A lot of what I’ve written about is how stressed or depressed or financially worried Americans are, but of course, that type of feeling is common on a global level. Hence why the wellness industry is expanding on that global scale.
Xerox surveyed 428 people, mostly those holding a human resources related role, from 33 countries to research wellness trends on a global level. “Working Well: A Global Survey of Workforce Wellbeing Strategies” is the seventh of this kind Xerox has conducted in the last 10 years, which made them a solid source for how corporate wellbeing has changed in the past decade.
One interesting takeaway was, even though coming up with a quantitative ROI for a wellness program is difficult, in the United States, Canada and Latin America, reducing health care and insurance costs is the top objective for employers utilizing wellness programs. This is compared to geographical areas like Europe, where “improving employee engagement and morale” is the top reason, and Australia, where “improving workplace safety” is.
“That’s an interesting continuing challenge that we’ve seen over the years — the difficulty of measuring with certainty causation or direct correlation between the actions that you’re taking and the results you’re trying to achieve,” said Ruth Hunt, principal for Xerox HR Services.
There are three major reasons employers cite for not measuring ROI, she added. According to the survey, 57 percent of respondents cited lack of resources; 28 percent said they didn’t know how to measure ROI; and 26 percent said measuring ROI just wasn’t a priority for leadership.
The U.S., she added, is the most “metric-crazy” because it’s worried about health care and the ability to manage ever-rising health care costs.
It’s an interesting disconnect: companies would blindly follow through with a wellness program specifically to save money, but not even see if they saved money. Some questions that occur to me: Do they really believe a wellness program will save them money or just hope so? Would they be more willing to measure ROI if there was a tried and true and accessible way to do so that didn’t drain their resources?
Another major takeaway was, Hunt said, how strongly respondents feel about establishing a culture of wellbeing: 83 percent they aspire to this kind of culture.
“To us this says that even though some pundits may claim that wellness — rapidly expanding to total wellbeing — is faddish, [it’s] absolutely not,” she said. “Employers are recognizing more than ever that it’s vital to achieve that kind of culture of wellbeing to achieve their objective as a business or as an organization.”
Finally, what’s vitally important is the role of leadership support on both the top-level and the local level. Of course, top-down support is important, said Hunt, but people tend to underestimate the role of local leadership, especially in large global organizations. If you have headquarters in a given country, “you can’t just be throwing [wellbeing] initiatives over the fence. You have to make it real at the local level.”
Some 92 percent of respondents in the Xerox survey saw a direct correlation between their local ambassador and engagement in wellbeing. “At the grassroots level, where employees live and work,” she said, “you need local influencers or local leaders that are trying to advance the cause and get people engaged, excited and participating in programs.”
Andie Burjek is a Workforce associate editor. Comment below, or email at email@example.com. Follow Workforce on Twitter at @workforcenews.