Your Guide to Employee Wellness Surveys Phase 1: Creating Your Survey

As part of an ongoing effort to reduce healthcare costs and improve workers’ quality of life, workplace wellness programs have been widely adopted by organizations of all sizes. Writing about the adoption of wellness initiatives by employers around the world in The case for physical and mental wellness programs in the workplace, Patricio V. Marquez writes, “the business case for supporting these programs is sound: Employers expect that wellness programs will improve employee health and well-being and lower medical costs.” Marquez also notes that “these programs can help to attract and retain talented workers, increase productivity, and reduce absenteeism.” When done well, wellness initiatives can give your company a real boost.

Yet not all wellness programs deliver on these promises.

Why?

According to the Harvard Business Review article, How to Design a Corporate Wellness Plan That Actually Works, the success of an individual employer’s wellness program depends on how well it is designed and executed. In particular, the article notes that a successful wellness program requires committed leaders and engaged employees. The authors write that wellness can’t be “imposed on workers.” Instead, employers should give employees a voice in the program’s operation.

So, how do you design a successful wellness program?

Start by gathering information.

The best workplace wellness benefits are the ones your employees actually want and use. In The Right Ingredients Brew Wellness Program Success, Society for Human Resource Management’s Stephen Miller notes that successful programs are customized to suit the needs of your workforce.

How can you discover what your employees want? Ask them. Find out what your employees want in a wellness program by creating an employee wellness survey.

An employee wellness survey allows you to gauge your employees’ interests and needs.  Surveys can also be used to assess your employees’ general knowledge about wellness and their willingness to use the workplace wellness benefits you plan to offer. Armed with this data, you can then develop a wellness program destined for success.

What should your employee wellness survey look like?

The Center for Disease Control has prepared a comprehensive list of suggestions and resources for designing an employee survey, or assessment. As these recommendations indicate, the design and content of your wellness survey will depend on your organization’s needs. You’ll also want to consider your workforce’s preferences. Are your employees more likely to respond to a written survey or do they prefer to enter information online? Will you distribute the survey across the entire organization or ask a few employees from each department to respond?

Once you’ve decided who you’ll ask to participate in your wellness survey and how it will be presented, you can begin preparing the survey questions. Earlier in this article, I mentioned that surveys are a great way to determine your employees’ interests and their needs. What should you ask to find out what those interests and needs are? Healthcare analytics company Springbuk offers some suggestions in its article, How to Run a Meaningful Employee Wellness Survey.

To get the information you need, Springbuk recommends that you ask your employees which of your current wellness benefits they like and use. Also, ask survey respondents what wellness benefits they’d like to see your company add in the future. You can obtain answers to these questions by asking employees to rank their preferences among a list of benefits. Or, use a yes-or-no format to ask employees if they would or would not use a specific wellness service.

When creating questions that include a list of potential wellness offerings, remember that your survey serves as a two-way communication with your workforce. Don’t create unrealistic expectations by asking about benefits your company has no intention of offering. Be sure to ask a few open-ended questions, too. If your survey is restricted to a list of predetermined benefits, you may miss out on discovering what your employees really want. Don’t underestimate the value of this type of candid feedback.

Preparing your first employee wellness survey may seem overwhelming. But, remember, the depth and design of your survey are up to you. And, there are plenty of resources that you can use to get started. This article from Snacknation includes a list of survey creation tools that you can use. Plus, you have your friends here at Kadalyst. We’re available to share advice and guide you every step of the way as you embark on your plan for a healthier, happier workforce.

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