Wellness Coordinators – Knowing and Maximizing The Value Of Worksite Wellness Programs (Important!)

Employers want to know the value being delivered by their worksite wellness and wellbeing programs. And you do want to know how much value your program is delivering, right?Unlike research methodologies, there is no practical “gold standard” by which to measure the value derived from a worksite wellness or wellbeing program. Typically, programs have been measured by their ROI (return-on-investment) specifically related to healthcare cost savings and maybe absenteeism and/or presenteeism cost savings. But it is important to note that ROI is just one type of financial measure and money is only one measure of value.Value determination is based on knowing how the various evaluation strategies and metrics fit within specific organizations, different sized employee populations, available data and the type and amount resources available for program evaluation. It is important to remember that the worksite wellness value proposition includes value for the employer, as well as value for the employee. The employer value proposition is the value proposition most commonly promoted today.When it comes to measuring the potential value delivered by a worksite wellness program, the following value domains may be applicable:• Financial outcomes• Health impact• Participation• Satisfaction• Organizational support• Productivity and performanceFinancial OutcomesFinancial outcomes are usually key measures for employers in all types of areas, not just employee health and wellness. Therefore, financial outcomes measures should never be overlooked when the data are available to calculate them.The current belief is that by improving employee health status or by reducing employee health risks, wellness programs will produce a positive ROI from resulting savings in healthcare spending. More often than not though, the savings are not really savings in relationship to current spending, but more likely the avoidance of future costs due to the prevention of future events. So there is actually no cost savings, just future cost avoidance.The financial outcomes can be broken down into the following metrics:• Direct dollar based claims savings• Savings impact on the various rates of medical costs associated with wellness sensitive events that are potentially preventable by wellness related programming and interventions• Financial impact based on a model that links changes associated with the program with published evidence and/or with claims-based studies of prior program years or with the results from a vendor’s book of business. This strategy is commonly referred to as modeled savings.When it comes to financial outcomes, it is important to understand leading and lagging indicators. Leading indicators can show whether or not the program is likely to produce savings in the future. It is also important to identify what constituted the savings drivers?Health ImpactWellness program impact on employee health can be measured through:• Physical health related diseases and conditions• Mental/Emotional health related diseases and conditions• Health related behaviors• Health status (biometrics such as blood pressure, height, weight, etc., and chronic condition management)• Health measures related to risk statusParticipationParticipation relates to the contact of the employee with the wellness program. Positive health outcomes have been found to vary depending upon the number of contacts and the nature of the intervention or activity offered.SatisfactionSatisfaction with the wellness program can be measured at the level of both the employee and the employer. Typical satisfaction metrics include:• Overall program satisfaction• Satisfaction with program’s effectiveness• Satisfaction with the scope of program’s interventions and other offerings• satisfaction with program accessibility, convenience, program content, staff and tools• Satisfaction with the program’s communication strategies and materials relevance• Satisfaction with the participant experience• Satisfaction with the level of tangible and intangible personal costs of the program• Satisfaction with the benefits and value received from the programOrganizational SupportOrganizational support measures the degree to which the organization creates ba positive, supportive and caring employee experience and supports the health, wellness and well-being of its employees. Measures in this domain measure the work environment, climate and culture and how they influence employee engagement, the shaping of employee behavior and employee health, wellness and wellbeing.Productivity and PerformanceThese measures examine the effects of health and illness on work outcomes. Typical metrics include, absenteeism, presenteeism (productivity loss while at work), productivity and employee turnover (recruitment and retention). Some of these measures will be financial, while others will be of a non-financial nature. Another measure would be to measure the gap between the employee’s optimal performance and their actual performance.While the field may have relied on an ROI measure in the best to establish value, ROI alone is inadequate and incomplete as a measure of value. This article demonstrates that the value proposition of worksite wellness programs is certainly greater than any one measure, especially ROI alone.

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