key performance indicators for wellness programs

After putting so much time and effort into starting and maintaining a wellness program in your organization, it is important to know your key performance indicators (KPIs). Your key performance indicators for wellness programs are metrics that can help you evaluate the effectiveness of their wellness programs and identify areas for improvement. If you don’t know the benefits, how can you keep support from leadership?

Importance of Key Performance Indicators For Wellness Programs

By tracking KPIs, such as participation rates, health outcomes, and healthcare cost savings, you can determine whether your wellness program is achieving your intended goals and make decisions based off of data to optimize the program’s impact.

With these numbers, you’ll be able to better communicate the value of the program to stakeholders and decision makers, such as executives and employees themselves. If you can show the impact of the wellness program through your KPIs, you can justify the investment in the program and build support for more finances and leadership.

RELATED: How to Get Leadership Support for Employee Wellness

KPIs to Consider When Measuring the Effect of Your Wellness Program

Measuring the success of an employee wellness program can involve a variety of factors, depending on the specific goals of your program. Here are some common metrics for your KPIs to consider.

  • Participation Rates
  • Health Outcomes
  • Employee Satisfaction
  • Absenteeism and Presenteeism
  • Return on Investment
  • Culture Change

It’s important to choose metrics that align with the specific intentions of your wellness programs and to measure those metrics consistently over time to track progress and make adjustments as necessary. We’ll discuss that and more in this article.

What Are Considered Good Participation Rates?

Participation rate measures the number of employees who engage with the wellness program. Higher participation rates can mean that employees find the program valuable and are willing to invest their time and energy into it. There’s no point in trying to execute on a plan that gets no or very little participation. This is the primary of all key performance indicators for wellness programs and their effectiveness.

key performance indicators for wellness programs

The definition of “good” participation rates for employee wellness programs can vary a lot. It depends on:

  • the specific goals of the program
  • the size of the organization
  • the industry in which the organization operates

Generally speaking, a participation rate of at least 50% is often considered a good benchmark for employee wellness programs. If you have a participation rate below 50%, it’s possible the program is not meeting the needs or interests of employees, or that employees are not aware of the program offerings. At this point, you may need to re-evaluate the program and consider implementing different strategies to increase participation.

Remember, participation rates differ a lot depending on the type of wellness program. For example, it’s typical to see more involvement in fitness challenges or weight loss programs than stress management or financial wellness programs. But even though the rates are different, there may be a very high level of impact to those whom the specific program has made a difference for.

RELATED: How to Get Maximum Wellness Program Participation in 2023

What Specific Results Should Be Measured?

The majority of wellness programs are meant to improve employees’ health. So tracking key health metrics such as blood pressure, cholesterol, BMI, and smoking status can be useful. Comparing these metrics before and after the program can help assess whether the program has had a positive impact on employees’ health. These are kind of the original key performace indicators for wellness programs.

When an employee joins any of the wellness programs provided by WellSteps they will complete an individual Health Assessment. The biometrics and starting measurements from that assessment are regularly updated over time and employees can see changes over time.

When it comes to absenteeism and presenteeism, trackthe number of days employees take off work or don’t feel fully productive is useful. A big factor in employees being absent is due to illness, and productivity is heavily affected by illness or being “unwell”. So the wellness program’s impact on reducing employee illness and increasing productivity should also be considered.

increasing productivity in work culture

Culture change may seem to be the most elusive thing to measure, but it can be assessed through employee feedback and observation of workplace behavior. In the end, when your employees feel that the work culture supports their health and well-being, they feel more valued.

RELATED: The Correlation Between Wellness Programs and Increasing Productivity in the Workplace

Measuring Health Care Costs Savings for Employee Wellness Programs

Studies have shown that effective employee wellness programs can result in healthcare cost savings of between $1.50 and $2.75 for every dollar invested in the program. Cost savings and return on investment (ROI) are two different metrics used to evaluate the financial impact of employee wellness programs.

Cost savings refer to the actual dollars saved by an organization as a result of implementing a wellness program. This includes savings on healthcare costs, such as reduced medical claims and absenteeism costs. For example, if an organization spends $100,000 on a wellness program and sees a $50,000 reduction in healthcare costs, then the cost savings would be $50,000.

ROI, on the other hand, is a ratio that compares the financial benefits of the wellness program to the costs of implementing it. It is typically expressed as a percentage and is calculated by dividing the financial benefits by the program costs. For example, if an organization spends $100,000 on a wellness program and sees a $200,000 reduction in healthcare costs, then the ROI would be 100% ($200,000 – $100,000 = $100,000 / $100,000 = 1.0 or 100%).

return on investments with health care costs

In other words, cost savings measures the actual dollars saved by the organization, while ROI measures the financial benefit of the wellness program relative to its costs. Both metrics are important in evaluating the success of employee wellness programs, as they provide different perspectives on the financial impact of the program.

“Cost savings measures the actual dollars saved by the organization, while ROI measures the financial benefit of the wellness program relative to its costs.”

However, it is important to note that financial metrics alone do not provide a complete picture of the overall success of a wellness program, and other factors such as those we’ve already talked about above should be considered.

RELATED: Wellness ROI vs VOI: The Best Employee Well-being Programs Use Both

Time Needed to Measure Key Performance Indicators For Wellness Programs

Generally, it is recommended that organizations implement a wellness program for at least one year before evaluating its success. This time frame allows for enough time to track and analyze data, assess program participation rates, and evaluate employee health outcomes.

Not all facets of your wellness programs are constantly running simultaneously. Even the number of participating employees varies month to month. So the year mark is often the bare minimum to be able to see healthy impacts both for your employees and the company together. It also allows enough time for employees to establish healthy habits and see improvements in their health and well-being.

Next Steps to Using Key Performance Indicators For Wellness Programs In Your Company

If you’re just starting with a health and wellness program at your company, or even just needing to effectively evaluate the one you have, it can be daunting to determine all your KPIs. Having a wellness team or consultant to assist in compiling and tracking this information can make a difference in your wellness program dying or thriving.

You’ve taken the time to educate yourself, now schedule a free demo with our WellSteps guides and discover your next steps.

About The Author

Dr. Steve Aldana

Dr. Aldana is the CEO of Wellsteps, a worksite wellness solution that leads the nation in wellness program deployment and engagement. Dr. Aldana authored over 75 scientific papers and 7 books on health risk management, healthy living, and health promotion programs. He has given over 350 keynote speeches across the U.S. on the ability of good nutrition and regular exercise to prevent, arrest, and reverse many chronic diseases.