How Social Media Can Engage Employees in Workplace Wellness: Study

We have often reported on the increased amount of time that employees spend sitting, and the risks that too much sitting puts on employee health and health behaviors (for example here, here and here).

We also report on new ways to engage employees in workplace wellness plan, as well as the increasing role of properly integrating technology into a well-run wellness program.

But what about peer-to-peer engagement? Specifically, can social media play a role in engaging employees in wellness plans — getting them involved.

A fascinating new doctoral thesis from Edith Cowan University in Australia looks at the question. It’s titled “Investigating the value of workplace-endorsed social media for improving deskbound employee physical activity program engagement and reducing sedentary behaviour health risks” (full paper here.)

The study acknowledges the increase in “sedentary” time for employees — whether sitting or doing only light work. It also notes the growth in social media usage.

The study sought “to investigate the value of workplace-endorsed social media for improving the engagement of deskbound employees in workplace PA programs and reducing the health risks associated with sedentary behaviour. It also investigated the influence of organisational cultural on employee engagement with workplace physical activity programs including both the perceived and actual experiences of using social media in association with a globalised workplace physical activity program.”

The author worked with an Australian health insurance group to conduct two studies. The conclusion: Social media matters in terms of encouraging employees to engage in workplace wellness plan physical activities , but it matters more when that social media influence comes locally — peer-to-peer — rather than globally.

It states: “This research found that desk-based employees participating in a workplace PA program identified value in using peer-supportive social media to address sedentary behaviour and other health risks within their office workplace. It was also acknowledged that in-house organisational social media based communication systems were seen as offering localised benefits that more globally-oriented social media mechanisms could not deliver.”