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Evaluating your wellness program

In recent years, employers are increasingly seeing employee health and well-being as the new barometers for success.1

Employee wellness programs aren’t just a perk anymore. They’re a necessity. Survey results show employees expect a certain level of well-being support. 77% would consider leaving their employers for a job that pays the same but offers better support. 60% said they’d take a pay cut for better care.2

Companies are responding. In 2019, the Kaiser Family Foundation’s annual survey of employers found that 53% of small firms and 82% of large firms offer a program in at least 1 of these areas:

  • Smoking cessation
  • Weight management and
  • Behavioral or lifestyle change3

Related: How to start a wellness program at your company

Wellness programs are investments. Wellness program evaluation is as important as the regular evaluation of any organizational investment. However, it’s important to know various studies over the years have provided conflicting results, with some showing savings and health improvements while others say the efforts fall short.4

How to evaluate

Evaluate based on the program’s objectives. Was your plan established in alignment with your organization’s overall business goals and mission statement? What priorities did you identify? Examples of priorities include:

  • Reducing overall healthcare costs
  • Minimizing absenteeism
  • Enhancing productivity
  • Talent acquisition
  • Retention and
  • Boosting employee morale

Evaluate based on established key performance indicators (KPIs). What KPIs have you identified for evaluating a workplace wellness program? The number of team members taking health assessments? Biometric screenings? Employee participation? The number of steps?

Solicit feedback as well as hard data. Surveys that capture employee perception of program benefits, especially the features employees like, want added or improved, provide invaluable information.5

Develop recommendations for aspects of the program to drop, amplify, add or change, based on quantitative and qualitative data.

Report findings and recommendations to leadership and confirm the commitment to continued investment in workplace wellness.

Communicate the results of the wellness program evaluation, management’s commitment to the program, recommendations for improvement and anticipated next steps to all stakeholders.

Evaluate for a VOI as well as an ROI

Forbes suggests when evaluating a workplace wellness program, employers not only take a return on investment (ROI) into consideration but VOI (value on investment) as well. Examples include:6

An improved culture of well-being. Are you seeing or sensing a culture that encourages and promotes well-being in the company? Are you noticing employees engaging in healthy behaviors like moving more or drinking more water?

Increased employee education. Are employees showing signs of increased awareness and knowledge of healthy habits? Are you hearing about lifestyle changes? Do they know their key health numbers, such as blood pressure, blood sugar levels and cholesterol? What changes are you seeing around this awareness over time?

Improved health status. This can be determined through annual health assessments, biometric screenings and surveys that capture employee perceptions and feedback.

Related: What is included in a wellness program?

Manage expectations

The Illinois Workplace Wellness Study looked at how effective these programs were and what businesses could expect to see as a result. Here’s what they found: 7

  • Wellness programs are at their best when they’re optional; otherwise, employees could feel judged or pressured, which could lead to unhappy employees and possibly even a discrimination lawsuit.


  • People who sign up to participate are likely to be health-conscious and already making an effort to take good care of themselves.
  • Healthcare costs typically don’t decrease, at least not by much.
  • People are more likely to get preventive screenings thanks to wellness programs.
  • Employees felt wellness programs meant their companies valued their well-being.

Some in the industry have suggested that, when evaluating a workplace wellness program and finding it desirable, considerations for changes/improvements should include incentives and specificity. An editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests employers should consider “more targeted approaches” that focus on specific workers who have higher risks or on “health behaviors [that] may yield larger health and economic benefits.”8

The best results also seem to come from programs that provide a continuum of care, not just crisis intervention. Recruiter.com points out the benefits of digital technology, especially mobile apps, that offer support to all employees at all times, mitigate issues before they become major crises.9

For example, a primary goal of the Go365 program is to engage members by rewarding them for short-term activities that are in their best interest long-term. The ultimate purpose is to create new healthy habits and support sustainable lifestyle changes.

To find out more about Go365, contact your licensed Humana sales agent or request more information about Go365’s wellness program by filling out this formOpens in new window.

In Kansas, Humana agents and sales representatives are prohibited from conducting pre-sale conversations with clients regarding Go365, EAP, or other value-added services.

Go365 is not an insurance product and is not available with all Humana health plans. This is a general description of services which are subject to change. Product features may vary by client. Please refer to Customer Support for more information.


1Paula Allen, “How and Why to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Employee Wellness Program,” Recruiter.com, last accessed October 22, 2021, https://www.recruiter.com/i/how-and-why-to-measure-the-effectiveness-of-your-employee-wellness-program/Opens in new window.

2“How and Why to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Employee Wellness Program.”

3Julie Appleby, “How Well Do Workplace Wellness Programs Work?” NPR, last accessed October 22, 2021, https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/04/16/713902890/how-well-do-workplace-wellness-programs-workOpens in new window.

4“How Well Do Workplace Wellness Programs Work?”

5“How and Why to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Employee Wellness Program.”

6Alan Kohll, “Are You Measuring The Real Impact of Your Employee Wellness Program?” Forbes, last accessed October 22, 2021, https://www.forbes.com/sites/alankohll/2018/02/27/are-you-measuring-the-real-impact-of-your-employee-wellness-program/?sh=2fe3e28623b5Opens in new window.

7Ana Gotter, “How To Evaluate The Impact Of Your Employee Wellness Program (The 5 Metrics To Measure),” Hoppier, last accessed October 22, 2021, https://www.hoppier.com/blog/evaluating-employee-wellness-programsOpens in new window.

8“How Well Do Workplace Wellness Programs Work?”

9“How and Why to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Employee Wellness Program.”