Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The Healthy Lifeworks Project: the role of organisational health in the personal health of employees

an article by Steven Smith and Francis Schryer Lebel (Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Canada), Lydia Makrides (Creative Wellness Solutions Inc, Tantallon, Canada), Jane Allt (Strategic Support Services, Nova Scotia Public Service Commission, Halifax), Duff Montgomerie, (Nova Scotia Department of Health Promotion and Protection), Jane Farquharson, (The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Nova Scotia, Halifax), M.J. MacDonald, (Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia) and Claudine Szpilfogel, (Research Power Inc, Dartmouth, Canada) published in International Journal of Workplace Health Management Volume 5 Issue 3 (2012)


This paper aims to present the results of a three-year comprehensive workplace initiative which provided an unprecedented opportunity to explore the potential relationship between organisational health, stress, and health outcomes.
Data were collected from 325 employees participating in a comprehensive workplace wellness intervention taking place in a large governmental organisation. Organisational health was measured using a 16-item measure of organisational health indicators and a four-item measure of health culture. Personal health outcomes were assessed using 12 indicators: personal wellness profile, health age, blood pressure, nutrition, fat intake, fibre intake, alcohol use, fitness, smoking status, cancer risk, stress, and good health practices.
Analyses indicated that after controlling for gender and age, organisational health was associated with increased personal wellness, lower health age, better overall nutrition, reduced fat intake, increased fibre intake, reduced alcohol consumption, increased fitness, reduced cancer risk, lower stress, and more positive health practices. For several outcome measures, organisational health had a stronger impact on personal health for men. Personal health of correctional workers and youth workers was most influenced by organisational health. Finally, stress mediated the relationship between organisational health and health outcomes for all measures of wellness except for alcohol consumption.
Organisational health is often overlooked by employers when considering the personal health of employees. Interventions aimed at influencing organisational health (generally considered a low cost intervention) can have beneficial influences on personal health.

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