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Survey Report

Measuring the impact of health and wellbeing programs

Benefits Administration and Outsourcing Solutions|Health and Benefits|Talent|Total Rewards
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April 3, 2020

A commitment to metrics enables companies to better identify employee needs and target programs to different individuals or employee groups.

Measurement and data analytics help employers assess whether a program is working and whether it’s delivering a good return on their investment. Analytics also enable companies to better identify employee or employee groups. Not only is measurement a key priority for employers, but it is also the area with the biggest gap (41%) between progress made in the past three years (37%) and the priority over the next three years (78%).

Employers use a range of metrics and data to evaluate the impact of health and wellbeing programs. Opportunities still remain to use organizational analytics despite the attention analytics has received in the recent past. Roughly two-thirds of employers (66%) plan to use organizational analytics to test the effectiveness of their strategy in the next three years, up from 21% today. Approximately three-fifths of companies (61%) measure the total cost of care (Figure 1). To target and customize programs, roughly half of employers (45%) use tools and programs to identify specific individuals or subgroups, and 37% use workforce segmentation. Data can also be used to measure different aspects of wellbeing. For example, by 2021, 42% of employers expect to use employer HR data to monitor signs of financial stress by workforce segment and pivotal financial decision points, up from 20% today.

66% of employers will use analytics to test their health and wellbeing strategy in the next 3 years, up from 21% today. Some already have a head start: 61% say that they use analytics for cost evaluation to a very great/great extent; and 59% use it for a value-on-investment approach (the impact of programs).
Figure 1. Opportunities to use organizational analytics still exist despite increased focus in recent years

Sample: Companies with at least 100 employees
Source: 2019 Willis Towers Watson Best Practices in Health Care Employer Survey

Value on investment

Instead of relying exclusively on ROI, employers are now using a broader set of financial and nonfinancial measures to assess the value of a program. Known as value on investment, this approach enables employers to move beyond simply measuring costs and evaluate, for example, employee satisfaction, participation, productivity and mitigation of health risks. This approach is especially useful in assessing the impact of wellbeing programs. Approximately three-fifths of employers currently use the value-on-investment approach (Figure 2).1

A value-on-investment approach has received the greatest focus by employers in the last two years (65% in 2018 and 61% in 2019).
Figure 2a. Value-on-investment approach

Use a variety of financial and nonfinancial metrics to measure the impact of health and wellbeing programs (i.e., value-on-investment approach)

Tools and program selection received attention from employers (54% in 2018 and 48% in 2019).
Figure 2b. Tool and program selection

Use data to identify specific individuals or subgroups to personalize tools and select relevant health and wellbeing program(s) or gaps in care

Lost-time metrics trailed behind value on investment and tools and program selection in 2018 (32%) and 2019 (29%).
Figure 2c. Lost-time metrics

Use lost-time metrics (e.g., unplanned absence, presenteeism, disability, workers compensation) to inform decisions or changes to your health and wellbeing programs

Note: Percentage indicates “To a very great extent,” “To a great extent” and “To a moderate extent” Sample: Companies with at least 1,000 employees
Source: 2017, 2018 and 2019 Willis Towers Watson Best Practices in Health Care Employer Survey

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Best Practices: data analytics

Use a variety of financial and nonfinancial metrics to measure the impact of programs.

Best performers 44%, High-cost companies 22%, Best performers’ lead +22%
Figure 3a. Best performer advantage

Use surveys to identify employees' wants and needs when designing programs or making changes

Best performers 30%, High-cost companies 20%, Best performers’ lead +10%
Figure 3b. Best performer advantage

Use data to identify specific individuals or subgroups to personalize tools and select relevant programs

Best performers 46%, High-cost companies 35%, Best performers’ lead +11%
Figure 3c. Best performer advantage

Compile workforce data and perform analytics to develop a strategy for improving inclusion and diversity

Footnotes

1 Ibid.,1


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