A new way to measure the return on your wellness program investment

One of the biggest of criticisms of workplace wellness programs is the fact that it’s difficult (if not impossible) to determine the dollars-and-cents Return On Investment (ROI). As a result, employers are turning to another metric to gauge the overall success of their wellness programs.  
The latest wellness metric to gain some traction among employers: Value On Investment (VOI).
In fact, “A Closer Look: Workplace Wellness Outcomes,” a recent study by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP), revealed that 50% of employers are using at least one VOI measure to track the overall success of their wellness programs.

Broad scope

What is exactly is VOI? It’s a broad measurement systems that looks at everything from reduced health claims to increased productivity and morale. The most popular VOI measures used by employers in the study included:

  • Improved health risk assessment data (used by 63% of employers)
  • Reduced healthcare costs (56%)
  • Reduced absenteeism (51%)
  • Improved employee engagement (49%)
  • Increased productivity (42%)
  • Improved overall organization financials and growth (38%)
  • Improved recruitment (33%)
  • Lower disability/workers’ compensation claims (31%), and
  • Reduced turnover (21%).

The study also listed the types of wellness programs that tended to have a positive VOI, such as fitness and nutrition initiatives, screening and treatment programs, social and community events, stress and mental health offerings, and purpose and growth initiatives.

11 participation barriers

In addition to measuring the aspects of your wellness program that are working effectively, it’s good to be aware of the factors that are keeping workers from participating in the first place.
HealthMine, a provider of a personalized health portal for businesses and insurers, attempted to asked employees about the greatest obstacles and barriers that kept them from participating in wellness programs. Here are the top 11 wellness participation barriers cited by individuals in the study:

  1. Lack of time (27%)
  2. Inconvenient location (25%)
  3. Inconvenient time (24%)
  4. Awareness of program (17%)
  5. Privacy concerns (14%)
  6. Pressure to finish work (13%)
  7. Security concerns (13%)
  8. Lack of boss’ support (10%)
  9. Too busy working (9%)
  10. Just not interested (9%), and
  11. Family doesn’t back it (5%).