What Strategies Do You Use To Measure Employee Engagement In Workplace Wellness

This question was posed by a member of our Workplace Wellness Management Group over on LinkedIn.

It’s a good question.

As you know, workplace wellness managers are always concerned about employee participation in programs.

It begs the question – how do you measure employee engagement in workplace wellness programs? So we posted the question on the Wellness Managers’ Discussion Group on Yahoo.

The answers were rich in information and helpfulness:

“I think it is important to first define terms. Are employee engagement and participation being used interchangeably because they can also mean different things,” said William McPeck, director of Employee Health and Safety for the Maine State Government and
a long-time member of the group who has multiple wellness-related certifications.

“Measuring participation is fairly straight forward – the number and percentage of employees who register, attend and complete a multi-session program, as an example, can all be tracked and measured,” he wrote.

“I think measuring engagement is trickier,” he continued. “While there are tools out there to measure employee engagement, I am not sure they specifically address wellness program engagement. As I think about wellness engagement, I am thinking that pre- and post knowledge testing might be used as a measure of learning engagement, while pre and post changes to individual behaviors might be a measure of engagement from the behavior change perspective. I am sure there are others the list can come up with as well,” Bill continued.

I think the same can be applied to the measurement of a healthy organizational culture, he said. “I would be less inclined to use health claims data as a measure of cultural change because of the variables that impact health claims and because I think there are better tools and measures available to use.”

Changes to a health culture audit over time might be an appropriate measure of culture change, as well as the changes reflected in employee cultural surveys over time, Bill believes. “I suspect that the organizational culture literature might be of some assistance with measurement suggestions in this area as well.”

Richard Adler, MD, a physician member of the group said, “The only effective way you can measure the value of any wellness program is to measure outcomes. Sure, one can count the number of participants and one can actually observe people participating, but actual outcomes are the ultimate measure of effectiveness.”

A monitoring process has little or no value and confuses the issue, he added.

“The easiest, cheapest and most significant outcomes to measure are: waist circumference, blood pressure, HgbA1c, C-reactive protein, triglyceridelevel, HDL level,” he said.

“Active participation + Effective engagement = Desired Outcomes.”

Robin Foust, a consultant in wellness, wrote: “We use a system (www.myCatalyst.com) for our clients that captures data related to participation in programs by program type – no matter how many vendors are involved – and if they are active or the case has closed; risk levels for those who took a health risk assessment, lab/biometric data; and in our physician guided care coordination networks, we can also capture other outcomes and biomarker data for the participants through data import and/or through outcome-based codes.”

“With risk information,” said Jennifer Jolley president of Protocol Driven Healthcare, Inc., “we are able to track and report migration of risk by percentages. One factor we also capture is tenure which is critical to making sure participants have had enough time to get those desired outcomes or performance targets. If the population size remains stable and is large enough we are also able to track costs and trends.”

Dr. David Rearick said he “would add to the list of outcomes: Health Risks i.e. total number of health risks within the population, average number of risks per employee, % of overweight, % of tobacco users, % of sedentary etc. But, you have to include the objective biometric outcomes in your measurements, especially if you are going to incentivize for good health-you need to measure objective data. Dr. Rearick is VP of Medical Management for Strategic Benefit Solutions.

Links: WellnessManager Discussion Group on Yahoo, http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/WellnessManager/

Workplace Wellness Management Group on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/groups?home=&gid=1456627&trk=anet_ug_hm

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