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How to Evaluate Your Corporate Wellness Program

corporate wellness Dec 29, 2023
How to Evaluate Your Corporate Wellness Program

I spoke to a client who is struggling with his health and, as a result, having problems at work.

His job requires long hours of sitting and very high stress.

When he does leave the office, he's entertaining potential customers and there's a lot of eating and drinking involved.

He describes a cycle of working all the time, barely sleeping, neglecting his family, and making poor nutrition choices.

My advice to anyone in the workforce: You are better at your job when you put your personal wellbeing first.

Most everyone knows the basic behaviors that keep people healthy, but only a small minority of folks actually engage in them regularly.

If you would like to be more productive at work and have fewer sick days, I suggest the following daily routine to encourage you to be happier and more resilient:

  • Sleep 8 hours every night
  • Do progressive resistance training 4 times a week
  • Plan your meals ahead of time
  • Spend quality time with your spouse every single day
  • Spend time with your kids every week
  • Pray daily
  • Go to church online or in-person every week
  • Have an adventure every week (mountain biking, hiking, skiing)
  • Take a two-week vacation every year

I know, it's pretty mundane.

But with this foundation I've found that life's challenges are easier to manage.

The bottom line: No matter how crazy work gets, always make time to preserve your physical, mental, and spiritual health.

What's your routine to keep your sanity?

Don't wait for a health crisis to bring you to your knees.

Great leaders know that you are better at your job when you prioritize your health.

More than likely, the employee-wellness mission of your company includes, but is not limited to, preventing and managing health issues and chronic illnesses, lowering financial burden, improving employee morale, and enhancing employees’ overall quality of life.

You may also know that employee work output, turnover, sick leave, and participation are at an all-time low.

The sooner you address these issues, the better.

So how do you evaluate the impact of your current employee wellness program?

How to Evaluate Your Corporate Wellness Program

As a culture, your leadership team manages workplace wellness; however, it isn’t always easy to tell if the money you’re investing on an employee wellness program is paying off.

There's a dirty little secret in corporate-wellness research: Most programs "worked" with recruited, compensated subjects--at least for the duration of the test.

But not in the real world.

So many corporate wellness programs are like Muzak, you know, the soothingly boring “elevator music” that plays in the background.

Huh? Let me explain.

You see, in the 1930s a company named Muzak patented a system called Stimulus Progression.

It theorized that if you broadcast 15-minute blocks of instrumental background music, listeners would experience a subconscious sense of forward movement.

According to some dubious research indicating the background instrumentals had a physiological influence upon behavior, Muzak scientists concluded that workers got more work done when they listened to these musical blocks.

Muzak leadership touted it as “more than music,” in that it was a kind of “science” capable of making people feel better and work harder. 

As World War II required more and more industrial production, Muzak researchers suggested these bland melodies could make workers happier and get more done during shift work.

As a result, Muzak took off in the 1940s and sales of Muzak franchises and subscriptions to businesses skyrocketed.

Soon the non-threatening instrumental tunes were hitting tens of millions of ears each day.

Businesses continued to renew their Muzak memberships without questioning whether or not the investment was saving them money.

“I worry that the person who thought up muzak may be thinking up something else.”
- Lily Tomlin

Is your corporate wellness program dull, like instrumental Muzak, eternally droning on in the background despite any tangible benefit to your organization?

Are the managers responsible for your corporate-wellness department doing the same things over and over again, renewing contracts without seeing any improvement, and hoping no one will notice? 

Perhaps your top brass continues to invest in workplace-wellness initiatives, like meditation rooms and quarterly nutritionist talks, despite hard evidence that job performance improved for those enrolled in these programs.  

Truth is, the only studies that show a positive return on investment (ROI) are poorly done, making their claims invalid.

And no properly done study has shown that these programs even pay for themselves.

In fact, new research suggests employee wellness programs are pretty much useless.

But what if you reinvented workplace wellness and treated employees less like workers and more like athletes competing in the game of life?

