How SME’s can improve the health of their employees in the most cost effective way

Larger businesses in the City of London benefit from having the capital they can spend on workplace health programmes and initiatives. However, the City of London also has many small and medium-sized businesses. How can these businesses improve the health of their employees in the most cost effective way?

A recent article published in the American Journal of health promotion discussed a literature review on studies measuring the ROI of workplace health promotion programmes. The conclusion was that there is no one simple ROI, and that it depends on several factors. However, the article did go on to discuss what is important for a successful programme; listing 12 factors the author considered important. This blog post will consider the author’s first point, “the wisdom with which they are designed to address the strategic and operational goals of the program and the unique circumstances of the organization”.

Rather than SME’s looking towards studies on other health programmes, their first task needs to be fully understanding the work environment as it is. This can be facilitated through surveys, focus groups and even a steering committee if the organisation size allows it. Only once an organisation understands the needs of its employees can it begin to define its workplace health goals. The feedback from any internal research may elicit several goals, and when budgets are tight it is important to prioritise which one must take precedence. In order to do this I would advise taking each goal and working backwards to plot out the causal pathway between your employee’s current needs and your end goal. This will include interventions, processes and short-term outcomes that will differ in time and cost incurred between each goal. This method can help the SME identify which goals to prioritise and how to design them.

This advice is based on the Theory of Change model. This will allow your SME to create a specific and measurable description of the health initiative that forms the basis for strategic planning, on-going decision-making and evaluation. By taking the time to follow such a method your organisation can improve the health of your employees and make sure it is cost effective.