Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 1007–1031 | Cite as

The Working for Wellness Program: RCT of an Employee Well-Being Intervention

Research Paper

Abstract

This paper details the design and evaluation of a positive psychology-based employee well-being program. The effect of the program on well-being was evaluated using a mixed method design comprising of an RCT to assess outcome effectiveness, and participant feedback and facilitator field notes to assess process and impact effectiveness. Fifty government employees were randomly allocated to either an intervention or a control group (reduced to n = 23 for complete case analysis). The intervention group participated in the 6-week Working for Wellness Program and completed measures of subjective, psychological, affective and work-related well-being (SWB, PWB, AWB and WWB) at pre-intervention, post-intervention, and three and 6 month follow-ups. The control group completed the questionnaires only. As predicted, mixed ANOVAs revealed improvements in SWB and PWB for intervention group participants over time relative to control participants but these effects had reduced by time 4. There was a main effect of group on AWB in the predicted direction but no effect on WWB. Participant feedback indicated that the focus on strengths and group delivery were the most effective components of the program. Key issues were sample attrition and a lack of on-the-job support for change. Findings suggest employees can learn effective strategies for sustainably increasing their subjective and psychological well-being.

Keywords

Employee well-being Positive psychology Strengths Intervention research Occupational health psychology Positive mental health 

