How to Measure Your Wellness Program’s Effectiveness

Traditional Measurement Tools

When you put time, effort, and money into something, it is only natural to want to see results and have evidence that whatever you are investing in is worth it. The same goes for wellness programs. More than 60% of U.S. businesses offer wellness programs, there is still conflicting research on whether or not they are effective. Some studies reveal that wellness programs have positive gains in both cost savings and productivity measures, while other research suggests wellness programs are good recruitment tools but offer few other benefits. According to this Harvard Business Review article, research results come down to how we define and ultimately measure “well-being.”

Overshadowed Benefits

Typically, wellness programs are focused on assessing the impact of programs on lowering specific health risks, such as smoking, stress, and obesity. Then, they look back to see if a reduce in those specific risks have lowered health care costs. If there is not an obvious benefit in these terms, employers tend to get frustrated. What they are missing, though, is how the impact of each of these risks goes far beyond one metric. For example, when an employee reaches their weight loss goal, they have not only lost weight. They may also report that they sleep better, have more energy, feel more positive about life, and maybe they have even gotten off blood pressure medication. Therefore, it is important to look at more than just the traditional metrics when defining well-being and when seeking an accurate reflection of value.


Return on Investment (ROI), refers to a measurable outcome that directly relates with the original investment. In terms of wellness programs, this usually means that by investing in your employees health through wellness programs, you see savings in health care costs. Value on Investment (VOI) is often referred to as a “softer” measurement. This is where the invaluable benefits of employee health, such as employee morale, positivity, decreased use of sick days, increased productivity, and talent retention, come in. These things are harder to measure and usually do not produce numeric measurements so people have a harder time  accepting them.

How to Measure Your Wellness Program’s Effectiveness

It is commonly thought that you can only use ROI or VOI when measuring the effectiveness of your wellness program. However, the best wellness programs have goals related to both ROI and VOI, and use both to measure the success of their wellness program. The first step is to figure out what your organization’s definition of “well-being” is and then set your goals accordingly. If, for example, job satisfaction and overall positivity is important to your definition of well-being, then create a survey for employees to take before implementing your wellness program. Throughout the year, use the original and new survey results to measure if your wellness program is effective.

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