How To Measure And Monitor Workplace Wellness Programs

By James Malone

A recent analysis of wellness programs analysed 51 studies and revealed an average return of $1.38 for every dollar invested. Other studies have revealed savings as great as $3 for every $1 invested.

The evidence shows that a well-structured and well measured program can effectively deliver a ROI. With top CEOs prioritizing health and wellness as a strategic differentiator for 2015, how should you be looking to measure and improve your wellness programs?

Measure & Monitor

Implementing a wellness program is easy but without proper measurement how effective can they be? What performance indicators do you measure? How do you reward staff? Where are you making savings? Surprisingly most companies don’t have a strategy in place for ongoing measurement and monitoring. Online resources such as informative bench-marking advice from the Wellness Council of America can help to get you started.

Here are some potential performance indicators you could measure:

Engagement & Ongoing Participation:

Simply measuring the completion of a HRA isn’t enough. Does the employee go on to act on the findings? Do they make long term changes? Are you rewarding the right behaviors? Do they need an incentive to complete the HRA the following year?

Ongoing participation takes a broader approach by seeing if there is larger adoption past the initial roll out stage, do employees continue to participate once the launch period is over? How are they participating? Do they simple check the boxes or are they actively seeking out information? Do you have the support in place to help these employees and where do they go for ongoing support?


This is a newer metric that has gained considerable credibility in recent years. This is simply the act of attending work whilst being sick or unwell. There are various issues involved such as the spread of infections and quality of work achieved by a sick employee.

It is estimated that presenteeism due to obesity also accounts for 39.4% of the total cost of obesity for U.S. employers. Over 100 million US workers are estimated to be sedentary or partially sedentary. This generally means sitting in front of a computer for long periods of the day clicking a mouse. The result is 1,000 calories less, per day, being burnt by each employee compared to previous generations.

Additionally recent scares involving infectious diseases may play a growing part in future health and safety planning. The common cold and winter flu still account for large rates of absenteeism. If these workers are encouraged to work rather than recover, the short term costs in lost productivity could be greater than the cost of one absent employee.

Do you encourage your employees to work while sick? Do you promote a “suck it up” culture? Solutions include allowing sick employees to work remotely, allowing employee’s sufficient time to recover, allowing breaks during the day to stretch and the provision of free winter flu vaccinations.

Health Insurance Costs:

One of the largest costs to employers is health insurance with thousands of dollars being spent per employee. A small reduction in these costs can go a long way. Have you a system in place to analyse your health insurance claims?

Third party consultants can help you identify whether benefit claims have reduced since the implementation of a program. This may also help in understanding which programs are effective in the long term and short term.


Often cited as one of the key benefits of workplace wellness programs, absenteeism can easily be measured. Identifying annual and cyclical changes through seasons can give you an overview of how effective certain programs are.


Health insurer Cigna found that presenteeism due to obesity accounts for 39.4 percent of the total cost of obesity for U.S. employers, or an estimated $365,859 per every 1,000 employees in 2013. Presenteeism and productivity go hand in hand. As workers work more, exercise less, eat worse, stress more and sleep less they become less productive.

According to Steve Wojcik, the vice president of public policy at the National Business Group on Health “High stress levels because of workload, in addition to the common complaint of lack of sleep, leads to poor eating habits and lack of exercise that lead to obesity.”

By having a system in place to measure productivity, comparisons can be analysed, for instance, comparing healthy and obese workers, shift workers and regular hour workers. By regularly testing you will better understand how to maximize your ROI for the business and provide the best outcomes for your employees.

Retention & Recruitment:

Competing for the best talent is costly and offering the top dollar doesn’t cut it anymore. Having attractive employee benefits will help you attract the right talent. Competitive salaries are an initial attraction for employees, they are however not sufficient to attract the more astute and savvy professionals who know what they want.

Helping employees reach a successful work life balance is the new killer employee benefit. Companies like Facebook and Google are going the extra mile to provide health benefits for employees such as fertility treatments. This is one example of deeply considering how best to work with employees to further both individual and company goals.

Personal Well-being:

Job satisfaction is more important than ever. With employees spending a huge proportion of their lives at work, many are opting for roles with better benefits which lead to a better lifestyle.

Happier employees motivate other employees to live happier lives and the same can be said for unhappy employees. Negativity however trumps optimism and unhappy employees can wreak havoc on employee morale.

By measuring factors such as job satisfaction and by providing programs such as stress reduction, financial planning and lifestyle improvements employees can feel a greater sense of job satisfaction.

At MeoCare we provide a holistic approach to wellness by helping employees achieve personal health goals at home and at work. It’s this type of approach to improve an employee’s life which can greatly affect job satisfaction and personal well-being.

The revolution in wellness programs is truly underway and a new era of connected devices and activity trackers pose as many threats as they do opportunities. Before embarking on any new program in 2015 take the time to consider what will benefit your employees and don’t be afraid to ask.

The best wellness programs are those that benefit both the employee and the employer. The greater the buy in from your workforce the greater the ROI for your company.

By James Malone

Looking to start a wellness challenge? Contact us, and get your employees motivated and engaged in health.

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