I’ve spent over ten years working in corporate wellbeing, and the same question comes up again, and again: “How do we measure return on investment?” Several studies have aimed to address this, but a recent project from Virgin Pulse caught my eye.
How can you calculate the ROI of corporate wellbeing programs?
Virgin Pulse is one of the better-known employee engagement, corporate wellbeing and loyalty programs. They recently commissioned a report designed to calculate the value of an investment in Virgin Pulse’s program, across four customers, who spent a combined total of $11,622,577, over three years. The study suggests that the value of the program amounted to $19,137,500 (US), equivalent to an ROI of 162%, based on:
- Reduced employee attrition.
- Reduced healthcare costs.
- Organisation-wide productivity increases.
- Decreased administration and communication cost.
- Reduced costs of fatigue-related mistakes
I found it particularly interesting that reduced costs of fatigue-related mistakes were called out specifically. Traditionally, these kinds of programs have often focused on physiological measures such as weight loss, for example. While weight loss is still an important part of the program, I think the emphasis on fatigue highlights the growing recognition and importance of sleep and recovery in the corporate wellbeing space.
Best practice when planning & implementing a corporate wellbeing program
Rajiv Kumar, the Chief Medical Officer at Virgin Pulse, also made some interesting comments concerning his recommendations for how organisations should approach launching a corporate wellbeing program:
- Articulate what they hope to achieve, from the outset.
- Establish the specific outcomes that they care about: What are the problems and challenges that they are trying to solve within their workforce?
- Agree on a set of metrics to commit to and measure, to track the progress of the employees and the program.
- HR should report on those metrics consistently and use that data to build the business case and demonstrate the impact.