September 30, 2022 by Andrea Rajic
Table of contents
Ask any business owner or executive, and they’ll tell you ROI - return on investment - is one of the most critical metrics they track.
For some things, calculating ROI is pretty straightforward. For instance, if you want to know how many new leads or conversions your recent marketing campaign generated, you can use analytics tools to compare the money you’ve spent on ads and the money you’ve earned from them.
But what about your employee wellness program?
Over the past three years, companies have increased their budgets for employee wellbeing by 22%. In 2021, the average budget for wellness programs reached $6 million per year. So how do businesses know this investment pays off?
Workplace wellness programs are a type of employee benefits businesses offer employees on top of health insurance. Traditionally, wellness initiatives focus on helping employees stay healthy and active and improve their overall wellbeing.
However, in recent years, wellness programs have expanded to include emotional and mental health and incorporate other forms of wellbeing at work, making them part of the holistic employee experience management.
Wellness programs can be one-time initiatives or activities spanning a longer time period, including gym memberships, smoking cessation and weight management programs, and mental health support.
In talks about wellness ROI, there have also been mentions of VOI, which stands for value on investment. That may be an even more suitable term to describe what a company can get from a well-thought-out employee wellbeing strategy.
Companies worldwide are implementing these strategies to reduce healthcare costs, increase employee retention rates and job satisfaction, and reduce absenteeism. These goals lessen the company’s expenses since they avoid high employee turnover rates and other costs impacting a company’s bottom line.
In some companies, the wellbeing program came back with a $1.50 to $3.80 ROI depending on the programming aspect (disease management, lifestyle management, etc.) How did they get these numbers? There are several ways to measure the ROI of your employee wellbeing program, but it all comes down to comparing how much you’ve invested and how much you’ve saved in different areas of work. These are the factors you should include in your calculation.
Are your employees often absent from work without a valid reason? That may indicate stress in the workplace, burnout, poor interpersonal relationships, or other issues that a wellness strategy may help solve. To tailor the program to the needs of your workforce, you need to find out the reason for the high absenteeism rate. When calculating the program’s ROI, there’s typically a correlation between this factor and your final numbers: the more your absenteeism rate drops, the higher your ROI.
The situation is similar with sick days. If your employees are often absent because they’re sick, explore why that’s happening. Some may be suffering from chronic illnesses, but there may also be ones caused by burnout, workplace stress, injuries at work, and more. All these factors increase employees' health risk, affecting not just their wellbeing but your company's costs.
Implementing programs that help people deal with stress, manage their time, get in better physical condition, etc., can bring you a high ROI due to lower healthcare costs, fewer insurance claims, and improved employee health.
Another rate that may correlate with your employee wellbeing ROI is your retention rate. Introducing a well-designed wellness and health benefits program that fits your employees’ needs can lead to a higher employee retention rate and a lower turnover rate, directly affecting the onboarding budget.
It’s well-known that retaining good workers is less expensive than onboarding new ones. For example, a study showed that hiring a new employee and training them to replace their colleague who left could cost up to 33% of the worker’s annual salary. So if you improve retention through wellness programs, you will achieve significant cost savings.
Productivity can be an excellent indicator of how much your wellness program pays off. A healthy employee is a happy employee. A happy employee, especially if they feel engaged at the workplace, is 17% more productive than an average employee who doesn’t feel appreciated and recognized. Effective employees will manage their working hours more successfully, miss fewer deadlines, and have a lower absenteeism rate. That will allow them to have a better work-life balance and less stress, which means they may suffer from fewer health issues. This directly affects your healthcare expenses and profitability.
Happy and healthy employees who feel supported by their company are more likely to be engaged and rate their company culture as positive. Wellness benefit plans help employees reduce stress, achieve better work-life balance, and avoid burnout, which is essential, especially for remote and distributed teams.
Improving employee morale with wellness activities is no small feat and can have a real implication for employers in the age of The Great Resignation.
You may have learned how to recognize the ROI of your employee wellbeing strategy, but how do you know what costs to include in your calculation?
Sometimes referred to as indirect worker’s compensation, employee benefits you offer as part of a wellness program can involve gym memberships, different kinds of gift cards, insurance premiums, and more. If they’re related to a healthy lifestyle, these benefits will attract your employees to use them.
You may need to hire more staff for your HR department to handle an employee wellbeing program, or if you choose to offer counseling or coaching, you need to pay the person who will provide these services.
If you’re organizing workshops, lessons, or other activities and amenities as a part of the program, you need to think about where you will organize them. If renting an additional space other than your office is necessary, that’s another investment expense.
The company should organize health checkups to learn about what its employees may benefit from. Depending on how you provide health insurance to your employees, these checkups can be a part of your annual fee, or you need to pay for them separately.
Think about how you will collect your employees’ data and analyze it. If you already use analytics software, you may need to upgrade it, buy another app your employees can use (like health trackers), or purchase a new tool to manage the data effectively.
Finally, for success and high program participation, you must promote the initiative within your company. These activities may involve flyers, presentations, emails, meetings, etc. Bear in mind that a study by Gallup showed that only 40% of employees know what kind of wellness programs their companies offer.
To make the most out of your employee wellbeing strategy, you should pay attention to your employees' physical, mental, and emotional health and focus on helping them maintain harmony both in the workplace and outside of it.
Helping your employees lead a healthy life can have a beneficial effect on their results at work. Moreover, a healthy dose of physical activity affects people emotionally, making them less likely to feel stressed at work. That will give them energy and increase their productivity.
This aspect of your program can involve incentives like gym memberships, hiking trips, presentations, and courses about healthy diets, as well as screenings and preventative activities to reduce medical claim costs.
To avoid burnout and disengagement at the workplace, you can organize coaching or counseling sessions for your employees or offer soft skill training. Sometimes, poor time management hurts several aspects of a person’s life: they can’t create a work-life balance, feel stressed at work, and consequently, be at high risk from physical health issues.
Also, it’s necessary to pay attention to nurturing team spirit and good interpersonal relationships in the company since it’s a significant factor affecting employees' feelings about their workplace. Focusing a part of your program on solving this type of problem can bring incredible results in a short time.
A study found that employees who feel recognized at work are almost three times more likely to be engaged. And we already said that engaged employees are also more productive, so it’s clear that’s the right way to go. Ways to keep your employees engaged are to provide them with career advancement opportunities, challenge them, praise them publicly, give them more freedom, and more.
This freedom is sometimes reflected in allowing your employees to work remotely, using flexible workspaces that are known to increase employee productivity, enhance their health, and reduce overall company costs, so that’s another plus for a higher ROI.
Employee wellbeing programs have become a must – and for good reasons. They have numerous benefits for both employees and employers. Maybe the best thing about employee wellness is that these strategies are entirely customizable, and you can easily tailor your own according to your team's needs.
Increase employee engagement and maintain your culture
Employees want flexibility and work-life balance but miss connecting with their teams in person. Help them achieve both by providing easy access to workspaces nearby, while you stay in control of budget spending, usage, and workplace data.