Demonstrating Wellness Program Success: Start with these Three Steps

July 7, 2017
Tim Nichols By Tim Nichols

Return on Investment or ROI is the holy grail of business measurement. It’s that thing that holds your feet to the fire and strikes fear in the hearts of some. Boards of directors demand reports on it, managers track results based on it, and employees race to contribute to it. The appeal of ROI reports is easy to understand – nice columns of numbers that can be placed on a spreadsheet, totaled and translated into presentation slides.  

While bottom line figures are good barometers of a company’s overall health, are ROI figures the best way to evaluate the impact of your wellness program?

STEP ONE: Define Success

Before you can evaluate whether your wellness program is benefiting the company, you’ll need to start by defining the original goal. Why are you launching a wellness program? What was the motivation? What do you expect to gain from it for the company? For employees?

“Organizations have many reasons for offering well-being programs/initiatives, and the top reasons include: improve employee health (82%), decrease medical premiums and claims costs (78%), perceived value to employees (77%) and increased employee engagement (74%).”  –World at Work Study,

Another common motivator for launching a wellness program is in reaction to a company employee with a health scare. It can be a startling wake up call for the organization to focus on wellness.

STEP TWO: Develop the tools to measure progress.

Once you define the goals of the program, your task is to develop tools to measure progress. If your goal is to improve employees’ overall health, here are some sample measurement tools to consider:

  • Number of Health Risk Assessments completed
  • Aggregate Biometric measurement results
  • Aggregate BMI measurement results
  • Attendance at wellness events
  • Exercise program participation
  • Wellness Interest  survey
  • Wellness champions
  • Employee feedback

While you can’t always directly link this wellness data on a spreadsheet to the investment in a wellness program, it’s no less valuable to the company. In fact, these measurements can have a significant impact on employee retention and productivity. Happier and healthier employees will be more effective both on, and off, the job.

Of course, no wellness program can bring positive change without participation. For ideas to increase employee engagement with your healthy workplace activities, check out this article, too: How To Help Employees Make Wellness Changes That Stick

STEP THREE: Pick the right acronym: ROI or VOI?  

In this ongoing challenge to quantify and measure the results of a wellness program, Value on Investment, or VOI, is a measurement method some companies now utilize. Rather than simply linking the effectiveness of wellness programs to a reduction in health care premiums, forward-thinking businesses are taking a more holistic approach that incorporates both physical as well as overall mental health wellness as part of employee satisfaction.   

The Workplace Wellness 2017 Survey Report by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans recently concluded that 75 percent of employers offer wellness initiatives primarily to improve overall worker health and well-being. “Employers are realizing that wellness is not just about cutting health care costs, because wellness is not only about physical health, ” said Julie Stich, CEBS, associate vice president of content at the International Foundation. “Embracing the broad definition of wellness has led to a tremendous impact on organizational health and worker productivity and happiness.” And, when an organization partners with a company like BHS that provides both wellness and EAP services, employees benefit from the physical and behavioral health aspects of wellness with a single call.  

AGH Exterior

For example, Atlantic General Hospital, based in Berlin, Maryland, is committed to providing advanced, personalized care to the community and is equally dedicated to the health of its employees. With the help of BHS, Atlantic General Hospital introduced a wellness program that has delivered  improvements in employees’ overall health, as well as participation. “The compliments that we receive from associates who participate in our wellness activities and the stories that are shared of positive lifestyle changes confirm to us that the wellness program is effective,” said Tracey Mullineaux, Atlanta General Hospital’s employee health and wellness nurse. “Our program is making a difference.”  

On the ROI side, Atlantic General Hospital’s employee medical claims were also 20% lower than expected in 2016.  The team credits the wellness program with making that happen.  

In June 2017, AGH received their second Healthiest Maryland Businesses Wellness at Work Gold Tier Award from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene at the Maryland Workplace Health & Wellness Symposium. The honor not only recognized the value of the program within the hospital, but also promoted AGH’s successful wellness activities on a statewide level. And, the hospital’s award-winning effort has become a terrific example of how a wellness program can improve an organization both physically and financially.

To learn more about how you can demonstrate the value of your organization’s wellness program, get in touch.

Tim Nichols

By Tim Nichols, CWPC, Program Manager

Tim Nichols is a Program Manager at BHS. He began his career with BHS in 2013 first as a wellness coach and then overseeing the administration of biometric screenings for BHS customers. As Program Manager, Tim is responsible for the design, implemention and daily oversight of wellness programs for BHS customers of varying sizes and industries. In his free time, Tim likes to play volleyball, hike and cheer on the Washington Redskins.