"In Initiative Overload": Australian Perspectives on Promoting Physical Activity in the Workplace from Diverse Industries.
ABSTRACT: Introduction: With two thirds of adults in paid employment and one third physically inactive, workplaces are an important setting for promoting more physical activity. We explored the attitudes and practices of employees and managers from different industries towards sitting and moving at work, to inform the development of acceptable solutions for encouraging businesses to adopt activity-promoting workplaces. Method: We conducted focus groups with employees and structured interviews with upper/middle managers from 12 organisations in a range of industries (e.g., education, healthcare, manufacturing, construction, insurance, mining). Topics focused on past and current workplace health and wellness initiatives, workplace culture and environment related to physical activity, responsibility for employee physical activity patterns at work, and enablers of/barriers to activity promoting workplaces. Results: Physical activity was not an explicit priority in existing occupational health and wellness initiatives. Instead, there was a strong focus on education about preventing and managing injuries, such as manual handling among non-office workers and desk-based ergonomics for office workers. Physical activity was viewed as a strategy for maintaining work ability and preventing injury, particularly in blue-collar staff, rather than for chronic disease prevention. Managers noted structural/organisational barriers/enablers to promoting physical activity at work (e.g., regulations, costs, competing concerns), while employees tended to focus on individual constraints such as time and geographic location. The issues of "initiative overload" and making physical activity a part of "business as usual" emerged as strong themes from employees and managers. Conclusions: While there is stakeholder enthusiasm for creating activity-promoting workplaces, multi-level support is needed to make physical activity an integral part of day-to-day business. The synergism between occupational health and safety priorities could be leveraged to facilitate the creation of activity-promoting workplaces.
Project description:Employers are increasingly interested in offering workplace wellness programs in addition to occupational health and safety (OHS) activities to promote worker health, wellbeing, and productivity. Yet, there is a dearth of research on workplace factors that enable the implementation of OHS and wellness to inform the future integration of these activities in Canadian workplaces. This study explored workplace demographic factors associated with the co-implementation of OHS and wellness activities in a heterogenous sample of Canadian workplaces. Using a cross-sectional survey of 1285 workplaces from 2011 to 2014, latent profiles of co-occurrent OHS and wellness activities were identified, and multinomial logistic regression was used to assess associations between workplace demographic factors and the profiles. Most workplaces (84%) demonstrated little co-occurrence of OHS and wellness activities. Highest co-occurrence was associated with large workplaces (odds ratio (OR) = 3.22, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.15⁻5.89), in the electrical and utilities sector (OR = 5.57, 95% CI = 2.24⁻8.35), and a high people-oriented culture (OR = 4.70, 95% CI = 1.59⁻5.26). Promoting integrated OHS and wellness approaches in medium to large workplaces, in select industries, and emphasizing a people-oriented culture were found to be important factors for implementing OHS and wellness in Canadian organizations. Informed by these findings, future studies should understand the mechanisms to facilitate the integration of OHS and wellness in workplaces.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Poor physical and mental health of employees create significant problems in the workplace. Physical activity (PA) has been shown as an effective strategy for preventing and treating numerous physical and mental health issues as well as work performance outcomes. However, there are many barriers to taking part in PA (such as lack of time) with participation rates typically low. Providing PA in paid work time might be a way to overcome these issues, yet employers' and employees' opinions of this concept are unknown. The aim of this study was to explore employee and employer perspectives of PA in paid work time. METHODS:Workplaces were recruited through existing contacts on the research team. Focus groups and interviews were conducted with employees and managers at one University and two executive non-departmental public bodies in central Scotland with mainly desk-based employees. Both managers and employees were involved to gain perspectives throughout the organisational hierarchy and were interviewed separately to reduce social desirability bias. All discussions were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were analysed thematically for both managers and employees but due to significant overlap in themes between the groups, these are reported together in the results. RESULTS:Three out of five organisations approached took part in this qualitative study. Two individual interviews were held with strategic managers, five focus groups with middle managers (n?=?16) and nine with employees (n?=?45). Benefits were anticipated by managers and employees for both employees themselves and the organisation and included improved mental health, productivity and more favourable perceptions of the employer. Despite these widely acknowledged benefits, significant barriers were identified and included the structure and nature of the working day (high workload, front line job requirements), workplace culture and norms (resentment from colleagues, no break culture) and organisational concerns (cost of lost time, public perceptions). CONCLUSION:This study suggests that there are significant barriers to PA in paid work time. Whilst numerous anticipated benefits were conveyed by both employees and managers, PA in paid work time is unlikely to become common place until changes in attitudes and the culture towards movement at work occur.
