How to Evaluate an Employee Wellness Program

Employee wellness and wellbeing are at the forefront of our people strategies.  In an article by Workhuman, they state, “A U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report found that 80% of US businesses with more than 50 employees offered corporate wellness programs.”  We know that there are tremendous benefits to implementing wellness programs including a reduction in healthcare costs, a decrease in turnover and an increase in engagement.  This article won’t touch upon those, but Workhuman has a great article outlining these benefits.  In this article, we’re going to walk through steps in evaluating wellness programs.


Understand Where You Are Currently

The first step in evaluating a wellness platform is to understand where you are today.  What are the challenges that your employees and your organization are facing?  What challenges are you trying to solve?  It’s easy to get excited about all the bells and whistles of a platform, but if it’s not solving the challenges you’re trying to solve, it’s going to be a waste of time and money.  Along these same lines, understanding your budget is also important.  


Off-the-shelf vs Customization

One solution may be the answer to all of your needs, but sometimes it won’t.  Employees have different needs and what works for one may not work for another.  When evaluating wellness programs, seeking out a program that can be customized to meet the needs of your organization may help you meet the variety of needs.


Meet the Employee Where They Are

We talked about understanding where the organization is and what the employees need, but what the employees need will vary depending on where they’re at and what their needs are.  For example, if you put a smoking cessation program in place.  Some employees will quit, some employees will want to get some resources to help them quit and some will need an accountability partner to help them quit.  

I am a believer that a wellness program that builds on a health coach or some type of accountability module will help employees the most. The ability to set individual goals and work towards those goals is invaluable in helping the employee achieve their own personal goals, which, in turn, has a positive impact on the company.  If I’m working towards someone else’s goal, it’s less likely that I will meet those.


Participation & Recognition

Participation in wellness programs is typically around 20%. That seems like a low percentage, but it is the norm.  Working with the wellness provider to understand how they inspire participation and keep participation high.  


Communication & Administration

I’m sure that you don’t want to add administration of a wellness program to your plate. That sounds daunting, especially when your plate is already full.  Understanding the who, what and how the company will support you and run the program is essential.  Do you get a dedicated customer service rep?  Do they provide communication?  Do they help with enrollment?  Understanding what they provide and what you’ll need to provide is key.

These are just a few of the considerations when starting to think about purchasing a wellness program. There are many options out there and many different types of programs.  If you don’t know where to start, working with your broker and your medical insurance provider can be an option.  At The Wellness Value, we can help you uncover what you need, vet wellness programs, or customize a program that works for you.  While HR can be a lonely place, this is one area you don’t have to figure out on your own.