Linking Employee and Organizational Health
Edited by Ronald J. Burke and Astrid M. Richardsen
Chapter 14: Broadening the metrics used to evaluate corporate wellness programs – the case for understanding the total value of the investment
Including a comprehensive evaluation strategy as part of employee health management (EHM) or wellness programs has been identified as an important driver of program performance. It stands to reason, and has been well documented, that when organizations do not have clearly stated goals and objectives with regular measurement against those objectives, their wellness program is less likely to achieve its full potential (O’Donnell et al., 1997; Goetzel et al., 2001, 2007; Serxner et al., 2006). A 2007 study assessed organizations with wellness programs that had demonstrated health and healthcare cost outcomes in an effort to understand variables associated with their success (Goetzel et al., 2007). Researchers used an inductive approach to identify a list of common practices across these organizations and found strong program evaluation to be one of seven recommended ‘promising practices’. A more recent study used a deductive approach to identify practices associated with wellness program outcomes and found that organizations including data management and evaluation practices as part of a comprehensive approach to wellness were more likely to report a positive impact on healthcare cost trends than organizations not including strong evaluation practices to support their wellness program (Gold and Umland, 2012). Despite this evidence for the importance of program evaluation, only a third of US-based employers build strong program evaluations into their wellness programs (Health Enhancement Research Organization, 2013).
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