Research proposal

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorUniversity, Master's February 2008

download word file, 9 pages 0.0

The Effects of a Workplace Wellness Program on Employee Satisfaction at Garrett Aviation Introduction I, the researcher, believe that the citizens of the United States have become obsessed with the topic of health and wellness. One cannot watch a television program, read a newspaper, go on-line and avoid these topics. We are consistently bombarded with information on counting fat grams, implementing fiber in our diet, and new exercise equipment. Recently another industry, the workplace has decided to jump on the wellness bandwagon. This industry has gotten involved in promoting wellness by creating worksite wellness programs.

These programs have been implemented to cut employee absences, insurance cost, improve work performance, and increase employee moral ( ). This proposed clinical project will seek to determine through further research whether workplace wellness programs create a statistically significant increased level of employee job satisfaction. The topic of this proposed study is of importance because wellness programs can be beneficial to both employers and employees.

Wellness programs improve the health and well being of employees and improve profits for the employer (Grant, 1998). It is hypothesized for the proposed clinical project that that the wellness program will create an increased level of employee job satisfaction.

Wellness is defined as "a composite of physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, occupational, and social health; health promotion is a means used to achieve wellness (Reardon, 1998). Worksite wellness programs have been developed to cut costs for employers and to benefit employees by increasing their level of health. Worksite wellness programs require the use of a model that targets reversible health problems and behaviors such as stress management, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and smoking (Reardon, 1998). Results from past research show that employees in firms with wellness programs have more positive attitudes towards the company and higher job satisfaction (Ho, 1997).

In recent years many large corporations have invested time and money into workplace wellness programs for their employees (Grant, 1998). It is believed that these wellness programs benefit the employer and the employee in several ways. These programs are thought to increase the level of employee morale and loyalty, create better job performance, decrease absenteeism, and harvest higher net profits for the employer (Meurer, Meurer, Holloway, 1997). Interestingly, a large body of research concerned with the impact of workplace wellness programs on industry suggests that these claims can be justified.

Literature Review Edwin Locke cites M. Viteles definition of as "the attitude of satisfaction with, desire to continue in, and willingness to strive for the goals of a particular group or organization (1953, p.284). Job satisfaction is defined by Edwin Locke as a pleasurable or positive emotional state resulting form the appraisal of one's job or job experience (Locke, 1976). He also states in a chapter of a book edited by Marvin Dunnette that both morale and job satisfaction refer to positive emotional states which may be experienced by employees (Locke, 1976).

In research that was completed earlier this century it was thought that there were three major schools of thought or historical trends that can be identified concerning the factors believed to be most conducive to employee job satisfaction and morale (Locke, 1976). The first school of thought was the Physical-Economic School emphasized the role of the physical arrangement of the workplace, physical working conditions and pay (Locke, 1976). The second was the Social School of thought, which began in the 1930's. It emphasized the role of good supervision, cohesive workgroups, and friendly employee-management relations. The third school of thought was the Work Itself School which emphasized the attainment of satisfaction through growth in skill, efficacy, and responsibility made possible by mentally challenging work (Locke, 1976). Today research on employee morale and job satisfaction may have new thoughts or a different focus area, but these schools of thought still provide a useful framework on which to build from.

Job satisfaction has become a major concern in many workplaces. Previous studies indicated that job satisfaction affects the wellbeing of employees and exerts a considerable impact on the organization. Interest in job satisfaction is particularly strong because of its consequences for the organization, such as absenteeism and turnover (Cherrington, 1989). It has also been found to have an effect on the mental and physical health of the employee (O'Donnell and Ainsworth, 1984). Therefore, it can be suggested that a highly satisfied employee will be more beneficial to the organization. Research has shown that employees with improved morale are likely to be more productive as a result of an increased sense of responsibility to the employer and an improved overall job satisfaction (Shinew and Crossley, 1988). This statement causes one to question whether having access to corporate wellness programs is enough to boost employee morale sufficiently to result in higher job satisfaction (Ho, 1997). A study completed by General Electric and Johnson & Johnson have provided affirmation to this question (Ho, 1997).

In the study conducted at Johnson & Johnson on their "Live for Life" program 700 employees participated in the program and 700 did not. This is one of the better known large comprehensive wellness programs that advocates prevention, encouraging employees to believe in working towards a healthy lifestyle and, at the same time, providing them with the knowledge, motivation, opportunities and professional expertise to do so. The results from the "Live for Life" found that the wellness program had a positive effect on the employees' morale and job satisfaction (Bellingham and Cohen, 1992).

Michelle Krebs and Janet Freeborn conducted research at many large corporations across the country. From their overall research they found that empowering employees with long-term programs to support personal health, results in greater work interest, better job performance, higher productivity and increased morale and loyalty. They also found that companies benefited with increased profits from lower absenteeism, reduced worker's compensation and disability claims, and lower managed health care costs (Krebs & Freeborn, 1997).

Some of these same findings were found in a research study that was completed in San Bernardino County, California. The county implemented a pilot program to boost the wellness and productivity of its employees. This program consisted of an at-work walking program, free influenza vaccines, introduction of nurse care coordinators, and prevention and education programs. The program included 3,300 employees. The county estimated that it would reduce lost-time cost by ten percent by starting a workplace wellness program. After a six month period, the county found that it had actually reduced health care costs and raised morale (Szalai, 1998).

