The calculation of return on investment (ROI) of workplace wellness programmes extends further than financial value alone, according to the Workplace Wellness Alliance.
Its Making the Right Investment: Employee Health and the Power of Metrics study found diseases related to dietary behaviour, which lead to conditions such as obesity and type-2 diabetes, currently dominated the area of workplace wellness.
These diseases are associated with reduced productivity and increased absenteeism as well higher medical bills and greater medical care, which are estimated to be up to a third higher for obese employees than for healthy weight employees.
The report, used data from 25 Alliance registered companies covering nearly two million employees in 125 countries around the world to measure programmes and their effects.
Smoking cessation programmes were quoted as having made the greatest progress in programme implementation with some in their twentieth year.
For example, the report cites tobacco policies and smoking cessation programmes implemented in Johnson & Johnson offices in Japan in order to help employees quit smoking. The ROI outcome of the programmes from the report showed that money was saved as employees eventually quit smoking and stopped taking cigarette breaks which in turn led to greater staff productivity.
The report said: "The ROI of workplace wellness programmes goes beyond mere dollars saved: For example, investment in smoking cessation programmes and incentivisation can result in increased productivity, nutrition and exercise programmes can reduce the cost of employee healthcare and centralised programme design can lead to increased employee engagement which can in turn lead to reduced turnover.
"Other initiatives, such as those designed to reduce stress, also benefit employees. This helps to create a blueprint for implementing effective programmes and measuring outcomes."
Solutions that utilise technology are also said to have a greater advantage. Resources that provide effective integration as well as flexibility, allowing users to access programmes at evenings and weekends supply an ‘on demand' solution.
The report also cites the importance of engagement and communication in implementing wellness programmes: "To optimize the ROI case for senior management, the adoption and long-term engagement of employees in workplace wellness programmes is vital, which makes the role of engagement and incentivisation evermore critical.
"Communication is essential to engagement, so the use of technology and customised communication programmes with personalised messages is fundamental to ensuring success."
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