5 Wellness Metrics your CEO should care about


Return on Investment for Wellness Programs can be tricky to calculate. Although there is no one magic number that can show you the exact return on wellness programs, there are a few metrics that can help you understand the success rate of a wellness program.

1. Absenteeism
This is the number one metric all workplace wellness companies will focus on. Argument behind this is simple and intuitive – if the employees are physically and mentally healthy, they tend to show-up at work more often with great energy levels. Nevertheless, tracking absenteeism is rather challenging because it is difficult to determine the cause and reason. Hence, we recommend that instead of absenteeism, track presenteeism – an employee’s loss of productivity due to attending work while sick. Having a chronic illness or mental issues such as anxiety and depression can severely impact an employee’s ability to concentrate. Low degree of presenteeism can indicate good health amongst the employee population and ultimately give a good sense of productivity.

2. Reduction in Medical Leaves and Sick Days
Due to employee wellbeing, number of sick days will not entirely decline because employees do not always take leaves because of medical reasons. Therefore it is difficult to comprehend the reason behind sick days. However, this number will significantly decline due to a healthy workforce. Referring to this metric on a monthly basis might not reflect an improvement, thus we recommend tracking this on an annual basis.

3. Annual Health Cost increase per employee
Pure quantitative metric, Annual Health Cost per employee will ideally decrease after the implementation of the wellness program. This is based on the ideology that “Prevention is better than cure.” Hence, encouraging employees to develop healthy habits can help in reduction and prevention of health risk factors. Furthermore, studies indicate that successful wellness programs can lead to a 20-30% decrease in the healthcare costs. In the first two years it would be very rare to see a sudden drop in the healthcare costs – therefore it is advisable to track Annual Health Cost increase per employee per year.

4. Participation
This is the easiest and most important metric to measure out of all the six. If employees do not like the wellness program, they will simply not participate. Therefore, the success and failure of a wellness program highly depends on employee participation levels. To calculate the overall participation rates, you can look at the portal sign-ups, response rate to Health Risk Assessment questionnaires, participation in onsite health checks. Furthermore, to determine employee engagement on a regular basis, you can also look at Daily Active Users and Monthly Active Users of the web portal. CEOs should not place a lot of emphasis on just participation as it can prove to be a superficial metric after first few years as it does not show the underlying benefits of a wellness program – such as increase in productivity and falling healthcare costs.

5. Behavioral Changes and Satisfaction
Apart from all the other quantitative metrics mentioned, this one is entirely qualitative. Healthy employees tend to be generally satisfied with their work-life and surroundings, which in turn increases their productivity. It is recommended that you frequently ask your employees about their satisfaction levels regarding the current wellness programs and make appropriate changes. Furthermore, satisfaction also stems from Behavioral Changes. Like diseases, healthy behaviors are also contagious – you are likely to exercise when there are few other people exercising next to you. Therefore, encouraging employees to make healthy lifestyle choices can increase employee satisfaction in the long run and lower healthcare costs.