Workplace Wellness: Measuring Wellness Outcomes

evaluate your lifeWhen designing your comprehensive workplace wellness program, it is essential that you build evaluation into the process. If it is not considered right at the beginning, it will be hard to measure whether or not your initiatives are truly effective and worthwhile.

Step One – Determine Benchmarks

Initial research should examine:

  • Employee activity levels before the program is started
  • Employee health
  • Current costs of illness to benefit programs
  • Stress levels
  • Absenteeism patterns
  • Employee satisfaction
  • Retention rates
  • Productivity and performance

Some of these can be assessed through your initial Employee Health Assessment Survey, while others would come from your HR data.


Step Two – Measurement

After the program has been running for at least a year, follow-up research should be undertaken to measure the short-term results of the wellness intervention. Repeat evaluations should be done again at the 5 and 10 year mark.


Measuring outcomes

Ideally, performance measurement enables an organization to:

  • Determine if a program has been implemented as planned (process measurement);
  • Determine if a program has met its quality assurance criteria (process measurement);
  • Assess if a program is attracting the volume of participants that it intended (process measurement);
  • Document the individual employee health impacts of a program (impact measurement);
  • Identify the health outcomes of a program as it relates to disability management and absenteeism rates (outcome measurement);
  • Determine the cost benefit of a program (outcome measurement); and
  • Establish whether an ongoing commitment to the program is justified.


Process measurements
Process measurements review short-term program/intervention oriented results — quality control measures aimed at determining if the program/intervention itself has achieved its objectives. These may be derived through after intervention evaluation forms.

Typical process measurements include:

  • Participation rates
  • Adherence levels (if a long-term program)
  • Participant satisfaction
  • Perceived value
  • Management commitment


Impact measurements
Impact measurements review medium-term individual employee results. They identify whether or not intended individual health outcomes are occurring on a personal level. Post Employee Wellness Questionnaires may be utilized to determine these results.

Typical impact measurements may include:

  • Decreased Employee Health Risk usually through health-risk assessments;
  • Improved Health Beliefs and Attitudes through health surveys;
  • Improved Perceived Health Status through health surveys;
  • Readiness for Change through health surveys;
  • Improved Employee Satisfaction, as measured by a questionnaire;
  • Employee perception of greater personal power and control over their work environment, as measured by certain stress indicators;
  • Reduced incidence of new cardiovascular cases in STD and LTD; and
  • Reduced incidence of new musculoskeletal injuries.


Outcome measurements
Outcome measurements are longer term, organization-oriented results that indicate whether or not a program is generating the intended economic outcomes for the organization.

Typical outcome measures include:

  • Decreased incidence of illness or injury associated with stress, cardiovascular and musculoskeletal disorders;
  • Reduction in the length of a disability associated with stress, cardiovascular and musculoskeletal disorders;
  • Cost savings in health benefits such as long-term disability, short term disability (and/or weekly indemnity), Workers’ Compensation and drug utilization associated with stress, cardiovascular and musculoskeletal disorders; and
  • Financial measurements, including cost/benefit analysis and Return on Investment calculations.


A survey from the Workplace Health Research Unit, found that managers typically do not see a clear link between the corporate health program and the overall corporate strategy and they don’t see the impact of the program in their reality. These measurements need to be tied with the overall business outcomes and need to make sense to the individual business unit managers.



Step Three – Review and Redirection

“What gets measured is what gets done.”

Once the data is tracked from employee wellness questionnaires, programs evaluations and HR data the wellness committee needs to review the progress of their initiatives. The data ensures that the current programs are operating satisfactorily and that the employee needs are being met. They may also show the way to new initiatives and the need for new action plans.

This data will also ensure that all stakeholders will see the bottom line impact of creating a healthy workplace. Without this data, leaders may make decisions that do not consider the health of their most valuable asset – their employees.

As solid research in workplace health programs increases there may be a change to anchoring the programs to broad organizational goals that then decreases the need to prove the benefits of each individual program.

“Many leading organizations are moving away from a focus on return on investment measures and are aligning workplace health programs to the their human capital management, ‘employer of choice’, or triple bottom-line reporting strategies.” Conference Board Of Canada


*Source Health Canada



Does your company measure the success of its wellness programs?
Is it important to your decision makers?
Are you measuring ROI?

Leave us your comments!


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Additional Resources

Corporate Wellness E-briefs

Building A Well Workplace – Four Reasons Why Health Promotion Makes Good Business Sense

Corporate Wellness Programs – A Business Case

Workplace Wellness: 12 Steps To Setting Up Your Wellness Plan

Workplace Wellness: Critical Questions In Putting Wellness Programs Together

Workplace Wellness: 5 Reasons Why Excellent Programs Fail

Workplace Wellness: Moving From Health Promotion To A Healthy Organization

Boosting Your Wellness Programs To The Next Level




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Written by Beverly Beuermann-King

Building Resiliency Through Stress and Wellness Strategies. Stress and resiliency strategist, Beverly Beuermann-King, CSP, translates current research and best practices information into a realistic, accessible and more practical approach through her dynamic stress and wellness workshops, on-line stress and resiliency articles, books, e-briefs and media interviews.

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