Wellness Program ROI Depends on Design and Implementation

Posted on December 11th, 2014 by Seth Nickinson

This article, published by the Society for Human Resources Management, is in the context of a prominent 2013 Rand Corporation Workplace Wellness Programs Study. That study found minimal overall impact on health care costs and provided an estimate of five years for a new wellness program to become cost-neutral. But here, the authors point out that measuring program ROI is not only about health care costs, point to recent studies and literature that do demonstrate marked returns on investment, and point out that all wellness programs are not created equal.

“Rand’s findings reflect the average results of a random sample of wellness programs—the good, the bad and the mediocre. What the study does not take into account is that every wellness program is unique. Although many fail because they are improperly designed or implemented, those that succeed generate substantial ROI, and often in less than five years.”


As we believe here at Project ACT, individual health and therefore healthcare spending trend is a multi-causal, multivariate equation; we never promise that a wellness program will drop healthcare costs overnight, or even in a year. We do believe that workplace wellness can be shown to influence individual, family, and corporate health. It also has important impacts on productivity, happiness, organizational culture, and talent attraction and retention.

As Cyboran and Paralkar put it:

Determining the ROI of a wellness program can be difficult and the results may depend on how the analysis is conducted. Looking beyond the immediate health care costs and utilization will help the organization understand the broader value of its investment.

Image Credit: LendingMemo.com

Image Credit: LendingMemo.com

No matter what, program design does matter. Our goal in providing all the resources on this website i