Thursday, 11 July 2013

Enablers and challenges in implementing a comprehensive workplace health and well-being approach

an article by Nadine Mellor and Jennifer Webster (Health and Safety Laboratory, Buxton, UK) published in International Journal of Workplace Health Management Volume 6 Issue 2 (2013)


The purpose of this paper is to identify key enablers and challenges in the implementation of a comprehensive approach to the management of employee well-being.

A large organisation which had implemented such an approach was chosen as a case study. Company documents and data regarding the corporate well-being strategy were analysed, informing the content of the approach. Interviews with implementers and managers were conducted to identify how it was done.

The focal organisation had several health management systems capable of addressing the requirements for employee well-being management. These included occupational safety and health, health promotion, management of ill-health and human resource management. Key enablers identified were strong senior leadership support, dedicated resources, involvement of stakeholders and intensive communication. Challenges revolved around the integration of these systems into a coherent whole, striking a balance between a focus on occupational risks and lifestyle risks; readiness of managers to bring attention to the concept of employees’ well-being and their ability to monitor employees’ health-related needs. Together with a target-driven work culture, these challenges worked against promoting well-being.

Research limitations/implications
This case study is exploratory. Further research needs to gather direct views of both managers and employees on how the well-being approach had been received. Explanatory research models that integrate health promotion and work management systems to better inform implementation strategy and the roles of managers are needed.

The paper shows that line managers need to make greater use of regular management processes such as work planning, formal and informal interactions, and resourcing, to monitor employees’ well-being needs. They also need to continually self-assess how their own leadership style may affect employee well-being.

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