What do you do if you don't have data?

You may not have "knock-your-socks-off" data to show that you saved your company thousands of dollars in health care costs because of a wellness program or other initiative. But there are still ways you can demonstrate success and, possibly, save the program or your job in the process.

"Look for things to measure that can bridge the gap if you don't have hardcore data showing ROI [return on investment]. You can still show that there are positive things being provided," says Don R. Powell, PhD, president and CEO of the American Institute for Preventive Medicine, a wellness program provider based in Farmington Hills, MI. Some examples:

• Give participation numbers.

"Clearly, the more participation you get for the activities that you provide, the more value is perceived," says Powell. Record the number of people who attended a lunch and learn or how many employees took a brochure at an occupational health "stop by" table.

• Prove that employees are happy with what you are doing.

Give employees a questionnaire that asks them to rate a service provided by occupational health as excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor. "You are then able to show the percentage of employees that say the service was excellent," says Powell.

• Come up with small but eye-catching statistics.

Tell your bosses how many extra steps employees walked this week as a result of an occupational health program, suggests Powell.

• List the "no cost" things you did.

Report on initiatives that the company spent absolutely nothing on, says Powell. "For instance, people will lose weight by putting a scale in a key company location with the diet-plan-of-the-week above it.

"It gets people thinking about weight loss so they can weigh themselves privately," he says. "Or, set up a stress reduction room so employees have a place to go to listen to restful music, instead of drinking coffee, which is a stimulant."