Patricia Chaney

Are Your Employees Satisfied With Your Wellness Program? Ask Them

When was the last time your company reevaluated its wellness program? If it’s been more than a year, it may be time to find out what’s working and what needs some updating. Employee wellness programs are a big investment and, when done well, benefit both your employees and your business as a whole. For everyone to get the most out of the program, though, you have to know what your employees actually think about it.

Surveying Your Employees

Of course, you want the biggest return on your investment. Getting feedback from your employees tells you where the work and money you put into your wellness program is being maximized and where it might be going to waste.

Any information you’ve gathered about usage, participation and outcomes can give you a sense of your employees’ interest in the program. But directly surveying your employees will give you deeper insight into what they like and what facets of your program drive participation. Data points outline who’s enrolling and what services they’re using, but surveys let you know why and predict continued usage.

To illustrate the point, you’ve probably found that not all your employees participate in the program — but that’s all your data will tell you about those people. By asking them directly, you can find out why they’re choosing not to participate and what might entice them to join. Do the incentives not appeal to them? Do they not have the time? Do they manage their wellness outside of work? Getting responses with this level of detail allows you to strategize in a way that data can’t always accommodate.

Crafting Your Survey

Developing a survey is part art, part science. First, choose your distribution method; how you collect your data makes a difference in how you structure your questions. Online tools like Google Forms and SurveyMonkey are usually the easiest way to distribute surveys. Instead of hunting down everyone in the office to hand them a paper survey, you can just send out a link. An online tool will automatically pull all employee responses into a spreadsheet, which means digital surveys are easiest to analyze when they include more check boxes, scales or binary answers and fewer open text fields.

Next, determine your areas of feedback. What exactly do you want to know from your employees? Remember to include a yes/no question about whether they currently participate in the program — but skip asking for any identifying information. Your employees will likely be more willing to share honest feedback if they’re anonymous.

Consider grouping your questions in these areas:

  • Current program feedback. Ask how the existing program meets their wellness needs. How convenient are the offerings and methods for reporting? For those not participating, ask an open-ended question about why not.
  • Health status and wellness goals. Find out how your employees perceive their current health status with a scale from unhealthy to very healthy. How often do they exercise? Ask about their wellness goals for the coming year.
  • Interest in health topics. Provide a scale and ask, “How interested are you in … ” followed by a list of wellness topics, as in this example from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. You can also ask about specific exercises or activities with a question like “What interests you?” followed by a checklist of exercises. Include ideas like healthy snacks, seminars or wearable devices.
  • Limitations and time. Ask about what time of day employees would prefer to participate in a wellness activity. If you feel participation waning, ask a multiple-choice question about what prevents them from participating.
  • Incentives. If you’re considering incentives, whether financial or otherwise, ask a multiple-choice question about what kinds would be the most appealing.
  • Open response. Include a few open text fields for employees to write out their thoughts on what works, what doesn’t and what they would most like to see in the program.

Getting Responses

Once you’ve crafted your survey, you have to convince your busy employees that it’s worth spending the time to fill it out. Small businesses might have an easier time with this — but take steps to boost engagement. Write a cover letter or email sharing your aim and explaining that you need feedback to design employee wellness programs that help everyone achieve their health goals. Consider calling an all-hands meeting to let everyone know the survey is coming and ask that they take a few minutes to complete it.

Distribute the survey shortly after the announcement, and give employees about a week to complete it — enough time to get it done without being able to put it off until they forget about it. Once you have feedback, you can confidently come up with a plan to update your program and spark new interest in a workplace wellness offering that your employees will look forward to being a part of.

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