In the survey conducted by Bahala (2017) among the employees of one of the top University in the Philippines, 29.8% claimed that their wellness state is from fair to poor scale while 21.3% declared that they were in an optimum level of well-being. The remaining 48.9% remain in the middle. Businesses and industries worldwide have increasingly become aware of the prevalence of health-damaging behavior that leads to negative consequences for the individual and the organization. Academe is one among those who were mostly affected by negligence on this issue. College campuses are more akin to small communities with employees ranging from service workers to senior level faculty and administrators.
Furthermore, in an era where human capital is the key to success, it is critical for every organization to be competitive in terms of workplace wellness. Several studies regarding workforce wellness in the United States prove that numerous cases of workers have chronic diseases and conditions. Though not all those research focuses on the academic setting, it is stated that they have comparable health problems with the academic setting, like poor behavior towards health, too much consumption of fatty foods, and sedentary lifestyle with less physical activities. The majority of these employees were exposed to smoking, poor nutrition, work-related stress, and anxiety. Significantly, poor health and wellbeing state among the employees is one of the neglected cause of decreasing productivity and increasing medical expenses for the individuals and the organizations.
Thus, it is important to review the existing workplace wellness programs, the conceptual, and practical issues relevant to promote health and wellness at work. In an Asian country, which is Indonesia specifically in Jakarta, research shows that the emphasis in health promotion is very high especially in their school setting. They are investing in building health promotion infrastructures. Supported by the international organization such as WHO and UNESCO, they consider the school as the most appropriate setting for health promotion and health education.
Connected to health promotion, there are some relevant factors that governs the implementation of this program, such as; (a) political will and the interest of the school administrator regarding health promotion; (b) the existing health behaviors and practices of the employees (c)individual beliefs and perception of their role in health promotion; (d) their perception of effectiveness and acceptability of health promotion program; (e) and circumstances that contribute to the execution of the program itself such as the support (training and assistance) given to the facilitators. It is equally important to consider the strategies and approaches during implementation.
According to Bahala (2017), a 40.4% or majority among the academe labor force prepared a long-term workplace wellness programs. Expressively, the workforce considers stress management, smoking-related programs and preventing colds and flu program more relevant to attain health and wellness. The highest factors for a healthy workplace, per the survey, are respectful workplace (social factor), accessible health services and time management seminars. They consider demanding work schedules, lack of management support and lack of motivation to persuade health and wellness the most noteworthy barrier in attaining wellness in the workplace. The research of Jourdan, Samdal, Diagne and Carvalho (2008), also added that academe employees who have received health promotion training tend to be involved more frequently in health promotion projects and have a more comprehensive style of health education.
From the presented facts, the institution can come up with an effective health promotion programs that are sustainable and realistic. This can be done by investing in the employee wellness through; (a) counseling, seminars, wellness fair; (b) making the health-related information readily available for all; (c) aligning your health and wellness goals with your corporate objectives; (d) used of incentives, strategically to reach participation and engagement goals; (e) social media and school website as a modern platform to communicate health and wellness information. For big schools where facilities and infrastructures related to wellness were already in place, the critical factor to look at is how to maximize it for the benefits of the majority.
On the other hand, for those who lacks the amenities, alternative activities such as Zumba session on the available space, activities like gardening inside the campus (planting vegetables), workplace smoking cessation campaign and community engagement will bring similar effect. The Local Government Office can also support the smaller institutions. The Rural/Urban Health Unit and other Non-Government Sectors have trained professionals who can conduct health and wellness education in the schools. Such is not just limited in increasing awareness of the employees, but also to impart knowledge to develop and maintain behaviors and attitudes towards wellness.
The high costs associated with employees’ poor health and poor health behavior can be an additional health care cost. Impaired wellbeing state results in loss of productivity, absenteeism, and/or presentism (being physically present at work, but functioning at less than full capacity, due to illness, stress, or other personal issues.). Grounded in these studies, employers should stop discerning of workplace wellness programs as another expenditure and start thinking of them as an investment — one that can produce a positive return in the individual and in the organization.
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Bahala, E.B. (2017). The correlation of age, gender, job classification, the length of service and a wellbeing state among employees in an academic setting and their level of interest in workplace wellness programs. Unpublished research paper. Unnamed University , Manila
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Naicker, L. (2013). Comparison of physical wellness of subjects in sedentary and active work environment. Unpublished master’s thesis. University of Pretoria, Pretoria.
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