The Healthy Workplace Project

Working closely with PenCLAHRC the ‘Healthy Workplace’ research aims to develop an NHS workplace health and wellbeing intervention and pilot its feasibility and acceptability.

The project will specifically consider the potential of local natural and/or outdoor environments in a workplace intervention and will incorporate:

  • A systematic review looking at the effectiveness of health service interventions which have taken a whole system approach to supporting health and wellbeing at work
  • Qualitative data from four case studies of organisations and businesses which have a gold healthy workplace award to understand how the conditions for creating a healthy workplace were created
  • Interviews and focus groups with a hospital ward to understand what health and wellbeing at work means to them
  • The provision of research support to the ‘Healthy Workplaces and Sustainable Environments’ programme in Cornwall

The positive impacts of exercise on health and wellbeing have been widely acknowledged. With increasingly sedentary lifestyles, more people working in desk-based jobs and a rise in obesity, the need for regular physical activity is a key issue. Obesity has been linked to health problems such as type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) endorses the importance of activity as a means of promoting good health and preventing diseases.

In 2008, NICE estimated that physical inactivity, one of the causes of obesity, costs £8.2 billion each year in England. This figure includes the indirect costs caused through sickness absence. It is therefore in the direct interest of employers to encourage physical activity and promote increased activity within the workplace. NICE recommends that employers design a policy to support employees in being physically active, before introducing a programme based on the plan. The government’s Cycle to Work scheme is a similar initiative, encouraging exercise through travel to work, saving money and helping the environment, as well as improving health.

The results of the study will be published in a systematic review and a document advising employers of the ‘best practice’ in workplace health interventions. Our work will allow the development of a study into the feasibility of an intervention in an NHS workplace, through focus groups and interviews with NHS staff.

Office image courtesy of Shutterstock