Chronic Stress and the Bottom Line: Understanding the VOI

​​​​​​Organizations have been hit with a lot of changes recently that have business leaders nervous about the effect of increasing costs on the bottom line. If you are in human resources management, then you know just how much these changes are affecting your organization, and you are probably under pressure to come up with solutions to contain or cut costs.

While some are cutting back on labour and benefits, others are looking for more proactive ways to ensure a more positive and sustainable impact. Convincing senior leaders to focus on reducing chronic stress will have a real and tangible impact on the bottom line by creating an environment where employees are engaged and able to focus.

To get the resources you need in this climate of cost cutting, Human Resources professionals need to know how to identify the impact of chronic stress on the organization’s bottom line and demonstrate the value on investment (VOI) for implementing psychological health and safety improvements in terms of the organization’s strategic goals and business outcomes.

Value of Investment

​​Traditionally, we have looked at Return on Investment (ROI) as the key metric for implementing anything new. But, research from the Harvard School of Public Health suggest that it is even more meaningful to consider the overall Value of Investment (VOI), which includes ROI (financial) and other qualitative measures.

​​Whereas ROI is a profitability ratio, Pronk (2014) showed that VOI measures outcomes on the basis of benefits, harms and costs, which help businesses make more fully informed decisions on investments for the overall well-being of the workforce, as well as for integrated interventions and accommodations for workers with injury, illness and disease.

The research showed evidence that:

  • keeping well workers well has a very high VOI;

  • accommodating workers with disabilities often show a very high VOI; and

  • about half of all implemented accommodations have little to no cost (Pronk, 2014).

​​​​Typical ROI measurements for workplace health programs fall short. They tend to be based on a standard calculation of short- and long-term disability costs divided by incremental costs and costs of benefits utilization. It is narrowly focused. It lacks the ability to relate the real changes that the investment has on various business outcomes, such as productivity, employee engagement, customer satisfaction, conflict resolution and turnover, just to name a few.

VOI takes into account both direct and indirect costs, as well as other investment and outcomes. It is measured on 2 levels:

  • Employer investment versus business outcomes; and

  • Employee investment versus impact on employee health and wellness.

It gives a more realistic measure and empowers business leaders to make better informed decisions for the success of the organization.

VOI and Business Outcomes

To help your organization cut costs, you must look at the big picture and help senior leaders make better informed decisions for the good of the company.

​​​​According to the National Business Group on Health in the U.S., business outcomes can be measured in three areas:

  • Workforce health and safety – which measures health care, disability and workers’ compensation costs;

  • Productivity and performance – which measures costs associated with absenteeism, presenteeism and performance; and

  • Employer of choice – which measures costs associated with turnover, recruitment and workforce engagement.

Employees are the lifeblood of any business. Supporting their ability to focus and do their work effectively will be the best investment your organization can make to reduce operating costs and improve business outcomes.​​

What Now?

If you are an HR executive or manager who is serious about making significant improvements in your organization, then you may need some help getting the resources you need. I have developed a free guide to help you. It walks you through the steps of how to show the VOI. Simply download the FREE Guide "How to Get Executive Support for Mental Health". ■

Would You Like Help?

Hale Health and Safety Solutions offers training and consulting to help you prevent and manage chronic mental stress claims.

Relevant Training Workshops (see upcoming public dates):

Free Guides:


Liz Horvath is the Founder of Hale Health and Safety Solutions. Her 20+ years of experience in occupational health and safety combined with experience in disability and claims management help clients significantly reduce incidents and claims costs, while improving business results. Liz has helped many organizations through difficult situations involving psychological health and safety. In her previous roles, she developed and delivered basic and advanced level training on Workers’ Compensation Claims Management to hundreds of participants across Canada. She also helped to create the National Standard of Canada on Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace. She is a sought-after speaker on integration of occupational and psychological health and safety and leadership for in-house and public events. Her recent talks for the Conference Board of Canada and Global Leading Voices generated significant interest.

For more information, visit or contact Liz Horvath directly at

#ROI #VOI #chronicmentalstress #investment #humanresources

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