How to Boost the ROI of Your Employee Wellness Programs

how to boost roi of your employee wellness programs

As an employer who goes to great lengths to ensure they take excellent care of their team members, you know that employee health extends well beyond everyday health benefits like medical insurance, dental coverage, and health savings accounts. Healthy employees are happy, productive employees, so it makes sense that providing whole coverage for employee wellbeing is not only the right thing to do for your team members, but it’s also great for your organization’s financial strength.


If you’re considering starting an employee wellness program, or thinking of revamping your existing initiatives, you’re in a good place for making a lasting impact. Read on for tips on boosting the return on investment of your employee wellness program from the employee benefits and wellness experts at Benely


Employer Sponsored Wellness Programs Can and Do Yield Positive Return on Investment for Organizations 


Benefits for Current Employees and Your Organization’s Bottom Line:


Physically and mentally healthy employees have reduced absenteeism rates, produce lower costs and a fewer quantity of health care claims on average, and are more successful at work. The CDC reports that five chronic diseases or risk factors—high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, physical inactivity, and obesity—cost US employers $36.4 billion a year because employees miss workdays. But, according to Cigna’s research on the topic, the majority of employee wellness programs sponsored by employers showed positive returns on the initiatives’ investments in the three key areas of absenteeism, healthcare costs, and productivity.


Benefits for Recruitment Efforts:


Not only can wellness programs yield fantastic results for current employees, but they’ll also help your organization in its recruitment efforts and will attract top talent. In fact, a recent report by Cigna found that almost half of employees surveyed from around the world said they expected their employees to provide them with mental health support.


Determine Which Factors are Important Metrics for Your Organization


As previously discussed, Cigna has conducted extensive research on the topic of wellness programs’ ROI. They examined over 100 data sources in order to provide an overview of how businesses can make the most of their wellness programs. The first item they recommend employers consider are the factors unique to their organization that they’d like to use to define the success of their program. According to Cigna, programs” that are grounded in a solid understanding of how health and wellbeing issues manifest in each unique workplace” were the very programs that generated the highest return on investment.


Consider what key loss indicators you’d like to see improvement in and set these indicators as your goals for improvement. Employers who structure their wellness programs with clear goals in mind ahead of time are more likely to see better returns than employers who set out to implement a general wellness program without any concrete benchmarks. Benchmarks you can use to measure the success of your initiative can include health outcomes, medical coverage costs, overall financial savings, employee satisfaction, and participation rates.


Create a Wellness Program Designed Especially for Your Employees


Do you know which types of diseases or disorders are most common in your industry? How about within your individual departments? For example, an article published in the Journal of Pharmacy and BioAllied Sciences found that for Information Technology professionals, around 56% of subjects had musculoskeletal symptoms; 22% had newly diagnosed hypertension; 10% had diabetes; 36% had dyslipidemia; 54% had depression, anxiety, and insomnia; and 40% had obesity.


Don’t Forget the Importance of Mental Health & Wellness


Your wellness program should include a mental health aspect no matter what industry you’re in. Cigna found that mental health interventions delivered higher returns than fitness interventions or smoking cessation interventions in the grand scheme of wellness initiatives. This is particularly important in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic; research shows that almost half of American workers have been coping with a mental health issue since COVID. According to McKinsey & Company, a nearly fifty percent increase in behavioral health conditions from pre-pandemic reports could cost employers an additional $140 billion per year.


Beyond health coverage costs, employers see the additional strain in their Human Resources department. Forbes reports that in 2019, fifty percent of millennial and seventy-five percent of Gen Z workers reported having left a job due at least in part to mental health reasons. Increased costs associated with turnover cover an estimated fifty percent or more of an employee’s salary in recruiting, hiring, and training.


A recent study by Deloitte on the ROI of workplace mental health programs indicates that investing in high-impact to support employees’ mental wellbeing yields a positive return on investment. Deloitte found that mental health programs were more successful financially when they sought to support employees in many areas, from preventative mental health services and a focus on reducing workplace mental health hazards to intervention and care after problems arose. In the study, Deloitte discovered that companies could improve ROI on these wellness programs, particularly by focusing on leadership training, family assistance tools, psychological care benefits, and preventative measures.


Maintain Engagement and Participation at all Levels


Once you know what type or types of wellness programs you’d like to implement, you’ll need support from not only executives, but also middle management. Middle managers are the ones who are best able to represent the benefits of your new wellness programs in a positive light to your employees and actively encourage engagement. Your human resources team should focus on making sure employees know and understand all the tools available to them and how effective they can be if they’re taken advantage of. Cigna’s research shows that engagement is crucial to your wellness program’s ROI and that results are exponential. In fact, they found that when engagement rates changed from 75% to 92%, the return on investment increased eleven-fold.


Partner with an Expert in Employee Benefits and Wellness


Considering implementing or revamping your organization’s employee wellness program? The employee benefits and wellness experts at Benely have you covered. Benely partners with Wellworks For You, a leading provider of wellness programs that motivate your employees and produce an excellent return on investment time and time again. Want to learn more? Contact Benely or request a free demo today to get started.