References

  1. Abbott, R. A., Ploubidis, G. B., Huppert, F. A., Kuh, D., Wadsworth, M. E., & Croudace, T. J. (2006). Psychometric evaluation and predictive validity of Ryff’s psychological well-being items in a UK birth cohort sample of women. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 4(76).Google Scholar
  2. Allis, P., & O’Driscoll, M. P. (2008). Positive effects of nonwork-to-work, family and personal domains. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 23(3), 273–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2007). National survey of mental health and wellbeing: Summary of results (cat. no 4326.0) (p. 100). Canberra: ABS.Google Scholar
  4. Bakker, A. B. (2005). Flow among music teachers and their students: The crossover of peak experiences. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 66, 26–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beehr, T. A., Bowling, N. A., & Bennett, M. M. (2010). Occupational stress and failures of social support: When helping hurts. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 15(1), 45–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Berg, J., Grant, A. M., & Johnson, V. (2010). When callings are calling: Crafting work and leisure in pursuit of unanswered occupational callings. Organization Science, 21(5), 973–994.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3, 77–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brdar, I., & Kashdan, T. B. (2010). Character strengths and well-being in Croatia: An empirical investigation of structure and correlates. Journal of Research in Personality, 44(1), 151–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences. Hillsdale, N.J.: L. Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  10. Cooperrider, D. L. (1986). Appreciative Inquiry: Toward a methodology for understanding and enhancing organization innovation. Unpublished Ph.D dissertation, Cape Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH.Google Scholar
  11. Cooperrider, D. L., Whitney, D., & Stavros, J. M. (2008). Appreciative inquiry handbook: For leaders of change (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.Google Scholar
  12. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  13. Csikszentmihalyi, M., & LeFevre, J. (1989). Optimal experience in work and leisure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56(5), 815–822.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Daniels, K. (2000). Measures of five aspects of affective well-being at work. Human Relations, 53(2), 275–294.Google Scholar
  15. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Deci, E. L., & Vansteenkiste, M. (2004). Self-determination theory and basic need satisfaction: Understanding human development in positive psychology. Ricerche di Psicologia, 27(1), 23–40.Google Scholar
  17. Demir, M., & Özdemir, M. (2010). Friendship, need satisfaction and happiness. Journal of Happiness Studies, 11(2), 243–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Diener, E. (1984). Subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin, 95, 542–575.Google Scholar
  19. Diener, E., & Emmons, R. A. (1985). The independence of positive and negative affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 47, 1105–1117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Diener, E., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Beyond money: Toward an economy of well-being. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 5(1), 1–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Diener, E., Suh, E. S., Lucas, R. E., & Smith, H. L. (1999). Subjective well-being: Three decades of progress. Psychological Bulletin, 125, 276–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Flay, B. R., Biglan, A., Boruch, R. F., Castro, F. G., Gottfredson, D., Kellam, S., et al. (2005). Standards of evidence: Criteria for efficacy, effectiveness and dissemination. Prevention Science, 6(3), 151–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Fordyce, M. W. (1977). Development of a program to increase personal happiness. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 24, 511–521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Fordyce, M. W. (1983). A program to increase happiness: Further studies. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 30(4), 483–498.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Fritz, B. S., & Avsec, A. (2007). The experience of flow and subjective well-being of music students. Horizons of Psychology, 16(2), 5–17.Google Scholar
  26. Gable, S. L., & Haidt, J. (2005). What (and why) is positive psychology? Review of General Psychology, 9, 103–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gable, S. L., Reis, H. T., Impett, E. A., & Asher, E. R. (2004). What do you do when things go right? The intrapersonal and interpersonal benefits of sharing positive events. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87(2), 228–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Govindji, R., & Linley, P. A. (2007). Strengths use, self-concordance and well-being: Implications for strengths coaching and coaching psychologists. International Coaching Psychology Review, 2, 143–153.Google Scholar
  29. Grant, A. M., Curtayne, L., & Burton, G. (2009). Executive coaching enhances goal attainment, resilience and workplace well-being: A randomised controlled study. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4, 396–407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hartel, C. E. J., & Page, K. M. (2009). Discrete emotional crossover in the workplace: The role of affect intensity. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 24(3), 237–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Harter, J. K., Schmidt, F. L., & Hayes, T. L. (2002). Business-unit-level relationship between employee satisfaction, employee engagement, and business outcomes: A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87(2), 268–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hatfield, E., Cacciopo, J., & Rapson, R. L. (1994). Emotion contagion. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Joseph, S., & Linley, P. A. (2006). Positive therapy: A meta-theory for positive psychological practice. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  34. Kashdan, T. B., Biswas-Diener, R., & King, L. A. (2008). Reconsidering happiness: The costs of distinguishing between hedonics and eudaimonia. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 3, 219–233.Google Scholar
  35. Keyes, C. L. M. (2005). Mental illness and/or mental health? Investigating axioms of the complete state model of health. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 73, 539–548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Keyes, C. L. M., Wissing, M., Potgieter, J. P., Temane, M., Kruger, A., & van Rooy, S. (2008). Evaluation of the mental health continuum-short form (MHC-SF) in Setswana-Speaking South Africans. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 15, 181–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. La Guardia, J. G., & Patrick, H. (2008). Self-determination theory as a fundamental theory of close relationships. Canadian Psychology, 49(3), 201–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Langston, C. A. (1994). Capitalizing on and coping with daily-life events: Expressive responses to positive events. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 1112–1125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Linley, P. A. (2008). Average to A+: Realising strengths in yourself and others. Coventry, UK: CAPP Press.Google Scholar
