Understanding how healthy workplaces are created: implications for developing a national health service healthy workplace program
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The workplace is an important setting for promoting health and well-being. We sought to understand how successful workplace health and well-being programs were developed and implemented to inform the development of a program for a National Health Service (NHS) hospital. Case studies of successful healthy workplace programs with 34 semi-structured employee interviews informed 12 interviews with NHS staff. Interviews were thematically analyzed using Nvivo. Themes were fed back to participants for further clarification and validation. Healthy workplace programs were characterized by senior management endorsement; collective sense of ownership; presence of visible "quick wins"; and a sense that participation was easy and fun, not mandated. Programs evolved organically, allowing trust to be built and activities to be developed with employees. Interviews with NHS staff suggested a lack of belief in the possibility of change in their workplace due to time and workload pressures, and a sense of an "us and them" relationship with management, as well as environmental barriers. A consistent pattern of how the conditions for a healthy workplace can be created, which map onto the results from the NHS ward staff, suggest that without creating an enabling environment for health-promoting behaviors, workplace programs will have poor uptake and retention.
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