The Conference Board of Canada has released a report urging businesses to calculate the return on investment from their health and wellness programs, and showing how they can do so.
"Making the Business Case for Investments in Workplace Health and Wellness" states that such programs can boost profits by increasing productivity and reducing benefits costs, absenteeism and presenteeism. Typical elements in such programs include weight-loss support, smoking-cessation programs, stress-management training, fitness facilities or subsidies, and flex-time to promote work/life balance.
Almost three-quarters of Canadian employers offer at least some wellness programs. The report states that it's essential to calculate the ROI from these programs, "since it allows the organization to determine the financial benefits of the investments and can help sustain health and wellness programs in the face of competing organizational priorities."
The report's finding include:
- About 20% of Canadian employers try to analyze ROI in at least some ways, but fewer than 1% do so in a rigorous way. The report spells out in detail how to do so, including a hypothetical example showing how an employer achieved $3.50 in cost savings for every $1 invested in its health and wellness program.
- SMEs face special challenges in evaluating these programs. For instance, they have fewer people and automated HR information systems to measure ROI, and it's tougher to assess the impact of a program because data fluctuates more with a smaller number of employees.
- SMEs have advantages, too. For example, it's easier for them to integrate data because they typically work with fewer external services providers, and it's simpler to conduct employee surveys because there are fewer people to canvass and they're more likely to be in the same physical location.
The report is available from the Conference Board of Canada for $625.
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