  40. Linley, P. A., Nielsen, K. M., Wood, A. M., Gillett, R., & Biswas-Diener, R. (2010). Using signature strengths in pursuit of goals: Effects on goal progress, need satisfaction, and well-being, and implications for coaching psychologists. International Coaching Psychology Review, 5(1), 6–15.Google Scholar
  41. Luthans, F., Avey, J. B., Avolio, B. J., Norman, S. M., & Combs, G. M. (2006). Psychological capital development: toward a micro-intervention. Journal of Organizational Behaviour, 27, 387–393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lyubomirsky, S., King, L., & Diener, E. (2005). The benefits of frequent positive effect: Does happiness lead to success? Psychological Bulletin, 131, 803–835.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. McCullough, M. E., Emmons, R. A., & Tsang, J. A. (2002). The grateful disposition: A conceptual and empirical topography. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 112–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Mitchell, J., Stanimirovic, R., Klein, B., & Vella-Brodrick, D. A. (2009). A randomised controlled trial of a self-guided internet intervention promoting well-being. Computers in Human Behavior, 25, 749–760.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Murta, S., Sanderson, K., & Oldenburg, B. (2007). Process evaluation in occupational stress management programs: A systematic review. American Journal of Health Promotion, 21, 248–254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Nelson, T. D., & Steele, R. G. (2006). Beyond efficacy and effectiveness: A multifaceted approach to treatment evaluation. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 37(4), 389–397.Google Scholar
  47. Otake, K., Shimai, S., Tanaka-Matsumi, J., Otsui, K., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2006). Happy people become happier through kindness: A counting kindnesses intervention. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 361–375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Page, K. M. (2005). Subjective wellbeing in the workplace. Unpublished honours thesis, Deakin University, Burwood, Melbourne.Google Scholar
  49. Page, K. M., & Vella-Brodrick, D. A. (2009). The what, why and how of employee well-being: A new model. Social Indicators Research, 90, 441–458.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Page, K. M., & Vella-Brodrick, D. A. (2012). Ethics and employee well-being: Exploring key criteria and approaches to quality of life at work. In M. J. Sirgy, N. P. Reilly, & C. Gorman (Eds.), Handbook of quality-of-life programs: Enhancing ethics and improving quality of life at work. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  51. Park, N., Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Strengths of character and well-being. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 23(5), 603–619.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Pavot, W., & Diener, E. (1993). Review of the Satisfaction with Life Scale. Psychological Assessment, 5, 164–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. New York: Oxford University Press & Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  54. Post, S. G. (2005). Altruism, happiness, and health: It’s good to be good. International Journal of Behavioural Medicine, 12(2), 66–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Randall, R., Cox, T., & Griffiths, A. (2007). Participants’ accounts of a stress management intervention. Human Relations, 60(8), 1181–1209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55(1), 68–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Ryff, C. D. (1989). Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57(6), 1069–1081.Google Scholar
  58. Schaufeli, W. B. (2004). The future of occupational health psychology. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 53(4), 502–517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Seligman, M. E. P., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60, 410–421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Sheldon, K. M., Boehm, J. K., & Lyubomirsky, S. (Eds.). (2009). Variety is the spice of happiness: The hedonic adaptation prevention (HAP) model. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  61. Sheldon, K. M., & Elliot, A. J. (1999). Goal striving, need satisfaction and longitudinal well-being: The self-concordance model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76(3), 482–497.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Sheldon, K. M., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2006). Achieving sustainable gains in happiness: Change your actions, not your circumstances. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 55–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Snyder, C. R. (2002). Hope theory: Rainbows in the mind. Psychological Inquiry, 13, 249–275.Google Scholar
  64. Sonnetag, S. (2003). Recovery, work engagement, and proactive behavior: A new look at the interface between nonwork and work. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88, 518–528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Springer, K. W., & Hauser, R. M. (2006). An assessment of the construct validity of Ryff’s scales of psychological well-being: Method, mode and measurement effects. Social Science Research, 35(4), 1080–1102.Google Scholar
  66. Springer, K. W., Hauser, R. M., & Freese, J. (2006). Bad news indeed for Ryff’s six-factor model of well-being. Social Science Research, 35(4), 1120–1131.Google Scholar
  67. Steckler, A., & Linnan, L. (Eds.). (2002). Process evaluation for public health interventions and research. San Francisco, CA: Wiley.Google Scholar
  68. Tennant, R., Hiller, L., Fishwick, R., Platt, S., Joseph, S., Weich, S., et al. (2007). The Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale (WEMWBS): Development and UK validation. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 5, 63–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Vella, J. K. (2000). Taking learning to task: Creative strategies for teaching adults. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  70. Waterman, A. S. (2005). When effort is enjoyed: Two studies of intrinsic motivation for personally salient activities. Motivation and Emotion, 29(3), 165–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: The PANAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54(6), 1063–1070.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Wood, A. M., Linley, P. A., Maltby, J., Kashdan, T. B., & Hurling, R. (2011). Using personal and psychological strengths leads to increases in well-being over time: A longitudinal study and the development of the strengths use questionnaire. Personality and Individual Differences.Google Scholar
  73. Wright, T. A., & Quick, J. C. (2009). The role of positive-based research in building the science of organizational behavior. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 30, 329–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Wrzesniewski, A. (2003). Finding positive meaning in work. In K. S. Cameron, J. E. Dutton, & R. E. Quinn (Eds.), Positive organizational scholarship (pp. 296–308). San Fransisco: Berrett-Koehler.Google Scholar
  75. Wrzesniewski, A., & Dutton, J. E. (2001). Crafting a job: Revisioning employees as active crafters of their work. Academy of Management Review, 26(2), 179–201.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.McCaughey Centre: VicHealth Centre for the Promotion of Mental Health and Community Wellbeing, Melbourne School of Population HealthThe University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.School of Psychology and PsychiatryMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia

Personalised recommendations