Program evaluation is often overlooked in work site settings. However, evaluation is necessary to determine if programs are having the intended effects. It need not be expensive, difficult, or time-consuming.
Basic evaluation questions for this program include the following:
- Are your employees using the discount fitness club network (DFCN) service?
- If they aren't, why not?
- Are there changes that could be made to enhance their experience?
- What did you, as the program planner, learn from this experience that you can apply to other programs you implement?
A simple evaluation plan will help you answer those questions.
Conducting the Evaluation
Identify an evaluation plan while you are in the early planning stage of the project. Consider employee surveys, comment phone lines, e-mail inquiries, or suggestion boxes as resources for evaluation data. Before collecting data from employees, obtain guidance from appropriate agency experts to help determine what approvals may be needed. For example, federal agencies are subject to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) regulations and OMB approval may be needed. Similarly, if your evaluation is part of a research project, check with the appropriate institutional review board (IRB) to determine if IRB approval is needed. Each agency or company should work with its own internal and legal staff to develop appropriate guidelines and procedures for evaluating the project.
Information you might want to include in your process evaluation data includes the following:
- Number of inquiries to the company
- Number of guest passes they've issued (if they provide that service)
- Number of employees that have actually joined a club through the DFCN
- Number of clubs they offer in areas convenient to your employees
- Number and content of the inquiries your company receives from employees
- Number of e-mails and/or hits your Intranet page receives
- Number of posters, fliers, or letters distributed
- Data from your company's/agency's employee survey about physical activity habits
It might be possible to find a DFCN that is willing to help develop a plan to collect aggregate data on the number of visits employees make to the fitness clubs they join. Be sure to include this in the DFCN selection criteria and agreement, as it will require the DFCN to work with individual clubs and could entail an additional fee.
Direct employee feedback provides good evaluation information as well, even if the feedback is unsolicited or received in various ways (e.g., e-mail, written and verbal comments).
Track and use evaluation data to address problems, drive an ongoing communication plan, and determine the need for the service and work with the DFCN to make program improvements.
After you have collected enough information to confirm the need and interest in a DFCN, continue with the planning phase.