How long does it take for a company to see a return on investment (ROI) after implementing a wellness program?

Q:

How long does it take for a company to see a return on investment (ROI) after implementing a wellness program?

A:

As a business owner/employer, you may choose to start a workplace wellness program once you understand the many potential benefits that come with doing so. These benefits can range from increased productivity and employee retention to decreased sick days, absenteeism, health care utilization costs and staff turnover.

Before you take the steps to implement a wellness program you may want to better understand the numbers. Measures such as employee happiness and wellbeing can be complex and subjective. Including some objective measures can help you to gain an insight on how long it will take to see a return on investment (ROI) after implementing a wellness and health promotion program.

Firstly, it should be recognized that some parts of the ROI could be determined in the weeks after implementing a wellness program. Others may take a lot longer to become apparent. For example, in the early weeks you may start to notice a decrease in absenteeism. Over the long term you could see a decrease in health care utilization costs and an increase in employee retention.

The scope of a workplace wellness program can also vary greatly. Some companies might opt for a basic entry level workplace wellness program. Others may invest in something much more extensive. The research also shows that some companies report a very good ROI from their wellness program and others do not. It's likely that the ROI of a workplace wellness program will be related to the level of investment, as well as the relevance and appropriateness of the chosen program and how well it is implemented.

In order to objectively measure the ROI of a workplace wellness program it is important to track the variables that you are aiming to improve on as a result of implementing a wellness program. This enables you to track and measure improvements at regular intervals over the course of a wellness program. Some of these variables can include:

  • Absenteeism
  • Happiness, wellbeing levels, health markers and perceived wellness culture via staff questionnaires (could be considered as "value on investment" rather than "return on investment")
  • Turnover/retention
  • Health related costs for the workplace

Since investing in a workplace wellness program is one strategy that can lead to an increase in staff retention, a Retention ROI calculator can be used to estimate the savings that can be made from reduced turnover.

Overall, the ROI from a workplace wellness program should be viewed from a long term perspective. Some variables can improve in as little as a few weeks. A full perspective on ROI is likely to be obtained after a year or more of comparing figures.

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Written by John Hawes
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John Hawes is the CCO and co-founder at SureHire Occupational Health Testing. John graduated in 2001 from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Science degree in physical therapy. As a former physical therapist, John uses his knowledge of physical therapy and interest in ergonomics and biomechanics to devise fit for work testing.

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