Deborah Cowans conducted a study at Superior Coffee and Foods and Fel-Pro Inc. At these two companies the employees were given a monetary incentive to participate in their wellness programs. These programs consisted of physical exams, risk appraisals, exercise rooms, nutritional and medical education programs, prostate screening, papsmears, and mammography exams. The study found that the company was spending an average of $125, 000 per year during a three year time period on its wellness program. She found that this money was well spent. Superior Coffee and Foods and Fel-Pro Inc. cut its health care cost per employee by seventeen percent and long term disability claims fell forty percent.

In another study that was completed in Singapore to determine the impact of wellness programs six companies were studied. Three of these companies had an existing wellness program and three did not. The companies that offered a wellness program to their employees were Singapore Press Holdings, Great Eastern Life Assurance and Hewlett Packard. The other three companies used for the study were Honeywell Pte Ltd, Yeo Hiap Seng, and Housing and Development Board. These organizations were selected for the study based on the proximity of staff size.

This study specifically targeted the white-collar employees. The study used 188 employees from the six companies as participants. The majority of participants from both groups were between the ages of 25 to 34. This study by Janice Ho found through statistical analysis that employees in organizations with wellness programs expressed more positive attitudes towards organization, higher overall job satisfaction, and a higher level of satisfaction with organizations' fringe benefits (Ho, 1997).

Schneider and Hall conducted a study with parish priests in 1973. They studied a self -perceived work climate which focused on the job itself and its immediate environment. In this study, Schneider and Hall related self-perceived work climate to five satisfaction dimensions of the Job Description Index (Smith, Kendall, & Hulling, 1969). They found that there were moderately strong relationships between each of the work climate scales and each of the satisfaction dimensions except pay (Schneider & Hall, 1973).

Method Due to the amount of literature that has discussed the relationship between higher corporate profits, job satisfaction, employee morale, better job performance and employee wellness programs, it was decided to further research the topic of the effects of wellness programs on job satisfaction. It is hypothesized that these programs actually create an increased level of employee morale. It is this increased level of job satisfaction that increases the probability of higher corporate profits for the employer. The purpose of this study is to determine if a statistically significant relationship exists between work place wellness programs and employee moral.

The future long-term clinical project will consist of a quasi-experimental design to evaluate for the effects of a wellness program on employee job satisfaction. The test-retest method will be used to evaluate the effects of a wellness program on job satisfaction once the program has been implemented for one year in the workplace. A two sample t-test will be ran to test for the level of significance between employee job satisfaction and work place wellness programs.

Participants The participants for the future study will be chosen for reasons of convenience. The sample will consist of four hundred non- management men between the ages of twenty-five and sixty years from Garret Aviation. Non- management for the purpose of this proposed project will be all employed men under the supervision of the president and vice president of Garrett Aviation. The participants for the future project consist of mostly Caucasian men. The men that will be chosen for the sample will have been employed by Garret Aviation for at least on year.

The participants in the study will be enticed to participate in the wellness program with a reduction in health insurance costs of three dollars a month. They will also be given a short presentation on the benefits of wellness programs. The presentation groups will consist of no more than thirty men at a time. The men will be asked to participate in the wellness program on a voluntary basis. All participants and non-participants will be used to make a comparison of morale between the group of men that are in the wellness program and men that are not in the program. The results from this comparison will be used as a generalization to a target population of non-management aviation employees throughout the United States.

Materials Wellness Program. This program will consist of giving the male employees the opportunity to participate in an exercise program of their choice at a local gym for no monetary cost. The participants will be able to make a choice between different exercise programs, which consist of aerobic exercise (running, biking, kick-boxing, walking, aerobic classes, rowing, and stair climbing) and strength training (free weights, circuit training with weight machines, weight lifting classes).

The participants in the program will also be offered the opportunity to eat from a healthy menu that will be added to the main cafeteria menu. This healthy menu will consist of foods that are lower in fat, cholesterol, and calories. Some of the foods on the menu will be fish, turkey breast, chicken breast, 5% fat beef, and various fruits and vegetables. A sample menu may be found in the Appendix.

Cornell Job Description Index (JDI). "The JDI (Smith, Kendall, Hulin, 1969) measures satisfaction within five areas of the job: the type of work, the pay, the opportunities for promotion, the supervision, and the co-workers on the job" (Smith, Kendall, Hulin, 1969, 67). The JDI's five areas of evaluation are divided into five scales that contain nine to eighteen items.

The JDI scales as scored by the direct method, show consistent discriminate and convergent validity. The validity of the scale exceeds that of other rating methods (Smith, Kendall, Hulin, 1969). The median item validity ranged from .35 to .52 for the individual scales. The reliability for the JDI was tested by the split-half method and all corrected correlations were over .80.

Procedure The four hundred employees from Garret Aviation will be administered the JDI during a monthly safety class prior to learning about the future wellness program. They will be asked to complete the survey by the instructor of the class. This instructor will be given directions to follow and to read to the employees (Appendix). After they are done completing the JDI, it will be collected by the safety instructor and returned to the researcher for future evaluation. One month later they will be introduced to the wellness program during the monthly safety class. The introduction will be very brief. It will include basic information about the program and its benefits. During the next workweek, the participants will be asked to sign a statement of informed consent and put their name on a registration list. The next week the wellness program will be implemented at the workplace. After the participants have been in the program for one year, they will than be asked to complete the JDI during a monthly safety meeting. They will be administered the test by the instructor of the class and the instructor will be given the same instructions that he was given for the prior test. After the second JDI has been completed by the participants, a two sample independent t-test will be completed to test for the level of significance between employee job satisfaction and workplace wellness programs.