxiety, likelihood to quit, enterprise net promoter score and more. This all provides companies with an aggregated climate view of what’s going on in their workforce, segmented by job function, demographic, tenure, region of the world, etc. 

“We’ve developed algorithms over time that say when we help these types of people develop more empathy or more agency and self-confidence,” Bruce says. “And that’s really what our platform does, on an individual basis and on a team basis. It all starts with data.”

MeQuilibrium works with Fortune 500 companies in retail, manufacturing, technology, banking, health care, telecom, auto and more. “One of the common themes is that a lot of [our customers] have a large percentage of frontline, customer-facing people in high-stress positions,” Bruce says. They’re driving trucks, delivering products, calling customers; they’re the people who when they get burnt out, it impacts the productivity of the organization and the customer experience, she added. 

For those employees who are burnt out, MeQuilibrium doesn’t just identify the problem, it also helps solve it. In the auto industry, MeQ has supported talent teams to help their drivers go from having a clipboard with their route and instruction, to an iPad, to having the information built into the dashboard of their truck. 

MeQuilibrium provides the tools to help workers be adaptive and more productive and lower companies’ attrition rates, Bruce says. Over the years, MeQ has helped people on the ground develop new skills and has demonstrated improvements in productivity and health care costs, as well as reducing turnover as much as 20 percent, Bruce says. 

Powering payroll

Paychex, a provider of payroll, human resources and employee benefit services, partnered with MeQuilibrium to address employee burnout. The company recognized that its employees were experiencing high levels of stress and fatigue, which impacted their productivity and overall well-being. Paychex turned to MeQuilibrium for its ability to analyze employee data, including performance metrics, time and attendance records and biometric data to identify patterns of burnout. 

When deciding to use MeQuilibrium, Jake Flaitz, director of benefits and well-being at Paychex, didn’t want “something faddish.” Instead, he wanted “a commitment to clinical evidence,” he says. As Paychex is a data-centered business, MeQuilibrium felt like a natural partner for its wellness goals, Flaitz added. Before MeQuilibrium, Paychex had no data to get insights into how its people were thinking and feeling. 

Previously, Flaitz had relied on engagement surveys, medical claims, disability activities, health risk assessments and more traditional methods of people/well-being measurement. Back when the company had around 12,000 to 13,000 employees, typically around 8,000 would take an HRA. Flaitz and his team could see the aggregate data and judge according to how people claimed they were doing based on screen time or otherwise. 

With the MeQ data, Flaitz can understand the specific factors leading to stress and anxiety for employees. Additionally, one of the key aspects of MeQ’s function that Paychex utilizes is an emphasis on getting adequate sleep. “From a data standpoint, that becomes really powerful,” Flaitz says. “Now I can start to deliver solutions that are a little more pinpoint.” 

But beyond data, Flaitz likes how accessible MeQuilibrium is to employees. Each can have the MeQuilibrium app on their phone that provides access to tasks and self-help that are all under 10 minutes. Not only is the app highly personalized based on assessments, it’s also fully customizable and digestible, Flaitz says. 

“There’s not a lot of programs in the benefits world that can check all of those boxes,” Flaitz says. Users are also able to read, watch or listen to these tasks at their preference. 

Employees get to pick what they work on, have individually tailored lessons and deliver valuable information to “help folks get better at things that really matter in their life,” from resiliency and beyond, Flaitz says. 

Individualized learning allows employees to work on things that might come easy to others, and as a result fix issues that may never have been identified before. “That’s where we are hearing from folks that it’s really making a difference for them,” he says. 

But beyond an individual level, MeQuilibrium also allows Paychex to get data on team activities, giving managers an even better understanding of how their team is feeling and performing. Flaitz says MeQuilibrium is an invaluable tool to strengthen the engagement and well-being of any team. 

In their first pilot with MeQuilibrium, Flaitz knew he wanted to start with the fulcrum of any organization — its middle managers. “They really get pressure in all directions,” says Flaitz. “They can move an organization.” The ability to have a manager be able to vouch for MeQuilibrium’s services was crucial to Paychex’s implementation and buy-in for its people. 

Moving forward, Flaitz says the opportunity to use MeQuilibrium to help employees beyond the office is the next step. 

“If you have a child and they’re struggling, if we can help that child to a better place, we’re helping the employee. Very few people are able to totally compartmentalize,” Flaitz says. “We have a business interest in doing that. But more than that, it’s just the right thing to do. That’s always a good place to start.”

From the foundation, forward

The core of MeQuilibrium is its data and app, which help users take action. MeQuilibrium aims to increasingly build the capability for customers to have actionable tools in their hands to get ahead of the problems they identify. 

Bruce says it’s not just about switching health care vendors; you must get ahead of specific issues that impact the ability of talent and the productivity of the workforce; you have to take action and remeasure it. “We’re continually building tools to do that better and better.”

Flaitz says he can’t wait to see how their partnership develops. “I love MeQuilibrium’s curiosity,” Flaitz says. “It really sets them apart from other folks that I’ve worked with all these years.” 

Flaitz says for Paychex, MeQuilibrium is a foundational element of support. “If we were building a house, [MeQ] would be one of those keystone blocks that we’re going to build the rest of the house on.”