It’s rare for me to have a conversation with a prospective NIFS client these days without being asked something related to the return on investment (ROI) for worksite wellness. I can’t blame them; these folks are typically tasked with decreasing an organization’s healthcare costs. An organization can take one of several approaches to decreasing healthcare costs, such as decreasing the size of the workforce. But cutting staff offers diminishing returns. Wellness, as general as that term is, can be the solution.
Here’s the thing: ROI for wellness programs can be extremely tricky to capture. Not only do you need to build your program with the right pillars in place, but the evaluation can be hard to wade through and costly to calculate. Read what Dr. Ron Goetzel, an industry pioneer in measuring wellness ROI, has to say about this in his WELCOA interview.
What’s a company to do? Wellness is complicated and requires persistence over time to see the results you’re looking for. If you can’t get everything in your wellness program “just right” and you don’t have the means for full-blown evaluation, should you give up and not offer a wellness program for your workforce at all?
It’s at this crossroads that you’ll need to consider the true motives behind the wellness initiative. I suspect your goals have to do with more than just direct healthcare costs. I’d be willing to bet two things:
- The organization is interested in doing right by its employees.
- You recognize a responsibility to contribute positively to your employees' overall wellbeing and that happier employees are more loyal and productive employees.
The first part—doing right by your employees—is actually even harder to measure than health outcomes and changes in corporate healthcare costs. But if you watch your employees' faces and listen to the water-cooler conversations, the anecdotal evidence you capture will say it all: Treat your employees right—with programs and services that make the healthy choice the easy choice—and they’ll work harder for you.