Evaluation of the XX World Congress for Safety and Health at Work

The IAG has supported the World Congress 2014 by conducting a comprehensive evaluation. This was not only used for the concluding assessment, but also involved the conducting of a survey and statistical analyses ahead of the event for preparation and planning purposes. Several survey methods were employed.
With 3,980 participants from 143 countries (see Figure 1), the World Congress was able to attract more participants from abroad (53%) than ever before in its history.

info_abb_1_en
Survey conducted ahead of the Congress
All participants who had registered by the beginning of July were polled in advance of the Congress by means of an online survey. The purpose of this survey was to determine the participants’ expectations in order for the Congress to be geared precisely to the needs of the target group. In addition, the data obtained enabled the numbers of participants attending the various individual events to be estimated approximately. Background information on which events were particularly popular enabled selective marketing measures to be implemented in the run-up to the Congress. With a response rate of 43%, the feedback from the survey conducted ahead of the Congress was very good. The survey revealed that over half of the participants had learnt of the Congress through a personal invitation or through contacts such as colleagues or superiors. Despite the number of participants totalling almost 4,000, the World Congress 2014 was therefore a “Congress of personal contacts”.

Main survey
The purpose of the main survey conducted at the Congress itself was to determine the participants’ satisfaction with various aspects of the Congress. For the main evaluation, a questionnaire was developed and tested at a number of events in the run-up to the Congress. These included the 2013 International Strategy Conference. This questionnaire comprised seven global indicators supported by multiple statements/questions. All statements were formulated in positive terms and were to be rated by the participants on a scale from 1 to 6, 1 equating to “I fully agree” and 6 to “I fully disagree”. In order to assure that a sufficient number of completed questionnaires were received, participants completing the questionnaire were rewarded with an entry to a prize draw. The request to complete the questionnaire was made in a more informal manner by sticky notes affixed to the questionnaires. These measures proved effective: 679 completed questionnaires were returned to the Institute of Work and Health of the DGUV (IAG) by the beginning of September. This response rate permits a representative assessment. The Congress was rated with an overall average of 1.8 – a very good result. Figure 2 shows that all global indicators attained averages of between 1.7 and 2.0: content (1.9), structure (1.9), moderators and speakers (1.7), atmosphere and interaction (2.0), location and premises (1.7), participantmanagement of participants, service and catering (1.7), and benefits of the Congress (2.0).

info_abb_2_en

The majority of participants (64%) stated that their expectations had been exceeded, and no fewer than 31% stated that they had been considerably exceeded (see Figure 3). Furthermore, over 80% intended to recommend the Congress to others (see Figure 4).

info_abb_3_en

info_abb_4_en

The conclusion of the main evaluation is that the Congress succeeded not merely in satisfying the participants, but in impressing and inspiring them. Figure 5 compares the World Congress 2014 to other major events.

info_abb_5_en
Using two scales, participants were asked to state the feelings that they associated with memories of the event they had visited (“pleasant, positive” vs. “unpleasant, negative” and “calm, relaxed” vs. “energized”). It can be seen that all five events studied had a positive influence upon their participants’ moods. Not merely influencing participants emotionally, but also inspiring and motivating them, is somewhat more difficult. The organization team of the World Congress 2014 squared up to this challenge, and mastered it.

Analysis of the symposia
The symposia were evaluated in order to ascertain whether participants’ attitudes towards occupational safety and health and their knowledge of it had also undergone a change in the course of the World Congress 2014. A before-and-after comparison determined whether the participants had learnt something and whether they had made specific plans to implement it in the future. Three symposia were selected which were being held simultaneously and for which a large number of participants were expected:

  • S01 “Benefits of prevention – return on prevention”
  • S04 “Establishing resources for prevention”
  • S12 “Creating a safe and healthy learning and working environment”

The before-and-after comparison of knowledge and attitudes revealed that a positive change was evident for a third of the subject-matter. In Symposium S12, all speakers were able to enhance participants’ knowledge. One example is that the participants were introduced to approaches for enhancing the culture of prevention. They also described specifically what they have learnt and how they intended to exploit this knowledge for their work. Symposium S04 made a convincing case to participants for employers, professionals in the OSH sphere and employees all to be involved in risk analysis in the interests of improving prevention activity. And in Symposium S01, one speaker was able to convince the audience that it was essential to use a combination of different media in order to reach the various target groups at which OSH and health topics are aimed. This effect was in fact reviewed with reference to a control group: the questionnaire for Symposium S01 was also sent to OSH professionals who had not attended the conference, in order to exclude learning effects that had taken place over the period concerned.
It can therefore be stated for the evaluation of the symposia that participants learnt something, changed their attitudes at least partly, and also specifically took it upon themselves to apply what they had learnt. To summarize, it can be said that the World Congress 2014 was awarded top marks by the participants. Their expectations were not only met, but exceeded; they were not merely satisfied, but also impressed; and they were motivated to implement their newly acquired knowledge in their work and thereby to conduct prevention activity even more sustainably.
Author: Maria Klotz