Everything in today’s times − every corporate decision, every project success or failure – is determined by the data surrounding it. When we want to gauge the impact of a digital advertisement, we look at the number of conversions it brings in, among other parameters. When we’re toying between buying a car and a lifelong commitment to Uber, we measure the time, effort, and money-saving potential.
Why should health, at the level of an organization, be any different?
A CDC study shows that absenteeism increases with the number of chronic diseases an employee suffers, costing companies upward of $2 billion. With insights like these, a company-wide health and wellness program is no longer a “good-to-have” but almost a prerequisite for a firm’s success.
Yet, studies and HR departments are often conflicted about the impact that health and wellness programs have on the bottom line. The 2018 Illinois Workplace Wellness study claims to have found no link whatsoever between wellness programs and company performance. While the study continues into 2020 and hopes to track further outcomes, one thread suggests why and how wellness programs can be impactful.
Health & Wellness Matters To Your People … And Your Bottom Line
The Illinois study attributes existing expectations from a wellness program to a selection bias. A health-conscious employee who is keen to improve their health and fitness levels is more likely to join a voluntary wellness program. Starting with a higher intent increases commitment to the program and leads administrators to base their inferences for the entire group on this voluntary group.
But it takes effort to cross the selection bias. The metrics are meaningful only if they exist and cover a significant population over a period. This could explain the rationale of companies like Google, Microsoft, and Accenture who are building wellness cultures like never before, showing that:
- You need to increase awareness, create multiple opportunities for employees to join initiatives, and up the overall usage to increase your data pool and ability to track metrics.
- Metrics are your best way of knowing where the needle movement is happening or likely to happen if efforts are increased.
So, how do you measure how impactful a program is?
Choose The Right Metrics To Track Returns
A traditional parameter such as return on investment (ROI) alone cannot fully capture the benefits of a long-term strategy. Simply put, ROI is typically measured as medical cost savings per rupee invested in wellness programs. But parameters like changing insurance partners, delays in decision-making, and the number of employees actively involved in the program at any given point can skew ROI unfavorably and cause us to conclude that a corporate health program is not beneficial. So, aside from healthcare costs, what you really need to weigh in is the value on investment (VOI), measuring a variety of other parameters:
A preventive, personalized corporate health and wellness program with regular health checks could translate to a lower incidence of chronic illnesses in the workplace. It can also help employees with pre-existing conditions manage them better, thus reducing absenteeism and enhancing productivity and morale − all of which ultimately translate to a positive bottom line. That’s exactly how Pepsico addressed the challenge of high attrition and low overall engagement – implementing a wellness program anchored around factors like individual health and safety, stress management, work-life balance, and relationship building.
Fixing up and measuring relevant parameters over a sustained period is key to your health program’s impact – and ultimately, your company’s financial success. This, in turn, can not only help boost your working potential and productivity, but also contribute positively to your brand image. After all, a company that can put a number on just how much it cares for its employees is one that’s worth backing!
Rekuram Varadharaj is the co-founder and COO of healthi, India’s fastest growing preventive healthcare company.