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As companies increasingly face rising health costs and competition, comprehensive workplace health programs are becoming more widely used as a strategy for impacting employee health and productivity and, in turn, corporate bottom lines.

Comprehensive workplace health programs aim to reach employees through a variety of ways, including workplace policies, benefits, environmental changes, and programs and services available for employees, spouses, and dependents.

However, each company and its employees is unique and the strategies used to address employee health will vary from company to company based on the resources available, needs and interests of management and employees, and health issues that are priorities.

A key question for wellness coordinators to ask is: How do you know which workplace health strategies will be most valuable for your particular company to implement? 

Developing a comprehensive employee workplace health program, or making improvements to an existing one, requires an understanding of what impacts the health of employees at the worksite.

What is workplace health assessment 

Factors influencing workplace health1, 2

Group of co-workers in a business meeting
Many factors influence health in the workplace and can be impacted by supportive changes within the following levels of influence:
  • Individual – elements of an employee’s health, such as their health behaviors, health risk factors such as high blood pressure, and current health status
  • Interpersonal – elements of an employee’s social network including relationships with managers, coworkers, and family that provide support; mentoring or role models
  • Organizational – elements of the workplace structure, culture, practices and policies such as benefits, health promotion programs, work organization, and leadership and management support for workplace health and safety initiatives
  • Environmental – elements of the physical workplace such as facilities and settings where employees work as well as access and opportunities for health promotion provided by the surrounding community where employees live

How to conduct workplace health assessment

A workplace health assessment involves learning about a workplace and the health of its employees. Employee health is determined by a complex set of interactions between the individual and their social, cultural, and physical environments and can be influenced in many ways. It is important to assess employee health from a number of perspectives using multiple sources of data to gain a more complete picture of the determinants of health. For example, reviewing health care costs will provide information on which health conditions are the biggest contributors to the total, but do not provide insight into what factors contribute to those conditions. 

The types of data sources that will be available will depend on the workplace. Some data is readily available, other data may need to be requested from a third party, and some may not be currently available requiring a decision whether to collect it or not. The types of data sources used to gather information in a workplace health assessment may include:

  • Site visits
    Site visits are in person observations of the workplace setting and includes interviews with managers and employees to discuss health attitudes and beliefs; and review health promotion programs and policies; and evaluate the worksite environment for health risks
  • Employee surveys
    Examples of employee surveys include Health Risk Appraisals; employee satisfaction and interest surveys; safety surveys and routine inspections
  • Health benefits
    The type of coverage and covered services employee receive under the health plan; vacation and sick time; access to health promotion programs
  • Health care and pharmaceutical claims
    A source for identifying the common health conditions and procedures for which employees are seeking health care and their costs
  • Other data sources
    Examples include time and attendance; injury; and participation in, satisfaction with, or outcomes from other employee health programs

Other data sources may also provide information that will be useful for designing and evaluating a workplace health program. Such data sources include data on injury prevalence, causes and workers compensation; absenteeism; use of existing health programs such as EAP or fitness facilities. A possible list of data sources is provided in table below. 

Other Additional Sources of Data Relevant to Worksite Health

Data Elements
Number of injuries, percentage of employees with injuries, cost of injuries, days lost by types of injuries, time to return to work By worksite
By unit
Site Database
OHSA template
Number of absences by reason By worksite
By unit
Site Database
Use of EAP
Number of employees and number of sessions and cost by presenting problem By worksite By unit EAP Vendor Activity Summary
Ratings of Job Satisfaction, Communication, and Support By worksite By unit Employee Engagement Survey

Tools and Resources

  • Workplace Health Assessment Data Matrix [PDF - 2.10MB]  contains a matrix of potential qualitative and quantitative sources of data to conduct a comprehensive workplace health assessment
  • The CDC Healthier Worksite Initiative Swift Worksite Assessment and Translation (SWAT) evaluation method allows for rapid assessment of worksite health promotion programs that help employees focused on healthy body weight
  • The CDC Healthy Communities Program developed the Community Health Assessment aNd Group Evaluation (CHANGE) assessment tool to provide communities with a picture of the policy, systems, and environmental change strategies currently in place throughout the community, where gaps exists and facilitate action planning for making improvements. The CHANGE tool address five community sectors including worksites and health indicators related to physical activity, nutrition, tobacco use, chronic disease management, and leadership

Key questions

Overall, a workplace health assessment can help make connections between the various types of risk factors affecting employee health at the individual, intrapersonal, organizational, and environmental levels that are supported through multiple pieces of data. It will help develop a deeper profile of what is going on at a workplace to help inform a workplace health improvement plan for initiating a workplace health program or making enhancements to an existing program. The key questions a workplace health assessment can help answer are:

  • What are the key health issues affecting employees?
  • What factors at the worksite influence employee health?
  • What are the employees' health and safety concerns?
  • What strategies are most appropriate to address these health issues?

Contact Us:
  • Division of Population Health/Workplace Health Promotion
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    4770 Buford Highway, Northeast, Mailstop K-45
    Atlanta, GA 30341
  • 800-CDC-INFO
    TTY: (888) 232-6348
  • Contact CDC-INFO The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   1600 Clifton Road Atlanta, GA 30329-4027, USA
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