The Trouble with ROI

Three examples of why calculating return on investment (ROI) for company benefits can be a tricky proposition.

By Steve Bates August 25, 2016

Example #1: Linking fitness trackers to health outcomes

The promise: Employers that give monitors to employees could transmit resulting data to a wellness provider and try to correlate it with insurance claims to assess health and cost outcomes.

The problem: Maybe only the healthiest people use the trackers. Or users could be going out for fast food after workouts. Also, can you trust a wellness provider’s analysis?

A possible path forward: While there’s no hard-and-fast evidence that fitness trackers will improve the health of your workforce, offering them as a voluntary perk could boost morale while raising awareness about health.

Example #2: Connecting wellness initiatives to stock returns 

The promise: Some data indicate that companies that invest in workforce health have better stock returns than other firms.

The problem: One can’t assume that wellness programs caused better financial results. It may be just as likely that businesses with rising stock prices have more cash to invest in health initiatives. 

A possible path forward: Instead of trying to link wellness programs to the bottom line, consider probing employees’ satisfaction with this benefit to glean insight into how you might serve your workforce better. 

Example #3: Assessing retirement programs

The promise: In theory, a strong 401(k) plan could be linked to the financial health of employees, which in turn relates to retirement readiness and workforce planning.

The problem: Market volatility and employees’ potential lack of interest in, and knowledge about, finance limit the validity of any analysis. 

A possible path forward: Provide employees with regular information and training on investment options and how workers can hone their financial skills. This will help ensure that your workforce has the tools needed to take maximum advantage of what you offer. 



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