Project description:Promoting walking for the journey to/from work and during the working day is one potential approach to increase physical activity in adults. Walking Works was a practice-led, whole-workplace walking programme delivered by employees (walking champions). This study aimed to evaluate the implementation of Walking Works using the RE-AIM framework and provide recommendations for future delivery of whole-workplace walking programmes.Two cross sectional surveys were conducted; 1544 (28%) employees completed the baseline survey and 918 employees (21%) completed the follow-up survey. Effectiveness was assessed using baseline and follow-up data; reach, implementation and maintenance were assessed using follow-up data only. For categorical data, Chi square tests were conducted to assess differences between surveys or groups. Continuous data were analysed to test for significant differences using a Mann-Whitney U test. Telephone interviews were conducted with the lead organisation co-ordinator, eight walking champions and three business representatives at follow-up. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed to identify key themes related to adoption, implementation and maintenance.Adoption: Five workplaces participated in Walking Works. Reach: 480 (52.3%) employees were aware of activities and 221 (24.1%) participated.A variety of walking activities were delivered. Some programme components were not delivered as planned which was partly due to barriers in using walking champions to deliver activities. These included the walking champions' capacity, skills, support needs, ability to engage senior management, and the number and type of activities they could deliver. Other barriers included lack of management support, difficulties communicating information about activities and challenges embedding the programme into normal business activities. Effectiveness: No significant changes in walking to/from work or walking during the working day were observed. Maintenance: Plans to continue activities were mainly dependent on identifying continued funding.RE-AIM provided a useful framework for evaluating Walking Works. No changes in walking behaviour were observed. This may have been due to barriers in using walking champions to deliver activities, programme components not being delivered as intended, the types of activities delivered, or lack of awareness and participation by employees. Recommendations are provided for researchers and practitioners implementing future whole-workplace walking programmes.
Project description:After having conducted two studies of the effectiveness of workplace travel plans for promoting active travel, we investigated health and transport practitioners' perspectives on implementing workplace travel plans to share some of the lessons learnt. The objectives of this study were to describe perceived elements of effective workplace travel plans, barriers and enablers to workplace travel planning, their experiences of working with the other profession on travel plan implementation, their recommendations for workplace travel planning, and also to explore similarities and differences in transport and health practitioner perspectives.Fourteen health and ten transport practitioners who had prior involvement in workplace travel plan programs were purposefully selected from workplaces in Australia. We conducted 20 in-depth interviews since data saturation had been reached at this point, and data were subject to framework analysis.Perceived essential elements of effective workplace travel plans included parking management; leadership, organisational commitment and governance; skills and other resources like a dedicated travel plan coordinator; and, pre-conditions including supportive transport infrastructure in the surrounds. Recommendations for promoting travel plans included supportive government policy, focusing on business benefits and working at different scales of implementation (e.g. single large worksites and business precincts). Health and transport practitioner perspectives differed, with transport practitioners believing that parking management is the key action for managing travel demand at a worksite.Health practitioners implementing travel plans may require training including concepts of travel demand management, and support from transport planners on parking management strategies. Promoting an understanding of the shared travel behaviour change skills of transport and health practitioners may assist further collaboration. For take-up by organisations to be of sufficient scale to create meaningful population level reductions in driving and increases in active travel, promotion and travel plans should be focused on the priorities of the organisations. Supportive government policy is also required.
