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Tips for Designing an Effective Employee Wellness Survey

Ross Simons

Ross Simons

Director of Inbound Marketing
Effective Employee Wellness Survey

As we’ve come to understand over the past few decades, wellness is about so much more than exercising and eating right. An individual’s sense of wellbeing depends not only on their physical health but their mental health, stress levels, financial status, professional situation, and relationships — among many other factors.

For an HR manager building an employee wellness program, this holistic view of wellness is a good thing. It means you have more tools than ever in your wellness toolkit to help employees live happier, healthier, more balanced lives (which, in turn, helps your company flourish).

But this embarrassment of wellness riches comes with a challenge, especially when working within a limited budget: How can you be sure which wellness program components would most profoundly impact your employees?

Would your remote employees participate in virtual wellness challenges? Are they seeking mental health support? Are many employees struggling with financial stress? Would your team members be receptive to mindfulness?

Answers to these questions are within reach if you simply ask.

A wellness survey can help you take the pulse of your employee population’s wellness status, goals, and interest in wellness program features, generating priceless data for designing a meaningful wellness program. Once your program is off the ground, you can continue to survey employees to identify gaps and areas for improvement.

Follow these best practices to gain actionable data from your employee wellness survey:

1. Maintain Absolute Anonymity

Wellness issues are sensitive for most people. Many of your employees will be reluctant to open up about their health concerns, mental health issues, and financial challenges if they suspect the information will be traced back to them personally. In addition, there are multiple regulations concerning how employers can ask employees about their health.

To assure employees that their personal health information is secure:

  • Do not ask any questions in your wellness survey that can be used to identify individual employees.
  • Work with a survey vendor that will anonymize poll results.
  • Be clear that survey participation is optional — no one should feel pressured to answer questions about their health and wellbeing.

2. Keep It Concise

Considering that the average employee receives around 120 emails per day, you’ll want to be careful not to contribute to the information overload plaguing the modern working life. Long-winded, time-consuming surveys will go unopened and unfinished.

Aim to require about 10 minutes or less with your employee wellness survey. This is still plenty of time to gain insights into your employees’ habits and preferences.

Keep open-ended questions to a minimum. Instead, streamline your survey with multiple choice, yes/no questions, and numerical scales.

For example, rather than asking employees to describe their workout routines, you might ask:

  • Do you prefer to exercise in the morning, afternoon, or evening?
  • How many hours per week do you exercise?
  • Do you prefer short, intense workouts or longer, moderate workouts?

(You might want to include the option to comment if employees wish.)

3. Explain or Avoid Confusing Terminology

Certain terms can be confusing or alienating to people who aren’t immersed in the wellness world (meaning, most of us). While preparing your survey, don’t assume your employees are up-to-date on the latest fitness jargon, exercise trends, or mental health concepts.

If you can do so succinctly, define potentially unfamiliar terms before asking employees about them. For example:

  • Ultra-processed foods include ingredients that have been significantly altered from their natural state and are often high in saturated fat, sugar, and salt. If we offered more minimally processed snacks in break areas, would you choose them?

Better yet, avoid confusing terminology altogether.

  • Don’t ask: Would you like more mindfulness resources in the workplace?
  • Ask: Would you like resources to help you quiet your mind, manage stress, and focus?

4. Ask a Diverse Range of Questions

America’s workplaces are more diverse than ever. The typical employee population reflects multiple generations, a range of backgrounds and life experiences, and — when it comes to wellness — needs, concerns, and interests.

A well-designed wellness program caters to each of your employees, and so does a well-designed employee wellness survey. Be sure to include questions that target a variety of life stages and wellness goals.

For example, you might ask your younger employees about paying off their college loans while asking your older employees about preparing for retirement. While some employees might be looking to start an exercise habit, others might want to take their current routines to the next level with intense challenges.

5. Offer Incentives for Completing the Survey

A little bribery never hurt anyone — at least not when it comes to boosting survey participation. The right incentives will significantly increase response rates to your employee wellness survey. It doesn’t have to be much — a chance to enter a gift card drawing, for example.

Again, choose incentives with broad appeal across demographic groups. Otherwise, your survey data could become skewed.

6. Act on Survey Results

The most compelling incentive for completing an employee wellness survey is knowing your feedback will be taken seriously.

Your survey results may include surprises and even some disappointments. Nevertheless, acting on the results is crucial so your employees feel ownership of the wellness program and are motivated to participate in the next survey.

This doesn’t mean you must implement every employee suggestion, no matter how costly or impractical. But don’t ignore trends in the survey data. If everyone says they hate counting steps, and you were planning a company-wide steps challenge, it might be a clue that you need to rethink your wellness initiative.

7. Promote Your Survey Through Multiple Channels

Remember how many emails the average employee receives daily? A single email blast simply won’t get the job done for promoting your employee wellness survey.

To reach the greatest number of employees, promote your survey through multiple communication channels, including employee newsletters, team meetings, text messaging, and informational posters.

Flimp can help you design a multichannel communication strategy to give your employee wellness survey — and all your wellness outreach efforts — maximum reach. Click here to contact us or schedule a meeting.

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