What if you tracked important predictors of disease and disability, like blood pressure and bodyfat percentage? 

Goal setting and evaluation planning are the first steps in designing a program. Goals for the program should take into account what is reasonable to achieve, and what can be measured.

Provide both synchronous and asynchronous coaching lessons to teach smart training, mindful nutrition, stress management, and how to get quality sleep. 

Create an accountability system to encourage participation, address individual needs, and foster success.

Next, lead by example and participate in the program you are evaluating. 

If your goal is to measure the efficacy of this brand-new fitness-and-nutrition coaching program, track key human-performance metrics, like bodyfat percentage and how fast employees can run a 40-yard dash.

Just kidding about the sprints; however, keep in mind that any testing is self-reported and optional to comply with applicable antidiscrimination laws.

You must also review your employee-productivity data. 

More than likely, things are in need of improvement.

In an effort to evaluate the impact of your current employee wellness program, you should review data showing how you are measuring ROI.

In particular, look at the following metrics to determine how the program has improved outcomes, specifically at your company.

Use the numbers to determine if you should renew the contract of the outsourced corporate-wellness provider, or hire experts and bring the program in-house.

  1. Employee participation
  2. Reduction in employee turnover
  3. Reduction in sick days and absenteeism
  4. Increased productivity and overall work output
  5. Reduction of overall health insurance costs
  6. Overall improvement in employee satisfaction
  7. Positive feedback from employees
  8. Requests for additional programs
  9. Employee's likelihood to recommend the program

Once again, your corporate-wellness contracted provider should have this data in order to justify their contract.

If you operate an in-house workplace-wellness program, the manager should measure outcomes from your actual company versus cherry-picked research reports making lofty claims.

There are several ways to measure progress and evaluate outcomes.

To assess program efficacy, it is recommended that your Chief Wellness Officer use a validated questionnaire or subjective assessment, in addition to any quality or satisfaction assessments.

Questions should focus on outcomes related to the original goals set at the start of the program.

Not sure how to gauge a member’s mental health or well-being?

Try using the following assessment tools that were created by leading scientific researchers.

A great way to use these is to ask the client to answer questions themselves, and then talk through their answers together.

In other words, the client completes the measures, and shares the questions and answers with you, rather than turning in any forms or taking any online surveys.

These include:

Validated questionnaires

Once again, be aware of privacy issues with sensitive information. You might consider collaborating with a researcher at a local university, or making responses anonymous.

Quality of Life

The RAND Corporation developed SF-36 Health Survey, a 36-question survey that measures quality of life. If 36 questions feels like a lot, you can use the shorter 12-question version of the survey.


Patient Health Questionnaire-9 was developed at Columbia University, and is used as an instrument for screening, monitoring and measuring depression.


General Anxiety Disorder-7 was created with an educational grant from Pfizer Inc., and is used as an instrument for measuring anxiety.

Overall Mental Health

National Institutes of Health Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS). PROMIS includes short forms for both adults and children to assess a number of mental health outcomes including: Physical functioning, Emotional distress, Fatigue, and Global Health.

Subjective assessments of improvement

Participants are asked if they think the program has improved their symptoms, has been effective, or has met their expectations.

Satisfaction/quality assessments

Gauge whether participants enjoyed the program and would repeat it or recommend it to others.

To summarize, your corporate wellness program should demonstrate tangible benefits to your organization.

In particular it should improve the health and happiness of your employees and, as a result, the customers you serve.

This will help you leave a legacy and create generational health.

If you would like to help your employees get healthier and more productive, let's start with you.

Experience everything firsthand so you know how good your employees will feel once they join too.

Share your priority-one goal here and schedule a call to get started.

 To your success,

Coach Joe



Joseph Arangio helps 40+ men and women get leaner, stronger, and happier. He's delivered over 100,000 transformation programs to satisfied clients around the globe. If you want to lose weight from home, with the best online age management personal trainer, or you want to visit the best longevity personal trainer in the Lehigh Valley, you can take a free 14-day trial.

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