In the last two articles on employee wellness, we discussed wellness as a business strategy and the importance of leadership to drive wellness efforts. Once leadership has committed to a wellness program and you have assembled a wellness committee, your next step is to collect data to establish a baseline. Many businesses fall short of this important step and jump straight in to programming. Data allows you to know how to focus your most precious resources, employee time and money.
There are two kinds of data; 1) organizational level and 2) employee level. Organizational level can be described as looking at the infrastructure of your company to determine if it will support a healthy lifestyle. Do you have healthy options in your vending machines or cafeteria? Is there a place for employees to lock up their bicycles? Do you have a comfortable place for nursing mothers to pump? Is there a policy to support wellness on paid time? All of these things are important to help employees make the “healthy choice the easy choice.” A free assessment to determine if your policy and environmental supports are in line with positive wellness culture is available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC Health Scorecard is available at http://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/pubs/docs/HSC_Manual.pdf.
The other form of data is employee level data. There are several options. First employees generally are more interested in participating in programs that they have a strong interest in. A simple interest survey that asks employees about program topics and barriers to participation can be created by your own wellness committee and put on survey monkey.
Another form of data collection is the health risk appraisal. This instrument assesses employee behaviors and knowledge. It will ask questions such as whether they eat enough fruits and vegetables, get enough sleep, feel stressed, or get enough physical activity. Health risk appraisals are one of the few ways to get an idea of the stress level of your organization. Anti-depression and anti-anxiety meds are one of the top three prescription drug classifications for almost every employer. We need to get a handle on the level of stress within our organization and address it aggressively.
Another form of employee level data is the biometric screening, otherwise known as blood screening, height/weight, body fat, and blood pressure. This is considered “hard data” and is a good measure to look at pre and post program success. It is important to share this information with your health care provider so that you can get a complete picture of your personal health risks. Every year I hear of life-saving stories of people that received a blood screening or a blood pressure test at their employer who needed immediate medical attention.
Finally, other data forms include culture/climate, workers compensation, injury, disability, and absenteeism data. Often companies will see changes in absenteeism before any other measurable areas when instituting a wellness program.
Once you collect data, you need to do something with it. First and foremost, you should share the aggregate results with your workforce and your management. Second, you should use the data to determine your top priority areas to address and develop a written wellness plan. Our next article will be devoted to the planning process–good luck collecting data! If you have any questions regarding survey resources please contact Lisa Henning at firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Lisa Henning, Executive Wellness Consultant
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