Take a minute and think about it – Human Resources (HR) has been rebranded. I’ve seen job titles that run the gamut from “Chief Happiness Officer” and “Engagement Director” to “Vibe Manager” (sign me up for that one!). Those of you in HR know the role has evolved into so much more than just payroll and compensation. Initiatives are much more people-focused with an emphasis on the human experience, wellbeing programs and apparently, good vibes.
And on the flip side, today’s employee is asking for flexible work schedules, wellness perks, and a la carte benefits. I’m not saying you have to implement a dog-friendly office or install nap pods to keep up with the Googles of the world, but the shift to employee value has been aggressive – and it isn’t slowing down.
What are you trying to accomplish? That’s the first question I ask employers. Do you want to offer perks to keep employees satisfied, do you want to build a positive culture, do you want to encourage meaningful behavior change, attract top talent …or are you hoping to lower your healthcare costs and achieve a return on investment (ROI)?
Most of my clients never fail to mention the latter (especially if the Chief Financial Officer [CFO] is in the room). But the idea that wellness ROI is mainly driven by healthcare cost savings is an antiquated thought process… Yes – healthcare costs are at an all-time high, and I believe personalized lifestyle management is a valuable tool to targeting our exceedingly unhealthy population. But at the same time, two-thirds of Americans are disengaged at work, and another 16% are “actively disengaged.” They resent their jobs and drag down morale.
Wellness programs should focus on the employee – fostering a united workforce, inspiring positive change, and building an energized office of workers who aren’t itching for 5 o’clock to roll around.
If it’s not all about ROI then how will you get buy-in for wellness from the CFO? You could throw them into a meditation room with a few emotional-support puppies (you know they’d leave that room smiling) – or you could have what I call the “ROI Talk.” Build and present a well-rounded case that goes beyond healthcare claims and includes things like the value of employee feedback, the benefits of engagement, the savings that comes from retaining an employee, and the importance of leading your industry in attracting talent. If the CFO’s still skeptical you could propose doing a pilot program before jumping into a more comprehensive wellness strategy.
Until harder evidence comes out quantifying these softer measures of value, we’ll have to use our common sense. When employees feel valued and satisfied at work, they are likely to be more productive workers who aren’t tempted to job hop.
It’s time to take off your blinders when thinking about what you’re trying to accomplish with your wellness program. Focus on what today’s employees are asking for, broaden your view of the bottom line to include employee value, and expand the “ROI Talk” to include things other than cost savings.