Working for wellness: defining, measuring, and enhancing employee well-being
thesisposted on 16.01.2017 by Page, Kathryn May
In order to distinguish essays and pre-prints from academic theses, we have a separate category. These are often much longer text based documents than a paper.
The focus of this thesis was on the utility of the workplace in promoting employee well-being. The thesis applied principles of positive psychology (PP) to the field of occupational health psychology (OHP). Paper 1 reviewed employee well-being with a focus on both general and work-related dimensions. Paper 2 developed a niche for positive employee well-being programs. It reviewed a number of strategies for improving employee health and well-being, including occupational health and safety legislation, corporate wellness programs, worksite health promotion and disease management programs, and stress prevention. Although important, such programs do not focus on promoting positive psychological well-being. The utility of supplementing these approaches with positive employee well-being programs was discussed from an applied ethics perspective. Paper 3 detailed the design and evaluation of the Working for Wellness Program using a mixed method design. Outcomes were tested using a randomized control trial. Participant feedback and field notes were analyzed to determine process and impact effectiveness. Participants were recruited from a government organization (N = 50; 73% female, M age = 39.7 years; M tenure = 8.9 years) and randomly allocated to an intervention or control group. Subjective and psychological well-being (SWB, PWB), affective well-being at work (AWB), and workplace well-being (WWB) were assessed at pre-intervention, one week post-intervention, and at three and six month follow-ups. Results showed significant improvements in SWB, PWB and AWB, but not WWB. Program strengths were its positive focus and emphasis on group discussion. Limitations were sample attrition and a lack of mechanisms to support participant change at work. Overall, this thesis supports the importance of PP to fields of research, such as OHP, that seek to improve employee well-being and the quality of work life.