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March 12, 2020
5 min read

ROI is not a human metric

By: Elyse
What is ROI really worth when it comes to Wellbeing Programs?

The Wellbeing Industry is currently obsessed with trying to deliver a solid ROI for its programs. Constantly straining to match ROI (a metric traditionally used to measure inanimate concepts such as efficiency) to the live concept of human condition.


There has been some recent and reliable reports regarding ROI of wellbeing programs, most notably Deloitte’s “Refreshing the case for investment” report released only last month. However the “return” in these ROI reports is heavily weighted on reduced absenteeism, increased productivity, reduced presenteeism. These metrics are determined through a mix of hard and soft (survey) reporting.


We are becoming more and more able to paint a ‘wellbeing’ picture using these metrics. However they’re always a step too far from the employee experience, the human side of the equation. This human side is about the experience the employee has when they are faced with a mental health issue. How does the business support them through this experience? And do they stop at recovery, or take them onward to thriving? How can we measure THAT return?

Welcome to the concept of ‘VOI’ – Value on Investment.

A metric used to determine the less tangible returns a business can gain from a wellbeing program. Value on Investment considers not only the financial return that can be calculated in reduced absenteeism, insurance costs, injury costs, etc. But it considers a more abstract view of the ‘value’ that was received, such as morale, culture, and ‘employee experience’.

Unfortunately measuring these abstract components of ‘value’ can be difficult. They are often not numbers on paper, or euros in the bank. They are felt. As such the best way to report them is through storytelling. Uncovering and sharing the actual employee experience. How the workplace support impacted them, their life at home, their growth, development, and personal achievement.


The fact is that improved wellbeing has a far greater impact than just that of the business. Wellbeing affects societies as a whole, it impacts crime, social debt, and even educational outcomes of children. Working to improve wellbeing at work builds stronger, safer communities.


And these positive individual outcomes do a full-circle, and can be related directly back to business success through countless research papers taken over decades of investigation. The fact is: Happy and Healthy people make a happy and healthy business (yes, we mean financially too!), so the value is ALWAYS there to invest in wellbeing.


Globally, we need to build our business leader’s capabilities to recognise that sometimes numbers don’t paint the whole picture. The best approach is taking those hard ROI metrics (absenteeism etc.), and combining them with the VOI, the stories & experiences of our people. Only then can we see the whole picture and how our work truly gives returns.

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