It’s tough. As wellness practitioners it can be very difficult to justify your wellness programs through a return-on-investment lens. You know it is the ‘right thing to do’, even if the ROI is not easily or immediately seen. To ensure viability and sustainability of your wellness programs, a clear understanding of the budgeting process is needed.
Budgeting has three distinct areas: budget principles, budget justification and budget sustainability
How is your budget decided?
• Top-down budget planning? – This is where the wellness department is given a finite dollar amount and you must run your program within that defined limit. You decide which programs are most important and how to include new initiatives.
• Bottom-up budget approach? – This is where the you, as the wellness practitioner, submits a budget itemizing the program offerings. You must choose which initiatives to include in a budget and be able to justify why those in particular are being offered.
Budgets can be further broken down into functional and intervention areas:
- Functional: includes expenses for facilities and personnel
- Intervention area budgets: separate out costs for topical areas such as risk factors or health conditions
To be able to answer questions on why your budget should be renewed or increased ensure that:
- Program planning will provide you with results at various intervals – what measurements are you going to utilize?
- Management is told when to expect various results
- Results are shared on a frequent basis
How do you ensure long term sustaninability of your wellness programs?
- Use hot issues to expand your budget
- Centralize and pool health related expenditures. Examine existing corporate programs such as occupational health, health and safety, training and development, communication policies, etc. and see if they can be aligned under your comprehensive wellness plan
To ensure viability and sustainability of your wellness programs, a clear understanding of the budgeting process is needed. Click to tweet
You will need a thorough understanding of how and by whom budget decisions are made within your company in order to be able to effectively present your budgets and their rationale to top-level management. As budgets tighten, you need to develop buy-in from these decision makers in order to sustain your wellness plan. When providing your budget justifications, be realistic with your outcomes and help them to understand that generally you will be looking at a 3-5 year plan in order to see a bottom-line impact, but there will be some short-term results as you progress towards these goals.
Do you have a set wellness budget?
Is it important to your decision makers?
Do you have an adequate budget to meet your wellness goals?
If you have some strategies to share – comment on this posting!