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Why You're Struggling to Measuring the Value of Worksite Wellness

Posted Nov 28 2012 4:29pm

ROIThe biggest challenge facing HR professionals looking to build a culture of wellness in their organizations is responding to the question, “What’s the ROI?” 

Reducing health care costs and improving quality of life are often viewed as the most important ways that a wellness program can demonstrate value. But in the real world, things are messy. Employee turnover, changing policies, privacy concerns and new insurance carriers can make it hard to determine the return on investment. Plus, there are a lack of standards in measuring worksite wellness ROI making it diffcult to compare apples to apples. Some employers review sick days, activity in corporate fitness centers or health care claims. Still others look at how employees feel about themselves or how that rate as an employer. 

Even the research shows that wellness ROI can be a somewhat elusive target - some reports showing $22.4:$1 and others $2:$1. With results varying greatly depending on the type and size of company. While research is all well and good - you need to quantify the value of your wellness program.

So what should you be measuring to get a better understanding of the role wellness plays in your business, and how do you measure it? Start by defining what success looks like for your organization and wellness program. Set goals that you can actually measure. For example, if you have a PTO program that includes both sick days and vacation days, it's going to be harder to measure absenteeism. Ask yourself these questions to help your measurement efforts.

Are employees engaged?

  • In the wellness program?
  • In healthy behaviors?
  • In prevention?
  • In their health care decisions?
  • In the company? 

Did health improve? (actual outcomes)

  • Self-reported health risks (through HRA )
  • Prevalence of chronic conditions
  • Biometric data values
  • Illness rates

Are there any savings?

  • Medical
  • Pharamcy
  • Disability
  • Absenteeism
  • Productivity

What about you? How many of the above questions do you believe you can answer today? What metrics are you tracking to validate and improve upon your employee wellness efforts?

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