If you’ve followed the advice in part one, part two and part three of this series, it’s now time for the final piece of the puzzle – evaluating how your program is working, and coming up with some strategies to make it even better in the future.
So your workplace health program is up and running. Staff seem to like it, and you’ve had some positive feedback from your organisation’s leaders too.
While it may feel like the program is proving a success, the only way to know for sure is through evaluation.
What you can gain from evaluation
Considering the time and investment that can be put into a healthy workplace program, it’s essential to conduct a thorough and objective evaluation. The main reasons for this include to:
- Assess whether or not the program is meeting its goals and objectives;
- Be accountable to program stakeholders – staff participants and management;
- Identify any problems and how they might be fixed;
- Assess the benefits of the program to staff and the organisation more broadly;
- Gather evidence to justify future investment in the program; and
- Identify ways that you can improve your program in the future.
Establishing your baseline data
Understanding where your organisation started is the only way to get an accurate picture of how much of an impact your program has had.
If you’ve already established your program, you’ve hopefully already collected a lot of the baseline data needed when you were making a case for the program in part one.
Or if you’re just starting out and you’re unsure of what data you should be gathering and want help getting started, there are some great free resources available online.
Types of evaluation
To understand if your program is meeting its objectives, here are three potential methods of evaluation:
1. Process evaluation:
Process evaluation is a quantitative measure of your program and could include measuring:
- How many participants took part in each activity;
- How many staff members started a part of the program but didn’t finish; or
- Which activities were most popular/least popular.
You can also measure how satisfied staff were with the program overall, whether it met their needs, or if they were happy with the incentives or reward programs offered.
2. Impact Evaluation
Impact evaluation allows you to get a better understanding of what broader changes have occurred in your organisation as a result of the workplace health program.
For example: have there been any changes in the organisation’s physical environment like increased standing or walking meetings? Is there less junk food being consumed in the workplace? What policy changes have been introduced as a result of the program?
3. Outcome evaluation:
Outcome evaluation is designed to assess the effect your program has had on the organisation, and is where you’ll get the best understanding of whether or not you’ve met your goals and objectives.
For example, if your goal was getting staff to increase their physical activity or intake of healthy foods, you may measure a relatively simple outcome such as the average physical activity of staff. You might also measure a broader organisational outcome, such as the number of sick days being taken across the organisation.
Tools to evaluate your program
Ideally it’s during the planning phase of your program that you consider which methods of evaluation you’ll be using, so that you have the tools in place to collect the data you need before you start.
As a guide, the Healthier Work website has a great evaluation overview – including a timeline – to get you started.
The following are just a few examples of the tools you can use to evaluate your program:
- Regularly asking participants for feedback in the form or surveys, short or long. You can use the same health and wellbeing surveys that you used in your initial program set up, such as this one from the Get Moving Tasmania Website;
- Asking staff to keep records of their results – for example by keeping a health journal;
- Measuring staff absentee rates;
- Keeping attendance records for programs and workshops; and
- Conducting a follow-up audit to compare to your initial baseline data.
Reporting on the results
Once you’ve evaluated your program, it’s important to share the results with the rest of your organisation. This will serve as a way to celebrate the successes, renew enthusiasm for the program amongst staff and leaders, and help you to get further support from your organisation not only to keep the program running, but to improve it.
If you’re completing a written report, the Heart Foundation’s ten-point plan recommends that you include the following information:
- List of activities implemented and those that were most successful;
- Summary of changes in health and wellbeing of employees;
- Description of changes in the workplace, such as provision of fruit in the office, healthy options at canteen or in vending machines, posters encouraging physical activity etc; and
- Whether or not the program achieved its goals and objectives.
Evaluation of your program should really be thought of as continuous improvement, as feedback from staff comes in and new situations arise. A program review is recommended at least annually, allowing you to re-calibrate the program’s goals and objectives, and to accommodate for changing organisational or staff needs.
You may also have found through your evaluation process that some activities aren’t achieving results, or that you have new program ideas you would like to implement.
While it’s easy to jump ahead, you should ensure that any new plans are put through the same rigorous process that your initial program was.
That was the final part of our series on how to create a NFP workplace health program. You can see the rest of the series here:
Has this guide been helpful? We’d love you to share your thoughts or experiences of creating workplace health programs in the comments below!
More information: Read the full report: “Ten steps to implementing a workplace health program”
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