7 must-ask questions for your corporate wellness survey

March 25, 2019 Steve Calechman

Chances are high that if your company is offering a corporate wellness program, a survey will be going out, a prudent step because time and money are on the line.

“Before you invest, you don’t want to make decisions in a vacuum,” says Kristine Holbrook, senior vice president, account development at EXOS. But questions in and of themselves don’t guarantee a high return. Successful managers know certain parameters have to be in place, since no budget is unlimited and not every employee can be satisfied.

A productive workplace wellness survey encompasses a few things. It asks about your employees’ needs and interests, trying to get a sense of where they are wellness-wise and what the work environment is like. And it asks about their interests because they’ll more likely participate if you offer what they’ve asked for. “They’ll feel connected,” Holbrook says.

Successful wellness program surveys only ask about things that are possible so that you can take action on the results. Good managers communicate up front about a survey’s intent. Transparency encourages employees to share their opinions. Otherwise, vagueness creates doubt over what answers might lead to, for example, a loss of programming.

Lastly, you have to use the input. “If you’re asking questions, you better be prepared to have the resources to analyze the information and do something meaningful with it,” says Tamara Nagy, vice president of field operations at EXOS. “If people aren’t hearing the follow-up, you’re almost better off not doing the survey.” 

Here are seven must-ask questions to ask in your workplace wellness survey.

Do you feel energized when you wake up?

It’s just one of many general questions to ask. Other general questions you can use to gauge your employees’ health and specific concerns include “What do you typically eat? What do you typically drink? How do you feel most days leaving work?” And then offer answer options.

At EXOS, we tend to use visual representations on our surveys. For example, for “What do you typically eat?” you might offer processed foods, fast foods, or healthy food visuals as choices. “Make them broad so you’re not directing answers or what the program will look like,” Holbrook says.

How many hours on average are you sitting?

A little more specific, these questions root out two issues that can affect a corporate wellness program’s effectiveness. One is an employee’s inclination to move. The other is the dynamic and overall climate at work to understand what the employee perceives is acceptable. To further differentiate the latter, the final question on this topic should be…

Is your manager committed to the program?

Sometimes the problem isn’t company-wide but specific to a department because of who’s in charge. If employees don’t feel supported, that will certainly impact participation. “Your first investment should be to understand perceptions and intentionally change the norms that might negatively impact the development of a wellness culture,” Holbrook says. While this question is good for planning, it’s also effective as a follow-up to judge how effectively your corporate wellness program is working. If the results point to lack of commitment among managers, a first step could be finding wellness champions in each department.

How likely are you to recommend the program to a friend or colleague? Why did you choose that score?

After your wellness program launches, ask this two-part question. The first, answered on a scale of 1-10, offers a net promoter score, a cross-industry benchmark used to gauge loyalty. Subtract the percentage of detractors (0-6) from promoters (9-10) for your NPS, and, as the name suggests, it will identify employees who are excited and will talk. “Loyal participants are the best way to spread excitement,” Nagy says.

The open-ended, second part allows you to elicit valuable feedback and gives insight into what’s driving participant loyalty and program effectiveness. Knowing the reasons your participants choose to recommend (or not), allows you to take specific action on the feedback. “If you can understand the experience and then do something with it, you’re more likely to succeed and increase the participation,” she says.

Out of all the corporate wellness services, which ones have you participated in? How valuable are these services?

It’s easy to believe something is popular. The first question will prove it, but just because something is being used, doesn’t mean it’s valuable. “Using a five-point scale of not at all valuable to extremely valuable with the second question will confirm or negate assumptions, and, with that, give you the chance to pivot as necessary,” Nagy says.

Overall, how has the program benefited your personal well-being?

Good wellness managers aim to make an impact and a difference with users. This question, again using a five-point scale from no benefit to significant benefit, “gets to why you’re even offering a corporate wellness program,” Nagy says. If you’ve helped your employees, they’ll feel more positively about the company. “Upgrade their lives; it helps the bottom line,” she says.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Not everything can be captured in a fill-in box or by a simple yes or no. Asked at the end, this question allows people to share in detail anything not covered, and, even if the comments aren’t positive, it’s good information. “It reflects people who care, are paying attention, and can still be reached,” Nagy says.

Interested in learning how EXOS can help you kick-start your corporate wellness program? Here’s a quick overview of our offerings.

About the Author

Steve Calechman

Steve Calechman is a Boston-based writer and longtime contributing editor for Men's Health.

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