The Nicoya Institute

Value = Return

If you're keeping track of what's been going on within the field of well-being of late, you've probably noticed somewhat of a changing emphasis, from Return on Investment (ROI) to what's being called Value of Investment (VOI). Often, what's communicated from these vantage points is an "either-or" scenario – you "either" see things from the perspective of the potential return on your investment, "or" from the value that it adds to your organization. My argument here is that the two need not be pitted against each other.

Employee and resident well-being at its core, in its purest form, is not primarily about turning an investment into a positive financial gain – or it shouldn't be. Yes, providing well-being services costs money. Yes, it would be great if the money spent resulted in money gained. But, at the end of the day well-being is about people.

Living, breathing people.

Let's put a twist on this scenario. How would it make my wife feel if the primary reason that I "invested" in her holistic well-being, her joy and happiness, was if it produced a surplus in our bank account? I can assure you that she would not feel valued. While this does not warrant throwing financial wisdom "by the wayside," it does incline both her and I to consider how we can intentionally "invest" in one another's well-being to the extent that doing so adds to our quality of life.

The relationship between employer and employee (or community and community resident), while obviously different from the marital relationship, is, at the same time, not too dissimilar. There is a commitment that is involved between both parties. But, within senior living, because retention continues to be a significant challenge across the board, might I suggest that an emphasis on ROI may only be perpetuating this challenge? When the communication to our employees is that the well-being "benefit" offered to them is being offered primarily for our benefit, then it's actually more of a selfish endeavor than it is a value being added for the employee's sake. When this approach prevails, we've lost sight of the goal of offering a well-being benefit: people.

The value that we add is the return that we're seeking. We aim to add value for people's sake. The return that we seek is happy, healthy employees. When employees are happy, they tend to stick around. So, if retention is the primary hurdle that most of us are intending to overcome, how can we remedy this? Well, we can start by adding the kind of value for them that convinces our employees that we care and encourages them to stick around.