Looking beyond the numbers in wellness program ROI

There is much discussion around the role companies play to improve workplace health and wellness for their employees. I look at this topic through two lenses: as a participant in my company’s wellness program and as a chief financial officer expecting to see a positive impact from our investment in our people.

Am I biased? You bet I am!

Go beyond the numbers

As you can imagine, the concept of return on investment (ROI) and how to see if a program is working are challenging to many CFOs and executives, including me.

Yet I believe we need to evolve beyond ROI to also consider the value on investment, or VOI, which includes the qualitative benefits of a wellness program investment. We need to broaden the way we demonstrate the value of employee wellness programs.

And that requires going beyond the numbers to consider how you’re investing in your workforce.

That’s right; a CFO just suggested looking beyond the numbers!

Make your wellness program a strategic priority

A wellness program is no different than any other corporate initiative, such as a product launch or acquisition. If you are not demonstrating to employees how the undertaking aligns with your company’s strategic priorities, you will not have a very high chance for success.

An employee wellness program, like any companywide initiative, requires support at multiple levels in the organization. Having leaders not only sponsor the program but also serve as its champions is crucial to its long-term success.

Show you believe

Show employees that you believe in the product and that you believe in them. Ask the following questions about your employees:

  • What drives them?
  • What are their risk factors?

Asking these questions upfront goes a long way towards ensuring your employees feel respected and appreciated -- and more likely to see the value in your wellness program.

Share the results

It is also imperative to share the results of your wellness program, which first requires making an assessment. One way to do this is through a simple survey (either online or hard copy format) to determine what it is specifically that helps your employees achieve the healthy lifestyle results they seek.

Eliminate work as an excuse

The reality is that we spend most of our adult waking lives at work. Recognizing this, we should provide a work atmosphere that includes those things an employee values -- such as nutritious food options, the chance to exercise, and access to wellness professionals -- so employees can lead healthier lifestyles.

Work should be a place where employees can ultimately embrace a healthier lifestyle, not an excuse for not leading one.

 

Steve Alavi is the CFO of HealthFitness, a provider of wellness solutions. He most recently served as executive director of treasury and financial management at Health Care Service Corp. and was responsible for treasury forecasting and planning, financial benefits, and asset liability management. Alavi is a certified public accountant.

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