Healthy Workplaces, Better Lives

Ed Yourdon (cc)

It’s National Public Health Week, the perfect time to raise awareness about wellness in the workplace and the community at large.

Research has shown that addressing physical and mental health issues in the workplace not only leads to better quality of life, it also boosts organizations’ productivity. Mental health and stress are of major concern, with related illnesses reportedly costing U.S. companies billions of dollars every year.

Workplace wellness programs are meant to combat these ills, but a problem is that many employees don’t take advantage of them. An article in Health Promotion Practice looks at the reasons why, and identifies the kind of messaging that can help change attitudes toward these programs:

HPP_v7_72ppiRGB_150pixwThe potential benefits of workplace wellness programs are limited by low participation rates of employees, which could be due in part to ineffective persuasion by program providers. This study uses the Elaboration Likelihood Model, as a guiding theory in mixed methods research, to investigate feedback messages about physical activity delivered in a workplace wellness program. This study uses questionnaire and interview data from 32 employees to determine if personally relevant health messages are associated with either positive or negative responses to the messages and subsequent attitude change. General feedback is more appreciated by those who are less fit but are not effective in changing attitudes toward physical activity. Individually targeted messages result in a significant positive attitude change for participants responding positively to the messages. This suggests that individualized health promotion messages provide a stronger argument for individuals, thus increasing the likelihood of attitude change.

Click here to read the article, “Strength of Messaging in Changing Attitudes in a Workplace Wellness Program,” by Jessie-Lee D. Langille, Tanya R. Berry, Ian L. Reade, Chad Witcher, Christina C. Loitz, and Wendy M. Rodgers, all of the University of Alberta, published in Health Promotion Practice, a journal devoted to the practical application of health promotion and education. And stay tuned this week for more research on creating healthier workplaces and better lives.

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