School of Health and Human Sciences

Return on Investment of Workplace Wellness: Evidence From a Long-Term Care Company

Nilay Unsal, Gracielee Weaver, Jeremy W Bray, Daniel Bibeau, Garrett Saake (09/2020)

Background: Workplace wellness programs (WWPs) are increasingly promoted by businesses and governments as an important strategy to improve workers' overall health and well-being and to reduce health care and other organizational costs. Few studies have evaluated WWPs in small businesses to provide evidence on the potential return-on-investment (ROI) that WWPs might yield. This study aimed to fill this gap by presenting a quasi-experimental, ROI analysis of a WWP in a small company. Methods: This observational quasi-experimental study evaluated economic outcomes of a multicomponent WWP implemented by a small long-term care company. The company provided approximately 2 years of de-identified, individualized data on its employees for 2013-2015. There were 116 WWP participants and 323 nonparticipants. Difference-in-differences models were used to evaluate the program using organizational costs and ROI estimates. Findings: The estimated program cost was $132.692 (95% confidence interval [CI]: [$112.957, $156.101]) per participant and the estimated organizational costs savings were $210.342 (95% CI: [-4354.095, 2002.890]). The WWP achieved an ROI of $0.585 (95% CI: [-$35.095, $14.103]) per participant. Although not statistically significant, the results suggest that the WWP saved $1.585 for every $1 invested. Conclusions/application to practice:These results suggest that the evaluated WWP yielded a positive, although nonsignificant, ROI estimate. While ROI is still one of the most common evaluation metrics used in workplace wellness, few studies present ROI estimates of WWPs in small companies. Given policy efforts to promote WWPs in small businesses, there is a need to conduct high-quality ROI analyses for WWPs in smaller companies.