Finding a time when key participants are available will take careful coordination with the workplace being visited.
A liaison at the worksite should be designated that can help identify staff availability and schedule times for employee interviews and an environmental assessment, particularly if the site visit assessment is being conducted by someone outside of the company.
Choose a liaison who is most closely involved in employee health and in a senior position within the company so they are able to coordinate access to all individuals the assessment team is interested in speaking with, arrange for access to observe the work environment, facilitate the collection of data, and be able to work with the assessment team to address any issues as they arise during the assessment process.
This liaison may be a current health coordinator, an occupational health nurse, or an employee in Human Resources.
It will be important to maintain close contact with this person to explain the types of individuals the assessment team would like to meet with and the types of things the team would like to observe at the worksite to make sure that the site visit is efficient and successful.
Planning for a site visit
- Outline the goals and objectives of the site visit with the liaison. This allows time for the team to describe the impact workplace health programs can have on business objectives and operations especially if the business is unfamiliar with public health and health promotion practice
- Taking the time to plan for a site visit allows the team to develop a good working relationship with the company liaison and begins to build trust. The trust developed will be important in getting open and honest answers to the questions the team will ask
- Communicate with employees that will both be involved, as well as to staff who may not be involved but will be interested in knowing what the site visit is about, so that critical questions are answered before the site visit (e.g., questions concerning the purpose of the visit, who is visiting, the types of questions being asked and the reasons why)
- Working closely with the company liaison, plan a detailed agenda in advance describing who will be interviewed, when the interviews will occur, when will an environmental assessment be conducted, who will accompany the team around the worksite, and the amount of time needed to brief or update senior leadership. It is helpful to build in some extra time to deal with any unexpected changes to the agenda
- Work with the liaison to get as much background information on the company, the worksite (e.g., policies and procedures), an organizational chart, and any health-related data, before attending the site visit
- If the assessment team is from outside the company, consider bringing information about the assessment team's organization to share with managers and employees
- Discuss with the liaison, the expectations and plans for follow-up after the site visit
Tips for successful site visits
The following “tip sheet” provides suggestions to help make a workplace site visit particularly successful.
- Remember during the entire site visit, the assessment team or program consultant is a guest in the business' home
- Approach the site visit as an opportunity to learn and serve
It is very disruptive to many people (e.g., company executives, managers and staff) if major changes are introduced to the site visit plan. It can also be interpreted as being disrespectful if significant changes are made.
- Adhere to the site visit objectives, agenda and schedule as closely as possible
Remember the assessment team shares responsibility with the company liaison for producing the outcomes and benefits stated in the approved assessment objectives. The job of a program consultant is to help the liaison, his or her team, organization, and partners succeed. Success as a program consultant is measured by what is done to help the company succeed.
- Be flexible if the contact needs to change the schedule
Executives and other busy people are often pulled away at the last moment to attend to emergencies. In addition, more pressing needs or unique opportunities may arise.
- Take the lead from the host liaison in finding the appropriate opportunity to check-in with or brief executives
Every organization is different. Some are formal and others are more informal. Some expect the assessment team to check-in and debrief; others do not. In the final analysis, do whatever the host liaison and team think will be most helpful for the assessment.
- Do not assume the role (or the tone) that the assessment team is there to "check the company out."
Site visitsAn official visit to a workplace over a set period of time (typically between 1 to 3 days). Site visits can serve a number of purposes including meeting with the organization’s leadership to outline goals and expectation for a workplace health program; conducting specific tasks such as conducting an employee health survey, an environmental assessment, or collecting other health-related data; gaining input and feedback from employees, managers, and leaders; or reporting findings and recommendations from a workplace health assessment or evaluation. are not audits, regulatory in nature, or compliance investigations.
- As part of the Consultation Plan, it is good to bring "working hypotheses" or other ideas that the team wants to validate based on the team’s preparation prior to the site visit
- These may include success stories, concerns, issues, problems, or scenarios about what is going on
- Ask lots of probing questions to validate or invalidate these ”working hypotheses" during the course of the site visit
- The individuals interviewed may not be familiar with public health or health promotion programs and ask for clarification or examples of the types of strategies that can be implemented at the worksite
- Seek to learn as much as possible about the targeted populations at greatest risk the company is trying to help. This will give the team:
- Insight to the challenges and opportunities that the company faces
- Perspective which will help in making realistic and constructive recommendations
- Credibility as someone who is eager to learn, bases decisions on facts rather than generalizing from potentially dissimilar situations, and as someone who cares about the health and well-being of the people the company is trying to help
- At each step of the site visit, take the opportunity to explore, with those who may already be providing workplace health opportunities, the progress that is being made and their suggestions to enhance workplace health. These might include discussions regarding progress on:
- Implementing a health improvement work plan
- Achieving short term outcomes to enhance capacity
- Implementing priority effective, evidence-based interventions
- Achieving long term change in the health and lives of targeted populations
- As the team learns about the progress that the employer is making and their work plan, make an independent assessment as to whether planned activities are robust enough and adequately supported and funded to produce the desired results. Share thoughts and concerns with the business so that:
- Additional information that the business might have that will either allay or validate the team’s concerns can be obtained
- If concerns are warranted, the team can help the business figure out what can be done on a timely basis such that the activities are successful and scarce resources are not wasted
- Recommendations can be made to the company for opportunities to re-plan the work and reprogram the budget if warranted
- For businesses with established workplace health programs, help them stay focused on supporting and investing in the accomplishment of priority objectives. It is easy to get distracted by "fads" and "glitzy" new ideas and add-ons to a program that others (including the business’ partners) may be enthusiastic about. Help them maintain project management and budgetary discipline. To do this, it may be necessary to:
- Help the business come up with evidence-based or strong rationales for not supporting lower priority activities
- Avoid making suggestions, comments, or promises regarding site visit outcomes when talking to employees or presenting results. When changes are mentioned, employees may become excited about a potential change they support that may not realistically happen, or become distressed about another change they do not support where none is warranted. The site visit is an opportunity to gather opinions and potential strategies rather than begin the process of decision-making and implementation of initiatives
Adapted from the CDC PORTALS (Project Officer Resources and Training for Accelerated Learning and Support) Program
A site visit should look to uncover the company’s existing efforts and future interest in workplace health programs. The two key components of site visits are
- Interviews with management and employees
- Assessing the worksite environment