The Importance of Measuring Wellness Program Effectiveness and ROI

To put it mildly, there’s been a “spirited” debate in the last several years between corporate wellness program providers and their critics over the real value of employer wellness initiatives.

The critics – the most notably Al Lewis and Vik Khanna – have come down hard on wellness vendors for overstating the health and financial benefits of their wellness programs. Furthermore, Lewis and Khanna claim that there’s no independent research that demonstrates a positive ROI for corporate wellness programs.

In response to these criticisms, a growing number of wellness vendors have advised employers that a) the real value of wellness programs is not cost reduction but a “culture of wellness” and/or b) the focus should be on indirect wellness benefits such as improved productivity, “presenteeism” and lower workers compensation costs.

As an analytics focused firm we are diametrically opposed to answer “A.” We recommend that clients actively measure their wellness programs in terms of reduced costs and improved employee health. If these benefits aren’t being delivered, you don’t blame the messenger. You modify the wellness program!

As to “B”, we are all for measuring the indirect benefits of wellness programming. Wellter’s analytics platform enables us to measure the impact of wellness on medical, workers compensation and disability claims. With the addition of employee performance reviews and surveys we can also estimate indirect benefits like improved productivity and presenteeism.

Interested in more? We recommend that all employers interested in wellness program evaluation regard our recent white paper Measuring Wellness Program Effectiveness and ROI.

We’ve put together a brief white paper that:

  • Reviews the history of “corporate wellness programs”
  • Summarizes the large scale studies of wellness program effectiveness and ROI
  • Provides guidance how to effectively measure wellness program effectiveness and ROI.