Article: A comprehensive guide to measuring the impact of employee well-being programs

A Brand Reachout InitiativeCorporate Wellness Programs

A comprehensive guide to measuring the impact of employee well-being programs

Measuring the results of well-being programs is critical to it's improvement. So is deciphering how to assess the impact.
A comprehensive guide to measuring the impact of employee well-being programs

With employee well-being taking centre stage in the larger strategy to build an engaging and productive workforce, HR’s role in designing, implementing and measuring well-being programs has become of great significance. Employers and business leaders are willing to make larger investments to ensure employee wellness but often struggle to identify the direct results of their endeavours, particularly in the data-driven model that our current paradigm demands. Unsurprisingly, many HR leaders find it challenging to obtain leadership buy-in for resource-intensive and sweeping wellness programs.

In this article, we will discuss some challenges to measuring the impact of wellness programs and how you can reorient your initiatives to provide you with accurate and reliable data that can be leveraged to execute pivotal changes for better employee wellness.  

Why measuring the impact of wellness programs is important

Investigating the impact of your wellness program is critical for many reasons:

Calculating the ROI: There is no standard definition of well-being that encompasses the different facets of human health and considers the health risks and life quality improvements associated with it. This makes it difficult to clearly establish the relationship between program interventions and outcomes, further complicating the ROI calculation. While this can make procuring investments and leadership buy-in difficult, it’s important to track some pivotal metrics and data points to ensure the program achieves its intended objectives.
Assessing strengths and shortcomings: Accurate measurement of the program’s successes and failures can enable HR leaders to improve the offerings continually. Understanding what benefit or service is working for people, and more importantly, what isn’t, can be critical in personalising benefits, increasing adoption rates and ensuring utilisation of services by external vendors.

Understanding your workforce: A thorough measurement of your wellness program can provide critical insights into the workforce's makeup and help identify health-related trends for different demographics, job roles and locations. For example, suppose the health insurance reimbursement data shows that people in the sales team are experiencing specific health symptoms or issues more than the organisation's average. In that case, accurate data can pave the way for positive policy, process and culture changes for better health and productivity.
Identifying positive physical and mental health behaviours: Measuring the impact of your wellness program also helps distinguish effective motivators and nudges that positively impact employee health. These insights can support structural changes in the program design and implementation strategy for better results that lead to sustainable behavioural changes.

How to measure the impact of employee well-being programs

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you design a robust measurement framework for your well-being program:
Set clear objectives: Define each aspect of your program goal, with a specific meaning for each term, including well-being. Start by asking yourself the most significant objective you wish to achieve and how it ties in directly with the organisational goals. This approach can also help you design an effective delivery mechanism for the program. For example, if you wish to reduce absenteeism or boost engagement, start by discovering the factors resulting from these trends and create a wellness program to address these issues.
Select the right metrics: Naturally, having a clear goal in mind will make it easier to focus on the right data points.

Depending on your ultimate goal, choose a combination of the following metrics:

  • Utilisation (or participation) and adherence rates
  • Program awareness
  • Employee satisfaction and engagement levels
  • Employee turnover
  • Organisational financial performance
  • Absenteeism and work output
  • Health risk factors and biometric screenings
  • Healthcare costs

Perceived value by employees

To ensure continuous program refinement, you can benchmark these metrics against industry standards. This can also help you promote your well-being program as an integral part of your EVP.

Use a mixed-method approach for data collection: For pre- and post-assessment data measurement activities, use different sources, including surveys, focus group discussions, interviews, medical reports and external vendor data. Collecting both quantitative and qualitative data can help you understand the scope of impact of the program, which can be difficult to capture otherwise.

For example, a questionnaire asking employees about the program's benefits is likely to offer limited response options. Meanwhile, in a focus group discussion or interview format, employees are more likely to discuss the different ways in which they feel healthier, which could mean being more energetic, having a better quality of sleep or experiencing less anxiety. It’s crucial to capture the impact beyond one specific metric or biomarker.

Apply advanced data analytics tools: Collating and analysing data from various sources can be tricky if you fail to automate the processes of collecting, storing and managing data using the right tools. Advanced analytical tools that use data from different sources to identify trends, highlight metrics that demand attention and provide a comprehensive overview in a single dashboard are usually part and parcel of many well-being management systems. You can also integrate these solutions into your HRMS platform for seamless user experience and adoption.

Many digital well-being platforms also offer new-age collection of data through wearable technology. Similarly, other tech-enabled features that are now available for managers and HR leaders to leverage include real-time access to workforce wellness data, predictive analysis of what may require attention in the future and customised management of program offerings.

Analyse cost and returns: In tandem with the metrics you cover, investigate the impact, cost analysis and ROI by establishing direct connections between an increase in program KPIs and organisational goals. Track changes in program costs, such as insurance claims, hospitalisation rates, absenteeism levels and output.
As mentioned before, well-being encompasses many different forms, and any positive change will reverberate across other metrics, such as engagement, productivity and attrition. Rather than condensing these complex factors into a single number, try to look at them individually with comprehensive pre-and-post intervention data. This can also be an excellent opportunity to integrate the concept of VOI or value on investment into your well-being programs and measure the value they generate.

Collect testimonials and success stories: While data can help you gather the overarching trends in adoption and utilisation, individual change stories and testimonials from engaged employees can be an effective way to motivate the larger workforce to prioritise their well-being. These narratives have immense power in positively impacting team morale and inspiring others to engage actively. You can share these stories periodically through meetings, newsletters and HRMS platforms to sustain employee interest, increase participation and promote the program's new features.

Setting up a reliable measurement framework: How to get started

Well-being means different things to different people across age groups, professions and genders. Regardless of the current limitation of traditional data collection and evaluation methods, organisations continue to make employee wellness a priority because they record a tangential impact on critical aspects of the workplace, such as culture, engagement, healthcare costs and productivity. In an era where our collective physical and mental well-being is constantly challenged, it will require careful planning and choosing the right data points to fully understand the scope of your program and keep it relevant for the workforce. An excellent starting point for this process is listening to what your employees want and designing a well-being program that works for them.

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Topics: Corporate Wellness Programs, #Wellness First With MediBuddy

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