Even Without ROI, Companies Believe Wellness Programs are of Value

U.S.-based employers are looking beyond ROI when they implement workplace wellness programs according to a study released by Humana Inc. and the Economist Intelligence Unit.

“It’s interesting to validate that employers now view ROI as an important, but not exclusive or even primary measure of a wellness program’s success,” said Beth Bierbower, President of Humana’s Employer Group Segment. “Employers are now seeing that employee health is important beyond health care costs, it has profound impacts on productivity, retention, workplace engagement and morale.”

The study reveals that nearly 70 percent of executives consider their organization’s wellness program to be cost effective, even though not all of the outcomes are measurable.

Yet, despite employers’ positive sentiments about workplace wellness programs, many companies struggle with how to successfully execute them and measure their value. The study found that two-thirds of executives feel data collection and interpretation is the biggest challenge confronting effective workplace wellness.

Executives feel this challenge is further hampered by reluctance from employees to share personal information or authorize data collection from third parties.

“Our results show that under the right circumstances, employees are in fact willing to share their personal health data, which is a critical insight for employers looking to optimize their wellness program,” noted Bierbower. “With the right tools and framework, wellness programs can provide a valuable opportunity for both employers and employees to measure wellness and track health progress.”

While 86 percent of executives say improving employee health as an indirect driver of productivity, morale and engagement is their top reason for implementing a wellness program, cost factors are still important, including reducing employee health care costs (66 percent) and controlling medical claims (48 percent).

About 30 percent of employees rate subsidized gym memberships, onsite health and wellness facilities, and budgeted wellness activity time during business hours, as the three most important services that would motivate participation.

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