Employee Wellness : Needs Assessment

An initial health evaluation can include a survey of workers’ interests as part of the assessment. Effective wellness programs are designed to meet the needs and interests of the workers. The information you need to get from a survey is dependent upon the scope of your program. A sample survey can be obtained in the HOPE Publications Web site. If you intend to modify this sample survey or foster your own survey, keep the following hints in mind:

• Ask mostly closed-choice questions, especially if you will be sending the survey to a large number of employees. Closed-choice questions offer specific choices and are easy to tabulate. You may want to use a computer for data entry and analysis.
• Invite comments, opinions and recommendations, or ask open-ended questions at the end of the survey. Open-ended items are more difficult to summarize.
• Include a brief explanatory cover letter with the survey with the signature of the company president. Make sure to include a statement about confidentiality and anonymity.
• Ask a group of representative employees to review the survey before it is distributed. Find out if the questions will be understood by employees and will not be objected to.
• Include demographic information at the beginning or end of the survey. Consider various ways that you might analyze the responses by demographic characteristics (gender, age, shift, site, department, etc.).

When considering who should get the survey, a simple rule is if you have under 500 workers, everyone should receive one. The public relations benefit of everyone receiving a survey can be valuable. Over 500 workers, a sample of the work population will suffice. A sample saves on costs and time. You may want to consider consulting with a statistician to determine an appropriate sample size for your worksite.

Needs surveys are confidential and anonymous; they do not request information that may identify a person.

Getting backing from management is crucial to the success of the program.

One way to do this is to survey managers (see forms) and conduct interviews with decision-makers in the corporation. You can use the surveys here or make up your own. If you decide to do your own, keep the survey short. It shouldn’t take more than ten minutes to complete.

The interview process can also serve as a means of educating management. Give concise fact sheets on the benefits of wellness programs for management. When surveys and interviews are completed, tally the surveys and write brief summaries of the interviews. Give these reports to management.

Once completed present a brief executive summary to management. Highlight a few interesting findings that can be used immediately to make decisions about the program.

Utilize charts and graphs to make your points. Prepare a detailed report for Workplace Health Promotion Program Committee members itemizing each response. Give a short article about the survey in the employer newsletter.

The higher the response the more valid and reliable the results. A minimum response of 40% to 50% is acceptable.

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