Monthly Archives: March 2018

Measures of Your Program’s Effectiveness and Success (Critical!)

The fact that less than 50% of the worksite wellness programs today conduct any type of program analysis or evaluation is a huge problematic issue. You can better manage and improve what you measure. And you do want to better manage and improve your program as needed, right?

Essentially, there are three broad areas within your wellness program that you can evaluate. They are: program structure, how the program is being delivered and the program’s expected outcomes.

Program Structure

Research has found that effective, successful worksite wellness programs are well-designed and comprehensive in their approach. Therefore, an assessment of a program’s structure focuses on whether key structural components are in place. To assess your program, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

1. How committed is your organization’s leadership to the program?

2. Are your programming and interventions based on the needs identified by your comprehensive, organization-wide needs assessment?

3. Are your programming and interventions aligned to the demographic and health status characteristics of your target audience?

4. Are the topics covered relevant to your target audience?

5. Are your programming and interventions evidence-based?

6. Do coherence, consistency, and integration exist between the various components of your program?

7. If you use incentives, does the value equal or exceed the requirements needed to obtain the incentives?

8. Are your incentives appropriately designed for their intended purpose?

9. Does your program have sufficient resources allocated and is the staffing adequate?

10. Are the necessary organizational factors important to success integrated into the program design?

11. Is the program seen as being a permanent, integrated feature of employee benefits?

12. Is the program aligned with the culture of your organization?

13. Is there an evaluation infrastructure in place for tracking program impact and outcomes?

Program Delivery

Evaluating your program’s delivery is typically called a process type of evaluation. A process evaluation typically examines how well your program is being implemented, if implementation is going according to plan and how the operation and delivery systems are working out. Program delivery evaluations also examine if feedback is routinely being provided that will allow for any necessary or needed changes to occur.

Questions to ask relevant to process evaluation include:

1. Are the programs reaching and engaging your desired target audience?

2. How many participate?

3. Are participants completing the interventions?

4. Are participants advancing in their readiness to change behaviors?

5. Are participants becoming more engaged in improving their health?

6. How satisfied are participants with the program?

7. Are the programming and interventions relevant to their needs?

8. Is the program being delivered in a similar way across all locations or workplaces?

9. Are communications and branding strategies getting the attention of the target audience?

10. Do the programming and interventions yield sustained participation over time?

Outcomes

Essentially, measuring outcomes is determining if your program is achieving its desired purpose, goals and objectives within a given timeframe. Typically, evaluation of outcomes is the primary concern of the employer and program staff or vendors. Are their expectations being met?

The expected outcomes may differ from organization to organization, but typically fall into one or more of three categories: improvements in the health, safety and well-being of program participants, cost savings (generally viewed as being health related cost savings), enhanced individual and business performance metrics and an overall healthier organization.

Speaking of outcomes evaluations, it is important to note that conducting a rigorous and credible ROI analysis is time-consuming, expensive, and requires a high level of expertise in statistical analysis, health services research, econometrics, and benefit plan design. An ideal measure of ROI would be to measure costs and savings associated with each program component separately.

Measuring the value a worksite wellness program delivers is a much better and more easily doable strategy for most employers. Monetary value is just one type of value measure. This broader value view allows the worksite wellness program to be seen in light of the full value it can bring to the employer and the improvement of the target audience’s health and wellbeing.

How to Start a High-Impact Mentoring

Looking to start a mentoring program? That’s great. Mentoring is a proven approach to drive rich learning and development for both mentees and mentors. Mentoring also benefits the sponsoring organization.

For employers, mentoring increases retention, promotion rates, and employee satisfaction. At universities, student mentoring is proven to improve student retention, boost job placement rates, and increase alumni engagement when tapping alumni as mentors.

A thriving, impactful mentoring program is within your reach. But great mentoring programs don’t just happen. They are built through thoughtful planning and sustained commitment to guiding participants through the mentoring process while continually improving the program.

Sound like a lot of work? It can be, but the right tools will make the effort much easier. Mentoring software provides a complete program environment that helps organizations start, manage, and measure all types of mentoring programs.

There are 5 key steps to take when designing and implementing your program:

1. Design your mentoring program.

Successful mentoring programs offer both structure and flexibility. Structure provides participants a mentoring workflow to follow and is critical to help participants achieve productive learning that reaches defined goals. Similarly, flexibility is essential to support varying individual mentoring needs across specific learning goals, preferences, and learning style.

