Questions to ask before you book your employee health assessments and checks November 12th, 2014, by Ken Buckley

This is the time of year when Corporate Health and Wellness Managers finalise their plans for next year’s workplace wellness program. The first step should always be measurement, be it through an online assessment tool or face-to-face checks.

A well designed assessment & check program will give you a safety net – a safety net that catches employees whose health is at-risk, a net that helps you identify problems before they escalate, and that ensures you provide the right solutions for the right problems.

However, a poorly designed program could result in employees falling through the cracks, and could give you a false sense of security, as the right metrics aren’t being measured.

Here’s our guide to choosing or developing a good assessment & checks program:

 1. Online assessment

Online assessment tools are quick, cost effective and give you an overall snapshot and benchmark for employee health risks, showing you where you need to allocate your resources. Make sure you choose a tool that’s robust enough for your organisation’s unique needs.

Questions to ask:

  • Does it cover mental and emotional health as well as physical? For example, does it look at factors such as sleep, stress or social supports?
  •  Does it address the health habits and behaviours that lead to poor health, such as inadequate diet or prolonged sitting?
  •  Can it be filled in offline, with pen and paper, without you having to do data entry? Is it easy to fill in?
  •  What happens after the employee fills it in? Do they receive any feedback on their results? Some online assessments such as our PHA provide personalised advice to the employee based on their unique results, and then provide the tools for the employee to set goals and make changes straight away.
  •  Does it allow for year-on-year comparisons? You don’t want to be spending time sorting data at year’s end. Make sure your assessment tool lets you review trends and improvement over the years.

 2. Employee health checks

With expert, face-to-face measurement of an employees’ health, a quality health check program can help provide an excellent safety net. It’s an assessment that’s personal and accurate.

Your provider should recommend a program of checks based on your results, and their discussions with you

Questions to ask:

  • What health issues will stop your employees from doing their jobs?
    • There are ‘universal” health issues such as risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes that all employees should be checked for. Then there are others that are specific to a demographic or job function. Office-based employees need checks on posture and ergonomics, for example, while outdoor workers need regular skin cancer checks. Others might need hearing, vision or lung function checks.
  •  Have you included mental health?
    • What about stress management, in terms of sleep and work-life-balance?
    • With mental stress now causing more days off work than physical injury, it’s important that you identify and address mental health issues.
  •  What happens after the consultant takes the measurements?
    • If an employee has a check and the results are less than desirable, they could feel demotivated by the whole experience. It’s important that your check allows time for you consultant to talk to your employees, explain the result and provide advice and recommendations on lifestyle changes they can start making right away. Ideally, employees should receive a take-home sheet or personalised results booklet, so they can review and digest when they have more time.
    •  Will the consultant make a referral where required, to a GP or your EAP program? And will the consultant followup later, to encourage the employee to make the appointment with their referred caregiver?
  • Who are the consultants?
    • You hired a certain company to do your checks, but are the consultants employed by that company, or are they outsourced to a different agency?
    • What are the qualifications of the consultant? Do they have experience in the exact area the check covers? Do they have enough knowledge to answer ad hoc questions from employees?
    •  Do the consultants fit your culture? For example, an older workforce might have more confidence in a more mature consultant, while a young and hip workforce might want someone with a lot of energy and enthusiasm.

3. Reporting

The recommendations that come out of your assessment are as important as the quality of the assessment itself.

Your provider should give you a comprehensive report with recommendations based on their expert analysis of your data.

There’s no point identifying the problems, if you don’t have the right solutions to fix it.

Some providers only have a few actual services & initiatives to offer, so their recommendations are going to be skewed in favour of their particular offering.

Questions to ask:

  • What are the qualifications and experience of the people reviewing your data and developing recommendations?
  •  Will your provider taken the time to talk with you, and if desired, your management team, to understand your challenges and what you need to achieve through your program?
  •  What other services does your provider offer? Do they have a wide enough range of services to make tailored recommendations based on your needs, not on their restricted offering? Can they provide a drip-feed of education, support and motivation to help your employees make changes?

Checks and online assessments are essential and powerful components of a successful corporate wellness program. Make sure you do it right! If you’d like help or advice on finding the right checks and assessments for your employees, contact us on 1300 90 10 90.

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