Worksite Health Promotion. Part 4

Posted On: Saturday, October 13th, 2012 at 4:22 pm

The primary reason organizations attempt to improve employee lifestyle though WHP is to increase job performance. Examples include an increase in the quality of reports generated, an increase in productivity andincreased quantity of work. These increases may be due tohigher energy levels and increased physical work capacity, which can lead to clearer thinking, improved alertness and less fatigue. Employee fitness and well-being enhance the skills and abilities that lead to higher levels of job performance.

Reducing absenteeism is another immediate benefit. Employees who lead a healthful lifestyle are absent less often because they experience fewer and less severe illnesses. This goes along with the belief that those who are healthier reduce their risk for developing many health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, or are better able to handle them if they develop. It has been reported that absenteeism can drop anywhere from 20 to 55 percent as a result of WHP programs that range in length fromone to five years.

Another benefit is the ability to better handle job stress.While the degrees will vary, almost every job carries with it some stress. High levels of stress can dramatically impact employee health and organizational profitability. Examples of occupational stressors are role ambiguity, work overload or underload, responsibility for others and hazardous physical environments. Total life stress, combining personal and job stress, is significant because each of the types of stress affect the others.Employees who reported high levels of negative total life stress tended to have the poorest work performance characteristics. Living a healthy physical lifestyle has been shown to buffer some of the adverse effects of stress, such as anxiety, depression and visits to the doctor.

Finally, it is important to note thatthe successof a WHP program is at least partially dependent on the working conditions in the company. A supportive environment has a great impact on producing lasting changes in individual health practices:The environment can and does influence lifestyles. Therefore, an organization that is adopting a WHP program should attempt to develop a culture that is highly supportive of healthy lifestyle practices. Clubs should encourage companies to offer healthier food choices in the cafeteria, or to offerhealth lectures during lunch or fitness programs before or after a shift change. The environment needs to change in order to facilitate change in an individual. This means improving working conditions in addition to providing health-related behavior-change activities.

Some organizations are already addressing working conditions with their quality of work life (QWL) programs that often focus on flextime, team building and open-door policies. These companies are a step ahead, because QWL programs share the objectives of WHP programs: to improve employee productivity and well-being. Whether organizations have begun to address working conditions or not, multidisciplinary WHP programs are a powerful strategy for health and fitness professionals.

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