Is a Health Assessment Worth Promoting?

Health Assessments, Health Risk Assessments and Personal Health Profiles are just a few names for a health questionnaire employees take that offers a score that reflects their health.  It seems that Health Assessments have been around forever and still hang around as part of the modern day worksite wellness program.

I hear people recommending them all of the time as a starting point of a worksite wellness program but they don’t necessarily have to be.  So, is it worth your time and effort to promote one? Here’s some things to ask yourself before you ask include a Health Assessment in your wellness program.

Your employees’ level of trust.  I’ve never seen employee skepticism like when it comes to taking a Health Assessment. Remember the Penn State employee wellness debacle of 2013?  Even the most trusting employees want to be assured their very personal information is being safeguarded.  If your culture has a fairly trusting vibe, then you’ll still want to include privacy statement in all of your communications.  If you don’t have a trusting culture, work on building trust before you even go down the road of a Health Assessment.

You have a bigger plan to get your employees engaged in their health. Not many people take a Health Assessment have magical a-ha moments about their health.  Chances are they know what they are and aren’t doing well.  When I take mine each year, I realize I should add strength training to my exercise routine and have a little less wine.  I know those are two things I can do to improve my health and the Health Assessment didn’t tell me what I didn’t already know.  You know what actually caused me to add strength training into my week?  When I had a tight hamstring that was hindering my running.  I’m still working on having a little less wine!

What is your plan to get your employees to use their Health Assessment results?  Do you have classes for them to understand their results, an offer of individual coaching or a call to action?  If you can’t answer these questions and are offering the Health Assessment as a stand along offering and relying on your employees to seek out info, then skip it.

You have a plan for the aggregate data. More often than not, an employer offers a Health Assessment, employees complete it, then radio silence.  It’s either on to the next wellness “thing” or it’s radio silence until next year’s wellness program.  The first thing for an employer to do after the health assessment is complete is to get an aggregate (group) report that show you the risk factors.   I recommend you communicate to employees the results for the company.  Is weight the top risk factor?  Tell your employees that and what you offer to help reduce their risk and perhaps reasons why they should change their health behaviors.

If you plan to offer the Health Assessment two years in a row, then look to get a cohort report after the second time.  A cohort report shows the same people from both years and any changes in their health status.

I’m pro-Health Assessment when the results and outcomes help your employees. If it enrolls more people in a disease management program, gives you a starting point to tailor wellness programs or as a measurement of what’s improving year over year, that by all means, go for it.  Just please don’t ask your employees to take a Health Assessment just because you want them to do something. There are a lot of other ways to spend everyone’s time and energy!