Only half of the workers in a recent survey are meeting current Australian standards for daily physical activity according to research by PhD graduate, Dr Troy Fuller, from The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Fremantle Campus.
With many people working longer hours, both in the office and at home, Dr Fuller’s research highlighted that employee health was at “great risk” and incentives needed to be developed and closely monitored in the workplace to encourage exercise amongst staff.
Dr Fuller graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy from the School of Business at Notre Dame’s Fremantle Graduation Ceremony in December 2012. It was his third degree completed at the University following a Diploma of Education in 1994 and a Master of Business in 2008.
Supervised by Dr Peter Gall and Associate Professor Laurie Dickie from the University’s Fremantle School of Business, Dr Fuller’s research examined employee health in the 21st Century and the exercise incentives and support provided by Western Australian organisations to improve overall employee health and wellbeing.
Four key models were developed in the research – an ‘Exercise Incentives Model’ for understanding the concept; a ‘Gap Analysis Model’ to assess the strength and opportunities for improvement; an ‘Exercise Incentives Implementation Model’ for action, and a ‘Research Outcomes Model’ which encompassed the entire investigation.
The research found that only 52.1 per cent of the participating employees were likely to meet the Australian recommendations for adult physical activity. According to the Australian Government’s Department of Health and Ageing, adults are encouraged to undertake at least 30 minutes of daily activity to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Dr Fuller said his research validated existing studies which showed employees becoming less healthy, less active, more stressed and under pressure from their working environment which has created a “blur” between work and home life.
“One of the key barriers to exercise for a majority of employees was finding time, which complements current research in this area,” Dr Fuller said.
“An employee’s own health, their level of motivation, and logistics, in other words, how easy or difficult it is for workers to have access to training equipment and programs, were also common responses from employees.
“Organisations need to make it easy for employees to take time to exercise and they need to be aware that exercise is a very personal thing. The research has shown that it is simply not enough for organisations to just supply activities for people to do.”
Dr Gall said Dr Fuller’s industry experience in human resource management enabled him to identify an issue which is endemic in some large and small contemporary organisations.
“Over the three years I have been Troy’s co-supervisor he has demonstrated extremely high degrees of enthusiasm, motivation and dedication to the job at hand,” Dr Gall said.
“His research provides comprehensive and valuable information about exercise incentives, and the processes for implementation and development which the organisations engaged in Troy’s investigation can use to improve health incentives in their workplace.”