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Evaluation of a Policy Intervention to Promote the Health and Wellbeing of Workers in Small and Medium Sized Enterprises – Results of a Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial

Leads: Prof Richard Lilford, Dr Laura Kudrna (Meths), Dr Lena Al-Khudairy (Public Health)

Rapid response research. ARC WM Public Contributors are working in partnership with the research team to further develop this project.

Dates: April 2018 - April 2021

Background:

Good employee health and wellbeing is of key importance to employers and the economy. A healthy workforce is more likely to be productive and less likely to fall ill. The workplace can serve as a setting for health and wellbeing promotion. Financial incentives may encourage employers to invest in employee health and wellbeing.

Policy and Practice Partners:

The Work and Health Unit and the West Midlands Combined Authority.

Co-Funding Partners:

West Midlands Combined Authority.

Aims and Objectives:

We were commissioned by the Work and Health Unit to independently evaluate the effectiveness of a monetary incentive to encourage small to medium enterprises (SMEs) across the West Midlands to take action to improve the health and wellbeing of their employees. ARC WM support was used to write the original protocol prior to funding and to bring the report up to publication standard after funding ended.

Methods:

  • A mixed methods design of a four-group before and after cross-sectional single blinded cluster randomised controlled trial.
  • SMEs (n = 100) were eligible if 1) located in West Midlands, UK; 2) receptive to implementing workplace health and wellbeing offer; 3) willing to provide organizational level data; 4) willing for staff to be interviewed; 5) registered with Companies House; 6) employing 10-250 employees.
  • We followed covariate-constrained randomisation on the basis of industry size and type. SMEs were randomly allocated by an independent statistician that was not involved in data collection. Outcome assessors were blinded to:
    • Group 1: 100% of the monetary incentive, baseline and end-line assessment.
    • Group 2: 50% of the monetary incentive, baseline and end-line assessment.
    • Group 3: no monetary incentive, baseline and end-line assessment.
    • Group 4: no monetary incentive, end-line assessment only.
  • The intervention was two levels of monetary incentive paid directly to SMEs and was delivered over 11 months.
  • The aim was to quantify employee perception of employer health and wellbeing offer. This was assessed at baseline and at 11 months.

Main Results:

Currently embargoed.

Conclusions:

Not applicable at this stage. Ideally studies of this sort should include effects on productivity, which could then be included in a cost-benefit analysis from a societal perspective.

Implications for Implementation:

The results will inform the possibility of a national rollout of the intervention.

Trial registration:

AEARCTR-0003420. Status: complete.

Protocol:

Thrive at Work Wellbeing Programme Collaboration. Evaluation of a policy intervention to promote the health and wellbeing of workers in small and medium sized enterprises–a cluster randomised controlled trial. BMC Pub Health. 2019; 19:493.