Project description:Active commuting to work (ACW) is beneficial to traffic, environment and population health. More evidence is needed on effective ways to promote ACW. This paper describes the protocol and baseline findings of a cluster-randomized controlled study, which aims to promote ACW with multilevel strategies in two large workplace areas in Tampere, Finland. In Phase 1, the impacts of environmental strategies (trail improvements) were evaluated in 11 workplaces within Area 1. In Phase 2, five more workplaces were recruited from Area 2 to evaluate the impacts of social and behavioral strategies customized for each workplace. For this purpose, the workplaces in both areas were randomly assigned into experimental group (EXP, n = 6 + 2), which promoted ACW with social and behavioral strategies or into comparison group (COM, n = 5 + 3), which participated in the data collection only. The primary indicator in both phases is the change in employees’ ACW. Secondary indicators are e.g., changes in employees’ self-rated health, wellbeing at work, restrictions to and motivation for ACW, adverse effects due to ACW and the use and quality of the main walking and cycling trails. Also process, efficiency and environmental evaluation is included. The study is the first one in Finland to combine interdisciplinary collaboration between practitioners and researchers working in the fields of transportation, urban design, physical activity and sustainable development to promote ACW. The findings benefit all stakeholders interested in promoting ACW in urban context.
Project description:We assessed determinants of work attendance during the first 3 days after onset of acute respiratory illness (ARI) among workers 19-64 years of age who had medically attended ARI or influenza during the 2017-2018 influenza season. The total number of days worked included days worked at the usual workplace and days teleworked. Access to paid leave was associated with fewer days worked overall and at the usual workplace during illness. Participants who indicated that employees were discouraged from coming to work with influenza-like symptoms were less likely to attend their usual workplace. Compared with workers without a telework option, those with telework access worked more days during illness overall, but there was no difference in days worked at the usual workplace. Both paid leave benefits and business practices that actively encourage employees to stay home while sick are necessary to reduce the transmission of ARI and influenza in workplaces.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The role of workplaces in promoting active travel (walking, cycling or using public transport) is relatively unexplored. This study explores the potential for workplaces to reduce employees' driving to work in order to inform the development of workplace interventions for promoting active travel. METHODS: An analysis of a cross-sectional survey was conducted using data from parents/guardians whose children participated in the Central Sydney Walk to School Program in inner-west Sydney, Australia. A total of 888 parents/guardians who were employed and worked outside home were included in this analysis. The role of the workplace in regards to active travel was assessed by asking the respondents' level of agreement to eight statements including workplace encouragement of active travel, flexible working hours, public transport availability, convenient parking, shower and change rooms for employees and whether they lived or worked in a safe place. Self-reported main mode of journey to work and demographic data were collected through a self-administrated survey. Binary logistic regression modelling was used to ascertain independent predictors of driving to work. RESULTS: Sixty nine per cent of respondents travelled to work by car, and 19% agreed with the statement, "My workplace encourages its employees to go to and from work by public transport, cycling and/or walking (active travel)." The survey respondents with a workplace encouraging active travel to work were significantly less likely to drive to work (49%) than those without this encouragement (73%) with an adjusted odds ratio (AOR) of 0.41 (95% CI 0.23-0.73, P = 0.002). Having convenient public transport close to the workplace or home was also an important factor that could discourage employees from driving to work with AOR 0.17 (95% CI 0.09-0.31, P < 0.0001) and AOR 0.50 (95% CI 0.28-0.90, P = 0.02) respectively. In contrast, convenient parking near the workplace significantly increased the likelihood of respondents driving to work (AOR 4.6, 95% CI 2.8-7.4, P < 0.0001). CONCLUSIONS: There is a significant inverse association between the perception of workplace encouragement for active travel and driving to work. Increases in the number of workplaces that encourage their employees to commute to work via active travel could potentially lead to fewer employees driving to work. In order to make active travel more appealing than driving to work, workplace interventions should consider developing supportive workplace policies and environments.
