How to measure the success of workplace wellness programmes

From yoga classes and fruit drops, to weight loss programs or health screenings, corporate wellness initiatives are now commonplace across businesses of all kinds and scales, throughout all industries, with 9 out of 10* organisations now offering at least one program.


Often, however, these wellness initiatives come at quite a cost, of course, with any investment there must be some measurable return to justify the expense.

But with workplace wellness, the results aren’t always tangible. You might be able to feel a better office atmosphere first-hand, but how exactly do you measure that?

As this is one of the most common obstacles for organisations either considering or trying to justify continued investment in workplace wellness, we’ve outlined five key factors to consider.


  1. Set goals

Goals will vary from organisation to organisation as there are many reasons to engage in a corporate wellness initiative, such as; to lower the rate of absenteeism, to increase productivity or boost recruitment (the 2016 Aflact Workforces report states that 55% of people are likely to accept a job with lower pay if it offered better benefits).

The goals you set will be determined by the company’s own corporate objectives, vision and business strategy. Defining clear goals from the outset will enable you to better and accurately measure the results over time.

If your goals are multiple, try selecting two key factors to measure and if possible, select ones that can be measured in different ways; for example an increase employee satisfaction and decreased absenteeism.


  1. Engage employees from the outset

Engage and communicate effectively with your team members from the get-go. Get their feedback and ideas for program options, let them know what you’re hoping to achieve as an organisation and what benefit it will have for them.

Having a good level of engagement from the start will make it easier for you to gather regular and detailed feedback from them.


  1. Determine your measures

To get tangible and actionable results, you will have to have a clear idea of how you are going to measure success before you even begin.

Try to do this an anonymously as possible to get the most accurate feedback. Here are a few various methods of measurement to try:

·         Surveys – if your goals are centred around engagement and employee satisfaction, then internal staff surveys are good method. Ensure that the questions are varied, objective and allow them to provide detail and explanation.

·         Focus groups - focus groups and workshops can be very valuable and insightful and conversation can help stir ideas. To keep these as anonymous as possible, it’s best to conduct focus groups with someone outside of the company.

·         Data – when your goals are specific; such as reducing sick days or improving staff retention, gathering HR data may be most effective.


  1. Set baseline data

The best time to measure the success of your wellness programme is not at the end of the year. Once you have settled upon how you will measure success; which systems and methods you will use, you need to gather baseline data immediately to get a true idea of what your starting point looks like and understand where the opportunities lie for you.


  1. Remain objective

Many of the results of an employee wellness scheme will be obvious to you, as a member of the team. Maybe you’ll be able feel a more positive spirit in the office or hear others celebrate or praise the program.

And while this might make it clear to you that the initiative is paying off, it may prevent you from being accurate and completely objective when reporting the success. For that reason, it’s often best to get someone completely impartial to analyse the data or carry out the staff surveys and workshops.


Final thought

When it comes to measuring the return on wellness initiatives, always look at the bigger picture and avoid measuring in silos and direct results. If you see a direct link between the launch of wellness initiatives and lower absenteeism, then great. If your results aren’t as clear cut, look at the businesses’ results as a whole and try to establish correlations between these initiatives and how the company is meeting objectives and progressing positively.


* According to the Workplace Wellness Trends Survey in 2017, carried out by the Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans