Everything you need to measure the results (and success) of a health and wellness plan in an international SME

Everything you need to measure the results (and success) of a health and wellness plan in an international SME

ACCESS TO CARE - Measures to improve employees’ health and well-being have become one of the most effective strategies used by SMEs, particularly in the case of companies with employees on international assignments.
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There are several benefits of these initiatives, such as fostering commitment, stimulating motivation and improving productivity, etc. But is it really possible to measure the success of a health and wellness plan? The answer is yes. But that’s not all. In addition to measuring the success, it is also possible to estimate the return on investment (ROI). Keep reading!

SMEs are the main driver of employment at European level. According to the latest figures published by Cepyme and SMEunited 1 companies with less than 250 employees 2 represent 99.8% of European businesses. That is why, as advocated by the International Labour Organization (ILO),3 it is vital that these organisations ensure the well-being of their employees. And in the case of organisations with expatriate workers, making employees’ health a priority will make them feel more supported and safer during their international assignment. This is because a business culture in which the strategic focus is caring for the health of staff members is associated with higher levels of motivation, commitment and performance.

In this respect, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)4Health Evidence Network Synthesis’ report, investing in health and well-being is a driver of sustainable development. In the short term, it helps to achieve better results, while ensuring a scalable business in the long term. This means that a small investment can bring major economic gains.

And according to our report ‘Health and Wellness in Workplaces: What works? - ROI Analysis of Health & Wellness Interventions’ prepared by Cigna International Markets,5 if they are well thought-out, measures to improve the emotional well-being of staff may yield a sixty-fold return on the initial investment, regardless of the amount, the size of the organisation and the country in which the employees are located.

Judging from these data, the competitive edge that investing in a team’s health and well-being gives is clear. Implementing this type of plan in the workplace should be considered first and foremost as a major investment in the success of the international SME. But how can we measure the return on such an investment, and see the results of the plan in greater detail?

Evaluating the results – a tool for continuous improvement

Measuring and thoroughly analysing the results of health and wellness plans is a fundamental part of the process, not only to find out how effective they are, but also to identify possible deviations. Based on these data, it is possible to correct any situation that would hinder or prevent the achievement of the desired objectives. It is, therefore, highly recommended to establish a series of standard quantitative and qualitative indicators that allow this evaluation to be carried out.

As an expert in health plans for SMEs, Cigna has identified five types of variables that provide an overview of the results achieved and allow the return on the investment to be calculated:

  • Evaluating the costs associated with the plan based on a detailed analysis. This first parameter is necessary to understand the costs associated with the programme. And here it is important to demystify a fairly widespread concept – the most effective programmes are not necessarily the most comprehensive and expensive ones. The effectiveness is, on the contrary, determined by the adequate distribution of the available resources based on the specific needs of each company. It is, therefore, very important to carry out a detailed study of the specific needs of each SME and each expatriate employee, and to draw up a roadmap based on the conclusions reached. This is particularly important for international SMEs, as theoretically their resources are better adapted to the particular needs of international assignments.
  • Assessing direct and indirect savings. Collecting data on savings as a result of the reduction in absenteeism for health reasons or the increase in productivity is crucial. Thanks to the information provided by these variables, it will be possible to start measuring the return on the investment.
  • Determining staff’s participation. The success of wellness programmes in the workplace largely depends on the participation and commitment of all employees, which means both those who are based at the SME’s headquarters and those residing in other countries. According to our report on the ROI Analysis of Health & Wellness Interventions,5 when participation rates rose from 75% to 92%, the return on the investment increased eleven-fold. Assessing whether there are any obstacles that would hinder staff’s commitment to the plan is therefore crucial. If this were the case, implementing an internal communication plan to increase the participation rate is key.
  • Analysing the impact on the overall health and well-being of expatriate employees. Taking into account employees’ evaluations and other types of indicators relating to their well-being is also essential. Pre-designed surveys are particularly useful for collecting this information, as they can be used to obtain direct feedback on issues relating to employees’ own perception of their health and well-being, as well as the impact of the plan on the organisational culture of the SME.
  • Assessing the level of satisfaction of employees on international assignment. Job satisfaction, positive changes in health awareness and optimism in the workplace are indicators that should be taken into account in the final stage of the measuring process. This means knowing whether the initiatives focused on caring for employees’ health have helped to improve the quality of life of staff members in a broad sense.

The help that companies like Cigna provide when implementing a health plan is particularly important in the case of international SMEs. Given that currently 53% of the population are calling for greater attention to be given to their well-being by the companies in which they work,6 offering a flexible, tailored solution to meet the specific needs of each SME could make a difference in the lives of their expatriate employees.

Thanks to these solutions, it is possible to offer access to the best health care at the most reputable centres with the most prestigious professionals in a simple and convenient way; to have access to the most innovative solutions in digital health with different telemedicine tools; to offer multiple services focused on mental health care or adopting a healthy lifestyle for the whole family; and to provide support at all stages when assigning seconded employees, as well as many other options. This will help improve the participation of staff in these plans, increase their level of satisfaction and, ultimately, yield greater returns on investments in international SMEs.

Click on this link for more information and to find out everything that Cigna can do to help you provide comprehensive care for your staff.


Have a question? We’re here to help.

Cigna designs health insurance solutions that will help improve employee wellness and productivity while helping you control your costs.  For more information on how a Cigna health insurance plan can help you improve employee health and wellbeing, get in touch with our team.


1 Cepyme and SMEunited. Shaping Europe for SMEs. Link

2 European Commission. Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. Link

3 International Labour Organization (ILO). The power of small: unlocking the potential of SMEs. Link

4 World Health Organization. Health Evidence Network Synthesis. Link

5 Cigna International Markets. ‘Health and Wellness in Workplaces: What works? - ROI Analysis of Health & Wellness Interventions.  Link

6 Cigna ‘COVID-19 Global Impact’. Positivity around Vaccine Roll-Out and Anticipated Approval Leads Improved Perceptions on Whole Health. Link

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