This written observation is based on the review of the chart and questions on pages 41-43 of “The ABCs of Evaluation”.

I understand that the wellness center in question is sponsored by a company, not necessarily related to fitness, and it provides this staffed facility for the employees of this company.  Their overall goal is to evaluate the participation in fitness programs within this facility and to measure its effect on the mental health, physical health, and  productivity of the employees.  There is no indication of whether the employees have volunteered, or under what other circumstances might encourage them to participate.  Obviously, the employees will have to agree to a certain amount of commitment and disclosure, as they will be working with a trainer, personnel director, and staff psychologist.  Since this also requires a time commitment, certain labor laws or other legalities would likely need to be addressed.

I suppose the only thing that seems odd about this evaluation is the psychoanalysis, which is aiming to reduce depression through physical activity.  Perhaps the wellness center can help in this regard, but there are many other possible variables that affect the mental or spiritual health of a person.  Physical exercise cannot fix all human woes.  It is not clear how willing the company is to address this, and it is not known how willing the employee is to disclose it.  Additionally, this component of the evaluation will be most challenging to coordinate because it calls for group meetings with the staff psychologist.

However, the company can benefit not only from the success of the initiative, but also from the evaluation.  Improved employee health will benefit the company by promoting better morale, reducing the amount of  health risks, which  increases productivity with more healthy workers, and it also reduces health care costs.   Whether or not the initiative reaches its objectives, the evaluation can serve the company to look for other program incentives to get employees involved in the fitness center, or causing them to evaluate the effect of the work conditions on employee health.

If I were an evaluator, the one thing that I might do differently is put more tangible goals for the employees, both as individuals and a team.  For example, instead of exercising just for the benefit of being healthy, challenge them toward a goal or competition, such as a marathon or team tournament.  Even within the sample group, teams can be formed to create competition and camaraderie.  Rewards can be given to the winning teams or individuals.  These types of activities probably will benefit the psyche more than group sessions.