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Evaluation Day: A New Approach to the Annual HC Link Staff Survey

 

Every year the HC Link Evaluation Committee asks all HC Link staff to participate in a survey about HC Link. This involves approximately 20 individuals from three collaborating organizations; Health Nexus Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition and Parent Action on Drugs. The survey serves a number of purposes; e.g. assessing the level of staff satisfaction with HC Link’s operations, sharing perspectives on community needs and interests, gaining information and insight about emerging trends and receiving valuable suggestions for new program directions and professional development activities. While in past years the survey has had good response rates with generally positive results, this year we decided to try something new.

During our June 1, 2015 evaluation committee meeting, we discussed a number of goals we wanted to achieve through the staff survey, in addition to those listed above; i, e.

  • Identify ways to the increase the effectiveness of HC Link services;
  • Improve our ability to prepare for and respond to anticipated changes/trends;
  • Build on the results of the last staff survey to promote continual improvement in the staff’s work experience; and
  • Engage staff in a meaningful way in the process.

After some brainstorming, we developed a mixed format that we hoped would make completing the staff survey an interesting and enjoyable experience, as well as produce meaningful results. Several components were involved:

1. Evaluation Day: We set September 15, 2015 as Evaluation Day and sent a communiqué to all HC Link staff explaining our plan. We asked staff to schedule time on September 15th for two activities: i) engage in a discussion with another HC Link staff member from a different organization and ii) complete an online survey individually. We liked the idea of presenting the survey as an “event”, and hoped it would thus receive more attention and maybe even pique some interest.

2. Follow up from 2014 Survey: We sent a number of documents to the staff prior to September 15th, including the results of last year’s staff survey, a summary of the suggestions and concerns that staff had raised and a report on actions that had been taken to address them. The review of the last survey provided an opportunity to continue some of the conversations that were started through the 2014 survey, and also demonstrated that participating in the staff survey can stimulate

3. Paired Discussions: Four open-ended questions from the online survey were included in the package that was sent to staff prior to Evaluation Day, along with an assigned list of staff pairs. We tried to pair up staff from different organizations, and those with more experience with those that were newer to HC Link. The staff were asked to arrange a mutually agreeable time for a 30 minute discussion of the questions before they completed the survey. We hypothesized that the individuals’ responses to the survey would be fuller and richer if they first discussed them with a colleague. It also created an opportunity for them just to get acquainted, as many HC Link staff have little contact with each other. We thought that this might lead to staff learning more about other areas of work within HC Link and creating a stronger sense of cohesion.

4. Online Survey: Following the conversation with their colleague, staff completed an online survey on their own. We invited them to be creative and reflective in their responses, and advised them that their responses would be anonymous.

5. Report: Another commitment the Evaluation Committee made was to report the results to the staff in a “creative and informative” way. At their October 2015 meeting, the Evaluation Committee reviewed the results of the survey. The response rate was 95%; compared with 60% from the previous staff survey. 15 of the 19 respondents (78%) had discussed the questions with a colleague prior to completing the online survey. The results indicated a high level of satisfaction with the operation of HC Link and generated many ideas, suggestions and insights. The Evaluation Committee is currently developing a report that will provide recommendations for consideration by various HC Link committees and managers, and are working on an infographic that will highlight the main themes.

The Evaluation Committee was very pleased with the results of this process, and are looking forward to continuing discussions about how to continuously improve HC Link for the benefit of both clients and staff. We would love to hear from other staff about their experience as participants in this survey, as well as from anyone else who would like to comment or ask a question.

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