Momentum is building for value of investment (VOI) with health management programs

Employees are morUntitlede optimistic. The number of sick days are declining. Talented people are staying longer. When openings occur, resumes from choice candidates flood your inbox. And productivity is on the rise.

Do you believe that your health and wellness program plays a role in these kinds of positive developments — in addition to reducing health care costs and employee health risks?

Say yes and you’ve got a lot of company. An overwhelming majority of your colleagues at 275 companies report offering health and wellness programs for reasons beyond reducing health care costs, according to a recent joint survey by Optum and the National Business Group on Health.

Though reducing medical costs and employee health risks and improving productivity dominate their list, your peers cite other reasons. Here are eight of them, in descending order of importance:

  • Manage/reduce disability claims
  • Improve employee job satisfaction
  • Impact business performance metrics and profitability
  • Improve employee daily health decisions at work
  • Attract or retain talented employees
  • Reduce the number of sick days
  • Reduce presenteeism (that is, coming to work even when sick)
  • Improve employee morale

Our survey’s goal was to validate our hypothesis that it’s time to move towards a broader and more nuanced way to measure the overall value of health and wellness programs — an approach based on value of investment (VOI). VOI goes beyond the traditional return-on-investment (ROI) method that measures the value of health and wellness programs solely in medical cost savings. Of course, VOI also includes reductions in health costs and employee health risks.

As the above list illustrates, momentum is building for a VOI paradigm. Our survey also reveals that it may be difficult to show a program’s full merit. Only one-third of employers say they have all the necessary metrics to justify their investment in health and wellness programs, according to our survey.*

To build support for your program, it’s important to demonstrate its full value to key business line managers. Learn more by downloading “Building the case for health and wellness value of investment” to read how we help employers track and report positive outcomes from health and wellness programs across a broad spectrum of exciting new metrics. Also, for more in-depth information, read the full survey, “Beyond ROI: Building employee health & wellness value of investment”

*Percentage reporting they strongly agreed with the statement.


About the Author

Seth Serxner 

Chief Health Officer, Senior Vice President of Population Health, Optum Care Solutions
Seth Serxner’s deep knowledge of behavior change, population health and measurement allows him to visualize and deliver on program innovation. He has more than 25 years of experience in health and productivity management, and has published more than 30 articles.

Prior to joining Optum, Dr. Serxner served for nine years as partner and senior consultant for Mercer’s Total Health Management specialty. He also spent a decade each in academia and private industry. He holds a master of public health from UCLA, and a doctorate from the University of California, Irvine. He’s a board member, executive committee member and vice president of the C. Everett Koop Health Project. He also edits and is a reviewer for several peer-reviewed journals

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