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Ivey Idea Forum | Phase two of study outlines the value of wellness programs to Canadian businesses

Jul 22, 2016

Wellness Idea Forum - Rouse

The Sun Life-Ivey Canadian Wellness Return on Investment (ROI) Study has entered Phase Two of its review of Canadian wellness programs, and the findings are very positive.

That’s what attendees learned at an Ivey Idea Forum: The Talent Series event held at Ivey’s Tangerine Leadership Centre in Toronto in early June.

Jennifer Elia, Associate Vice President, Client Experience, Integrated Health Solutions at Sun Life and Associate Professor Michael Rouse at Ivey took participants through a quick review of the Phase Two results.

Elia outlined what drove the partnership between Ivey and Sun Life.

“We were eager to start to build the ROI story for wellness in Canada through the very first controlled research study. We are also eager to validate best practices in wellness program design and delivery. Our space is changing so rapidly and how do we know we’re doing the right thing for the right employee populations at the right time. So part of this research is really making sure that we are on the right track, with our philosophy and our practices,” she said.

The presentation details:

  • An Organizational Wellness Index was developed based on existing literature. The wellness index included such factors as workplace culture and engagement, nutrition, physical activity, stress, and alcohol and tobacco usage.
  • The overall wellness index improved by 6.8 per cent, versus the control group which increased by 2.7 per cent.
  • The individual factors in the index also rose, most significantly physical activity, which showed more than a 25 per cent increase.

“We found that workplace wellness factors such as these were very important indicators of the health of the organization,” said Rouse.

The Idea Forum presentation also included a roundtable discussion with Allan Stordy, President and CEO of Arete HR Inc., a recognized leader and innovator in the employee and business assistance program industry; Dr. Alain Sotto, who holds a number of roles including Occupational Medical Consultant at TTC, Director of Medcan Wellness Clinic, and Investigative Coroner for York Region; and, Lori Casselman, Assistant Vice President, Integrated Health Solutions at Sun Life Financial.

Wellness ROI Study background

The Sun Life-Ivey Canadian Wellness Return on Investment (ROI) Study is the first study in Canada to use a control group to measure the effectiveness of workplace wellness programs. The study seeks to establish Canadian benchmarks on the return on investment for workplace wellness.

The Ivey Research Team designed a rigid methodology that focused on comparable treatment and control groups. One control group received a wellness survey, and the second control group received both a wellness survey and a biometric screening clinic. Each organization had only one of the two control groups in addition to a treatment group. The treatment group included the wellness survey and a biometric screening clinic, plus one-on-one coaching, access to a wellness website, lifestyle coaching and education sessions. 

The treatment group included implementation of a two-year wellness program at six organizations, totalling 28 sites.

The study had two primary goals:

  • Establish Canadian benchmarks on the return on investment (ROI) for workplace wellness.
  • Contribute to best practice research to help organizations maximize the value of their wellness strategy.