INTERDISCIPLINARY CENTER FOR HEALTHY WORKPLACES
STRATEGIC PLAN & ACCOMPLISHMENTS TO DATE
The ultimate mission of Healthy Workplaces is to create a new organizational template for healthy workplaces to guide all types of organizations toward change that will result in a thriving workforce.
To fulfill this mission, Healthy Workplaces must accomplish the following goals:
- Create a scientifically sound and up-to-date repository of knowledge from key academic disciplines to identify factors that have been proven to increase employee health and well-being and mitigate the onset of ill-health, disease, psychological disorders and trauma.
- Integrate this knowledge base into a theoretical model of the determinants of employee health and well-being with a set of principles and guidelines derived from the model for employers and the general public to follow to create healthier work and workplaces.
- Translate these principles and guidelines into observable and assessable attributes of work and workplaces, aspects which form the basis of diagnostic tool for measuring the degree to which an organization incorporates the principles and guidelines of healthy workplaces.
- Create standardized metrics for measuring employee health and well-being to be applied to all research conducted by Healthy Workplaces in order to comprehensively evaluate employees’ physical, psychological, emotional, social and organizational status.
- Create a set of educational materials and consulting guides to serve the needs of employers and the general public in their efforts to understand how to build healthy workplaces and how to effect change.
In order to achieve these goals, Healthy Workplaces has embarked on a series of strategic activities over the last two years and has accomplished a great deal despite severe funding constraints. These activities are briefly described below:
- Solicit and collect various types of publications from Healthy Workplaces faculty members and from experts outside the campus to build this critical knowledge database. The search for valuable research studies takes many forms: email solicitations, reviews of faculty webpages and biographies, Internet searches, library searches, relevant conference programs, and referrals from respected authorities.
- We have engaged three GSRs and faculty members to collect seminal articles, books, white papers, and other publications across disciplines to begin building the knowledge repository. Over 200 publications have been identified, and 130 of these have been read and abstracted to be posted on Healthy Workplaces’ website this Fall to cover seven topic areas: organizational culture and policies, the built environment, occupational health, employee engagement, nutrition, technology, and public policy. Many abstracts were written by undergraduate volunteer interns, and the quality of the abstracts will need to be reviewed by faculty and doctoral students to verify their accuracy and understandability. We continue to reach out to faculty, both at UCB and other campuses and universities to identify articles that should be included in the repository. We will also continue to vett these publications to ensure they are up to Berkeley standards and provide the most relevant information to employers and the public.
- We have held several half-day “working meetings” with researchers, corporate representatives, service providers and policy makers to identify and share the scientific knowledge available for designing healthy workplaces and to determine the barriers to improvements in employee health and well-being. The meetings have revealed that employers do not have access to scientific knowledge that could assist in their building of healthy workplaces and more important, that they do not know what to change in their organizations that will effect positive change.
- Assemble known experts together to begin the task of developing a theoretical model of employee health and well-being. Research faculty from UCB and UCSF and other institutions participated in a one-day workshop in which relevant scientific findings from represented disciplines were discussed to identify “what is known” and “what is not known” in the literature regarding employee health and well-being. From that workshop, a “staw” model was developed as a starting point for integrating the diverse literatures, the plethora of organizational interventions that have been created and the outcomes of studies attempting to link factors to health and well-being outcomes. The straw model will continue to be elaborated and refined and as such, will form the foundation of the new organizational template for healthy workplaces.
- The focus of the straw model is the individual employee—how can organizations be structured and operate such that an individual employee thrives at work: she wants to come to work, can do her best work, and does so while maintaining positive psychological and physiological states. The science reveals what factors affect these psychological states, and in turn affect personal and organizational outcomes. If we focus on what creates positive psychological and physiological states, we can identify ways to design and/or change work and workplaces which will affect these psychological and physiological states in the desired direction. We can also link positive psychological and physiological states to positive personal and organizational outcomes such as productivity, retention, attendance, engagement, resilience to stressful conditions, health status, healthcare costs, accident/injury rates and ROI.
- Future efforts will be dedicated to elaborating the model and linking research in the repository to the components of the model. A global expert conference is planned in which the most distinguished experts in each discipline will be invited to Berkeley for a two-day working meeting to further refine the model and subsequently generate the principles and guidelines for healthy workplaces based on the model and the knowledge repository. The model and template for healthy workplaces will be captured in an edited volume or volumes written by selected experts who participated in the conference.
