As I speak with more and more Human Resource executives across the Midwest I see an interesting pattern. There are corporate wellness initiatives at virtually all of these companies, but they are fairly static and one-dimensional. I read an interesting article titled: Workplace Wellness Programs Return on Investment and Implementation Tips on the LexisNexis Legal Newsroom. The article hints at all the dimensions of wellness that could be addressed. Here are the obvious top 5: Weight Control, Smoking Cessation, Depression Treatment, Migraine Headache Management and Substance Abuse. What I appreciated about the article was where they provided several suggestions for getting a wellness initiative off the ground.

Large employers are hesitant to bring on too many initiatives under their wellness umbrella because they do not have a framework to quickly bring the initiative into production. Wellness should not be a one-time-a-year, one-dimension wellness program. It needs to be dynamic, measurable, accessible and compelling across the many dimensions of Wellness.

May I suggest the following Framework:

  • Dynamic – Integrate with third-party dynamic content and programs – your wellness platform should accept health, clinical and demographic data in a secure HIPAA compliant environment
  • Measurable – Every wellness initiative should contain participation, engagement, health status, health attainment goals and health scoring metrics to support reporting and engagement statistics to drive healthier employees and wellness program improvement
  • Accessible – Wellness information should be available to employees in a manner they choose: intranet, phone, e-mail and text messages should be part of the mix of communication modes.
  • Compelling – Corporate support, partnerships with recognizable and credible sources of information and innovative incentives are all part of making wellness work for more employees

Calculate your ROI by measuring actual employee participation across the many dimensions of a mature health and wellness program. Look for high participation, engagement and utilization. When you measure ROI you want to compare the employee population who participates in your Wellness Program against the employee population that does not engage. You would expect to find that your overall health expenditures decrease and the absenteeism and sick day utilization of those who participate to be less than those who do not. Once you can identify the benefit to the employee and the company, you can then focus on improving participation by focusing on developing incentives to increase your participation rate.

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