Is Trying to Measure Your Wellness Program's ROI Keeping You From Moving Forward?

  • Dec 1, 2011

what is keeping your company back from offering a wellness program?Austin, Texas:  An recent article in USA Today, entitled More Firms Using Incentives to Prod Employees to Fitness, took a positive look at the success of corporate wellness programs.

It cited a survey of 335 employers that found that the share of companies that used financial rewards in health management programs increased to 54% in 2011 from 36% in 2009. In 2012, about 80% of companies plan to offer financial rewards.

Most employers are quickly learning about the need to incorporate wellness and fitness programs into their corporate structure as a way of reducing health care costs.

However the most difficult stumbling block that most Human Resource Directors are finding is justifying expenses for the wellness program without hard data and stats proving its effectiveness.

Many ratios have been bandied about, the latest being a 6:1 ROI ratio for return vs. cost of a wellness program. I have seen this ratio show anywhere from a 3:1 ratio to 6:1 – depending on the source.

The USA Today article describes a program from Health Care Service Corp, where with incentives such as cheap gym memberships and “prizes” for hitting goals, HCSC’s fitness program has saved the an average of $17 a month in medical costs, while those not enrolled have raised its health costs by 5%. And that is over nearly 5,000 participants – a savings of over a million dollars per year.

Debbi Brooks, divisional vice president of the wellness program at HCSC, said some of the changes have been too substantial to be coincidental.

Employees who work out one to two times a week have 8% lower medical costs than those who don’t work out; those who work out two to three times a week have 28% lower medical costs; and those who work out more than three times a week have 44% lower medical costs.

Can you determine the return on investment of your wellness program?

If you haven’t already done so, now is the time, so you can justify your programs success and keep it funded.

If you are still in the planning stages, there are plenty of industry statistics you can use, most available free from WELCOA, the Wellness Councils of America.

2012 is just around the corner.  Are you going to be the 80% of the companies running wellness incentive and programs for your employees, or are you going to be the 20% sitting on the sidelines, waiting for more specific results, while the non-action continues to cost your company significant money?

Be proactive.  Take the time to gather your wellness results so you can foster a healthy workforce.

As Debbi Brooks mentions in the USA article, “It’s good business to have a healthy population. It really is the right thing to do.”

Here’s to a healthier and fitter workforce!


  • Category: Wellness Programs
  • Tags: ROI of wellness program, WELCOA, Wellness Councils of America, wellness incentive, Wellness Program