- Assemble faculty and consultants in the health and well-being space to create a diagnostic tool for identifying attributes of organizations that reveals the degree to which an organization provides a healthy workplace. The diagnostic tool should be flexible enough to apply to a variety of organization types and for a variety of job classes (white collar, pink collar, blue collar). The tool will be designed to allow an assessor or team of assessors to observe the organization and collect data that provide reliable and valid evidence of key attributes. A scoring or evaluation scheme will be developed which provides helpful feedback to organizations assessed and provides general recommendations for improvement.
- Several faculty and consultants are eager to start building the diagnostic tool based on what we already know from the knowledge repository.
- The administration of the diagnostic tool by UCB faculty can result in significant revenue to the Center to add to its ability to be self-supporting. It would not be unreasonable for the Center to charge $5,000 per assessment.
- Assemble faculty and practitioners in the health and well-being industry to create the metrics for evaluating employees’ health and well-being status. Standardized metrics will be created covering physiological, psychological, emotional, social and organizational variables to measure employees’ status. The metrics can include the physiological and psychological states which reflect “thriving” at work as well as the resulting outcomes of such states. These metrics, called the Berkeley Index, will be used to measure dependent variables in research studies investigating the impact of interventions on employee health and well-being pre- and post-intervention or by the method of contrasted groups. We hope that the Berkeley Index will be adopted by other researchers and practitioners and if so, it will facilitate the creation of a database of studies for which direct comparisons can be made.
- Faculty members and practitioners who want to work on the Berkeley Index have already self-identified and want to begin work on the Index now.
- A toolkit can be created for users of the Berkeley Index, and training sessions can be held for a fee to train users in proper data collection and analysis. Training sessions can become a revenue generator for the Center by charging fees of $1,000 per participant for this training.
- Develop executive and management-level education programs for employers and other parties in order to fully educate them in state-of-the-art work and workplace design and intervention to create healthy workplaces. Faculty from UCB, UCSF, and other institutions can create curriculum and lead sessions following the model and knowledge repository. Participants will learn about the factors that enable employees to thrive in the workplace and how these factors can be built into organizations to create the desired physiological and psychological states.
- These programs can be offered through the Social Science Matrix and be held at the new conference room space. Significant revenue can be generated through this programming. We have already determined that the desire for such programming is very high, and programs are being offered by other universities such as Harvard at $2,495 per person for two-days, and these programs are not as comprehensive or as prescriptive as the Berkeley program can be. We believe the Berkeley programs will be perceived to have greater value than other existing programs.
- Programming can be offered now if faculty are identified and paid to develop curriculum. There is already sufficient knowledge gathered and the straw model is sufficiently robust to give the curriculum value now.
- Several faculty members have indicated a desire to participate in such programming.
- Apply for new research grants and long-term funding to sustain the work of Healthy Workplaces. Several research projects have been identified by faculty members and are currently being shopped to potential funders.
- Research projects that build out the knowledge repository will be extremely valuable. Not only will the research be new and innovative, it will also be interdisciplinary by assembling a multi-disciplinary team that can investigate the subject in more comprehensive ways.
- We have been invited to apply for the CDC/NIOSH Center of Excellence Grant which will provide $1M per year for research and support for five years. We have been told that we will be a serious competitor for the grant because we have shown already that we can integrate knowledge across disciplines and leverage that knowledge to promote the tenets of the Total Worker Health initiative advanced by NIOSH. This initiative consists of efforts to accomplish two goals: prevent illness and injury in the workplace and to promote employee health and well-being. It is obvious that our work is completely consistent with the goals of the funder. The application for the grant will be completed in 2015 for funding in 2016.
- Our competitive advantage is not only the breadth of talent that we have gathered across disciplines within Healthy Workplaces, but also the inclusion of technology as an enabler of employee health and well-being. We have partnered with CITRIS to learn about technology advances within the healthcare field and have dedicated a GSR to work exclusively in this area to search out and describe cutting edge advances in technology which may have the potential to significantly change work behavior and work environments toward greater health and well-being.