Measuring Wellbeing Analytics' Impact

HR leaders have long understood the linkage between healthier employees and critical business outcomes such as productivity, engagement and retention, but the proof has historically been qualitative. When it comes to organizational health, they've been forced to ponder: Does wellbeing really matter?

Wednesday, December 7, 2016
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At the close of 2016, the continued growth and adoption of employee-wellbeing programs in 2017 and beyond is certain. For those of us who have been in the industry for years, the pace of advancement and innovation has been exciting and inspiring -- in fact, according to a recent survey from Buck Consultants, 69 percent of multinational organizations have a global health strategy and 88 percent aspire to a strong culture of wellbeing.

This is good for employees everywhere, and the reasons are well-documented. Wellbeing programs have been shown to improve physical activity levels, promote better nutrition, decrease stress, and improve sleep. But the industry has struggled to quantify value to organizations as a whole. Intuitively, we've understood the linkage between healthier employees and critical business outcomes such as productivity, engagement and retention, but the proof has historically been qualitative. When it comes to organizational health, we've been forced to ponder: Does wellbeing really matter?

The answer is, unequivocally, yes.

Over the past months, Virgin Pulse's analytics team has pioneered exhaustive research into the complex and critical relationship between employee health and business performance. Research confirms the common sense approach of year's past: this is a critical investment, for employees and for businesses alike. These actionable insights provide an invaluable opportunity to enhance the way we work and live.

Consider the following statistics from Virgin Pulse's book of business:

·         Companies enjoy a 13.4-percent average reduction in medical claims costs amongst wellbeing program members. This can account for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars of savings over time, highlighting a direct relationship between wellbeing and a company's bottom line. Significant savings are consistent regardless of industry -- clients across government, education, healthcare, and finance sectors saw similar results, which include both medical and prescription insurance claims. Cost reductions of this magnitude justify an increased and sustained investment in workplace wellbeing.

·         Workers who participate in wellbeing programs have 2.9 times fewer workers' compensation claims costs compared to non-participants. In addition, injury rates are cut in half for program members. Wellbeing programs protect employees, ensuring they are prepared and primed for their jobs. This, in turn, protects a company's financial performance and bottom line, reducing costs and absenteeism related to work-related injuries and accidents.

·         Wellbeing program participants are 49 percent more productive and take 31 percent fewer sick days than their counterparts. Business performance relies on employees doing their job well, day after day. Workplace wellbeing programs show a marked influence on individual productivity, providing employees with the tools and resources they need to be focused, energized, and engaged at work. Investing in personal health and wellbeing leads to over a third fewer sick days, further ensuring consistent business performance and success.

·         Turnover is 29 percent lower for program members. Employee turnover is a keen barometer of company culture, employee engagement, job satisfaction, and productivity. When turnover is low, it's a strong indication that your business is functioning well. Wellbeing programs improve internal culture, driving passion and success, with 46% of members stating they are more engaged at work and 64 percent saying they are proud of their company culture. Plus, there are financial benefits to lower turnover. Current estimates suggest it costs around 20 percent of an employee's annual salary to replace them.

The numbers don't lie: Employee-wellbeing programs have a significant, measurable impact on company performance. These analyses are quickly evolving to be even more sophisticated, revealing the relationship between employee sleep and worker's compensation claims, for example, or the correlation between physical activity levels, productivity, and business profitability.

But the advancement of wellbeing analytics isn't merely a function of analysis and assessment; it's also directly linked to innovations in technology. Leveraging the power of artificial intelligence (AI), wellbeing analytics tools will completely disrupt the way HR leaders currently influence employee experience and business performance within their organizations. It won't be long before machine learning and AI will be embedded into employee wellbeing technology, providing insight into member behavior, program utilization, healthy habits, and their real-time, immediate impacts on performance, engagement, and culture.

The next phase of wellbeing analytics is about much more than reporting and insight; it's also about contextual responsiveness and prescribing the best pathways for organizational success. As technology learns the ways that members interact with programs, tools, devices, and even each other, it will anticipate and grow responsive to challenges, needs and outcomes, foregrounding resources that address not only individual goals but company goals as well.

But the future is now. Concrete data linking wellbeing investments and business performance already exists. With the right analytics tools and partners, HR and benefits executives will gain concrete data and actionable insights that will help advance company performance, organizational goals and the employee experience.

Chris Boyce is CEO of Virgin Pulse in Framingham, Mass. Send questions or comments about this story to


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