A New Perspective on Corporate Wellness
Small business owners and HR directors will be spending October and November this year huddled with their benefits consultants determining what their company’s health care plan will look like for 2018. For many of these organizations, they will look to improve upon their corporate wellness programs, or perhaps implement one for the first time. The first questions out of their mouths will generally gravitate to “How will this bend the cost curve down?” or “What is the expected return on investment to the company?”
I once met with a well-regarded health care policy expert in town who let me in on a little secret. He said, “These questions are like asking what the square root of yellow is. There is no way to accurately answer these questions. How do you measure the savings on monies that you never spent? Healthcare is complicated because everyone’s health is unique and their own.”
Utilization is the other metric (often viewed as part-and-parcel of a program’s ROI) that gets too much attention paid to it. Business owners often ask themselves, “How many of my employees are using the program?” This most often leads to disappointment, as so much time and money has been invested into designing programming that, at the end of the day, didn’t inspire participation or meaningful change.
These observations inspired us at FitMe Wellness to make a break from the standard corporate wellness programs that focus on boiling whole populations down to numbers and figures. We decided that we would focus on facilitating meaningful personal experiences instead.
One of our favorite stories is about an employee of one of our blue-collar corporate clients. This employee is a critical CNC operator who was constantly underproductive due to chronic back issues. When he was missing work with his bad back, the widget only he made just couldn’t get made, creating a bottleneck that brought production to a screeching halt. FitMe’s experts went into the plant, redesigned his workstation to change how he was lifting and reaching for materials, and got him working with one of our personal trainers twice a week. Mind you, this is someone who never had stepped foot inside a gym and had never had any desire to, but he showed up like clockwork and invested his time, as his company was making the investment in him and his co-workers with our program. In the past two years, he hasn’t missed a single day at work due to his back and the productivity at his workstation has skyrocketed.
I would argue that the employee in the previous example had not only improved his life and the productivity of the employer, but that it inspired additional employees to utilize the wellness program. This is what the employer decided to focus on, instead of getting caught up in overanalyzing the utilization numbers of the rest of their employees and trying to make the leap to calculate potential saved money. The simple fact that their employee was healthier, happier, and more productive was the only metric that mattered. And really, isn’t that the metric that actually matters to each of us?