Key design decisions include:

  • Enrollment – is it open, application, or invite only?
  • Mentoring style – can be traditional, flash, reverse
  • Connection type – possibly 1:1, group, or project
  • Connection duration – typically weeks or months, or perhaps even just a single session
  • Community/social aspects beyond formal mentoring, tracking and reporting needs.

2. Attract participants

The best designed mentoring programs won’t get far without effective program promotion, mentor recruitment, and training.

You will need to convince them that participating is worth their time and effort. Beyond participants, key leaders and stakeholders will need to be educated on the benefits of the program and strategic value to the organization. Here’s a quick checklist:

  • Promote the benefits to participants and stakeholders
  • Consider recognition and rewards for participants
  • Provide training and reinforecement throughout the program

3. Connect mentors and mentees

A productive mentoring relationship depends on a good match. Matching starts by deciding which type of matching you’ll offer in your program: self-matching or admin-matching. Consider giving mentees a say in the matching process by allowing them to select a particular mentor or submit their top three choices. Self-matching is administrative light, which in larger programs can be a huge plus.

For more structured programs, such as large groups of new students at universities, or groups of new corporate employees, you may want to get the program started by bulk, or admin-matching.

Matching best practices start with a solid profile for all participants (mentors and mentees). Critical profile elements include development goals, specific topical interests, location, experiences, and matching preferences.

The more you know about your participants, the better chance your participants will have for a great fit and a happy, productive mentoring outcome.

4. Guide mentoring relationships

Now that your participants are enrolled, trained, and matched, the real action begins.

It is also where mentoring can get stuck. Left to themselves, many mentorships will take off and thrive. But some may not. Why? Because mentoring is not typically part of one’s daily routine. Without direction and a plan, the mentoring relationship is vulnerable to losing focus and momentum. That is why providing some structure and guidance throughout the mentorship is vital to a successful mentoring program.

To guide participants:

  • Provide goals and action plans (or check lists or task lists) for the course of the mentorship
  • Provide “help” resources – mentoring best practices
  • Have a formal process that brings closure to the mentoring experience, with opportunity for participant feedback

5. Measure your mentoring program

Mentoring is a significant investment when you consider program management, infrastructure, and the valuable time of participants. Articulating the impact is essential to secure ongoing funding and support. In addition, the measure phase is also focused on assessing program health to identify trouble spots and opportunities.

Mentoring programs should be tracked, measured, and assessed at three altitudes: the program, the mentoring connection, and the individual. To be effective you need the ability to capture metrics and feedback throughout the program lifecycle.

A Word About Tools

Consider your toolset when deploying a mentoring program. If you have more than 100 participants, you may want to consider mentoring software to help run your program. Mentoring software includes intelligent matching capabilities and guided mentoring workflows in an online portal so that you can measure and share program results. If your participant number is under 50, spreadsheets will do just fine to manage your program.

Final Thoughts

As a development strategy, mentoring is one of the most effective methods of long-lasting learning. Running an effective mentoring program goes way beyond just matching people up. For true impact on your organization, it takes effort, resources, and know-how. Follow these 5 steps and you’ll be on your way to implementing a mentoring program that is easy, efficient, and measurable. Good luck!

From Activities To Results

Many worksite wellness programs today are focused only on activities. And you do want to deliver more value, especially results, right?

If you doubt my assertion that too many programs today are focused only on activities, then just look over the postings to the worksite wellness groups on LinkedIn and you will frequently see questions posted from group members looking for ideas as to the next type of programming or intervention they should offer. This certainly suggests to me that their efforts are not based on the identified needs arising from any sort of organizational assessment, but more just a series of activities.

So what are the differences between activities based and results based programs? The following should help you differentiate the differences.

Activity Based

Activity based programs can be identified by:

There is no identified business need for the program.

There is no assessment of the program’s performance.

There are no specific measurable goals and objectives.

No specific participant results are shared with the participants nor are they expected to achieve any specific results.

No effort is made to prepare the work environment to support any type of healthy lifestyle change. The program’s focus is exclusively on the individual employee.

The wellness program makes no effort to collaborate with or to build partnerships with other key internal program managers or any external resources either.

There is no monitoring, tracking or measurement of results or any type of cost-benefit analyses.

Any program planning conducted is focused solely on program inputs.

Little or no reporting about the program occurs.

Results Based

In contrast, results based programs can be identified by:

There being a clear link to and deliberate attention to specific business needs identified through a comprehensive, organization-wide needs assessment. The program is also clearly aligned with the business’ goals, philosophies and practices.

The effectiveness of many, if not all, interventions and activities are assessed. Performance assessment is a hallmark of the program.

