Excellence in administration

  • ISSA Guidelines:
  • Workplace Health Promotion

Excellence in administration

  • ISSA Guidelines:
  • Workplace Health Promotion

Workplace Health Promotion -
C.1. Instruments: Motivating for Workplace Health Promotion

Various instruments can be used to facilitate and encourage companies and other organizations to engage in workplace health promotion. They include financial and non-financial incentives, linkages with corporate social responsibility and public relations.

Incentive systems

Some organizations will already have workplace health promotion programmes in place, while others will be prepared to develop programmes when they have been convinced of their benefits. Those with a less positive view of workplace health promotion and its benefits will need considerable persuasion to initiate well-being programmes. Others may not wish to acknowledge the importance of protecting and promoting employee health and well-being, despite compelling evidence and significant incentives to do so.

A number of financial incentives are possible. These include:

  • Seed funding (also known as pump priming): This takes the form of small grants to help organizations develop a workplace health promotion programme. The funding could be used to purchase resources (e.g. web designers to set up an intranet site on well-being; pedometers to promote walking). Larger grants could subsidize cycle purchase or be used to install showers for use after exercise.
  • Grant applications: These should include well-designed plans for the use of grant funds, proposed evaluation mechanisms and how the project would be sustained when the grant is exhausted.
  • Social security premium discount: This is a much more long term measure. Discounts could be provided to employers who provide clear evidence of:
    • An action plan to promote health and well-being at work which includes benchmark monitoring (e.g. participation levels, progress evaluation, measurable improvements in sickness absence rates or morale);
    • Demonstrable reductions in the number of employees demonstrating risk factors for lifestyle-related chronic conditions (e.g. those who are overweight, smoke, exceed weekly alcohol consumption guidelines, or have lower biological markers of risk such as serum cholesterol and blood glucose); Reductions in sickness absence linked to health promotion and interventions (e.g.  eduction in stress-related absence in the 24 to 36 months following an initiative to improve mental health and well-being at work);
    • How its workplace health plans, programmes and interventions and positive health outcomes will be sustained.

    Non-financial incentives can take many forms. Before deciding which to use, a social security institution should consider the advantages and disadvantages of each and the circumstances in which they will be used. The following list is not exhaustive and many other forms of non-financial incentives exist. Non-financial incentives include:

  • Certificates awarded for good practice or meeting a goal: Good practice criteria need to be developed, as do criteria for the award of a certificate (e.g. for mounting a workplace campaign to raise employee awareness of the benefits of physical activity). Entrants may submit evidence in the form of pictures, leaflets and posters. The certificate provides evidence to employees, visitors and the local community that the organization’s efforts to promote health and well-being have been independently recognized.
  • Competitions: These can be very motivating. However, there are always winners and losers. Runners-up often see themselves as losers. The risk with competitions is that it takes consi- derable effort to meet entry requirements and all entrants, except the winner, may feel a sense of disappointment. This is particularly true of competitions which compare companies or other organizations to determine the “best” health promoter. However, competitions play an important role in the workplace setting by stimulating staff involvement in health-promoting activities.
  • Awards/accreditation: The major strength of an award/accreditation scheme is that there are no losers. However, establishing an award/accreditation scheme requires considerable planning and resource allocation. Key issues to consider when establishing such a scheme include the scope of the award in terms of organizations reached (large, medium, small, micro) and health topics addressed; the verification process; providing guidance and/or support to organizations seeking the award/accreditation; the period over which the award/accreditation may be held without requiring revalidation (which is important in terms of developing a sustainable approach at the company level); and providing feedback to organizations following the validation process (which is important in terms of ongoing development). Workplace health award/accreditation schemes may be found around the world. Any social security institution that is considering developing a new scheme must determine that one does not already exist in the area.
  • Corporate social responsibility

    Many companies want to be seen to be responsible corporate citizens. A strong argument can be made that a good corporate citizen gives priority to protecting and promoting employee well-being.

    Public relations and marketing

    During periods of economic growth and in the context of a changing labour market, employers want to be seen to be an “employer of choice”. Workplace health promotion programmes enable employers to be seen as caring and investing in employee health. Awards, certificates and other forms of recognition that acknowledge good practice in workplace health promotion, and the events where they are distributed, provide opportunities for companies to gain positive media coverage. The social security institution can facilitate media coverage and thus encourage and reward client organizations for their workplace health promotion initiatives. This is a “win-win” situation, as the social security institution can use workplace health promotion (and their clients’ positive results) in their own marketing. Planning promotional activities should be part of their own marketing strategy.