Gathering information on staff member health behaviors
If your organization is interested in measuring the impact of your Employee Wellness Plan efforts in future years, you’ll want to gather relevant baseline data on the health and health behaviors of your staff member population.
Health Risk Assessments / Health Risk Appraisals (HRA):
Some health plans offer businesses free web-based health risk assessments (HRA), complete with summary aggregate reports. If your health plan does not offer a free health risk assessment, you could pay for an health risk assessment either through your health plan or through a third party vendor.
To encourage taking part in an health risk assessment, assure staff members of confidentiality and consider providing rewards for completing the assessment. The higher the participation rate, the more likely that the aggregate data will accurately represent the behaviors and risks of your staff member population.
Employee Wellness Health Surveys
You can get a general sense of staff members’ health-related attitudes and behaviors using a “lowtech” paper survey. As with a health risk assessment, staff members will be more likely to respond to a survey if there is an incentive and if they are confident that their responses are confidential. Remember that without widespread participation you’ll only get a “feel” for staff member behaviors rather than a statistically accurate picture.
Employee Wellness Plan Focus Groups and Informational Interviews
The information you can collect from focus groups or informational interviews with staff members is an important supplement to the anonymous survey or health risk assessment data. Listening to staff members discuss their attitudes, values, receptivity and obstacles related to health provides a wealth of information on which to base decisions on how to improve your organization’s Employee Wellness Program. Employee Wellness Plan focus groups are especially useful for obtaining information from hard-to-reach staff member populations, such as those for whom English is a learned language.
Keep Employee Wellness Plan focus groups small (8-19 staff members, ideally all of a similar job class). If possible, offer rewards such as movie tickets or lunch, to recruit participants. Develop a list of open-ended questions in advance and allow 60-90 minutes for the discussion.
Informational interviews are an alternative to Employee Wellness Plan focus groups. The Employee Wellness Plan coordinator of your health improvement Strategies or selected members of the Health Promotion Committee can conduct one-on-one interviews with staff members in a variety of positions to better understand their attitudes, interests and obstacles related to a) health behaviors and b) the workplace policies, settings and practices.
Population Health Data
If data on the employee population are not available, you can use state or national data to estimate the prevalence of risk behaviors among staff members.