This is part 2 of a 2-part article on Wellness Program ROI. Read Part 1.
Segmenting Health Factors
Many wellness programs segment health into only physical health, which defies modern science. The mind-body connection has been proven since 1985. Also, since the turn of the millennium neuroscientists have identified multiple parts of the brain that are activated during a spiritual experience, and since then the relationship between spirituality and our mental, emotional, and physical health has been further explored, tested, and understood. One 2001 study supported that “religious involvement and spirituality are associated with better health outcomes, including greater longevity, coping skills, and health-related quality of life (even during terminal illness) and less anxiety, depression, and suicide.”
Kelly Turner, Ph.D. studied over 200+ radical remissions of all kinds worldwide and she found that there were 75 different efforts used in varying combinations and frequencies. They all had 9 in common, only 2 of which are physical. 7 are mental, emotional, and spiritual.
While programs may promote fitness, they fail to address other areas of behavior that will ultimately sabotage fitness, such as financial, emotional, or mental health. Wellness programs that are purely or mostly focused on fitness and nutrition can often overlook what truly influences behavior patterns – beliefs. Many understand that employees often need to be educated on the health impacts of good and bad behavioral patterns, but continue in lack of self-awareness of the belief systems that influence choices on a daily basis. Coaching and mindfulness are the best ways to support people in behavioral change and growth. If your wellness program neglects mindfulness, your ROI is taking a huge hit.
Companies have very compelling reasons not to ignore social health and community building as part of their wellness programs. The chances that an employee will turn down a competing offer goes up with each work friend. Many companies are still operating on trial and error, or just defaulting to whatever form of socialization the founder, executives, or person charged with culture prefer. However, people have very different socialization preferences, and options without obligation are the key to helping employees come together as friends. Offer intramural sports and book clubs or movie screening clubs. Offer a board game night as well as a video game night. Offer a happy hour and a yoga hour.
In order to achieve long-term, sustainable change, a person’s whole health picture has to be addressed and the underlying beliefs that drive behavior and motivation. To find out more about integrating mindfulness training (MT) and emotional intelligence training (EQ), get our report, How Mindfulness Training Quickly Transforms Organizations, here.
Tracking the Wrong Metrics
If companies are only evaluating one monetary measurement to determine a program’s success, such as participation, participant physical markers, such as weight and blood pressure or how many cigarettes smoked, and health care costs. However, when a wellness program is working, there are many other trickle-down impacts on the top and bottom line.
- Presenteeism – Employees who come to work too sick, stressed, or burnt out are not productive
- Absenteeism – Stress contributes to acute and chronic illnesses, necessitates additional doctors visits, and often justifies more “mental health” days
- Engagement – Healthier, happier employees are more engaged and productive employees
- Retention – See above how tending to social health improves retention
- Lower cost of talent acquisition and higher quality of talent – a trickle-down impact of improved culture and wellness-friendly policies
- Increased valuation and potential long-term stock price increases with improved P&L
Using the Wrong Incentives
A recent Kaiser Permanente survey indicates that workers are disenchanted with monetary incentives to participate or achieve certain levels of improvement in wellness plans. Gretchen Rubin, author and habit expert, promotes that incentives work better when they are related to the goal. For instance, if you reach your 20th-mile run, you get a new light-weight water bottle. At your 50th mile, you get a certificate for your local running company. Offering massages and cryogenic sessions as incentives can further enhance wellness.
There are a lot of moving parts to a robust and ROI-producing wellness program. While a lot of research supports that if implemented to incorporate what we know about optimal human performance and wellness, however, we are in need of additional case studies. We need companies truly committed to their workforce wellness, willing to make investments in science-backed programs.
If there is one thing that you can easily incorporate into your wellness program that will make the most impact on ROI and wellness, it is mindfulness and meditation. Download our full report, How Mindfulness Training Quickly Transforms Organizations, here.
Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play.
While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales.
Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot.
She is an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and previously was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business She is also an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy where her students won the 2018 national competition and were named America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs.