Measuring Effectiveness of Your Corporate Wellness Program

A question that many companies with wellness programs frequently wrestle with is evaluating its outcomes: Is it achieving its return on investment? And if so, how do you quantify it? Although certain results — a reduction in healthcare costs and absenteeism–might be obvious, there are several metrics at play, such as employee engagement and retention, which could make evaluating your initiative tricky.

Consider this: According to a 2013 report by Aflac, “only 32 percent of those offering wellness programs say they have been able to determine the ROIs of their companies’ programs.” This is only a third of those polled, which is hardly an overwhelming majority. Yet as problematic as it might appear, there are some indicators that a corporate wellness program is working versus one that isn’t.

Here are several tips to help you measure the effectiveness of your workplace wellness programs:

Use anonymous employee surveys

Asking your staff for in-person feedback via private one-on-one sessions or group meetings may not produce the desired result. Oftentimes employees, especially when they’re in the company of higher-ups, might feel compelled to disguise their true feelings about a wellness program simply because they don’t want to jeopardize their job by being seen as a troublemaker. In this instance, drawing up and distributing surveys that will allow them to answer questions about the effectiveness of your wellness program anonymously without fear of reprisals might be the solution. Certainly, the data you gather will help you gauge the effectiveness of your workplace wellness program. Similarly, if there are components that are working and some that are not, these surveys should also provide you with that information as well.

Leverage employee engagement

The term “employee engagement” can be very difficult for some companies to define as this behavior could be anything such as working late without being asked, said Healthcare Trends Institute. “Nevertheless, when companies look at data around employee benefit plan participation or measure their level of understanding around healthcare costs, for example, they may be hitting targets they weren’t able to achieve in the past—and attribute the gains to their health and wellness initiatives.”

For some companies, there is a distinct correlation between employee engagement and workplace wellness programs. In its 2015 study of workplace wellness trends, the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans found that more than half of those employers polled (54 percent) said their wellness programs have improved employee engagement.

Highlight job satisfaction

An interesting takeaway from the Aflac study is that it “revealed that 66 percent of employees enrolled in worksite wellness programs are extremely or very satisfied with their job, compared with 53 percent of employees whose company doesn’t offer a wellness program,” noted Healthcare Trends Institute. “What’s more, these workers are less likely to say they are extremely or very likely to look for a new job in the next 12 months (19 percent vs. 30 percent).”

Perhaps as much as a sizable savings in healthcare costs and lowered absenteeism, these statistics offer a clear picture of the effectiveness of a workplace wellness programs, thus validating its ROI from the company’s perspective.