Two things can determine the worth of any program: the satisfaction of participants and the impact of the program on participants. We all strive for worthy wellness programs, though we may not assess both the satisfaction and the impact our programming has. Are your employees offered a worthy wellness program? How do you know? Evaluating both satisfaction and impact is key to answering this question.
A simple survey can be a low-cost, quick and convenient way to understand how employees felt about a wellness program offered to them, though a thankful and satisfied employee doesn’t equate to a healthy and impacted employee. Surveys are a great way to assess satisfaction with a program, but won’t truly determine its worthiness without specific questions that assess the changes employees made as a result of a program.
Case in point
Consider Jan who has just attended a five-week wellness program that targeted healthy eating. She completed a post-program evaluation where she gave her satisfaction of the program facilitator, the programs’ handouts and her overall satisfaction. Jan was highly satisfied with these parameters; however, the survey failed to assess any behavior changes Jan made during the five weeks of the program.
What the survey data didn’t say was that Jan was able to increase her intake of vegetables each day from 1 cup to 3 cups and became more confident planning meals for her family, which included tackling a few picky eaters. If documented, these changes would have been a great opportunity to confirm the program’s worthiness, including both satisfaction and impact.
Shifting to assess worthiness
Satisfaction is important to keep assessing, but more information is needed to determine worthiness. Moving from solely satisfaction surveys to “worthiness assessments” involves one additional step: adding specific questions that assess specific changes. Programming should target specific changes that are desired of employees.
Ask the question, “How do we want participants to change as a result of our program?” and design survey questions to assess those changes. It could be knowledge changes, attitude changes, skills changes or behavior changes. If we wanted participants to eat healthier, we would ask questions to assess that behavior such as, “Because of this program, I am eating more fruits and vegetables than I was prior to beginning the program.” If the participant was already doing the asked behavior, give an N/A option to signify that.
Put simply, determine the specific behavior or behaviors that you want participants to achieve and ask participants if they did them.
“Did a participant improve their cholesterol and lower their weight on a crash diet or a healthy eating plan? Did they stop smoking just to begin drinking more alcohol? Just because weight loss occurred or an unhealthy behavior stopped doesn’t mean the individual is actually healthier.”
Points to consider
Combining survey data with biometric data can help assess the impact component of a program’s worthiness. Nevertheless, use caution when interpreting changes through lab results or biometric results. The specific behaviors participants used to reach those results could remain unknown if specific behavior questions aren’t asked.
Did a participant improve their cholesterol and lower their weight on a crash diet or a healthy eating plan? Did they stop smoking just to begin drinking more alcohol? Just because weight loss occurred or an unhealthy behavior stopped doesn’t mean the individual is actually healthier.
Keep in mind that the specific behaviors employees perform are much more important to the sustainability and safety of an individual’s heath than the hard numbers.
The final step
Pilot your survey with a focus group. It is important to ensure survey questions are perceived in the same way you intend them to be. Have participants share their feedback and how they interpreted the questions. Be sure to pilot with participants similar to those that the survey will be used on. Revise your survey as needed before rolling it out to the masses. Remember, your data is only as valid as the survey used to collect it.
Once administered, use survey data to your advantage. Humans have a psychological need to belong. Market future programming for success by including how prior participants saw improvements or specific changes.
Imagine a future attendee reading, “Healthy eating program now available. Register today to receive the same program that caused 78 percent of Business X employees to improve their confidence in meal planning.” Not only does this signify that the program has impact, but other Business X employees will be more likely to sign up in order to belong by having the same great experience others had.