Building a Business Case for Wellness Programs


Based on your day-to-day interactions with employees, you know that they’re really struggling.

Stress. Burnout. Caregiving responsibilities. Illness. Substance abuse.

Some are even talking about leaving the company.


Your gut tells you that they could really benefit from a company-sponsored wellness program. But unless you can show the C-Suite the Return on Investment (ROI) for implementing one, you’re not going to get the buy-in you need to make it happen. And beyond that, even if you do get buy-in, you’re not sure what elements should be included. There are so many options on the market, and each one has a different price tag.

How Can I Make the Business Case For a Wellness Program?

You might not realize it, but you already have data that can help you make this case: your EAP data. By looking at your EAP numbers for the past few years, you can zero in on the topics or services that your employees used most often. Armed with this, you can review the wellness programs on the market and see which one offers the services that your company’s employees need the most.

Where Do I Start?

Begin by taking a look at your EAP report for a recent year, preferably one prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. (For this example, we’re going to use 2018 data.) How were your employees using the EAP then? Take a look at the table below for our fictional company that’s experiencing challenges retaining its employees. In 2018, its top 5 issues from most-used to least-used were:

Now look at the top 5 for the company in 2021:

And finally, put them side by side to see what’s changed:

What Exactly Am I Looking For?

So now that you have the top 5 from 2018 and 2021, you’re looking for a couple of things.

  • What topic holds the top rank? Look at what’s the number 1 topic in each year. Is it the same or has it changed? For this company, the 2018 top issue was workplace conflict training, but in 2021 it was substance abuse. And notice that substance abuse didn’t even make the top 5 in 2018. That’s a huge change!
  • Are there any topics that are in both lists? In our example, just one topic is in both the 2018 and 2021 lists: retirement planning. But apart from that, the topics in 2021 are very different than the ones in 2018. That tells us that there’s been a significant shift in the lives of this company’s employees before and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The topics that they’re looking for assistance with now are ones centering around healthy living (both mental and physical) and caregiving assistance. This should give you a solid starting point for evaluating what different wellness programs offer, and to what extent they can support what your employees need.

Not sure how to start looking at your data? Check out my blog post that walks you through how to get started, or download my Data Jumpstart Guide for my 5-Step process.


The Grand Finale: This Is Where the Magic Happens!

The last step in making your business case for investing in a wellness program is to calculate the percent change in the use of these services between 2018 and 2021. Showing the Top 5 tables above is a good start to making your case, but assigning a percentage to the change is going to make your case much stronger.

To continue with our example, you find that calls to your EAP program for substance abuse made up 12% of your EAP program’s volume in 2018, but in 2021 that had jumped to 44%. That would be an increase of 260%! Wow!

  • How did I get that? I subtracted the old value from the new value to get 32. [44-12=32] I divided that by the original number (12) to arrive at 2.6. Finally I multiplied that by 100 to get my percentage increase.

A 260% increase in substance abuse questions to your EAP is significant in anyone’s book, and any investment that will help alleviate it among your employees will provide a strong return on investment. Not only will you be helping your employees navigate some of the obstacles in their lives, you’ll also be contributing to a healthier, more sustainable work environment, which in turn will bolster employee retention.


Connect With Me

Are you interested in analyzing your EAP usage rates to support decision-making, but not sure where to start? Book a free 30-minute discussion using the scheduling form below, and we can get to work on it. I look forward to connecting!

Loading...

Leave a Reply