Effectiveness of a Worksite Lifestyle Intervention on Vitality, Work Engagement, Productivity, and Sick Leave: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial

By Strijk, Jorien E.; Proper, Karin I. et al. | Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health, January 2013 | Go to article overview

Effectiveness of a Worksite Lifestyle Intervention on Vitality, Work Engagement, Productivity, and Sick Leave: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial


Strijk, Jorien E., Proper, Karin I., van Mechelen, Willem, van der Beek, Allard J., Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health


Objective A worksite lifestyle intervention aiming to improve lifestyle behaviors could be an effective tool to keep older workers vital, and thereby prolong their labor participation. This study evaluates the effectiveness of such an intervention on vitality, work engagement, productivity and sick leave.

Methods In a randomized controlled trial design, 367 workers (control group: N=363) received a 6-month intervention, which included two weekly guided group sessions: one yoga and one workout, as well as one weekly session of aerobic exercising, without face-to-face instruction, and three individual coach visits aimed at changing workers' lifestyle behavior by goal setting, feedback, and problem-solving strategies. Furthermore, free fruit was provided at the guided sessions. Data on work-related vitality (UWES vitality scale), general vitality (RAND-36 vitality scale), work engagement (UWES), productivity (single item scoring 0-10), and sick leave (yes/no past 3 months) were collected using questionnaires at baseline (N=730), and at 6- (N=575) and 12-months (N=500) follow-up. Effects were analyzed according to the intention-to-treat principle with complete cases (N=500) and imputed data (N=730).

Results There were no significant differences in vitality, work engagement, productivity, and sick leave between the intervention and control group workers after either 6- and 12-months follow-up. Yoga and workout subgroup analyses showed a 12-month favorable effect on work-related vitality [ß=0.14, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.04-0.28] and general vitality (ß=2.9, 95% CI 0.02-5.9) among high yoga compilers. For high workout compilers, this positive trend was also seen, but it was not statistically significant.

Conclusions Implementation of worksite yoga facilities could be a useful strategy to promote vitality-related work outcomes, but only if high compliance can be maximized. Therefore, impeding factors for participation should be investigated in more detail in future research.

Key terms lifestyle intervention; sickness absence; worksite health promotion; yoga.

Over the next decades, challenges in work life will arise due to the expected structural labor shortage and the aging workforce (1). These challenges include the prevention of early retirement and demands for increased employability and labor participation. An important contributor to early retirement and decreased employability is the health status of workers (2, 3), which may decline with aging due to lower physical capacity and higher prevalence of chronic diseases (4-6). In addition, healthy workers are more productive, have lower risks for sick leave, and are more engaged in their jobs. Thus, in order to face the upcoming challenges in work life, it is important to keep older workers vital and healthy.

Vitality and health are two concepts that are closely related because, similar to health, vitality consists of both mental and physical factors. Regarding the mental factors, vitality reflects well-being, lower levels of fatigue, mental resilience, and perseverance (7-11). With respect to the physical factors, vitality is characterized by high energy levels and feeling "strong and fit" (11). In occupational health, vitality has been described as one of the three dimensions of work engagement and is characterized by "feeling full of energy, strong and fit, and being able to keep on working indefatigably"(11).

In the Vital@Work study, it was hypothesized that a worksite health promotion (WHP) program aimed at improving workers' lifestyles could be considered as a potentially effective tool to keep older workers vital and, thereby, positively affect relevant work-related outcomes related to prolonged employability, such as work engagement, productivity, and sick leave (12). The specific aims of the Vital@Work intervention were that older workers would improve their: (i) mental factors of vitality by relaxation exercises (ie, guided yoga sessions); (ii) physical factors of vitality by vigorous intensity physical activities (ie, guided and unsupervised workout sessions); and (iii) fruit intake (ie, free fruit at guided sessions) (12). …

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