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Going Beyond Series –Establishing Accountability and Transparency

Welcome to Part Two of our special series “Going Beyond” where we’ll be challenging the status quo in the wellness industry with fresh thinking, new approaches and increased accountability.

When you were in third grade, it wasn’t enough to get the answer right on a math test. If you recall, to get full credit, you had to show your work. The teacher needed to see that you took a step by step approach to get there. This was important to verify that you didn’t just know what answer they were looking for, but that you had a credible, repeatable way that you came to your conclusion. You needed proof.

We’d do well to apply the same rigor of third grade math to our measurement of employee wellbeing.


Too often, vendors in our space create their own metrics for demonstrating ROI, based on their specific strengths or self-generated formulas that don’t hold up to intense scrutiny. This has created a lot of noise and eroded the credibility of outcomes generated by traditional “wellness programs”. Measuring ROI has been a huge debate and an enormous distraction for decades. In the new model, we must set our sights on a meaningful method to measure progress, one that can be an accurate and credible barometer of generated value. 

Where do we find such a standard? Thanks to foundational research by the University of Michigan, which spans 40 years and 4 million healthcare claims, we have the answer.  Through this research, the University identified 15 benchmark risks in physical, emotional, social and financial wellbeing that most directly impact healthcare costs and productivity.

This set of benchmark wellbeing risks is the gold standard when gauging the effectiveness of wellbeing strategies aimed at fueling true potential. These benchmark wellbeing risks are the set of factors that most directly affect the bottom line and the wellbeing of a population, the factors that make the difference between reaching true potential and falling short of it. By using this scientifically-valid standard to measure and evaluate your efforts, you can hold vendors and partners accountable for delivering and demonstrating results and have confidence that you are receiving a return on your investment of time and money. 

The formula is simple. You start with the benchmark risks identified by the University of Michigan. You set a baseline for your population. You measure the impact of your wellbeing strategies over a three-year period. You adjust your strategy as needed. This takes the guesswork out of the equation. You no longer are left at the mercy of unrealistic ROI claims, or smoke and mirrors. You will have the proof you need to validate success, or lack thereof.

Going beyond means that for the first time you can demand transparency and accountability from your chosen vendor partners. If a provider can’t clearly demonstrate the foundational evidence for their approach and offer you a clear path to objectively measure their results, you can rest assured they are part of the status quo and not part of the solution you are seeking. It’s time to go beyond and “show our work.” Anything less will fall short of success.

<<< Read Part One of Going Beyond: Fueling the Whole Person

Stay tuned to our series on Going Beyond for more guidance on how you can help your organization, and your employees, reach true potential. Also, check out our whitepaper The Roadmap to True Potential for a one-stop guide to going beyond.




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