Got Metrics? Assessing the Impact of Your Well-being Program

Most organizations that invest time and money in an initiative want to be able to evaluate how well the initiative is meeting objectives – and how the results they achieve compare with similar efforts by other organizations. This has proven difficult in the field of employee health and well-being programs, partly because outcomes in these areas are hard to measure, but also because no standard set of metrics has been agreed upon.

I’ve shared data here before from the HERO Health and Well-being Best Practices Scorecard in Collaboration with Mercer. The HERO Scorecard assesses an employer’s use of best practices – that’s what you’re scored on. But it also includes an optional section on program outcomes that introduces a set of core metrics developed as part of a joint project undertaken by HERO and the Population Health Alliance. (The full report, Program Measurement & Evaluation Guide: Core Metrics for Employee Health Management, may be accessed through the HERO website.)

Our main reason for including the metrics was to provide an inventory of best-practice metrics for evaluating program success, just as the HERO Scorecard serves as an inventory of well-being program best practices. But we also hoped to build a database of outcomes data for research purposes – and that’s starting to happen. While completing the outcomes section of the HERO Scorecard is optional, more than 300 employers have provided at least some of the outcomes data requested, which covers:

  • Participation rates
  • Employee assessments
  • Health measures
  • Lifestyle behaviors

Financial impact I’ve summarized some of the findings for which we had adequate numbers of responses in an article posted on the HERO website. The strongest response, not surprisingly, was for participation. Here’s what we found: On average, 51% of respondents’ employees (and 36% of eligible spouses) completed a health assessment. Biometric screening rates were similar, at 49% of employees and 40% of eligible spouses. Participation rates are somewhat lower for coaching programs: 29% of eligible employees had an initial interactive contact with a coach, 24% had multiple interactive contacts, and 21% completed a coaching program.

For now, these and the other results can be used for benchmarking purposes; as we collect more data we will be able to examine the relationships between outcomes and specific best practices, to learn more about which practices have the biggest impact. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a set of metrics to evaluate your program results, you’ve just found one!

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Beth Umland
by Beth Umland

Director of Research, Health, Mercer

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