This past fall, the University of Wisconsin Health and Wellness Management program offered a free online course in worksite wellness program evaluation—and it was a hit!
More than 1,600 attended Dynamics of Worksite Wellness Evaluation and ROI, a four-session massive open online course (MOOC) that kicked off October 20. Hosted by renowned wellness expert Dr. David Chenoweth, the course taught attendees from around the world the tools and strategies they need to evaluate worksite wellness programs, calculate ROI, and prove the value of wellness initiatives to top management within their organizations.
Each weekly module featured instructional videos, readings, and activities. Participants completed assignments and everyone who “graduated” received a certificate of completion to commemorate their experience.
Instruction focused on three main areas:
- How to build a sound evaluation plan of action
- How to identify and acquire appropriate types of data
- The specific steps involved in conducting both a break-even analysis and a benefit-cost/ROI analysis
Over the course of each session, attendees had the opportunity to chat and exchange ideas with Dr. Chenoweth, subject matter experts, and other participants via an online discussion board. The flexible online format allowed participants to view the courses and complete the assignments when and where it was convenient for them.
Why worksite wellness program evaluation is important
Employers sponsor worksite wellness programs for many reasons: to promote good health and better manage healthcare spending, to improve employee productivity and morale, and to recruit new employees. But these programs cost money. Today, more and more programs are being asked by top management to quantify their results, and it is often cost-prohibitive to hire a third-party evaluator.
In the words of program manager Theresa Islo, “We’ve long known that many worksite wellness programs struggle with effective evaluation of results and outcomes. But it is crucial that worksite wellness practitioners be able to prove the value of their programs. Of all the components that make up a successful wellness program, a sustained commitment from executive management is probably the most important.”
That’s why Dynamics of Worksite Wellness Evaluation and ROI was designed to help attendees prove to top management that their investment in wellness vendors, promotions, and incentives is having a positive effect on employee health, productivity, and the bottom line.
Said Islo, “A course such as Dynamics of Worksite Wellness Evaluation and ROI is especially valuable because many who are charged with responsibilities for worksite wellness often have little to no training or education in the field. By attending this course, participants of all experience levels gained helpful tools they can use to become effective champions of any worksite wellness program and make a real difference in employee health and the bottom line.”
Participants came from all walks of business
Attendees included corporate health coordinators and educators, students, HR professionals, accountants, health writers, and more. Some took our worksite wellness course for school or work, and some did it just for fun.
Many participants were new to the field of worksite wellness or hoping to enter it. A quarter of attendees are currently conducting an evaluation of their workplace wellness program. Three quarters responded that they were simply doing it for practice. Most attendees said they were interested in learning about evaluating physical activity and nutrition in hopes of improving their program or justifying its existence to leaders in their organization.
Here’s a smattering of what attendees had to say:
“Excellent course, expert teacher, and practical exercises. Wonderful job.”
“As a healthcare worker and a future healthcare manager, this course was interesting, valuable, and easy to understand.”
“Fantastic delivery of a challenging topic.”
“The course was great. As a busy professional in the field, I found the no-pressure, complete-at-your-own-pace format to be very helpful. Dr. Chenoweth did a wonderful job of breaking down the concepts into useful, understandable chunks for the novice evaluator. Great course.”
“This course came at the perfect time. I have been trying to get my executive management on board with health & wellness evaluation & ROI for several years now. I now have something to show them with regards to my passion for this topic and how others are successfully doing it.”
“I am looking forward to using the tools presented. I am now more confident in discussing ROI, which was my overall goal for this course.”
Notably, this was the first MOOC ever offered on the topic of health and wellness program evaluation. Participants logged in through the Canvas Network, an online platform for this new education format. (Coursera is another popular provider.) MOOCs have made a big splash in recent years as a flexible and mostly free way for educators to deliver learning to a wider audience.
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Do you have an interest in health and wellness?
If you’re still reading, we bet you do. Maybe you are working in the field, either as a full-time wellness practitioner or as an HR professional for whom running a worksite wellness program is part of your job. Or maybe, like many who attended our worksite wellness course, you are hoping to enter the field someday and make a difference for people and organizations doing work you love.
Whatever the case, our 60-credit degree completion program in Health and Wellness Management can be the credential you need to succeed in this exciting field. Download a free program guide today. You could be two short years from earning your bachelor’s degree and turning your passion for health and wellness into a healthy career!