As HR departments face unprecedented pressure to demonstrate wellness program accountability and impact on employee’s health habits, worksites of all sizes are bolstering their analysis efforts. Establishing the ROI on wellness is an intricate process for many companies, as some programs are not structured to provide enough trackable data, and it is inherently difficult to translate inherent successes into dollar value. These issues can be compounded by lack of time, resources, unfair expectations, and an aspiration for quick results. So, to help combat the difficulties associated with measuring wellness program success, we offer several tips to help you understand wellness program results.
First Step: Review Data | Asking The Right Questions
The obvious first step in this process is to check with your benefits department to make sure the firm is receiving medical claims data reports from your health plan. If you are not receiving reports, make sure that you inform the health plan provider that your organization needs quality claims data reports. If you have to begin evaluation without the benefit of claims reports, this may be a good time to work with all stakeholders to implement a model program. On the other hand, if you do have access to medical claims reports, your team can begin to review them for valuable information.
Taking Stock Of Employee Health Trends
Assuming you have gathered benchmark data from the start of your wellness plan, compare current data to the initial starting point. Measure your company’s rates of smoking, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and other key factors to see if they have improved. If they have, it’s a good indication that your wellness program will have a positive return on investment. While these results may not directly translate into immediate material profit for your business, they will result in cost savings over the long term.
Review Absenteeism Trends
Naturally, the reduction of absenteeism varies by company, yet most organizations that implement wellness programs see improvement in this area. In fact, studies at Dupont and General Mills found 14-19% reductions in absenteeism (Source). The idea is simple: wellness programs aim to keep employees healthy, and in turn, healthier employees tend to miss less work.
Consider a tobacco cessation program’s influence on a smoker’s health, or a flu shot’s impact on the company during flu season. You should notice a decrease in absenteeism, and if you don’t, it may be time to adjust your strategy and consult with wellness experts
Is There Enough Organizational Support?
When you are evaluating your worksite wellness program, it’s important to analyze the level of organizational support, which includes how committed your organization is to employee health, encompassing the deliberate steps you take to support healthy habits (i.e. the programs, policies, and procedures you have put into place). This step is useful for determining weak spots in your program. Many companies that struggle with wellness program implementation find that there are leaders within the company who don’t fully embrace wellness ideology—in order to be successful, this must change.
Conduct Periodic Wellness Surveys
It’s important to conduct periodic surveys to receive feedback from your workforce. These surveys make it easier to compare program impacts and ways to improve your wellness program between subgroups in your workforce. You can make key insights about the impact of programs on groups that profile similarly and enable comparisons of those that participated in an initiative versus those that did not.
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Additionally, if you need more information about detailed wellness program analysis, the SHRM 2014 report will certainly be helpful.