program design workplace wellnness

Study’s Insights Show that Location Matters in Program Design

We have reported on a number of ways that well-run workplace wellness programs can help engage employees in helpful programs — as well as keys to strong program design.

For example, we noted that a few well-placed words can go a long way. A study indicates that these well-placed words may make all the difference in driving engagement in a well-run workplace wellness program.

This key insight comes from a study titled “Let’s work out: communication in workplace wellness programs” and published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management.

The study notes that “people spend a lot of time communicating with their co-workers each day; however, research has yet to explore how colleagues influence each other’s health behaviors. The purpose of this paper is to examine the association between health-related communication and health behaviors among co-workers in a workplace wellness program.”

We also noted the role and importance of health coaching in well-run workplace wellness programs.

Employee Benefits News reported how health coaches can help increase employee engagement in workplace wellness programs.

One adviser told EBN: “For the older members of the workforce, one-on-one coaching could have a huge advantage.” The post continues: “While not every wellness program offers coaching, the majority of the programs offered by [the firm] have a personal coaching element. ‘They are effective in being able to track and follow up with older workers and report improvements in health claims and improved health conditions.’”

But another important insight that affects not only engagement, but also program design comes from a new Lancet study: Stay near the good stuff and away from the bad stuff.

The study is titled “Associations between fast food and physical activity environments and adiposity in mid-life.” It states: “The built environment might be associated with development of obesity and related disorders. We examined whether neighbourhood exposure to fast-food outlets and physical activity facilities were associated with adiposity in UK adults.”

The study “shows strong associations between high densities of physical activity facilities and lower adiposity for adults in mid-life. We observed weaker associations for access to fast food, but these are likely to be underestimated owing to limitations of the food environment measure. Policy makers should consider interventions aimed at tackling the obesogenic built environment.”

In other words, as MedPage Today reports, “Living Near a Gym Tied to Smaller Waistline;
And the reverse: residing near fast-food joints linked to greater adiposity.”

The author, Kate E. Mason, MPH, a PhD candidate at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, focused on city planning, but her lessons are equally relevant for program design of a well-run workplace wellness program: “The results of our study suggest that increasing access to local physical activity facilities and, possibly, reducing access to fast food close to residential areas could reduce overweight and obesity at the population level. Designing and planning cities in a way that better facilitates healthy lifestyles may be beneficial and should be considered as part of wider obesity prevention programs.”