Is job satisfaction directly related to one’s level of physical activity, together with a self-perceived measure of health and wellness? If not, what can an employer do to actively promote employee wellbeing? If it is related, what measures can an employer take to maximize this link between job satisfaction and an employee’s health and happiness?
But, first things first. How can an employer assess the somewhat nebulous connection between physical activity and workplace satisfaction?
Dr. Eric Shamus, professor and chair of the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, and his colleague, Dr. Rob Sillevis, assistant professor and vice chair of the Physical Therapy Program, have partnered with FGCU’s Human Resources Department to look at the correlation between physical activity, fitness levels and job satisfaction.
For their part, Human Resource’s Debby LaRocco, assistant director of benefits and wellness, and Nicole Edlin, benefits and wellness analyst, have put together a series of six lunchtime wellness seminars in partnership with Lee Health and FGCU faculty. “Each seminar is around 50 minutes,” said Edlin, who is mindful that participants are on their lunch break. “For our upcoming ‘Mindfulness Meditation’ seminar in September, Lee Health will provide the presenter who will speak on a given topic for the first 40 minutes or so. A Q&A session with participants will follow.”
Five more lunchtime wellness seminars are planned for academic year 2019-20: Nutrition (November), Heart Health (February 2020) and Eating for Life (March 2020) will also be hosted by Lee Health. In October, FGCU faculty member Patti Bauer, assistant professor of the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, will speak on beginning an exercise program and, in January, she will present “Strengthening Resolutions,” a beginning strength-training workout program.
LaRocco explained that HR’s role in the study is simply “to provide the lunchtime wellness sessions. Dr. Shamus and his colleagues run the study.”
To monitor the results, Shamus applied for and received grant money to purchase activity trackers – a good thing, too, given 150 faculty and staff members have agreed to take part in the ongoing survey.
“Participants are split into two groups,” said Shamus. “The first group is asked to engage in any existing exercise routine already in place. This group does not attend the lunchtime seminars.”
The second group is asked to attend HR’s lunchtime wellness seminars and to log in a predetermined number of assigned steps each day. Participants in this group are not encouraged to engage in any additional physical activity beyond what they might already be doing.
“Progress is assessed three to four times each semester,” said Sillevis. “We measure participants’ general health as well as their level of self-perceived health. We’re looking to determine if and how the wellness seminars are impacting an employee’s self-perceived health status and degree of job satisfaction.”
The overarching question to be answered is: are the lunchtime wellness seminars enough to change people’s behavior? “We’d like participants to answer the question: ‘When you listen to the presentations, do you feel better?’ Our hope is that participant feedback will inform future wellness initiatives.”