When it comes to designing an impactful wellness strategy for your organisation, what works and what doesn't? Further, just how much should organisational leaders invest into these programmes, to get the desired ROI?

For one, according to a recent Cigna report, Health and Wellness in Workplaces: What works? - ROI analysis of health and wellness interventions, when wellness programmes have low investment levels, they are often able to achieve excellent ROI if they are well-designed.

Additionally, mental health interventions were also found to yield the most significant ROI, as compared to other types of lifestyle management initiatives.

Overall, the report highlighted the following key points for leaders to consider, as you plan out your organisation's wellness strategy for 2021:

Want the greatest impact? Develop a focused wellness programme

As per the report, the most successful wellness programmes are those that have been carefully selected to tackle specific loss-drivers.

This includes examples such as implementing case management to drive reductions in absenteeism, disease management to reduce healthcare claims costs, and lifestyle programmes to tackle physical health.

Thus, as an important first step, employers should review employee data that has been collected from health screenings or self-reported health assessments, to identify the specific underlying drivers of ill-health or poor well-being prior to designing a wellness programme.

Consider mental health interventions, as they yield the most significant ROI

Apart from the above, the report also revealed that mental health interventions yielded high returns, with the most effective programme achieving a sixty-fold return on the initial investment.

When designing your wellness programme, some mental health-related programmes you could consider include stress management coaching for employees, providing work-life balance training sessions, and meditation classes.

Specifically, based on research, stress management interventions, such as counseling sessions with clinical professionals, and well-being support, such as online coaching, yielded the high returns compared to the other interventions.

Middle managers play a vital role

As always, leaders do play a critical role in supporting employees on their wellbeing journey.

In fact, according to findings, programmes with middle management support averaged an ROI of 10 times the initial investment, due to these individuals having the highest level of direct team management within most organisations.

Therefore, to help instil health and wellness across your organisation, middle management should be central to the programme design and implementation.

Wellness programs are successful, even with limited investment 

Last, the study further highlighted that a comprehensive wellness programme can indeed be developed with a low level of investment and still yield high returns, when they are well designed and supported.

At the same time, while monetary incentives do prove useful several other factors been shown to influence, and reduce, the level of required investment, including the infrastructure, capability and internal resources.

Commenting on this, Jason Sadler, President, Cigna International Markets, noted: "Wellness programs which are grounded in a solid understanding of how well-being issues manifest in a workplace can generate impressive returns. The pandemic has shifted the way we work and employee programs must adapt to employees’ changing needs. It is therefore critical that employers develop robust frameworks to ensure that all well-being interventions deliver the desired impact."

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