Not only are healthy workers more productive and engaged than their germ- and disease-riddled counterparts, but they also cause businesses to incur fewer medical expenses. But hold the phone — according to the RAND Corporation:
- About 50% of organizations that employ 50 or more people have a workplace wellness plan in place
- At companies with wellness plans, only 50% have evaluated the effectiveness of those initiatives
- 2% of companies that evaluated their wellness plans said those initiatives resulted in tangible cost savings
Why is that? For the most part, workplace wellness programs can be divided into two categories:
- Activities that focus on disease management (e.g., treating an employee with heart disease with medication to reduce the likelihood they will suffer a heart attack)
- Activities that focus on lifestyle management (e.g., encouraging employees to exercise more)
According to the RAND study, though fewer of their employees participate in them, businesses experience a positive return of $3.80 on each dollar they spend on disease management initiatives. On the other hand, though many employees take part in the lifestyle management portion of wellness programs, companies experience a return of $0.50 on every dollar.
This makes sense because when diseases are treated effectively, results are generally achieved more quickly. Conversely, the fruits of lifestyle management programs may not ripen for decades.
Why ROI Isn’t the Only Thing to Consider
It’s true that many organizations choose how to spend their money based on ROI. But it’s important to remember that you can’t really put a price tag on health — and that your employees won’t be able to produce if they’re sick.
It’s time for you to stop thinking about your workplace wellness program in terms of how much money it costs. Instead, think about how the program increases employee engagement and employee satisfaction, as well as how it attracts top talent in the first place.
When reviewing your workplace wellness program to gauge its effectiveness, in addition to simple ROI, consider:
1. How many employees use it
Do a handful of employees take advantage of your wellness program, or do practically all of them? The more employees involved in the program, the more confident you should be in its merit.
2. How employees talk about it
Of your employees who participate in the wellness program, how do they generally speak about it? Are they extremely positive? Do they mock it and offer ideas to make it better? Listen to what your employees are saying, and react to their suggestions.
3. How sick days have changed year over year
How many sick days did your employees take prior to implementing your wellness program? Hopefully you’ll see that your staff is in the office more often this year thanks to your wellness program.
4. How many employees would recommend it
If your employees are in love with your wellness program, it follows that other prospective employees might be excited about it as well. Your workplace wellness program may not be the sole differentiator that encourages a candidate to accept an offer at your organization. But it certainly won’t hurt.
Worried that not enough of your employees are taking advantage of your wellness program? Hold an information session to let your staff know of the benefits you’re offering. Make sure the program is as accessible as it possibly can be. And remember, successful initiatives take time.