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Organizational Level Assessment

Visiting a worksite in person offers a valuable opportunity to gain a more personal understanding of the wide array of factors that influence the health and well-being of employees and may help facilitate or pose barriers to implementing workplace health programs. These factors include both the individual employee level such as their health needs and interests and organizational level factors such as a company’s work organization and environment.

A site visit can help gain insights into the following:

Health-related programs and services

Programs and services are opportunities available to employees at the workplace or through outside organizations to start, change, or maintain health behaviors.

Programs and services can be:

  1. Informational approaches – directed at changing knowledge or attitudes about the benefits of and opportunities for healthy lifestyles
  2. Behavior or social approaches – designed to teach employees the behavioral management skills necessary for successful adoption and maintenance of behavior change

Examples of workplace health programs and services might include:

  • Classes or seminars on health topics such as fitness, nutrition, tobacco cessation, or stress management
  • Weight loss programs that offer counseling and education
  • Exercise classes
  • Ergonomic assessments and equipment
  • On-site flu shots
  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)
  • Chronic disease self-management tools
  • Employee training related to health and safety
  • Emails or newsletters with health information

Question(s) to ask during a site visit:

  • How do employees feel about health promotion activities at the workplace?
  • What activities are already in place?
  • What kinds of workplace health activities would employees like to see offered?
  • What are the employees’ health and safety concerns?

Health-related policies

Health-related policies are formal or informal written statements that are designed to protect or promote employee health. Supportive workplace health policies affect large groups of workers simultaneously and make adopting healthy behaviors much easier. They can also create and foster a company culture of health. Examples of health-related policies include:

  • Policies prohibiting tobacco and alcohol use at the workplace
  • Policies requiring healthy foods to be served at company meetings and events
  • Policies allowing for flextime to exercise or attend health programs
  • Policies encouraging employees to report identified health and safety hazards and “near misses,” incidents that did not result in injury, without punishment

Question(s) to ask during a site visit:

  • What kind of health-related policies does the workplace have?

Health benefits

Health benefits refer to health insurance coverage conditions and other services or discounts regarding health provided as part of an employee benefits package. Examples include:

  • Health insurance coverage for preventive services and screenings
  • Coverage for tobacco cessation and/or nicotine replacement therapy
  • Discounts and/or subsidies for fitness facility memberships
  • Incentives such as gift certificates, cash, paid time off, reduced health insurance premiums or prizes for participation in health promotion programs or achieving individual or group health goals

Question(s) to ask during a site visit:

  • What are the types of benefits that employees receive?

Environmental support

Environmental support refers to the physical factors at and nearby the workplace that help protect and enhance employee health. Examples of environmental support include:

  • On-site fitness facilities, walking/running trails, basketball hoop, or open green space for exercise or relaxation
  • Healthy foods available in on-site cafeterias, snack shops, or vending machines
  • On-site showers and changing rooms
  • On-site occupational health clinics
  • Bulletin boards, kiosks, intranet or other communication mechanisms that provide information on the company workplace health program, workplace or community opportunities for health promotion programs or services, or general health promotion information
  • Proper lighting, ventilation, ergonomics, safeguarding machines and equipment, clean office space, and adequate room
  • Availability of personal protective equipment such as hard hats for construction workers

Question(s) to ask during a site visit:

  • What does the workplace look like?
  • What type of setting are employees working in?
  • What health and safety risks are present? How are they monitored? What is being done to address them?
  • What space at the site is or could be used for health promotion activities?

Community linkages

Community linkages are partnerships with organizations in the surrounding community to offer health-related programs and services to employees when the employer does not have the capacity or expertise to do so or provide support for healthy lifestyles to employees when not at the workplace. Examples include:

  • Negotiating formal agreements with area fitness facilities to provide discounted memberships to employees
  • Working with local hospital, health department, or area medical staff to provide health education and/or screenings at the workplace
  • Publicizing health education opportunities or groups available in the community (e.g., smoking cessation, diabetes education, health fairs or clinics, and exercise opportunities)
  • Publicizing local farmer’s markets to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables

Question(s) to ask during a site visit:

  • What opportunities exist in the local community or nearby surrounding area to promote health to employees?

Workplace governance

Workplace governance refers to the infrastructure at the workplace to lead and support employee health programs. Examples include:

Questions to ask during a site visit:

  • Which senior executives are or could be champions of employee health activities? To what extent are they active participants?
  • What is the composition of the wellness council or committee? Does it include both employee and management representatives?
  • Are employee representatives (i.e., unions) formally or informally involved in the workplace health program?
  • Is the health improvement plan tied to overall business objectives?
  • What are the available data systems from which to collect health-related data?

Limitations of site visits

Site visits have three key limitations:

  1. Information and opinions offered during employee interviews may not be representative of the entire worksite population, and interviews conducted in one worksite may not be representative of another worksite within the same company
  2. The information from interviews is only as good as the source of the information. Only accurate and credible information will allow for sound assessment of workplace health activities
  3. Employees, staff, and vendors will want to showcase and emphasize the best parts of their worksite and health promotion efforts. In order to get an accurate sense of the dynamics of the workplace and the key health issues of concern to employees and the company it is helpful to obtain a variety of viewpoints and to corroborate findings from several sources of information such as interviews, records and documents, or surveys

Tools & Resources

CDC Health Scorecard [PDF – 3.5MB]
developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Health Scorecard is a tool designed to help employers assess the extent to which they have implemented evidence-based health promotion interventions or strategies in their worksites to prevent heart disease, stroke, and related conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity.

CDC Health Scorecard Scoring Methodology [PDF – 1.4MB]
describes the evidence base and impact on health outcomes of the strategies and interventions contained in the CDC Health Scorecard.

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