Workplace Wellness Participation

Flexible Implementation Helps Drive Workplace Wellness Participation: Study

One cornerstone of a well-run workplace wellness program is its flexibility — not all companies or employees are the same. This fact gained support through a recent study of workplace health promotion in Australia.

The study is titled “Evaluation of the implementation of Get Healthy at Work, a workplace health promotion program in New South Wales, Australia,” and is published in Health Promotion Journal of Australia.

The issue: “Get Healthy at Work (GHaW) is a statewide program to reduce chronic disease risk among NSW workers by helping them make small changes to modifiable lifestyle chronic disease risk factors and create workplace environments that support healthy lifestyles. It has two primary components: a workplace health program (WHP) for businesses and online or face-to-face Brief Health Checks (BHCs) for workers.”

The paper discusses researchers’ “evaluation to identify areas for improvement in the implementation of WHP and to assess the uptake of BHCs by workers.”

The researchers report that ” As at February 2016, 3133 worksites (from 1199 businesses) across NSW had registered for GHaW, of which 36.8% started the program. Similar proportions of GHaW (34.0%) and control (31.7%) businesses had existing WHPs.”

Leading credence to the idea that preliminary health checks matter, the Brief Health Checks were completed by 12,740 workers. Key finding: “Of those whose risks were assessed, 78.9% had moderate or high risk of diabetes and 33.6% had increased or high risk of cardiovascular disease.”

The study also provided important insight into helping encourage participation: “The uptake of face-to-face BHCs compared with online was significantly higher for males, people aged over 35 years, those undertaking less physical activity and those less likely to undertake active travel to work. Service providers suggested that the program’s structured five-step pathway did not offer adequate flexibility to support worksites’ progress through the program.”

In other words — the flexibility of the workplace wellness program mattered.

As the researchers conclude: “Workplace-based health promotion programs have potential to reach people at risk of chronic disease, but the implementation of such programs need to be more flexible than traditional health promotion programs in terms of delivery modes and timeframes.”