Engaging Managers and Supervisors to Support Employee Health
Passey, Deborah Gwenevere
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The workplace is an important avenue for supporting workforce health. Employees spend the majority of their time in the workplace. Visible support for a healthy lifestyle from leadership, direct supervisors, and coworkers may positively impact employees’ perception of support for health, as well as other work-related measures. The goal of this dissertation is to validate an instrument measuring employees’ perception of workplace support for health, identify strategies that will engage managers and supervisors to support employees’ participation in wellness programs, and explore the potential benefits of supporting employees’ wellness efforts in the workplace. In the first aim, we test the reliability and validity of a five-item scale measuring employees’ perception of workplace support for health (from leadership, direct supervisor, and coworkers). This study uses survey data collected from small workplaces in King County, Washington at three time points from 2013 to 2017. We demonstrate that the instrument is reliable, detects change in employees’ perceptions over time, and is valid among a population of small workplace employees. When implementing workplace health promotion interventions, researchers and practitioners can use the scale to assess employees’ perception of workplace support for a healthy lifestyle. In the second aim, we evaluate managers’ barriers and facilitators to supporting employee participation in the Washington State wellness program using an exploratory sequential mixed methods study design. We interviewed and surveyed state employees in management positions (executive, middle, and line), at four Washington State agencies located in the greater Olympia area. The results suggest that managers support the wellness program, but they also face challenges with accommodating employees’ participation due to workload and scheduling. About half the managers receive support from the manager above them, and most have not received training on the wellness program. We identified several strategies that may assist managers in supporting their employees’ participation in wellness programs: the provision of training, formal expectations, and encouragement to provide support for employees’ participation. In the third aim, we explore the direct and indirect associations between perceived managers’ support for wellness (actions taken by managers to support participation in wellness programs) and employees’ engagement at work. We conducted a path analysis using employee survey data from two Washington State agencies located in the greater Olympia area. Our findings suggest managers’ support for wellness has moderate indirect associations with employees’ engagement at work. We found the relationship between the perception of managers’ support for wellness and employees’ engagement is mediated by other variables, such as perceived respect and feedback, and agency support for health. The perception of managers’ support for wellness has indirect benefits for employees’ engagement at work.
- Health services