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Element 3: Conducting a Situational Assessment – Getting to the Root of the Problem

The first major task of a healthy workplace committee is to conduct a situational assessment. This will help ensure an organization accurately identifies the main issues affecting the majority of employees. Without conducting a situational assessment the committee’s program can be biased to the needs and preferences of the committee members. A situational assessment can also help to further strengthen the case for improved programming with senior management, ensure that company resources are put to best use and serve as a baseline measurement in program evaluation.

A situational assessment should start with a review of existing information, such as previous employee survey results, absenteeism reports, exit interview data and health benefit use data.  Typically, data gaps are then filled by using focus groups, interviews, audits, assessments or surveys. Ideally, various types of data are gathered from multiple sources, not just from one assessment tool. It should use a combination of methods, such as face to face consultation, surveys and existing large data sets and by accessing existing sources of data, such as researchers, community organizations and government websites. There are many different ways to conduct situational assessments and there are many different types of assessment tools, such as current practice surveys, health risk assessments and needs assessments. Surveys typically are thought to be the easiest method to gather input from the largest number of people possible. Organizations using surveys should make sure that it is of a high quality, comprehensive and is asking the “right” questions.

Involving the whole organization by asking for input can help employees feel valued and important. However, this is only the case if employee input is taken into consideration. Make sure that the assessment is completed in such a way that everyone feels comfortable and safe sharing their opinions. This can be done by keeping the results confidential and anonymous. When possible offer to report the pooled results back to the employee group. If it is within the organization’s capacity, an organization should think about having an external consultant or service provider gather and analyze the data.

The healthy workplace committee should review the results and identify any red flags or gaps. Looking at the results, the committee will need to determine a process and criteria for prioritizing the urgent and important issues. For example, it might be a priority to make some small visible and popular changes that can help obtain more buy-in across the organization, even if it is not as high an employee need as some issues which may take years to produce an impact. There are a number of evidenced, informed, decision-making tools that can be used to prioritize the issues.

Think about where the organization’s resources and efforts will have the greatest impact and which initiatives will require more time and have a longer-term investment. Be realistic about what can be accomplished with the human and financial resources available.


Tools to Help:
Guarding Minds @ Work www.guardingmindsatwork.ca.

Guardming Minds @ WorkGuarding Minds @ Work provides an evidence-based process that employers can implement to protect psychological safety and promote psychological health in the workplace. It offers practical, user-friendly tools designed specifically to measure the psychological safety and health of the workplace.

Guarding Minds @ Work provides different types of assessment tools to meet the needs of the organization, action steps to help move forward after an assessment and evaluation tools to help review the progress after an organization has implemented any programs.

THCU’s Catalogue of Situational Assessment Tools, available at http://www.thcu.ca/workplace/sat/index.cfm.

This tool is intended to help workplace champions, healthy workplace committees, human resource personnel and any other workplace health promotion intermediary to find and use an appropriate situational assessment tool for the workplace.

THCU's Catalogue of Situational Assessment ToolsThis resource contains almost 30 recommended and promising situational assessment tools. These tools fall under the following categories:

  • Current practice survey
  • Health risk assessment
  • Interest survey
  • Needs assessment
  • Organizational culture survey
  • Workplace audit

For more information about the specific types of assessment tools visit http://www.thcu.ca/workplace/sat/bkg/concepts2.cfm#hra.