Project description:Regular physical activity (PA) promotes and excessive sedentary behavior (SB) deteriorates health. Yet the Finnish working-aged population spends most of the day sitting. A 1-year Moving To Business (MTB) -intervention supported small and medium-size workplaces to combat sedentariness. This paper reports the changes in employees' PA and SB from before MTB (baseline) to 1 year after baseline (follow-up).Twelve workplaces with a total of 396 employees participated. Each workplace nominated a team to promote PA and reduce SB at organizational, working unit and employee level. The teams were mentored regionally through meetings, workshop and tools. Changes in PA and SB were assessed with a questionnaire and an accelerometer. Wald Confidence Interval (Cl) for a difference of proportions with matched pairs was used in the questionnaire data (%-points with 95% CI) and linear mixed model in the accelerometer data (minutes and % of wear-time with 95% CI).The mean age of the respondents to the questionnaire (N = 296; 75%) was 42.6 (SD 10.9), 64% were women, 95% had some education after high school, 74% worked in the day shift, 71% did sedentary work and 51% were overweight. The mean number of actions implemented in the workplaces was 6.8 and the multilevel approach was fully applied in 6 workplaces. Based on the questionnaire the time spent in SB decreased from baseline to follow-up 16% (95% CI -29 to -3) in total and 22% (-41 to -3) at work. The accelerometer showed daily increases of 33.7 min (15.3 to 52.1) and 6.8% (3.1 to 10.4) in total PA, 30.9 min (15.3 to 46.5) and 6.1% (2.9 to 9.2) in light PA and 673 (209 to 1139) more steps at work. Daily SB at work decreased 44.9 min (-68.0 to -21.8) and 7.6% (-11.9 to -3.2). Daily leisure PA declined 11.0 min (-24.9 to 2.9) and 3.2% (-6.2 to -0.2). Number of levels or actions had no effect on changes.Employees' PA increased and SB reduced at work during the intervention. At the same time leisure PA decreased slightly. Workplaces can achieve meaningful changes in employees' PA and SB if assisted systematically. Controlled studies are needed to confirm the present findings.NCT01999205 , registration date 11/01/2013.
Project description:We designed and implemented the Brigham and Women's Wellness Initiative (B-Well), a single-arm study to examine the feasibility of a workplace program that used individual and team-based financial incentives to increase physical activity among sedentary hospital employees.We enrolled sedentary, non-clinician employees of a tertiary medical center who self-reported low physical activity. Eligible participants formed or joined teams of three members and wore Fitbit Flex activity monitors for two pre-intervention weeks followed by 24 weeks during which they could earn monetary rewards. Participants were rewarded for increasing their moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) by 10% from the previous week or for meeting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) physical activity guidelines (150 min of MVPA per week). Our primary outcome was the proportion of participants meeting weekly MVPA goals and CDC physical activity guidelines. Secondary outcomes included Fitbit-wear adherence and factors associated with meeting CDC guidelines more consistently.B-Well included 292 hospital employees. Participants had a mean age of 38 years (SD 11), 83% were female, 38% were obese, and 62% were non-Hispanic White. Sixty-three percent of participants wore the Fitbit ≥4 days per week for ≥20 weeks. Two-thirds were satisfied with the B-Well program, with 79% indicating that they would participate again. Eighty-six percent met either their personal weekly goal or CDC physical activity guidelines for at least 6 out of 24 weeks, and 52% met their goals or CDC physical activity guidelines for at least 12 weeks. African Americans, non-obese subjects, and those with lower impulsivity scores reached CDC guidelines more consistently.Our data suggest that a financial incentives-based workplace wellness program can increase MVPA among sedentary employees. These results should be reproduced in a randomized controlled trial.Clinicaltrials.gov, NCT02850094 . Registered July 27, 2016 [retrospectively registered].
Project description:Objective:Worksite wellness programs (WWP) may positively impact employee health, medical expenditures, absenteeism, and presenteeism. However, there has been little research to assess the benefits of WWP in small businesses. The purpose of this study is to prospectively evaluate changes in health, absenteeism, and presenteeism for employees who participated in a WWP. Methods:We conducted an observational, 3-year cohort study of 5766 employees from 314 businesses of differing sizes. We followed two cohorts of employees, who completed at least two annual health risk assessments (HRA) between May 2010 and December 2014. Changes from baseline to the first and second follow-up periods were assessed for chronic and non-chronic health conditions, absenteeism, and presenteeism. Results:Small business employees were more likely to participate in the WWP than were employees from large businesses. Changes in chronic and non-chronic health conditions varied by size of business, with small business employees showing improvements in stress, overall health, depression, smoking status, vegetable and fruit consumption, and physical activity, and in their perceptions of job health culture. In contrast, large business employees experienced improvements in stress, vegetable consumption, and alcohol use. No changes in absenteeism or presenteeism were observed. Conclusions:Small businesses achieve higher employee participation rates and more health improvements when compared to employees from large employers. Findings suggest that small businesses may gain the most from a WWP.