The evaluation process is intended to assess the justification and validity of the age management policies and programs. The overall aim of evaluation is to determine whether the implementation of the policy and programs has produced the set desired outcomes in an effective manner.
Conventionally, evaluation usually takes place only after implementation of the policy or program. However, it is now more commonly acknowledged and highly recommended that evaluation be conducted before, during and after implementation as well as on an ongoing basis.
Evaluation is an integral part of an effective management system that allows for detailed assessment of:
- dissemination and implementation stages
- chosen methodologies
- economic viability
- overall sustainability of the age management policies and programs
It is imperative that well defined and unambiguous measures that assess both effectiveness and whether the outcomes support organisational objectives and targets are imperative. This will also allow any recommendations and remedial steps to be taken that result in more effective processes and outcomes.
It is also important to obtain benchmarking data at the outset in order to establish standards against which processes, products and performance can be measured. A measurement method that assesses progress against the initial plan also needs to be implemented.
Common types of evaluation include:
Formative evaluation – occurs during the developmental stage. It is intended to compare the effectiveness and usefulness of various proposed approaches.
Impact evaluation – intended to occur after implementation in order to provide information on the long-term impact of the policy or program. It measures overt cause and effect changes such as rate of staff attrition or staff take-up of flexible work options, rather than covert forms of change such as in knowledge, attitudes and behaviour.
Outcome evaluation – intended to measure the effects of policy and programs on the target audiences. These measured outcomes can include covert forms such as change in knowledge, attitudes and behaviours. It is important to establish baseline data before the policy and programs are implemented, as well as assessing any changes over time.
Process evaluation – intended to review progress and occurs throughout the implementation of new policies and programs. This evaluation is designed to determine the efficiency and effectiveness of the implementation process. This type of evaluation can also assess the timeliness, cost and extent to which the policy and programs reach the intended target audience.
In addition to the above common types of evaluation, the section below outlines the evaluation of policies and programs ranging from the developmental stage through to sustaining good practice, including:
- Evaluation of dissemination
- Evaluation of implementation
- Evaluation of methodology design
- Evaluation of economic viability
- Reporting the evaluation
- Sustaining good practice - revision
Evaluation of age management policy and programs is conducted in order to achieve any of the following objectives:
- Identify whether existing policy and programs need to be modified, reformed or abandoned
- Develop new policy and programs and test new ideas – these are usually limited to specific areas and/or time periods
- Improve the dissemination and implementation of the policy and programs
- Establish evidence that the policy and programs work
- Determine if future investments are worthwhile
- Improve processes
- Establish alignment with business strategies and goals
- Improve and maintain the overall culture and health and wellbeing of the organisation
- Demonstrate the worth of a program over time and provide accountability to management to guide future decisions regarding policy and program sustainability and funding