Each intervention and activity has specific, identified goals and objectives. Specific goals and objectives are also in place for the organizational impact.

Expected participant results are communicated to all participants.

The wellness program works to prepare the organizational environment to support and promote employee lifestyle change.

Collaboration and the establishment of partnerships are established with other key program managers, outside resources and the employees themselves. Collaboration and partnerships are key components of a results based program. Wellness practitioners acknowledge they can’t do it all themselves.

Monitoring, tracking and measurement occur in all aspects of a results based wellness program. Results guide the future change and development. Cost-benefit, cost-effectiveness and ROI type analyses are clearly evident.

Program planning incorporates both strategic and operational type planning, with an emphasis on outcomes.

Reporting on the program occurs widely across the organization and through multiple types of distribution channels.

If your desire is for an effective, successful and sustainable worksite wellness program, I do hope your program’s efforts are results based.

Apply Amazon’s Leadership Principles In Your Worksite Wellness Program Today

A principle is a comprehensive and fundamental doctrine, assumption, law or fact of nature. You do want to be a principle centered leader right? Amazon states that its Leadership Principles are used every day when discussing ideas for new projects, deciding on customer solutions or when interviewing job applicants. But how might these same 14 leadership principles apply to your leadership of your worksite wellness program? Let’s examine each individual principle.

Principle #1: Customer Obsession

As a worksite wellness program coordinator, you serve customers as well. Your customers are the organization as a distinct entity and the organization’s employees. Like Amazon, you too should obsess over your customers.

Principle #2: Ownership

You are the owner of your worksite wellness program. Organizational and employee health and wellbeing are your job. You need to think both short and long-term and establish program value from both perspectives.

Principle #3: Invent and Simplify

The cookie cutter approach does not work in worksite wellness. Each program must be unique to the employer and the needs and wants of its leaders and employees. While being based on an organization-wide assessment, your programming and interventions also need to be innovative and inventive. Even though health, wellness, wellbeing and behavior change are complex issues, you should always be on the lookout for ways you can simplify your program and programming.

Principle #4: Are Right, A Lot

Based on good instincts and sound program design and execution judgement, the programming and interventions you offer should be right, a lot. Your program offerings should be diverse and encompass more than just your own personal beliefs.

Principle #5: Hire and Develop the Best

Employee health and wellbeing strategies should play a key role in your organization’s career development and employee training and development initiatives. If you utilize vendors for any aspect of your program, settle only for the exceptional vendor. Remember that any vendor and their services represent your program.

Principle #6: Insist on the Highest Standards

While the worksite wellness field may not currently have any standards, that does not mean you should not have your own personal, professional standards. Setting high standards for yourself will result in your delivering a high quality program.

Principle #7: Think Big

Establish a bold direction for your program. It should encompass a direction that inspires results for both the organization and employees. Don’t be afraid to think differently than the crowd. Think critically about what you read and hear as you look for ways to better serve the organization and employees.

Principle #8: Bias for Action

Speed matters in business so keep up with your organization’s response to change. Don’t be afraid to experiment with next generation programming, while at the relying on evidence based and accepted best practice programming and interventions.

Principle #9: Frugality

Sadly, most employers still view worksite wellness programs as an expense, rather than an investment. Be frugal and wise with the budget you do get. Maximize the use of existing resources both physical and fiscal. Be resourceful, self-sufficient and inventive.

Principle #10: Learn and Be Curious

The fields of wellness and business are huge. Be a life-long learner. Always be learning and seeking to improve. Be curious about new trends and seek to explore them and their implications for you, your organization and your program. Be sure to read and learn outside your specialty and current expertise.

Principle #11: Earn Trust

Listen attentively, speak candidly and treat others with respect. But yourself in positions where management and employees can come to know, like and trust you. Frequently benchmark yourself and your program against the best.

Principle #12: Dive Deep

Make sure your program addresses the breadth of the wellness dimensions. Be a check of all trades when it comes to the planning, execution and evaluation of your program. Raise questions and challenges when the anecdotes and metrics don’t agree.

Principle #13: Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit

Have the backbone to respectfully challenge decisions and conventional wisdom when you disagree. Too many wellness program practices are instituted because everyone else is doing them, rather than because they are known to really work and that they will work in your case. Be clear and tenacious about your convictions, but be sure to openly listen and consider alternative points of view. Commit to being and delivering the best.

Principle #14: Deliver Results

Far too many worksite wellness programs today don’t deliver results. Be results, not activity, focused and driven. Monitor, measure and evaluate. Be clear about and able to demonstrate the value your program delivers. Know and communicate your results.