The Importance of Data in Wellness Programs

The cost of absence to employers is staggering, running up a bill of billions to UK businesses annually. It is for this reason that as more data has become available, wellness programs have flourished as they work on reducing the cost of absence to businesses and increasing the positive effect of wellness on organisational well-being.

One common concern when looking to implement a wellness program, is how to decide on the right wellness program for an organisation – as these can range from offering free fruit and fitness classes, to counselling and resilience training, to physiotherapy and medical care.

And to this end, data and evaluation can be a great aid in making this important business decision.


Back in Action were recently contacted by Nudjed, a company specialising in improving the productivity of wellness programs through the collection of data. They represent a solution to some of the broader issues and concerns with well-being programs at the moment, mainly the questions, Do they really work? And, How can we measure the effect?

This video is just over a minute long and explains the importance of data in ensuring your well-being program is tailored properly to the needs of your employees. Watch it below:

Nudjed Insights from Nudjed Ltd on Vimeo.

Additionally, we also work with Via Vita Health who deliver innovative corporate well-being solutions by delivering against set KPIs and objectives through the use of data, helping the well-being industry move forward.

Data in Tailoring and Evaluating a Wellness Program

We understand the importance of data in tailoring wellness programs to ensure they are best fit for an organisation. And the importance of tailoring wellness programs is something further emphasised in the CIPD report – Growing the health and well-being agenda: From first steps to full potential.

“Although the core premise for investing in employee well-being is universal, how we craft and communicate the ‘business case’ for employers to take action on health and well-being needs to be organisation-specific.” (citation page 19)

The report also looks into evaluating wellness programs, and how difficult this can be, so much so it seems that many don’t evaluate the effect of their organisation’s wellness initiatives at all.

“The CIPD 2015 Absence Management survey found that just one in seven (14%) of organisations that invest in employee well-being evaluate the impact of their spend (CIPD 2015a.)” (citation page 19)

However, not evaluating your wellness program can result in less business buy in and a program that doesn’t prove its business benefit, and is less likely to enjoy longevity.

“Our own research shows that organisations which evaluate their well-being spend are twice as likely to have increased their spending and more likely to increase their projected spend (CIPD 2010). This implies that evaluations of well-being spend generally conclude that investing in well-being is worthwhile. …but employee well-being is far from integrated in most organisations.” (citation page 16)

Programs That Lend Themselves to Data Collection

If we continue with the CIPD report, we can see the below table of popular Key Indicators that senior management might use to measure the financial viability and return of wellness programs.

Key Indicators


Whether these are measured through surveys or other methods, with reference to the organisational measures, the report states that “The organisational measures are often viewed as the most persuasive by senior management, keen to see the value of any well-being initiatives in terms of organisational benefits.” (citation page 19)

To this end, data collection and resulting measurement of absence rates, productivity, retention, referral times to occupational health, ethical and safety standards and ill-health retirements are some of the most persuasive when it comes to well-being. And with particular reference to absence rates, this is something occupational physiotherapy primarily collects data for.

ROI as a Data Measure

Delivering a Return on Investment value is arguably one of the best uses of data collection in support of wellness programs. We did our own research as to the comparative ROIs of a number of such programs, which we have in the below table:


Dimension of Wellbeing TargetedSample ProgramROI/ResultSource of ROIImpact
Treatment and prevention of physical ill healthOccupational physiotherapyEstimated £11 return for every £1 spent through recorded decrease in absence and improved employee productivityBack in Action UKHigh
Promotion of better physical healthFree fresh fruit at work10% increase in job satisfactionInvestors in PeopleLow
Promotion of better physical healthFitness program20% – 55% reduced healthcare costNorcal WellbeingMedium to high
Mental and physical ill healthDisease management$3.80 saving on every $1 spentRand CorporationMedium to high
Financial wellbeing$20/mth discount on health insurance premium36% increase in biometric screening participationEmployee Benefit Research InstituteMedium
Social wellbeingLifestyle and management program$0.50 saving on every $1 spentRand CorporationLow
Environmental wellbeingUpgrading workplace environment15% increase in productivityWorksafeMedium

Conclusion: It’s clear that to make a compelling business case for wellness programs one benefits from the use of data. And for ongoing measurement of a wellness program’s efficacy, data is also proven as integral. Evaluation is easier for some programs than others, and physiotherapy is one such wellness program that lends itself to being quantified and delivers a high ROI value.


CIPD eGuide PreviewOur full eGuide further summarises what we feel are the BIA Top Ten Takeaways from the above mentioned CIPD report. Click to download it here.