Worksite Wellness Research - Why Wellness Programs Don't Achieve Optimal Results : #1 The Revolving Door

To kick off our blog, we wanted to examine worksite wellness market insights that we have been able to gather through contributing broker and consultant partners. The Wellness Research Institute provided a survey to many of the most influential brokers and consultants that have a direct impact on placing their client’s worksite wellness programs with wellness providers. While the individual results of this survey are confidential, we have aggregated some of the most interesting insights and will be examining them in a quick-hit insight series via our blog.

As anyone who has moved their home or office, had children, changed jobs or any other major life change would attest, there is one key factor to them being efficient and productive in their job; consistency. When there is change, you have to change your routine and that takes time. If you don’t know where your pens are, what time your train arrives or are short on sleep, you are definitely going to be less productive than if you were used to a routine and that allowed you to “do” not “think” as you completed your tasks.

The same applies to a worksite wellness effort. To achieve success, you need consistency. This includes functional consistency and most importantly, consistency of the data that you evaluate to determine success. Employees are exactly that. They are employed to do a job and do it well. They are not employed to be a master of using a wellness interface and/or to devote a large portion of time to manage their wellness activities each week. Once a system is in place and they are comfortable with how it functions in their life, they need consistency. Likewise, program success cannot be determined if there is not consistent data (in form, collection methodology, etc) to evaluate.

So why is this important? In our worksite wellness research, over 2/3 of respondents told us that on average, their clients switch wellness providers every 2-3 years. This means that for their clients, 1 in every 3 employer groups will change their wellness providers in any given year. This also means an all new learning curve for the system the employees are using. Additionally, the chance of the data matching from one vendor to the next is almost zero. While some things are universal (i.e. cholesterol readings, blood pressure, etc), many components of a wellness program are evaluated through a questionnaire or a measurement that can have differing reference ranges. This frequent variation creates a situation where it is very difficult to assess the effectiveness of a long-term wellness strategy.

The interesting question that the Wellness Research Institute will look at in the future is whether this means that the 1/3 of groups which do not change their wellness provider every 2-3 years have made the best decision the first time, or if some portion of them have just not evaluated the success of their program to learn that they made a mistake.

Joe Miller is the President of the Wellness Research Institute. You can find Joe on Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter.