Advancing employee engagement through a healthy workplace strategy

Andrea Seymour, Kathryne Dupré
Journal of Health Services Research & Policy 2008, 13 Suppl 1: 35-40

BACKGROUND: In recent years, there has been increased focus on improving the quality of the working lives of staff in health care organizations. Research shows that improvements can be achieved through a comprehensive organizational approach to workplace health. Improved worker engagement is a realizable outcome of such an approach, provided that it is based on reliable and relevant data and is tailored to the specific environment in which it is being implemented.

ASSESSMENT OF PROBLEM: An intervention project was designed to develop an organization-wide approach to employee workplace health. A comprehensive health risk assessment was undertaken, along with a staff survey on workplace culture, individual health practice and environmental effects on physical health.

RESULTS: In general, the findings present a positive picture of the culture and factors that influence psychological wellbeing. However, improvement is needed in some areas: satisfaction is only marginally outweighing stress, and musculoskeletal disorders account for much absenteeism. Employee health needs include weight management, improving fitness and nutrition, and decreasing coronary risk.

STRATEGIES FOR CHANGE: Results have prompted this organization to pursue the development of a Healthy Workplace Policy that will be used as a filter for all other policies relating to workplace culture, environment and practice, and have provided the impetus and focus to review the organization of employee health services.

LESSONS LEARNED: Three major administrative activities are necessary to move from planning to sustained action: ensure adherence of all staff to any policy derived from a health risk assessment; ensure staff feel proposed changes are relevant and important; and create a road map to guide the development of a strategic and an implementation plan. The findings outlined in this report can be addressed by organizations that are willing to commit to a comprehensive approach to workplace health.

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