Building a case for employee health initiatives

Intuitively everyone knows there is a strong case for investing in employee health.  We inherently believe there is a positive correlation between good employee health, lower absence, higher engagement and increased productivity.

However, living in the digital and metric driven world that we do, it is never going to be enough to simply highlight an intuitively credible link between investing in employee health and improving organisational KPIs.  HR must present a robust case that will be able to track a solid line from investment to return on investment (ROI).

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Management Information – a good starting point

Delivery of health checks at companies are not only valued employee benefits, but they can also enable the collection of in-depth, anonymous, management information (MI) that can provide an insightful picture of the current health and wellness landscape of a company at a specific point in time.  Overtime, if health checks are repeated such MI can contribute to a longitudinal picture of the overall health of an organisation.

Collection of employee health MI can be a good place to start when looking to demonstrate a clear ROI from any wellbeing initiatives. MI puts a stake in the ground; where and how HR can drive focused initiatives that will have the greatest impact and yield significant KPI improvements.

Bluecrest Wellness offers comprehensive employee health checks at highly competitive prices. This enables collection of employee health MI across an entire organisational population, rather than just at an executive level, for the same budget.  This is when the MI becomes valuable and gives HR the data required to make the right strategic decisions.

What KPIs to measure success against?

Once you have your employee health MI, your starting point, the next step is to decide upon the organisational KPIs to measure your wellness initiative’s impact against.

There are many ways to measure the impact of wellness initiatives.  These can include productivity and engagement.  Research would suggest that these are certainly areas that can be positively influenced by investing in employee health; for example the Boston Consulting Group calculates that $700 a year per employee in healthcare costs and productivity gains by addressing three key health behaviours (inactivity, stress and alcohol) over a five year period (CIPD 2013).  However, such measures can be subjective and vulnerable to distortion; engagement can be measured in many different ways for example.

Perhaps the simplest approach is to use absence data; time lost or regained can then be monetised and expressed as a salary cost.

Using this as an example, company absence data may indicate that organisational absence is predominately musculoskeletal (MSK) in nature.  MI resulting from the initial health check identifies a section of the work force that is overweight and in a role that places stress on the back.  HR can then roll out a set of targeted, therefore cost effective, preventative measures, such as dietary and exercise workshops, MSK awareness classes and physiotherapy triage for those workers most affected.

Absence data could then be monitored to see if the targeted focused initiatives had helped reduce absence related cost within the organisation.

First Movers Advantage

There is no question that the importance of developing effective employee wellbeing strategies will grow in standing in the coming years, as technology makes it easier to track ROI and the aging of the work force make it even more important to ensure healthy employees.

There is still some way to go before employee health is attributed with the level of credence it deserves.  However, there is no questioning its current rise up the corporate agenda and also the competitive advantage forward thinking companies will gain from being at the forefront of this revolution.