Once the assessment and planning phases have been conducted and interventions have been selected for implementation, the final stage of designing a workplace depression initiative involves decisions concerning the monitoring and evaluation of program activities. Just as assessment data are critical for evidenced-based program planning and implementation, so too is evaluation to prove that workplace depression interventions have been effective and to build the business case for continuing them. Ideally, evaluation plans should be developed as part of the planning process and before beginning the intervention activities. It is often advised to integrate data analysis across programs and variables to evaluate outcomes and identify process improvements.
The program evaluation plan should include: identification of the data to be tracked and analyzed; establishment of a data collection system of important health indicators; determination of how data will be stored and who will have access to it; and establishment of a process for regularly reporting progress to key stakeholders.
Improved Worker Productivity
Improvements in physical, mental, and emotional health enhance stamina, concentration, and focus leading to greater work output. HRAs and employee surveys can be important sources for this kind of information.
A workplace depression initiative can reduce (and, therefore, you might measure):
- Absenteeism and presenteeism (reduced productivity while at work) among employees. Employers can use their own absence data or third party resources such as Beacon Health Options’ Productivity Tracking Program and ROI Calculator to estimate these benefits.
- Overtime to cover absent employees
- Costs to train replacement employees
Lower Health Care Costs
Potential evaluation measures for health care costs following an assessment of depression and pharmaceutical claims include:
- Changes in the number and type of health insurance claims over time (for example, reduced hospitalizations and emergency department visits)
- Changes in health care utilization (for example, use of health services related to mental health and substance use disorder). Early identification of and intervention for depression will likely increase the utilization of prevention and lower-intensity outpatient treatments while reducing acute behavioral health care spending. Moreover, this will likely have a positive effect on overall medical claims costs.
- Increased access to evidenced-based care with improved clinical outcomes
- Quality of care indicators (for example, percent of employees diagnosed with depression that is being controlled through medication)
Improved Health Outcomes
Potential evaluation measures can compare the health status of program participants over time such as:
- Targets for the optimal levels of health status (for example, percent of employees reporting good or excellent health before and after a health promotion program or intervention)
- Levels of disease, injury, or disability (for example, percent of employees diagnosed with depression before and after a screening program or number of employees who experience disability before and after a depression initiative)
Organizational Engagement and Cultural Change
- A culture of well-being is achieved when the organization’s structures, policies, procedures, or practices are aligned to support or maintain health. Organizations can enhance their culture of health by ensuring support for behavioral health conditions such as depression. Potential evaluation measures that relate to this type of organizational change include documenting the process and structural changes made to the organization, such as reporting structures, benefits changes, policies, procedures, or other practices.
- Increased employee participation in programs such as the EAP, physical fitness, and emotional well-being programs can be a meaningful sign of positive program impact on the organization.