Ways to Measure Workplace Wellness Strategies

Ways to Measure Workplace Wellness Strategies

The goal of a workplace wellness program is to get your company a little healthier and bring about positive returns, but how can something like that be measured? It’s a complex thing to assess, but like any other business effort or investment, employers need to find out whether or not it’s working.

Unfortunately, many companies simply don’t evaluate their wellness programs or in-house wellness strategies. A little less than half (46%) of U.S. employers offer some type of workplace health program to employees. But among those companies that do offer a program, only 50% collect data to evaluate success and decide which programs to offer, according to a report from the Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI), a national nonprofit research organization.

Regarding those findings, IBI Researcher Carole Bonner explained, “Surprisingly, I found that many employers do not have a measurement strategy for the success of their workplace health programs. When asked to demonstrate the value of the program, many employers are at a loss. As I dug into the research, I realized the challenge is rooted in a lack of measurable goals and objectives to establish criteria and standards to gauge performance. The path to evaluating a program’s performance can be achieved once measurable objectives are identified.”


Only 50% of companies with a workplace wellness program collect data to evaluate its success.

Source: Integrated Benefits Institute, Feb. 2022


Employers Need Measurable Goals

In order to start getting a better picture of their wellness programs, employers are going to need specific things to measure. It starts with evident things about their wellness program, such as participation levels and feedback from employees. Data on talent attraction and retention could also be included with this first group of measurements.

Beyond that, employers need to look at things that relate more closely to individual participants. Things like absenteeism, presenteeism, and turnover can all be used as benchmarks. These are relatively easy things to track, but strangely they were among the areas measured least by employers in IBI’s study.

Productivity is another layer that was among the areas least measured by companies. Productivity is a little trickier to assess, but it might give employers the clearest picture of a wellness program’s return on investment.

When measuring productivity, be sure to establish an initial baseline by focusing on an individual’s overall capabilities. Depending on the nature of your industry, this will look a little different for some firms. Increased access to more physical and mental wellness offerings has a strong correlation with increases in productivity, but the actual manifestation of this increase in the real world will mean different things to people in various roles. Therefore, your company’s measurement of productivity may not necessarily be cut-and-dry, but instead more unique to an individual employee’s capabilities.

Employee happiness and engagement should also be surveyed periodically as an additional metric to include with your assessment of your company’s wellness program. These are a bit more subjective and will have links to other variables about your company beyond wellness offerings, but they certainly do have an impact on company performance and should therefore also be measured.


Recommendations from the Pros

Other recommendations from human resource and benefits professionals include suggestions for ways to create an overall culture of employee wellness, including factors beyond physical and mental health. Doing so can significantly increase company competitiveness, particularly in the areas of talent attraction, retention, and turnover. Their recommendations included:

  • Hyper-personalizing whole-person health.
  • Developing programs based on the entire range of social, physical, mental, financial, and familial health of the employee.
  • Communicating strategically to inform and engage employees and train leadership.
  • Evaluate where programs are lacking or leading in workplace practices.


Evaluation is Critical

Employee wellness programs are a great tool for company growth in our current business climate, but it’s very important to remember to evaluate them as one would any other major investment or venture. They’re an ever-evolving effort to enhance the performance of employees that should be looked at from multiple perspectives and refined continually. To get the best results, one must measure across a spectrum. Data will help your company build better wellness programs that will ultimately translate into better performance levels for your firm.


Checklist: Things to Measure to Evaluate Wellness Program Effectiveness

  • Participation Levels
  • Feedback from Employees
  • Talent Attraction and Retention
  • Absenteeism
  • Presenteeism
  • Turnover
  • Employee Happiness
  • Employee Engagement
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Category Features, Health