What is a situational assessment?


A situational assessment involves the gathering and analysis of metrics. Metrics provide baseline data, or an initial profile of an organization that can be used by the wellness committee to develop a comprehensive workplace health plan. To obtain a comprehensive profile of the organization, assess a variety of elements including the workplace environment, the organizational culture, and the individual health of employees.

  • Identification of employee and organizational needs
  • Justification for programming and financial support
  • Employee engagement to encourage commitment
  • Collection of baseline data to compare results and evaluate new health programs and activities

Obtain data from various sources and tools (e.g. employee interest surveys, organization audits, etc). Your human resources department is a great source to obtain many types of data including some examples listed below. Other influences can impact human resource data and employee health such as company layoffs, and environmental hazards. Therefore, find out your employees’ needs, attitudes, and preferences. Assess information collected over the long-term, and remember it is only an estimate. Comparison against other industries is also helpful.

Suggested metrics to collect:


  • Demographics (e.g. sex, age, education, ethnicity, language, etc.)
  • Aggregate report of employee health risk appraisals
  • Employee satisfaction
  • Retention/turnover rate
  • Health care claims
  • Benefits usage
  • Absenteeism records
  • WSIB claims
  • STD and LTD injury and illness records
  • Health and safety concerns
  • Grievance records
  • Productivity
  • Employee assistance program referrals

NOTE: Develop a plan for periodic metrics collection and assessment. Periodic assessments every few years will provide a more accurate long-term picture of the workplace’s health and the impact of strategies.

Surveys as data collection tools

Surveys are simple, easy to administer, and will assist you before designing a new program or policy. They should have a response rate of over 50 percent. Conduct focus groups to supplement surveys and provide richer data.

Survey employees with:

  • Full-length survey (can be confidential)
  • Open one-to-one interviews
  • Mini surveys
  • Suggestion boxes placed around the organization
  • Luncheon round table meetings
  • Informal email questionnaire
  • Surveys included with pay cheque stubs
  • Online surveys on your organization’s intranet site

  • Identify indicators that will show that the objectives have been met
  • Identify methods for data collection that will accurately reflect the status of the organization. Accurate data depends upon the degree of feedback
  • Assign responsibility for data collection and reporting
  • Select a method(s) for collecting employee health information. Consider how you will ensure that the information collected is representative of your organization (e.g. department, age, cultural background)
  • Also, consider how to include “hard to reach” groups (e.g. employees with different literacy levels)
  • Explore how to best capture participant response. Ensure confidentiality will be addressed appropriately. Consider incentives to encourage employee participation. A covering letter showing endorsement from key stakeholders, reasons for data collection, and how the results will be communicated is helpful. Establish a time frame for the assessment that includes reminders for its completion
  • Develop an ongoing data collection plan

  • The most appropriate time for data collection has been determined e.g. does not conflict with holidays, workplace events, etc.
  • Hard to reach populations have been identified and appropriate strategies to obtain their input have been determined
  • Letters of support from key stakeholders have been obtained
  • Current programming and gaps have been identified
  • Incentives for participation have been determined
  • An acceptable level of respondents has been determined e.g. 50% response rate
  • The data obtained represents an adequate cross section of the organization
  • Baseline data has been gathered from human resources
  • A plan for periodic data collection has been developed