A new study shows the importance of leadership support in worksite

A study used a quantitative, nonexperimental survey design to examine the relationships among leadership support for health promotion, wellness program participation, job stress, and positive health behaviours.

The sample consisted of employees at 4 different employers in 3 industries, educational services, finance and insurance, and wholesale or retail trade, in 1 state in the southeast United States.

The results of the study across organizations suggest that employee perceptions, of organizational leadership support, for health promotion are associated with positive employee health behaviours and outcomes. Employees who reported higher levels of leadership support for health promotion also reported higher levels of participation in wellness programs, lower levels of job stress, and higher levels of positive health behaviours.

Results from exploratory analyses examining organizational differences also suggest that perceptions of leadership support for health promotion may have less influence on health behaviours in smaller organizations and/or those with less developed health promotion programs. These results provide the impetus for the continued investigation of the construct of leadership support for health promotion and the mechanisms by which it may be associated with positive employee health outcomes in organizations with varying wellness programs.


Previous studies have noted the positive association between positive organizational climate factors, which may include those associated with organizational leadership support as investigated in the present study and wellness program participation. Likewise, previous research has established links between wellness program participation and positive health behaviours. Moreover, it is suggested that future studies should build on the current one to further investigate organization and program size across a variety of organizations.

In addition, this study reiterates the importance noted by previous researchers of including employee perception measures as opposed to only objective measures when studying factors that influence employee health and wellness. For example, job stress researchers have noted that it is likely that employees react differentially to various job stressors, and it is the individual experience of stress that is most important in predicting and managing health outcomes.

Understanding the mechanisms by which employees’ perceptions, of organizational leadership support for health promotion, get influenced, may help mitigate their reactions to experienced negative stress; thus, it is an important area for future research. It may be that employees’ knowledge of organizational initiatives, promoting positive health practices, helps them take proactive steps in relieving stress or may also serve to increase psychological feelings of support and control for dealing with stressors, both of which have been shown to be important mitigators of the negative effects of stress.

In conclusion, the present study suggests that employees’ perceptions of organizational leadership support for health promotion are key leverage points related to their participation in wellness activities, stress levels, and successful health behaviours. Organizational leaders and wellness practitioners are well-advised to monitor and maximize employees’ awareness of their organizational health promotion initiatives to influence their perceptions of leadership support for these programs.

Source: The Role of Leadership Support for Health Promotion in Employee Wellness Program Participation, Perceived Job Stress, and Health Behaviors
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