ROI vs. VOI: Which Is Better For Evaluating Your Wellness Program?

In any business operation, it's best not to let your resources go to waste. You want your time, efforts and money to go as far as they possibly can. This idea can be easier said than done when it comes to abstract business operations like employee wellness.

When you put a lot of time, effort and resources into your employee wellness program, you're going to want to be sure it's worth it. There are a lot of different ways to evaluate your program, but it can be a bit tricky to equate the value you get out of the program with the resources you put into it.

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In the wellness field today, there are two primary evaluation methods for ensuring your wellness program is outputting at least as much as what your company is inputting.

ROI for Employee Wellness

Return on Investment (ROI) is a popular business term used to describe the financial return received on any given financial investment. Basically, ROI refers to the amount of money a company makes as it compares with the amount of money the company put into a particular business operation.

This form of evaluation is focused on the tangible return--money. It's a measurable outcome that directly relates with the original investment. It's very clear whether the return or the investment is of greater value.

When it comes to wellness, ROI often measures the return as it relates to reduced healthcare costs. Employers spend money on their employees' healthcare and insurance plans. The return on a wellness program refers to the savings they receive in that area once they've invested in their employees' health.

VOI for Employee Wellness

Value on Investment (VOI) is a term increasingly popular in the employee wellness space. VOI refers to the overall value received on any given financial investment. Basically, VOI includes the financial return, but also takes into account more abstract value that was received from that investment.

Obviously, VOI is not quite as tangible or easy to measure as ROI. The forms of outcomes might differ from the investment, and in some cases the two can be difficult to compare. When using VOI, it can be a challenge to determine whether the value or the investment is of greater value.

Many companies have begun to use VOI to evaluate their employee wellness programs because it encompasses the invaluable benefits of employee health. In these situations, employers take into account values like employee morale, decreased use of sick days, increased productivity, positivity and talent retention. The value includes all of these great benefits, as well as the financial savings on healthcare costs.

Which evaluation is best for your wellness program?

With two great options on the table, you might be wondering which tool is best to evaluate your wellness program. As is true with many aspects of wellness, I'm going to direct you to culture. Take a look at both your company culture and the culture of wellness where you work to get a better idea about the best evaluation methods for you.

Along with culture, take a look at the goals, size and style of your employee wellness program.

First, revisit your goals (if you don't have wellness program goals, make some!) to help determine how you should define success. Your goals can tell you if your program has a "people" focus, a "productivity" focus, or some other type of focus that lends well to using either ROI or VOI.

Next you can take a look at the size of your wellness program. This is important because smaller programs can make the evaluation process a bit more difficult. If your program isn't substantial enough to provide a large evaluation sample, it might not be accurate when it comes to direct, financial comparisons.

Finally, look at the style of your program. What type of activities do you offer? Do you focus on education? Action? Something else? All of these things can help you determine if ROI or VOI is right for you. If you do wellness like we do wellness where I work, you focus on overall employee wellbeing rather than just physical health. This type of rounded program is best evaluated by VOI because you can account for your employees' improved wellbeing outside of their physical health.

Ultimately, both ROI and VOI can be great tools for evaluating your wellness program. Obviously, VOI can be a bit more inclusive. But it can also be a bit more difficult to actually do. Your company culture and the culture of wellness where you work can point you in the right direction when it comes to choosing an evaluation method.

How do you make sure your wellness program is worth it?