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One of the best investments you can make in your company is a wellness program. It is a challenge to measure ROI because the return is from costs saved by avoiding future major medical claims. But it can be done.
Although there are more than two ways to measure ROI, here are two. First, you can compare your company to national averages. For example, the average for health insurance increase is 20%. Companies can expect an increase from 11% to 16%. Where does your company fall? Although market conditions play a role, the primary reason for premium increases is claims paid out compared to premiumpaid in (i.e. loss ratio). The more a company can do to reduce loss ratio, the better the premium. That's where a wellness program comes into play.
It is much, much more expensive to cure disease than it is to prevent disease. The good news is that chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes are largely lifestyle-related and preventable. "The cost of health is less than the cost of disease." (Dee W. Eddington, Zero Trends book).
Another way to track ROI is through a comprehensive health risk assessment. A good health risk assessment includes a lifestyle questionnaire, fitness exam, and preventive health screenings. The survey assesses nutrition, stress management, substance abuse, alcohol, smoking, sleep, safety, and happiness. The fitness exam measures percent body fat, flexibility, core strength, and aerobic capacity (i.e. VO2 max). The biometric screening measure blood pressure, blood cholesterol (both HDL and LDL), blood sugar (i.e. glucose), triglycerides, and body mass index (BMI).
Each component enables your company to track group progress year over year. Furthermore, the clinical tests enable your company to compare itself to national averages and trace progress year over year. I could not find a single source for healthy biometric levels, or normal levels, so I summarized them here:
Blood Glucose (mg/dl)
|Less than 100||Normal|
|100 to 125||Pre-diabetes|
|Over 126 (2 or more days)||Diabetes|
|Under 120 / 80||Normal|
|120 / 80 to 139 / 89||Pre-hypertensive|
|Over 140 / 90||Hypertensive|
Body Mass Index
|18.5 to 24.9||Normal|
|25 to 30||Overweight|
|200 to 239||Borderline high|
|100 to 129||Near optimal|
|130 to 159||Borderline high|
|160 to 189||High|
|Over 190||Very high|
|Under 40 (men)||At risk|
|Under 50 (women)||At risk|
The above information was accumulated from sites such as CDC, National Institutes of Health, WebMD, American Heart Association, and American Diabetes Association. Here is the best single-source page I found that explains each preventive health screening:
Here is where my blog must end. I would love to brag about how a corporate wellness program has benefited my small business, but I can't because of confidentiality. We have both anecdotal stories and metrics justifying our investment in workplace wellness. It was a hard sell when our Chief HR Officer and I presented preventive health screenings to the leadership team, but it was well worth. We have since added a fitness program. Our original intent was a healthier, happier, more productive workforce; but it is also an effective recruiting tool.