Step 3. Needs assessment

A needs assessment will help you identify what is needed so you can plan your wellness program.

The assessment will help you:

  • identify what health topics are important to employees and management
  • identify priority areas for your program
  • generate employee interest
  • develop a profile of employees’ health habits and lifestyles
  • collect baseline information to measure how well the program is going
  • identify areas that may help or hinder healthy lifestyle choices.

Your needs assessment looks at 2 key components—employees (Healthy People) and the workplace environment (Healthy Places).

Employee needs assessment—Healthy People

Finding out about employee interests will help you decide what to include in your wellness program. An employee needs assessment asks questions about health interests, lifestyle behaviours and what they would like to see in the program.

Ways to gather employee information include:

  • interviews
  • meetings
  • focus groups
  • surveys.

Surveys are a popular way to assess employee needs. Deciding to use a survey depends on several issues. Consider the size of your workplace and logistical issues such as employee access to computers and literacy levels. Protecting employee privacy and confidentiality in surveys is important.

A lifestyle risk assessment is a type of survey that asks employees about lifestyle behaviours that could increase their risk of developing a chronic disease such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers. Risk factors such as physical inactivity, unhealthy eating, smoking and harmful alcohol consumption are measured. This type of assessment provides a confidential report to each employee. You may also receive an aggregated report—a summary of the survey findings. It doesn’t identify individuals. For example, your report might show that 20% of employees are smokers and 40% are not eating as healthy as they would like to. From this data, you might decide to focus on supporting employees to quit smoking and promote healthier lunch options.

For a quick survey, use our Healthy People Snapshot.
For a more in-depth survey, use our Healthy People Survey.

Workplace needs assessment—Healthy Places

A workplace needs assessment reviews the workplace environment. It will identify what resources and facilities are available and potential changes you could make to support wellness in your workplace.

For example, does your workplace:

  • encourage walking meetings or use of stairs instead of lifts
  • have bike racks, showers and lockers
  • provide public transport timetables or maps of walking and cycling paths
  • have a well-equipped kitchen with fridges and spaces for food preparation and storage?

There are 3 key environments to assess in your workplace—physical, policy and cultural.

For example:

  • having showers and lockers is part of the physical environment
  • a written policy on flexible work options is part of the policy environment
  • an employee recognition scheme is part of the cultural environment.

Understanding these key areas will help you look beyond the physical workplace.

Ways to gather workplace information include:

  • taking photographs of the workplace
  • reviewing current workplace policies
  • conducting a workplace needs assessment survey.

Resource: Workplace needs assessment—Healthy Places (PDF, 527K)

To conduct a workplace needs assessment, use our Healthy Places Survey. Use the survey every 12 months to identify areas for improvement and action.

Step 3. Checklist

  • Have you completed an employee needs assessment to identify their health needs and interests?
  • Have you completed a workplace needs assessment to identify potential changes to the workplace environment?


See Step 4. Action plan