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When it comes to maintaining an effective wellness program for your company, the American Heart Association says it best, “For greatest impact, workplace health programs must be engaging, comprehensive, evidence-based and heart-focused."

Unfortunately, most wellness programs today fall awfully short of being comprehensive. In fact, the American Journal of Public Health reports that less than 7 percent of employers meet the requirement of having “comprehensive" program.

How do you fix that? A good start is assessing your wellness program against evidence-based benchmarks, using one (or several) of the wellness program scorecards created by reputable health and wellness organizations, like the AHA. They're all free and available online. Some are great for large companies (1,000+ employees) and others for “beginner" wellness programs. Here's a list of the most recognized scorecards available, so you can find the one that makes sense for your program.

1) Workplace Health Checklist

The Wellness Council of America's (WELCOA) scorecard is available only online. It takes under 30 minutes to complete and explores WELCOA's “7 Benchmarks of Workplace Health" with more than 100 questions. You'll be provided with an immediate executive summary upon completion, and a 39-page detailed report will be emailed to you within 48 hours. This one is great for beginners and can be completed in a single sitting.

2) Worksite Health Scorecard

This scorecard from the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) is available both online and as a downloadable PDF. The online version provides the benefit of resubmitting a new scorecard each year for a side-by-side comparison. Plus, you can compare your results against companies of similar size within the same industry, which is particularly helpful when you need to discuss results with or show value to senior leadership.

3) Health and Well-Being Best Practices Scorecard

In collaboration with Mercer, the Health Enhancement Research Organization (H.E.R.O.) has also created a scorecard (also available online and via PDF) recommended for large companies with more than 1,000 employees. It requires some detailed demographic information up-front, so review the PDF version first to make sure you have everything you need to complete it. Upon completion, you'll receive a free report with your scores compared against national averages. This assessment can be taken year-over-year for ongoing analysis of your wellness program.

4) Workplace Health Achievement Index

Created by the American Heart Association (AHA), this scorecard takes a different approach. It takes into account the health status of your employees, in addition to the operations and coverage of your wellness plan. To assess the overall health of your employees, you can use the AHA free employee health assessment, called “My Life Check," or you can upload your own equivalent data based on employees' diet and exercise habits, cholesterol, drug use, etc. AHA calls these their “Life Simple 7." The Workplace Health Achievement Index is good for employers of all sizes. Plus, you'll receive a benchmark report that compares your scores to peer companies, based on size and industry.

Remember, each scorecard has its own algorithm determining how it generates your overall score. I highly recommend completing more than one assessment, so you can see how your wellness program stacks up across scorecard methods. As you respond, be brutally honest with your answers for the most accurate output. Most importantly, share your scorecard results with your leadership, as it can help you with your wellness budget negotiations.

For further insight or tips, feel free to reach out to me at benjamin@kadalyst.com.

Photo: Creative Commons