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How To Measure Engagement in
Your Well-Being Program

During March we’ve been exploring the topic of engagement, a key indicator of well-being program success. But how exactly do we measure engagement in a well-being program? Not surprisingly, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Read on for our view on engagement measurement and how we help our clients zero in on this all-important concept.

Several years ago, I remember there was a lot of discussion within the industry about how well-being programs are measured to show value or success.

WebMD Health Services and other well-being industry experts argued that the definition of success should be broadened beyond return on investment (ROI) as the primary success measure to include more holistic measures—like how a focus on well-being can lead to improved productivity, employee morale, retention, and job satisfaction. This is often termed “Value on Investment (VOI).”

And so, over the years, we have seen increased interest in measuring engagement as one indicator of well-being program success. Research supports this notion—in fact, a recent study found that the more people participated in their organization’s well-being program the greater their improvements in their health over time.

The challenge has been, of course, how to measure engagement.

Engagement defined.

We say a person is engaged if they’re fully committed and intrinsically motivated to pursue their well-being goals. They typically have an emotional connection to improving their health. They could be an active well-being program participant, or they may be pursuing their personal commitment to well-being through other pathways. Either way, they’re actively taking steps to improve their current health status.

Our view on engagement measurement.

To us, there’s never just one metric to track, or even one set of variables to analyze. Ultimately, engagement should be measured based on your organization’s goals, the type of program you offer, and how long your well-being program has been around. In other words, just as well-being is personal, the metrics used to measure engagement and ultimately program success are, too.

That said, we typically advise clients the following:

  • First, look at participation metrics to get an idea of how well a program is being utilized. If you see a high level of participation for completing activities—like taking a health assessment, joining a wellness challenge, or finishing a Daily Habits Plan—then you know your well-being program is already successful at getting people to participate.
  • From there, dig into the data to determine if there are indications of engagement, or deeper connections into the program. There are many things you can look at using our reporting tool, Core Insights. For example:
    • How are people connecting with certain programs? Do they click a dashboard card? Sign up for a Daily Habits Plan after receiving health assessment results?
    • How frequently are participants interacting with the program(s)?
    • Are people achieving their goals, or abandoning them mid-way through?
    • Do they keep coming back to participate in different ways? Are we seeing indications of repeated and regular connections?
  • Lastly, do some qualitative analysis to gauge whether people are delighted with their program experience. This feedback can be gathered through quick pulse surveys conducted throughout the year or even incorporated into your organization’s employee surveys.

Other signs employees are engaged with their well-being program.

You can also look to macro trends as a way of determining engagement. Organizations with robust well-being programs will typically see:

  • Evidence of a culture of well-being. The Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) has defined a healthy workplace culture as one that is intentionally designed with elements that support health and well-being. Leadership actively supports well-being, the workplace environment enables well-being, and employees are involved, empowered and recognize their contributions—these are all signs that employees are engaged in well-being.1
  • An increase in employee engagement scores. Research in this area suggests that employee engagement with work and employee well-being are highly related concepts. Numerous studies indicate that a well employee is an engaged employee.
  • Fewer sick days and presenteeism. Our research has shown a link between employee health and well-being and both time away from work and productivity. You may also see a reduction in disability claims over time.
  • Higher productivity. Research shows that employees in good health are more likely to deliver optimal performance in the workplace.2
  • Lower turnover. When employees are allowed to care for their well-being and mental health through a corporate well-being program, they tend to stick around.
  • Positive impact on both health and financial outcomes. Research—and more research—shows that well-designed, comprehensive, evidence-based programs can achieve both positive health and financial outcomes.

Engagement measurement needs to evolve with your program.

Measuring engagement isn’t something you do once. It’s important to revisit your measurement strategy on a regular basis and adjust it as your program matures and evolves. How you define success within the context of your program will evolve over time. How you think about engagement is also likely to evolve over time.

For example, in the first year, a well-being program should focus on getting people to participate, such as completing their health assessment and participating in biometric screening opportunities. Over the next year you may start to see participation broadening and behavior change starting to take hold as people work to improve their current health status. As the program evolves, your focus will shift from simply monitoring program uptake and participation to how people are connecting with program on multiple levels and how this influences behavior.

In summary, measuring program performance and well-being program engagement requires commitment—but it can be done through planning and strategy and using the right combination of reporting tools, employee surveys, and larger organizational metrics. Want to learn more? Reach out to connect@webmd.net to learn more about our engagement strategies.

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